You thought the 90s were gone? Don’t be so sure. Saturday night TV is back with a bang, loudly proclaimed by synthesised trumpets and swirling visuals of God-like human beings flexing their stature. Do you feel the power of the Gladiators?
6.4 million of us did, according to the Radio Times. That amounted to over a third of everyone watching TV that night – and put the BBC’s reboot of Gladiators amongst the most-watched list.
If you were born after the 1990s this likely means nothing to you. But for those of us lucky enough to remember Ulrika Johnson, John Fashanu, John Anderson, Wolf, and Jet, this reboot brought back the rush in all its glory. I was so captivated by the nostalgia that I told my wife I’d be learning the theme song on guitar.
And nostalgia is what Gladiators plays on. I loved every detail of the new Gladiators series, but I know full well that a large part of its appeal was in its power to transport me back to my childhood Saturday nights.
But it would be a mistake to confuse my nostalgia with reality. I’m longing for a time that never really existed – in my mind, life was simpler, safer, and more hopeful, but that’s to view the past through rose-tinted glasses.
If your colleagues or neighbours were part of the viewing figures on Saturday night, you could ask them what they made of it all.
Then it’s only a short step to a deeper conversation – reminiscing about the original series, chatting about what you were doing in the 90s, and how, to quote C.S. Lewis, the ‘piercing sweetness’ of nostalgia might reveal something to us about what we really want.
The 90s are truly behind us, and that’s ok. For now, BBC’s Gladiators allows me to revel in its memory, while reminding me that the innocence, excitement, and celebration I am tasting are flavours not of the world past, but the world to come.