The Definitive Ranking Of The 10 Most Thrilling Gladiators Events

From Dual with its giant cotton buds and the Eliminator with its travelators, this classic series kept us on the edge of our sofas in the 90s.

Long before Strictly Come Dancing or The Masked Singer were Saturday night sensations, the nation would be glued to the likes of Blind Date and Gladiators come the weekend.

The latter was a 90s TV mainstay, attracting millions upon millions of viewers during its eight-year run, as everyday members of the public tried their luck against some of the most ridiculously hench people in the country – known as the Gladiators – in a number of physical challenges.

While each of the Gladiators were instantly iconic thanks to their nicknames and on-screen personas, the events the show staged were equally memorable – who could forget Dual with its giant cotton buds, or the Eliminator with its travelators?

As we continue our Rewind To The 90s series, we’re counting down the 10 most thrilling Gladiators challenges...

10. The Wall

The Wall became a signature Gladiators challenge that even spawned its own action figure game, so it would be kind of remiss of us not to include it in the top 10.

It saw the contenders racing to the top of a climbing wall with the Gladiators in hot pursuit, ready to tug them right off.

9. Gauntlet

The contender had to run the length of a narrow tube by battling their way past five Gladiators armed with ramrods.

It was particularly intimidating for the contenders, as it was the most Gladiators they ever had to face in a single game and always made for brutal viewing, particularly if the contender wasn’t the strongest.

8. Hang Tough

The sheer upper body strength needed to be any good at Hang Tough is something we’re still trying to fathom (let alone possess) two decades later.

The challenge saw the contender have to make it across the arena to the Gladiator’s podium by swinging from suspended rings, while the Gladiator had to chase them in order to stop them, often yanking the contender down using their legs.

Graceful, it was not. But entertaining, it definitely was.

7. Pyramid

Undoubtedly one of the most dangerous events, two contenders would race to the summit of a giant pyramid as a pair of Gladiators tried to stop them, often resulting in them tumbling to the ground.

It was actually retired in 1996 when Jet badly injured herself while challenging a contender. In fact, her injury was so bad that it signalled the end of her Gladiators career.

It made a comeback the following year with smaller steps and new rules to make it safer, but it was axed after it was deemed to be less exciting than the original.

6. Pendulum

While we used to think the Pendulum looked like some sort of cool asteroid that had crashed into Birmingham’s National Indoor Arena as kids, in the cold light of 2022, it now just looks like a giant Covid virus.

Still, the hide-and-seek game – which saw the Gladiator have to track the contender down and remove the tag from their back – was one of the show’s biggest spectacles, with the Covid ball five metres in diameter and hanging 12m from the ground.

5. Atlasphere

Long before Zorbing was more commonly associated with stag dos, the contenders were racing against Gladiators in giant hamster wheels in an attempt to win points.

This was actually the first event ever screened on the show when it launched in 1992, and used Queen’s We Will Rock You as its signature music, which definitely helped it stick in fans’ heads.

4. Swingshot

One of those rare Gladiators events where’d you think, ‘Yeah, I wouldn’t actually mind trying that one, and I might not even be that bad?’

The contenders would be tied to a bungee and have to grab balls from a suspended central column, before bouncing back to put them in a scoring basket, while the Gladiators would do their best to stop them.

3. Skytrak

It’s a race course, suspended from the ceiling – do we really need to explain why this is so far up on this list?

Also, if this isn’t already a Red Letter Days experience, it should be.

2. Duel

Perhaps the game most synonymous with Gladiators.

A simple premise – two people with giant cotton buds have to hit each other hard enough that they fall over – but an incredibly compelling one.

The event was also knocked-off with Suspension Bridge and Joust, but they were not a patch on the original.

1. Eliminator

As the end-of-show obstacle course, this event had everything – except for actual Gladiators, that is.

It pit contender against contender, with their head start determined by how many points they’d won during the earlier challenges.

The Travelator! The Rolling Beams! The Zip Wire! Getting to swing through the paper at the end!

Getting to do this course is still truly bucket-list stuff.


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