They were part of the must-see Saturday night show in the 1990s.
And as athletes from ITV show Gladiators congregated for a Good Morning Britain appearance on Thursday, fans were left in shock at how different they looked.
Branding them ‘unrecognisable’, fans watched as Hunter [James Crossley], Panther [Helen O’Reilly]. Jet [Diane Youdale], Lightning [Kim Betts] and Cobra [Michael Willson] joined Susanna Reid and Ben Shephard for a reunion chat.
Blast from the past! As athletes from ITV show Gladiators congregated for a Good Morning Britain appearance on Thursday, fans were left in shock at how different they looked
27 years since the show first aired in 1992 [ending in 2000], Michael [Cobra] – who is now 55 – turned up in a Lycra tank top, while the other stars went for more demure looks.
James [Hunter] is now 46, famed after the show for his tryst with host Ulrika Jonsson.
Helen, 58, portrayed Panther and sat beside Diane [Jet] who is now 49. Lightning star Kim, 47, rounded off the quintet.
27 years later: The show first aired in 1992 [ending in 2000], and Michael Willson [Cobra] – who is now 55 – turned up in a Lycra tank top, while the other stars went for more demure looks
Before and after: Lightning star Kim, 47, rounded off the quintet
Fans on Twitter revelled in the reunion, with one posting: ‘Great to see the #gladiators back on TV… They’ve all aged a bit except Lightning, she looks the same and is still a stunner!’
Another remarked: ‘Cobra’s face has completely changed everyone else still looks [good] though!’
Another penned, ‘Who’s the one on the end he’s about 80?’ of Cobra, who sported his branded vest.
Jet-set! Jet [Diane Youdale] is now 49 and has continued a TV career
Hunter by name…: James Crossley [Hunter] is now 46, famed after the show for his tryst with host Ulrika Jonsson
Ready? Branding them ‘unrecognisable’, fans watched as Hunter [James Crossley], Panther [Helen O’Reilly]. Jet [Diane Youdale], Lightning [Kim Betts] and Cobra [Michael Willson] joined Susanna Reid and Ben Shephard for a reunion chat
Go wild for Susanna’s leopard print dress from Closet London
Closet London wrap dress
Shop the look!
Susanna Reid is a certified style icon. The Good Morning Britain host never fails to impress with her chic sartorial choices.
Most recently, we spotted the presenter in this dreamy wrap dress from Closet London.
In a sophisticated midi length, with a flattering fit and flare silhouette and unique slit sleeves, Susanna’s dress has gone straight to the top of our wish lists.
Closet London is a regular choice from Susanna, so you’ve got to try the brand if you’re a fan of her timeless style.
Click right to shop this leopard print dress for yourself. Or, head to the edit below for some of our favourite lookalikes. We’re obsessed with the Betty Barclay number, but that Quiz bargain is also very tempting.
Pair yours with strappy sandals or leather mules for an elegant everyday look.
* PRICES MAY NOT BE AS ADVERTISED
Others left the judgement at the door and simply relished having the stars back on their screens.
‘Not sure why Gladiators was on #GMB but that has made my day. Best tv show of the 90’s!’
‘Some of the #Gladiators just been on #GMB – I forgot how much I loved the theme tune and that show. Nineties telly at its best,’ another posted.
All dressed up: Showbiz reporter Richard Arnold dressed up as Gladiator referee John Anderson
In-vesting in the show: Cobra got his Lycra out of mothballs for the occasion
Making her entrance: Jet led the stars as they recreated the legendary Gladiators entrance sequence
‘Gladiators are on #gmb and the women (Jet, Lightning and Panther) are still all amazing!! Plus Hunter and Cobra are still massive!! (cobra put your nipple away mate)’ another penned.
Gladiators: A Nineties television mainstay
Gladiators, which was presented by Ulrika Jonsson, John Fashanu and later Jeremy Guscott, first hit screens on 10 October 1992, with the series comprising of contestants fighting against a Gladiator.
Aiming for as many points as they could, the contestant with the highest number of points got a headstart in The Eliminator assault course with every point being worth a second. The winner of The Eliminator would then complete in the next round.
Originally ending in 2000, Gladiators was later revived by Sky1 and aired in 2008 for a year, before being cancelled in May 2009.
Discussing the show – which was the topic of a retrospective feature in the Guardian last week at Stoke CON Trent 2019, causing the Gladiators to go viral on social media – they were asked about a reboot.
‘There is a demand for it. But I am 58, I don’t know if I am a bit past it,’ Panther said, before pointing at Cobra and remarking: ‘He’s got a walking stick and two new hips.’
