Bradley and Barney Walsh hosting Gladiators

OPINION: Bradley and Barney Walsh need to be axed from Gladiators – Gary Lineker and Alex Scott should replace them

Should Holly Willoughby figure in a second series?

The comeback of Gladiators to UK terrestrial telly after two decades means BBC One has started 2024 strongly.

Not only has the reboot served up lashings of nostalgia for those who remember the original ITV run fondly, the sports entertainment series has provided feel-good family viewing when it is harder than ever to bring families together in front of the box.

The familiar theme tune and many of the show’s challenges have returned, too. However, new athletic stars have been cast as the Gladiators, a host of referees have been recruited to fill in for show official John Anderson (now 92), and ex hosts such as Ulrika Jonsson, John Fashanu and Jeremy Guscott are no longer on board.

Father and son duo Bradley Walsh and Barney Walsh are now fronting the show. But amid social media snipes about their connection and their casting being a “mistake” – as well speculation Bradley’s pal Holly Willoughby could play a part in presenting a second series – who else might be a good fit to present Gladiators?

Bradley Walsh and Barney Walsh hosting Gladiators
Bradley Walsh and Barney Walsh hosting Gladiators (Credit: BBC)

Bradley and Barney Walsh – a Gladiators no-no

One of Gladiators’ executive producers is Holly‘s husband Dan Baldwin, whose Hungry Bear Media production company also makes Bradley Walsh & Son: Breaking Dad, Bradley Walsh’s Late Night Guestlist, and Take Off with Bradley & Holly.

Bradley is seemingly one of telly’s most popular stars, with other recent hits including The Larkins, Beat the Chasers and Thc Chase demonstrating how much ITV values him. But Bradders also has BBC success on his CV, with appearances on Blankety Blank and Doctor Who – and Barney also plays Cameron on the Beeb’s Casualty. It certainly appears Bradley and his son are considered safe pairs of hands for TV projects.

However, with Bradley anchoring so many different shows, wouldn’t it be refreshing to see another presenter – not necessarily related to him or Dan Baldwin – make the show distinctive, and establish it as a BBC programme?

Gary Lineker listens
‘Awooga’? (Credit: BBC)

Who should present Gladiators?

Really, that rules out Dan’s wife Holly ‘becoming the new Ulrika’ in any subsequent series, as popular as the combo of Holly and Bradley were on Take Off with Bradley & Holly.

So how about two of the Beeb’s most cherished stars in Gary Lineker and Alex Scott instead? Sure, they both get people going in certain corners of social media.

Alex Scott smiles
Alex Scott could be the perfect Gladiators host (Credit: BBC)

Both have the credibility of being former sports stars at the highest levels. And both have accrued considerable – and diverse – experience as broadcasters since their days as international footballers.

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Not only have they anchored Match of the Day and other football, both Alex and Gary have thrived in light entertainment gigs too.

Alex proved a hit with viewers on Strictly Come Dancing a few years ago, has hosted game show The Tournament, and also The One Show. And Gary cut his TV teeth on They Think It’s All Over for years, and has also presented Sitting on a Fortune for ITV.

Would you prefer to see Alex and Gary on Gladiators, or Bradley and Barney?

Read more: Gladiators fans deliver their verdict on new series and it’s bad news for Bradley and Barney Walsh

Gladiators 2024 continues with the third episode in the new series on Saturday January 27, at 5.50pm, on BBC One.

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Robert Leigh
Freelance writer