Original Gladiators star Wolf, 71, says he could ‘100%’ defeat stars of reboot

Michael Van Wijk appeared on original ITV series from 1992 to 2000

Isobel Lewis
Monday 08 January 2024 18:01 GMT
Former Gladiator Wolf unrecognisable as 71-year-old challenges show's new athletes

Wolf, the 71-year-old star of the original <em>Gladiators </em>series, has claimed that he “100 per cent” could beat the stars of the rebooted series.

The bodybuilder – real name Michael Van Wijk – is one of the most recognisable stars of the original action entertainment show, which aired for eight series on ITV from 1992 to 2000.

The show is now returning for a newly rebooted series beginning on BBC One on Saturday (13 January), with a new cast of Gladiators including a Team GB sprinter and a CrossFit champion.

Speaking to the Press Association, Wolf said that he’d like to have been involved in the new series, and felt it was a “shame” that the production company didn’t respond to his request.

“I think they decided from the get-go that they would have nothing to do with the old show or nothing to do with any of the people, it was just [going to be a] completely new format, completely their way of doing it,” he said.

“I suppose because [the new show is on] the BBC and it was ITV, they just want to be completely separate. That’s just my personal opinion.”

Wolf from ‘Gladiators’, pictured in 1997 (PA)

But despite being in his seventies, Wolf said that he still fancied his chances, were he to take on the new recruits. On whether he thought he could beat them, he said: “Absolutely, 100 per cent. I wouldn’t even worry about it.”

Wolf, who also featured on the rebooted series on Sky in 2008 and 2009, said: “When we did the very first photo shoot, I said to myself, ‘I’m surrounded by these good-looking, super-fit athletes, if I want longevity on this show, I’ve got to do something that makes me stand out from these guys.’

"So I was thinking of longevity off of the show, before we even did the first episode, I was treating it like a professional job, and [I thought], ‘I’ve got to make sure I shine here because these guys are so good, I’ve got to make sure that I’m even better’.

“And when they gave me the name Wolf [that] was marvellous for me, because they gave me a chance to become the baddie and stand out from the rest of the crowd.”

Gladiators begins Saturday 13 November at 5.50pm on BBC One.

Additional reporting by Press Association

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