Asked about whether they still go by their Gladiator alter-egos, Hunter explained: ‘A lot of male Gladiators were called Mike. So if you said “Mike”, everybody turned around.
Lightning added: ‘Even when I message them it’s like: “Hey Jet, Cobra, Hunter…” I never call them their own name.’
The action-packed TV show was a staple of Saturday night TV and drew in up to 14 million viewers. The programme also made household names of its athletic stars.
Good Morning Britain continues on weekdays at 6am on ITV.
Star! The action-packed TV show Gladiators was a staple of Saturday night TV and drew in up to 14 million viewers. The programme also made household names of its athletic stars
Gladiators: Where Are They Now?
Wolf: Michael Van Wijk
Then and now: Michael now runs his own gym in Auckland, where he currently resides, which is named Wolf’s Gym, after his Gladiators persona
Name: Michael Van Wijk aka Wolf
Occupation: Michael owns a gym called ‘Wolf’s Gym’ in Auckland, New Zealand where he now lives. He had owned gyms previously before finding fame on Gladiators
Gladiators history: He starred on the show for seven years and eight series throughout the entire time Gladiators aired on ITV.
Fun facts: Wolf was deemed the most popular gladiator on the series, albeit controversial thanks to his mean persona
Ace: Warren Furman
Change: Having turned his back on showbusiness, Warren found God and now runs a Gospel choir in York, where he lives with his wife and two kids
Name: Warren Furman
Occupation: Having turned his back on showbusiness, Warren found God and now runs a Gospel choir in York, where he lives with his wife and two kids.
Speaking on This Morning yesterday, he said: ‘I used to worship myself, I thought I was fantastic. I have now turned to God’s grace. I am a Gladiator of the gospel.
‘You’ll never know God until you change your direction and so I realised this. It was great, we had loads of money and women, but I realised I had to change’.
Gladiator history: Four years after the show began in 1996, the blond hunk beat 60 other hopefuls for a place on Gladiators, where he stayed on the series until its end in 2000. He returned for the revival in 2008
Fun facts: Warren was engaged to Katie Price in the late Nineties, during which time they enjoyed a particularly lavish lifestyle. He previously said: ‘We travelled the world first class, went for expensive dinners, had big houses and fancy cars’, yet things later broke off acrimoniously.
Amazon: Sharron Davies MBE
Heading up: Prior to heading on to the show, Sharron was a swimmer for Great Britain in the Olympics and European championships
Name: Sharron Davies aka Amazon
Occupation: Prior to heading on to the show, Sharron was a swimmer for Great Britain in the Olympics and European championships. She also competed for England in the Commonwealth Games. She has produced various fitness videos and served as a patron of charities for disabled children
Gladiator history: Sharron joined the show in 1995 yet a knee injury forced her to withdraw from the show in 1996. She famously complained of the health and safety aspects of the show
Fun fact: The blonde beauty enjoyed a stint on Dancing On Ice in 2011. The mother-of-three has remained in the spotlight, commentating on sporting events, presenting on the now-defunct Channel 4 show The Big Breakfast
Jet: Diane Youdale
Now: Diane has gone on to become a PE teaching assistant, before training as a pscyhotherapist
Name: Diane Youdale
Occupation: Diane started out with a career in gymnastics and dance, before rising to stardom on Gladiators, but was later forced to take up presenting and acting after injuring herself during the show’s live event held at Wembley Arena in 1996.
She then went on to become a PE teaching assistant, before training as a pscyhotherapist.
Fun facts: With 20 years in psychology behind her, Diane has landed herself a regular slot on Big Brother’s Bit On The Side and is seen analysing the housemates – she has appeared on 33 episodes of the show.
The Rhino: Mark Smith
On the up: Since appearing on Gladiators, Mark has gone on to bag several acting roles, including appearances on EastEnders, The Bill and Robin Hood
Name: Mark Smith
Occupation: Since appearing on Gladiators, Mark has gone on to bag several acting roles, including appearances on EastEnders, The Bill and Robin Hood. He then set his sights on Hollywood and has featured on high-profile films including Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Argo, which was directed by Ben Affleck and Frozen Ground, starring Nicholas Cage.
Gladiator history: Mark starred on the show from 1995 until its finale in 2000.
Fun facts: Rhino was deemed the joker of the Gladiator pack and would have the live audience in fits of giggles with his robotic dancing and body popping moves. Mark too had enjoyed a fling with show host Ulrika.
