Sat. Apr 20th, 2024
alert-–-inside-the-struggles-of-the-original-stars-of-gladiators:-from-spinal-injuries-to-a-cancer-battle-and-alcoholismAlert – Inside the struggles of the original stars of Gladiators: From spinal injuries to a cancer battle and alcoholism

The hugely popular reboot of Gladiators will come to a dramatic conclusion on Saturday night when the final airs at 5.50pm on BBC One.

Presented by father and son duo Bradley and Barney Walsh, the show will see Finlay Anderson, Wesley Male, Bronte Jones and Marie-Louise Micholson compete for one last time to see who will be Gladiators champion of 2024.

They will attempt to emulate the feats of the original contenders, who appeared on the original series which ran on ITV from 1992 to 2000. 

Still beloved by fans, the original Gladiators had a colourful cast of characters who entertained the nation.

Despite the fame and success that came with the show, some stars endured hardships when the cameras turned off. 

From severe injuries to shocking deaths and even prison sentences, here is everything you need to know about the original cast of Gladiators.  

Warrior – Michael Ahearne 

From severe injuries to shocking deaths and even prison sentences, here is everything you need to k now about the original cast of Gladiator

From severe injuries to shocking deaths and even prison sentences, here is everything you need to k now about the original cast of Gladiator

Shouldering the role of Warrior on the original ITV show, Michael Ahearne was a pure powerhouse who rose to stardom – receiving as much as £100,000 a year.

However, his career would take a dramatic turn for the worst in 1998, when he was sent to prison for 15 months for obscuring justice in an incident involving drug barons. 

He was embroiled in the plot to stop the prosecution of an ex-international cocaine drug lord, Curtis ‘Cocky’ Warren.

Things seemed to be looking up for Michael six months later, as he was granted an early release owing to good behaviour. 

This did not last though, as he fell into legal trouble once again 2018 after being found in possession of CS spray.

After appearing in court again on three counts of possession of a weapon ‘designed or adapted for the discharge of a noxious liquid’, he was sentenced to six months in prison at Liverpool Crown Court in October 2018, which was later suspended for 12 months.

Jet – Diane Youdale 

Making quite the impression on the show thanks to her flawless figure, Jet was a cult character on the show

Making quite the impression on the show thanks to her flawless figure, Jet was a cult character on the show

Making quite the impression on the show thanks to her flawless figure, Jet was a cult character on the show. 

Having dated co-star James Crossley – better known as Hunter – Jet was an extremely popular personality on the original run of Gladiators. 

Consequently, many fans were upset when Jet’s time on the show had to be curtailed prematurely after she sustained a neck injury during one of the challenges. 

Reflecting on her decision to leave the show after four seasons, Diane said it was the right thing to do: ‘I was beginning to see more spinal injuries. 

‘You can damage your ankle or your knee and it will recover, but breaking your neck – that’s a different story.

‘After my accident, I decided to quit while I could,’ she added. 

‘I decided it wasn’t worth it any more; I wanted to leave while I could still walk out of the studio.’

Cobra – Michael Wilson

While appearances in film and television can be career-boosting for many, this was not the case for Michael Wilson, who played Cobra

While appearances in film and television can be career-boosting for many, this was not the case for Michael Wilson, who played Cobra

While appearances in film and television can be career-boosting for many, this was not the case for Michael Wilson, who played Cobra.  

Sadly, many people will remember his time on the show for his battle with alcoholism.

Although he was in impressive physical shape throughout his time on the show – which spanned eight series – it was a different tale behind the scenes as Michael enjoyed a hedonistic lifestyle and developed a dependence on alcohol. 

Looking back on how excessive drinking affected his time on the show, Michael conceded that there were times when he would struggle to chase contestants up the imposing 32-foot-high wall. 

Speaking to The Mirror in 2019, he said: ‘I was mucking about pranking, I had so much fun; it was brilliant I was with a lot of mates with similar interests, we were all similar age, it was fun. 

‘There were end-of-show parties, when we had international Gladiators come over, we would be up all night boozing.’

However, in 2019, he fell gravely ill with pneumonia and had to be taken to hospital for treatment, something that he would attribute to appearing on Gladiators. 

Speaking to The Sun at the time, he said: ‘I’m only half a Gladiator now. It’s been touch and go.’ 

Thankfully for viewers who remember him fondly, he would later go on to make a full recovery.

Falcon – Bernadette Hunt

During her time on the show, Bernadette earned a reputation as a go-getting individual and went on to achieve cult status

During her time on the show, Bernadette earned a reputation as a go-getting individual and went on to achieve cult status

During her time on the show, Bernadette earned a reputation as a go-getting individual and went on to achieve cult status after taking part in the American version of the show until 1999.

Indeed, she would continue to work in the fitness industry after the show reached its conclusion, operating her own personal training business in Basingstoke, Hampshire, where she was often inundated with request from eager clients looking fitness advice. 

However, in 2023, tragedy struck, as Bernadette passed away aged 59 following a battle with cancer. 

Bernadette’s death was announced by her sister Carol’s partner Rick Jango in a statement on social media, as she paid tribute to one of ‘the loveliest people’ he knew.

The Gladiators Instagram page honoured the star with a sweet tribute, writing: ‘It is with great sadness that we report that our beloved Falcon (Bernadette Hunt) died on the 14th March at the age of 59 after battling cancer for a number of years.

‘Bernadette entered the arena as ‘Falcon’ during the second series in 1993 and instantly became a firm fan favourite. She stayed with the show until its final series in 1999, becoming the second longest-serving female Gladiator.

‘Falcon was also a champion bodybuilder, winning the first competition she entered Miss Natural Health in 1992. She went on to win other titles including Miss Novice Britain, Miss London and Home Counties 1992 and Miss South Britain.

‘Many fans will remember Falcon as the most lovely, warm, generous person with a beaming smile! Our Gladiator family is truly heartbroken with our loss of Bernie.’