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Gladiators critique - a nostalgic, exaggerated experience that will leave you perspiring.
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Gladiators critique – a nostalgic, exaggerated experience that will leave you perspiring.


Attention children born in the 1990s! Get ready! For no particular reason other than just because, the beloved weekend television show Gladiators is making a comeback. This time, it will be aired on BBC One instead of ITV like it used to be years ago. However, the show’s format remains the same: we will still be glued to our TV screens, lying on our stomachs on the living room carpet, watching intense physical challenges. These challenges feature regular people with a passion for fitness and a bit of self-absorption, pitted against former athletes in flashy leotards with an intense love for themselves.

The gladiators are a fresh group of athletes including sprinters, gymnasts, and bodybuilders, who go by stage names like Giant, Fire, Electro, Nitro, and Comet. They make their entrance, strike their signature pose, and then use their massive muscles to effortlessly overpower the unsuspecting volunteers.

Some popular games include Duel, where a gladiator uses a large, soft cotton swab to knock the contestant off a platform; Hang Tough, where challengers must hold onto gymnastic rings while a gladiator attempts to pull them off; and Gauntlet, where the contender runs down a half-pipe while being attacked by grumpy gladiators wielding padded sticks.

A surprising addition has been made to the commentary team: Guy Mowbray, the top football commentator at the BBC. In his main role, Mowbray is known for his precise and knowledgeable commentary, carefully selecting the perfect words for every moment. His trademark qualities include thoughtful skill and subtle refinement.

Although Jonathan Pearce’s commentary style was well-suited for Robot Wars due to its aggressive tone, Mowbray’s more measured delivery does not quite match the energy of the pumped up studio audience and their celebratory antics. As a former Commonwealth Games powerlifting competitor, seeing someone like Mowbray overpowering an IT engineer from Leeds on oversized playground equipment may seem out of place. However, Mowbray handles this contrast by stepping back and providing a professional summary of the action. Hopefully, in upcoming episodes, we will see him let loose and embrace the chaotic atmosphere.

Barney Walsh, the new co-host, is having a tough time in the initial stages of his role. He has been brought in to present and conduct post-match interviews with his well-known father, Bradley. While the experienced host of The Chase remains charming and humorous, Walsh Jr appears rigid and uncomfortable in his new blue suit. He hesitantly speaks each word, clearly nervous. Although Barnes has a lively personality and radiates a charming innocence reminiscent of a character from a 1970s British sex comedy, he hasn’t quite found his footing on the show yet.

The latest thrilling game is called Collision, in which participants have to sprint over a unsteady bridge and toss a ball into a basket on the opposite end. In the meantime, gladiators swing across their path on ropes, attempting to knock them off – with the ropes positioned at a level that results in the runners’ faces being constantly hit by well-toned buttocks and thighs. The most effective strategy is to push the muscular buttocks out of the way with a strong, flat hand, as if one is irritated at being trapped in a meat freezer.

The Ring is a new addition, but similar to how Collision is a modified version of the previous game Hit & Run, The Ring is a revamped edition of Powerball. In this game, players must avoid being tackled by angry gladiators while trying to drop balls into bins. However, in this updated version, players must instead press a button in the center of the arena. The ultimate goal remains the same – to reach point B from point A without being physically restrained, pinned down, covered, or stepped on.

When Collision and The Ring engage in combat, the referee must intervene to enforce the rules. Taking over the role of officiator from the original show’s John Anderson is former Premier League referee Mark Clattenburg. He delivers his catchphrase, “Gladiators, ready!” with a sense of urgency and is able to command attention when he reprimands contestants such as “Phantom” for not following the rules. Clattenburg manages to keep a straight face even when “Viper,” the antagonist of the new lineup, attempts to confront him after being disqualified for breaking a rule on the trapeze.

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However, no one is being serious, even after the scores have been calculated and the final obstacle course appears. It starts with Clattenburg’s significant moment (“Kerry, you will begin on my first signal”) and concludes with the well-known moving walkway of the show, which Mowbray boldly calls “the iconic Travelator”. Who will land on the last crash mat first: a dog walker from Dunfermline or a school nurse from Ipswich? It doesn’t matter – this fun and exciting Saturday evening entertainment is a nostalgic and exhilarating experience.

Source: theguardian.com