Panther: Helen O’Reilly
Helping others: Helen now has her own gym in Uxbridge, London, where she preps other girls and travels all across the globe judging bikini girls
Name: Helen O’Reilly aka Panther
On Gladiators: ‘It was great, it inspired so many people into sport, to be able to be strong and feminine at the same time. We still get messages today, 25 years later, of people still being inspired to go to the gym.’
Occupation: Helen is a champion bodybuilder and became one of Britain’s best, with a number of accolades to her name including Miss Central Britain, Miss Europe, Miss Great Britain, Miss Russia and Miss Universe.
Fun facts: She now has her own gym in Uxbridge, London, where she preps other girls and travels all across the globe judging bikini girls, fitness girls and men’s physique and body building.
Shadow: Jefferson King
On the up: Jefferson now works in a drug rehabilitation unit having overcome his own demons over the years
Name: Jefferson King
Occupation: He now works in a drug rehabilitation unit having overcome his own demons over the years
Gladiators history: Jefferson’s Gladiators career fell apart when he was ousted off the programme for taking steroids. Soon after the drug scandal a mistress sold a tale of his infidelity to a newspaper and his marriage broke down.
He said at the time: ‘There is no excuse for cheating. I was mixing with drugs before Gladiators and when I was tested during the show there were no traces of cocaine but they found steroids’
Fun fact: Jefferson become a wrestler following his TV career and had a cameo role in the Spice Girls movie Spiceworld in 1997.
Lightning: Kim Betts
Strong: Lightning was known as the ‘Queen of Hang Tough’ and had remained undefeated in the UK Arena – asides from being beaten just once in Australia
Name: Kim Betts
Occupation: Kim is a gymnast, bodybuilder and TV presenter.
Gladiators history: She had starred on Gladiators from its launch in 1992 until its end in 2000, before returning for its revamp eight years later. She was the longest-serving female star of the show.
Fun facts: Lightning was known as the ‘Queen of Hang Tough’ and had remained undefeated in the UK Arena – asides from being beaten just once in Australia. Kim had given birth to her son, Lexus, just three weeks before competing in 1999.
Hunter: James Crossley
Trainer: James is now currently working in the sports industry as a fitness instructor and personal trainer
Name: James Crossley
Occupation: James is now currently working in the sports industry as a fitness instructor and personal trainer, but had dabbled in acting following his time in Gladiators.
On Gladiators: ‘Discussing his time on the show, he said: ‘The first year I joined I couldn’t do anything – I locked myself away for a year to get better. You can be muscular and look good but it doesn’t mean you can climb those walls.’
Romantic life: James dated the show’s host Ulrika Jonsson, but the pair remained coy on their romance, until she uncovered all in her 2003 autobiography.
Fun facts: James was the youngest Gladiator on the show and was just 19 when he started.
Blaze: Eunice Huthart
New career: Eunice went on to become stunt doubles for A-listers including Angelina Jolie (pictured together, right), Milla Jovovich, Famke Janssen and Uma Thurman
Name: Eunice Huthart aka Blaze
Occupation: The Liverpudlian star went on to become stunt doubles for A-listers including Angelina Jolie, Milla Jovovich, Famke Janssen and Uma Thurman. She has starred in films including Golden Eye, Avengers and Titanic
Gladiators history: Former McDonald’s manager Eunice made her debut on the show in 1994 where she was originally a contender going against one of the Gladiators but became the first ever UK contestant to come a Gladiator.
Fun fact: Eunice frequently works alongside Angelina Jolie and the pair have become close friends. She is also godmother to Angelina and Brad Pitt’s daughter Shiloh Jolie-Pitt.
Cobra: Michael Wilson
Artist: Now living in the West Midlands, Michael spends his time making watercolour paintings
Name: Michael Willson aka Cobra
Occupation: Now living in the West Midlands, Michael spends his time making watercolour paintings. He also travels to schools and youth clubs up and down the UK, promoting that keeping fit can be fun
Gladiator history: Thanks to his quick-thinking and agility he became a master of the Hang Tough ring and was also the best Duel podium contender having never been knocked off. He became a fan-favourite Gladiator alongside the likes of Shadow, Wolf, Jet, Lightning and Hunter.
Fun fact: Proving that good things can come in small packages, Cobra – whose real name is Michael Wilson – didn’t let his tiny height get in the way of victory.
Nightshade: Judy Simpson
Happy days: Judy now spends her time working for the Duke of Edinburgh Awards and is an Honorary President of the Women’s Sports Federation
Name: Judy Simpson aka Nightshade
Occupation: Judy now spends her time working for the Duke of Edinburgh Awards and is an Honorary President of the Women’s Sports Federation. She has been awarded an MBE because of her sporting achievements.
