10 TV shows to watch if you like Gladiators - And where to stream them

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Leotards, giant foam fingers and oversized obstacle courses are BACK on television on Saturday nights, thanks to BBC1 reviving the cult teatime classic that is Gladiators. The remake once again sees physically fit members of the public take on the resident gladiators - hulking ex-athletes with glistening muscles and monikers like Apollo, Bionic, Diamond and Fire - in a series of bruising challenges. Want more pumped, slightly cartoonish action that looks like sports from the future, if the future turns out to be cheesy but fun? See below for our guide to your next shows to stream if you’re a Gladiators fan.

Gladiators is big, brash and colourful, so it’s no surprise to learn that the original, definitive version is American - and so our top pick has to be American Gladiators. It debuted in 1989, which means it adds big hair to the big biceps, and over the course of seven seasons it hones what we would now recognise as the classic roster of games. But it’s a bit more violent than the UK version: a lot of it is like American football without the padding.

American Gladiators was a big hit, which meant it attracted a fervent fanbase, but it was also a chaotic production that almost didn’t make it to air. All the behind-the-scenes gossip is in Muscles and Mayhem: An Unauthorized Story of American Gladiators, a breathlessly entertaining documentary series.

Gladiators imitators have come and gone over the years, with British telly having had success with Total Wipeout and Ninja Warrior, both of which tried to be Gladiators without the gladiators: ordinary folk took on huge obstacles, but there weren’t any beefcakes trying to hinder them. Australian Ninja Warrior is the blondest, most bronzed version out there. Then there’s the internationally focused Ultimate Beastmaster, which takes teams from different nations and sets them up in competition with each other. Variations on the theme include Strong, which helps American women to lose weight by pairing them up with sculpted male training gurus and then setting the duos strength-building tasks.

All these shows owe a debt to the genius mayhem of 1980s Japanese cult classic Takeshi’s Castle. Last year it returned, with Amazon Prime Video adding British commentators Romesh Ranganathan and Tom Davis to make Romesh and Tom Take Takeshi’s Castle, an even more hilarious take on an already funny show.

In the wake of the hit drama Squid Game, Korea has latched on to the magic of souped-up pseudo-sport with Squid Game: the Challenge, a real-life version of the competition from the fictional show that makes an important tweak to the format: failed competitors are not killed. Even better is Physical: 100, in which the nation’s fittest people are put through their paces by an unseen gamesmaster.

Back in the UK, there’s a lot of Gladiators in SAS: Who Dares Wins, although the tough special forces guys who form the show’s judging panel wouldn’t like to admit it. It’s still random punters taking on elaborate tests of endurance. Fancy your own marathon of Gladiators-esque shows? Here are our top 10 picks, and where to stream them right now.

Disney Plus
Amazon Prime Video
Apple TV Plus
Apple TV
Amazon Video
Paramount Plus
Channel 4
Sky Go
Crunchyroll Amazon Channel
BBC iPlayer
Google Play Movies
BFI Player
Sky Store
Microsoft Store
Curzon Home Cinema
Arrow Video Amazon Channel
Talk Talk TV
Starz Play Amazon Channel
Rakuten TV
Netflix Kids
YouTube Premium
BFI Player Amazon Channel
Hayu Amazon Channel
BritBox Amazon Channel
MUBI Amazon Channel
STV Player
Curiosity Stream
Flix Premiere
Now TV
Dogwoof On Demand
WOW Presents Plus
Magellan TV
Acorn TV
AcornTV Amazon Channel
True Story
DocAlliance Films
Now TV Cinema
CuriosityStream Amazon Channel
DocuBay Amazon Channel
Discovery+ Amazon Channel
Fandor Amazon Channel
Full Moon Amazon Channel
ITV Amazon Channel
MGM Amazon Channel
Pokémon Amazon Channel
Shout! Factory Amazon Channel
Shudder Amazon Channel
Eros Now Amazon Channel
FilmBox Live Amazon Channel
MotorTrend Amazon Channel
Pluto TV
ShortsTV Amazon Channel
Yupp TV
Paramount+ Amazon Channel
Curzon Amazon Channel
Icon Film Amazon Channel
Hallmark TV Amazon Channel
Studiocanal Presents Amazon Channel
Sundance Now Amazon Channel
Sooner Amazon Channel
Sun Nxt
Netflix basic with Ads
Paramount Plus Apple TV Channel
OUTtv Amazon Channel
HistoryPlay Amazon Channel
Crime+ Investigation Play Amazon Channel
Shahid VIP
Univer Video
Acorn TV Apple TV
Tastemade Apple TV Channel
CuriosityStream Apple TV Channel
BFI Player Apple TV Channel
Amazon Prime Video with Ads
  1. American Gladiators

