Meet the referees on new Gladiators reboot
As the iconic show Gladiators makes its return to television, here’s a look at the new faces who will be ensuring fair play in this high-octane competition.
The show, set to air from Saturday 13 January 2024, promises a blend of new and classic challenges as contestants take on a new cast of superhuman Gladiators.
The competition will be overseen by a team of skilled referees, declaring the iconic phrase ‘Gladiators, ready!’
Meet the Gladiators referees
Mark Clattenburg, a name synonymous with English football, is one of the country’s most decorated referees. His career highlights include officiating at significant events like the 2012 Men’s Olympics final, the 2012 Carabao Cup final, the 2014 European Super Cup, and the 2016 FA Cup, Champions League, and European Championships Finals. His transition from the football field to the Gladiators arena is a leap into a world where physical prowess meets entertainment.
Mark expressed his excitement about joining Gladiators, reminiscing about the show’s impact in the 90s and the legendary status of its original referee, John Anderson. His first encounter with the arena and the Gladiators was a mix of awe and camaraderie, as he navigated his role amidst the spectacle and the athletes.
However, it hasn’t been without challenges. He shared: “There was one or two moments between a contender and Viper which I had to step in, but overall there was a lot of respect between the contenders and Gladiators. Some of the contenders were shocked by the Gladiators and how strong and fast they were.”
Sonia Mkoloma, a former English international netball player, brings a different sporting perspective to the show. With a career spanning over five Netball World Cups and three Commonwealth Games, Sonia’s experience in high-pressure sporting environments is invaluable. Her transition from player to the England Netball Assistant Head coach and now to a referee on Gladiators showcases her versatility and understanding of competitive dynamics.
Sonia’s reaction to joining the show was one of disbelief and excitement, being a fan of the original series. Her favouritism games include The Edge and the Gauntlet, highlighting her appreciation for the physical and strategic elements of the competition.
And she said of filming: “The crowd really got into the show and were booing us loads, especially Mark. The crowd didn’t want to boo me, so Mark would send me & Lee out first in the hope he wouldn’t get booed.”
Completing the refereeing trio is Lee Phillips, a fitness professional, firefighter, and athlete. His achievements as a four-time World Champion in firefighter fitness competitions and CrossFit demonstrate his dedication to physical excellence.
Lee’s involvement in Gladiators started with running fitness tests for the try-outs, eventually leading to his role as an assistant referee.
He said of taking part in the series: “It’s a real action-packed show with lots to look forward to. A new breed of superheroes and villains, some inspirational stories and some nail-biting close finishes.”
Gladiators airs on BBC One and iPlayer on Saturday nights.
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