GLADIATORS are ready … to make a comeback!

They had physiques that were honed to perfection. The Lycra shone as bright as their teeth and the fake tan glistened under the studio lights. They were the gods and goddesses of Saturday evening TV, and viewers were hooked.

After 20 years, it has been confirmed that the hit show Gladiators is set to return to screens next year.

The popular 90s TV show saw members of the public battle it out against the show’s cast of bodybuilders and gymnasts and ran for eight series before ending in 2000.

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The BBC has confirmed the show will make a comeback with an 11-episode series that will be welcoming a new generation of “superhumans” who will compete against contestants in the “ultimate test of speed and strength”.

The programme, originally hosted by Ulrika Jonsson and John Fashanu, will feature new games alongside the classic challenges that long-time fans will remember.

Each show will end with the ultimate challenge – the obstacle course known as The Eliminator.

The rebooted programme will be filmed at Utilita Arena Sheffield in 2023, while the new hosts have yet to be announced.

The original series was watched by more than 14 million viewers, with Scottish referee John Anderson – known for his catchphrase “Contenders ready? Gladiators ready?” – was there with his whistle to keep the Gladiators and contestants in check.

The new series is to be made by Hungry Bear Media and MGM Television UK.

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Dan Baldwin, managing director of Hungry Bear, said of the show’s big comeback: “It’s the perfect time for Gladiators to return. What other show combines electric excitement, superheroes, giant sponge fingers, elite athletes, and a pinch of pantomime?”

The classic show made household names of the Gladiators including Jet, Lightening, the Wolf, Nightshade, Hunter and Warrior.

The format – which originated in the US – travelled to Australia, South Africa, Russia, Finland, Germany, Nigeria, Denmark and Sweden.

But the show’s demise was announced in 1999 after it lost over half its viewers in later series, dropping to six million.

Gladiators has seen many spin-offs and was briefly revived by Sky One in 2009, but it only lasted two series.

So another decade, another challenge to tackle with a giant foam cotton bud.

But will the massive muscles bursting through minimal gym wear still be a draw in 2022?

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I confess I was a fan back in the day. Saturday nights kicked off with the Brookside omnibus followed by Gladiators and Match of the Day and topped off with a trip to Blockbuster to rent a video.

In defence of our square-eyed predilections, we were skint and even the price of a cinema ticket was prohibitive.

Nowadays, I’m not sure I’m “ready” to embrace a new generation of high-octane gladiatorial energy.