Gladiator history: After retiring from professional sport, she joined Gladiators in 1993, under the alias Nightshade. She became renowned as one of the toughest female Gladiators ever. Her particular strengths were in Duel, Pole-Axe and Suspension Bridge
Fun fact: Jamaican-born Judy Simpson was one of Britain’s greatest all-round female athletes. The three-time Olympian competed in the Commonwealth Games, European Championships and World Championships.
Vulcan: John Seru
Changing ways: John owns a wrestling school, fitness shop and fitness centre that he has been running for 18 years in Sydney with his family
Name: John Seru
Occupation: John owns a wrestling school, fitness shop and fitness centre that he has been running for 18 years in Sydney with his family having previously enjoyed success as an actor
Gladiator history: In order to give villain Wolf a run for his money, Australian Gladiator Vulcan was drafted in for seasons seven and eight of the British show. The former bodybuilder and wrestler didn’t disappoint, showcasing his skills on the Duel platform and in the Gauntlet.
Fun fact: After he was talent spotted by an acting scout he scooped the role of a James Bond villain. He starred in the 1999’s The World Is Not Enough, playing henchman Gabor.
Rebel: Jennifer Stoute
Career: Jennifer bagged a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in 1990 and now runs a management agency for athletes, Stellar Athletics
Name: Jennifer Stoute aka Rebel
Occupation: Jennifer had been a former sprinter, with a hamstring injury halting her career for two years in 1993. She bagged a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in 1990 and now runs a management agency for athletes, Stellar Athletics
Gladiators history: She joined the show in 1996 as Rebel, but chose to continue with athletics while she was competing on the series. Jennifer later quit the show in 1999.
Fun facts: Jennifer had appeared alongside Russell Crowe in the blockbuster movie Gladiator, directed by Ridley Scott.
Vogue: Suzanne Cox
Keeping it fit: Suzanne is now an aerobics instructor and had gone on to model and present TV show titled The Fix following Gladiators
Name: Suzanne Cox aka Vogue
Occupation: Suzanne is now an aerobics instructor and had gone on to model and present TV show titled The Fix following Gladiators.
Gladiators history: She joined the show in 1995 and had stayed with the series until it came to an end after its eighth series in 2000.
Fun facts: Suzanne is married to 1997 Gladiators quarter finalist Mark Roberts and they share two children together. She was a firm favourite among teenage boy viewers and was known for back-flipping while entering the arena to Vogue by Madonna.
Saracen: Michael Lewis
Different career: Micahel has swapped his spandex for fire gear as he is now a firefighter following years in the ring
Name: Michael Lewis aka Saracen
Occupation: He has swapped his spandex for fire gear as he is now a firefighter following years in the ring
Gladiators history: Michael and his girlfriend Chrissie, tried out for the Gladiators show in 1992, Chrissie becoming a first series contender and of course Saracen joining the team. They are now happily married.
Fun fact: Mike tackled the tough Ninja Warrior course
Warrior: Mike Ahearne
Incarceration: Mike, left, was jailed for 15 months after being found guilty of corruption and perverting the course of justice alongside Merseyside detective Elmore Davie
Name: Mike Ahearne
Occupation: Ahearne played rugby union for England at youth level before becoming a decorated bodybuilder. He now owns a gym.
Gladiators history: The 6ft 4in former runner-up Mr Britain and ex-Mr Universe competitor became one of the stars of ITV’s Gladiators, competing on seasons 1-6.
Police run-ins: After the sixth series in 1997, he was sacked from the show after being arrested for a firearms offence.
The following year he was jailed for 15 months after being found guilty of corruption and perverting the course of justice alongside Merseyside detective Elmore Davie
And referee John Anderson…
Keeping them in check: John had been the show’s iconic referee and personally trained the gladiators on the show
Name: John Anderson
Occupation: John has continued to mentor and coach athletics stars in his later years, first starting out as a trainer prior to appearing on Gladiators.
On the show: ‘They were very good, they were professionals. They did everything very well, they were easy to work with. I was delighted to work with them,’ he said yesterday.
Gladiators history: John joined the show when it first launched in 1992 and stayed with it until it wrapped in 2000. He reprised his role as referee back in 2008 when the show returned.
Fun facts: John has trained an Olympian at every summer games between 1964 and 2000. He has also enjoyed success as a footballer and played for Scotland.