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Date TimeSeptember 02, 2019
VoiceWith John Fashanu and several Gladiators departing, the show lost its grip on the nation’s heart
How Gladiators went from Saturday night fight club to eating mat
It may be hard to imagine but there was actually a time when Simon Cowell wasn’t on our TV screens on a Saturday evening. Back in the early 1990s, for example, you had a wealth of options to enjoy (or endure). There were the contrived courtships of Blind Date, the unimpressive impressions on Stars in Their Eyes and the dream/nightmare ticket of Jim Davidson and John Virgo on the snooker gameshow Big Break. And then, of course, there was the phenomenon that was Noel’s House Party, a show for which the words “zany” and “madcap” could well have been invented.
Viewers with any sense, however, watched Gladiators. Broadcast on ITV, Gladiators proved to be the perfect antidote to Mr Blobby over on the Beeb. While Edmonds’s guests tried to Grab a Grand or Beat Their Neighbour, the Gladiators were busy grabbing members of the public and giving them a not-so-neighbourly beating at memorable events such as Hang Tough, Swingshot and Joust, a game that was, essentially, just two people beating each other with really big sticks.

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