    American Gladiators


    IMDB 6.6 (3k)


    American Gladiators is an American competition television program that aired weekly in syndication from September 1989 to May 1996. The series matched a cast of amateur athletes against each other, as well as against the show's own gladiators, in contests of strength and agility. The concept was created by Dan Carr and John C. Ferraro, who held the original competition at Erie Tech High School in Erie, Pennsylvania. They sold the show to The Samuel Goldwyn Company where the concept was enhanced and became American Gladiators. An effort in 2004 to launch a live American Gladiators show on the Las Vegas Strip became mired in a securities fraud prosecution. However, the television series was restarted in 2008. Episodes from the original series were played on ESPN Classic from 2007 to 2009. Several episodes are available for download on Apple's iTunes Service.

  2. Muscles & Mayhem: An Unauthorized Story of American Gladiators


    In the '90s, TV's stunt-filled "American Gladiators" thrilled fans. This docuseries explores the show's success — and how it almost ended before it began.

  3. Romesh and Tom Take Takeshi's Castle


    Romesh Ranganathan and Tom Davis host a reboot of the popular 1980's Japanese game show where contestants must overcome obstacles and guards to make it to the center of the castle.

  4. Physical: 100

    Physical: 100


    IMDB 7.7 (10k)


    One hundred contestants in top physical shape compete in a series of grueling challenges to claim the honor - and cash reward - as the last one standing.

  5. Ultimate Beastmaster


    In this intense obstacle course series, elite athletes from the U.S. and other countries compete for cash prizes, individual glory and national pride.

  6. Australian Ninja Warrior


    Australian Ninja Warrior is a sports entertainment competition spin-off of the Japanese television series Sasuke which premiered on 9 July 2017 on the Nine Network.

  7. SAS: Who Dares Wins

    SAS: Who Dares Wins


    IMDB 8.3 (1k)


    Selection for the SAS is one of the world's toughest job interviews and physical fitness is only the starting point. What's really being tested is psychological resilience and character as candidates undergo sleep deprivation, interrogation and a series of increasingly complex mind games. In this programme, five ex-special forces soldiers re-create tasks from the SAS's secret selection process, putting 30 civilian men through the ultimate test of their physical and - more importantly - their psychological resilience.

  8. Squid Game: The Challenge


    In this reality competition show inspired by "Squid Game," 456 players put their skills to the ultimate test for a life-changing $4.56 million prize.

  9. Strong



    IMDB 7.5


    Strong features 20 contestants, which include 10 male trainers and 10 female trainees. The trainers work on helping their trainees improve their physical fitness, not only through losing weight but also through achieving a balance between mind and body, and getting into shape both physically and mentally. After a series of challenges, two teams will face each other in a physical competition in the Elimination Tower, with the losing team being eliminated from the series. The winning team will receive a cash prize of up to $500,000, depending on their overall performance in the show.

  10. Total Wipeout

    Total Wipeout


    IMDB 6.0 (1k)


    Each week, 20 contestants compete in a series of challenges in an attempt to win £10,000. These challenges are based in large pools of water or mud and generally involve large assault courses that participants must cross.

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