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Gladiators semi-final pulled from BBC schedule

Gladiators fans will be disappointed to learn that tonight’s semi-final has been pulled from the BBC schedule and delayed by one week.

This week’s semi-final has been pushed off the schedule to make room for the FA Cup quarter-final between Manchester City and Newcastle United on Saturday 16 March, which will air in the usual Gladiators spot from 5:10pm to 7:40pm.

The penultimate episode of the series will instead follow next Saturday (23 March), leaving viewers with a two-week gap between shows.

The reboot of the classic 1990s show has seen huge success with its return, with an average of 6m viewers tuning in for the launch episode, and a total of 8.7m watching it in the first seven days since its release.

After weeks of dramatic tumbling, giant Q-tip wrestling matches and nail-biting assault courses, only three episodes of the season remain.

The original programme was presented by Ulrika Jonsson alongside John Fashanu and later Jeremy Guscott. For the 2024 reboot, Bradley Walsh and his son Barney have taken over hosting duties, but some original cast members were left disappointed by the appointment.

Barney Walsh on ‘Gladiators’ hosting duties (BBC / James Stack / © Hungry Bear Media Ltd)
Barney Walsh on ‘Gladiators’ hosting duties (BBC / James Stack / © Hungry Bear Media Ltd)

Alex Georgijev, who played Hawk on the series 30 years ago has said that he believes that the show’s original formula of having a female presenter is an “important part” of the programme that the remake has missed.

“I was a bit disappointed in the presenters, I have to admit,” said Georgijev in a BBC interview.

“Bradley Walsh wouldn’t have been my first choice, and his son was there. I think that a female presenter was missing – I really think that was an important part of the Gladiators.”

In his three-star review of the new series of Gladiators, The Independent’s TV critic Nick Hilton writes that the show is where “the public embarrassment of Takeshi’s Castle meets the pantomime quality of WWE wrestling”.

Gladiators returned to screens in January (BBC / James Stack / © Hungry Bear Media Ltd)
Gladiators returned to screens in January (BBC / James Stack / © Hungry Bear Media Ltd)

“If the original series was dominated by ex-squaddies and county athletes, this new version is the domain of the personal trainer (PT). As a PT marketing exercise, nothing could be more effective: scuttling up climbing walls or rope nets, getting thumped in various formations, swinging across hoops and bars,” he adds.

“There is a simple, unalloyed joy in seeing people getting smashed in the face with a giant Q-tip.”

Gladiators continues next Saturday (23 March) at 5.50pm on BBC One.