Gladiators OGs John Anderson, Hunter and Panther pictured as they are now amid reboot

Gladiators’ original stars, and iconic referee John Anderson, have been spotted living decidedly regular lives after the hit programme’s return was confirmed by the BBC.

The sports-based game show first aired from 1992 to 2000, before being briefly revived in 2008.

On Wednesday, the BBC delighted fans by at last confirming that rumours of another comeback are true and now, the terrifyingly fit warriors who went up against the public 20 years ago have proven that nowadays, they’re more like the rest of us.

While the stars are undoubtedly still fit and enjoy hitting the gym, their low-key lives are a far cry from the drama of the arena.

Referee John Anderson – whose cries of “Contender Ready… Gladiator Ready!” were mimicked by every ‘90s kids – is now 90 years old.

After years of keeping Wolf in check, John now has a far easier job with his adorable pooch.

He happily smiled for the camera as he held up his walking stick in a brand new snap.

Cobra, real name Michael Wilson, also showed his softer side this week as he was spotted walking his pet dog on the Kent coast.

Michael, now 58, has suffered health issues in recent years and was rushed to hospital in 2019 after “destroying” his body with gruelling workouts.

It seems that nowadays he’s taking life at a slower pace but there is one aspect of his character that he’s kept – the iconic all-blue outfits.

Ulrika Jonsson, who presented the programme, is one of the few Gladiators stars to remain in the spotlight.

Following news of the show’s revival, she’s been spotted showing off a glowing tan while running errands in Oxfordshire.

Ulrika, 55, still frequently appears on our TV screens and took part in Celebs Go Dating last year – though her bid to find a toyboy lover was ultimately unsuccessful.

James Crossley, who went by the name of Hunter when he spent his days jousting and charging along the upside down Skytrak, has maintained his impressive muscly physique and sported a vest with the slogan ‘Yogangster’ during a walk in south west London.

Bodybuilder James, 49, was a regular on the show from 1993 until its final episode on January 1 2000 and was often considered the toughest of all the Gladiators.

He later retrained as an actor and appeared in numerous productions including a stint with theatre director Sir Peter Hall in the US, and recently competed on Channel 4 reality series The Circle.

Elsewhere, he has led national campaigns on anti-bullying, exams stress and mental health.

Nowadays, he’s a fitness coach specialising in strength and conditioning. In his spare time, he’s training to be a gong bath teacher.

Helen O’Reilly has kept her character Panther’s name alive by naming her West London gym after the animal.

Now 57, Helen was dressed down in a pink top and grey tracksuit bottoms as she ran errands near the gym.

Confirming Gladiators’ upcoming return to our screens on Wednesday, BBC director Kate Phillips said: “Gladiators is back and a whole new generation of viewers can now look forward to watching a Saturday night spectacle like no other.

“Will the contenders have the will and the skill to succeed against our mighty new Gladiators? You’ll have to tune in to find out.”

At its peak, Gladiators drew huge audiences to its Saturday evening ITV slot as the famous call of “Contenders Ready? Gladiators Ready?” echoed across TV screens.

The likes of Trojan, Jet, Nightshade and Hunter became household names and the format – which originated in the US – travelled to Australia, South Africa, Russia, Finland, Germany, Nigeria, Denmark and Sweden.

When it returned to Sky, airing between 2008-2009, Kirsty Gallacher and Ian Wright took up the baton of hosting duties from original hosts John Fashanu and Ulrika Jonsson – with original referee John Anderson also returning for the Sky revival.

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