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Gladiators champions crowned after BBC showdown

Finlay Anderson and Marie-Louise Nicholson have been crowned Gladiators champions after a tense final showdown.

After 11 weeks of gruelling challenges on the BBC One show, Anderson beat Wesley Male and Nicholson triumphed over Bronte Jones.

The final programme on Saturday saw personal trainer Nicholson enter The Eliminator with a two-second head start on firefighter Jones and emerge victorious.

The 28-year-old told host Bradley Walsh: “Bronte was on my tail the whole time, what a competitor to go up against, she was so close to the end there. I think we’re both winners in my eyes.”

Army officer Anderson went head-to-head with wrestler Male in the final event but ran faster to the top of the travelator and burst through the paper to become champion.

“This is definitely the most surreal moment ever from five-year-old me playing The Eliminator in my granny’s living room to lifting the real deal, this is unbelievable,” the 34-year-old told Walsh.

To reach the final, the contenders had to battle against the show’s 16 Gladiators in games testing strength, speed and dexterity, that continue to be family favourites from previous versions of the programme.

This included Duel, and in the final Anderson took on Giant, who revealed one of the original Gladiators, Saracen, was in the audience.

Anderson was defeated in just six seconds and said: “That’s actually 50% longer than I lasted last time against Giant.”

Elsewhere, Jones said she was “gutted” after she went up against Fury on The Edge and came away with zero points.

In this challenge Nicholson managed to get an edge on Jones and scored eight points.

Going into the final Anderson and Male were neck and neck with 14 points while Nicholson had four points over Jones, meaning that she scored a head start.

Anderson, from Edinburgh, said the most challenging moment of the final was on The Edge, because he injured his “ribs quite badly on that event in the quarter-finals so naturally I was cautious as I didn’t want to get hurt again”.

He also said as a Crossfit fan, he wanted to “excel” against Gladiator Steel during the series, because the athlete is a star of the fitness regime and won the title of UK’s Fittest Man in 2020.

Meanwhile, Nicholson said her favourite moment from the series was the “biggest comeback of the year” when she got herself into the final four despite starting nine seconds behind on The Eliminator in the quarter-finals.

She said her favourite game was Powerball because of the “agility and speed and being tackled by a Gladiator, having a bit of rough and tumble”, while her least favourite was Duel.

“Winning means to me that things that you’re scared of in life, things you don’t want to go up against, if you throw yourself into it you’ll either learn something if you lose or you’ll gain something from it if you win. I always think that, even if you lose you’ll gain something from it,” she said.

National Television Awards 2020 – Arrivals – London
Bradley Walsh (right) and Barney Walsh (Ian West/PA)

Dublin-born Nicholson added that if she was to become a Gladiator she would call herself “Shamrock”.

It was announced earlier this week that Gladiators will return for a second series, with Kalpna Patel-Knight, head of entertainment at the BBC saying: “It has been wonderful to hear how much families have loved watching this together, as part of the BBC’s Saturday evening entertainment offering. We can’t wait for more action from the Gladiators.”

The first season was hosted by Walsh and his son Barney and filmed at the Sheffield Arena, although it has now been confirmed if they will return for the second series.

The season one Gladiators were called Sabre, Legend, Nitro, Diamond, Phantom, Athena, Bionic, Fire, Giant, Dynamite, Viper, Electro, Apollo, Comet, Steel and Fury, and came from sports and fitness backgrounds.

Gladiators was originally broadcast from 1992 to 2000 on ITV before being resurrected by Sky between 2008 and 2009.

The BBC began showing its first series earlier this year.