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Gladiators show was 'a once-in-a-lifetime experience' says contestant with Caithness connections

By Gordon Calder

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AN army officer, who was a contestant in the television Gladiators programme at the weekend and has relatives in Caithness, said taking part in the show was "a once-in-a-lifetime experience."

Finlay Anderson, whose father and grandparents stayed in Wick, participated in the BBC programme on Saturday night and got through to the next round after beating his opponent, Ash, in a nail biting finish. He had been trailing but came good in the final eliminator contest to book his place in the quarter finals.

The 35-year-old major, who is based at the Glencorse Barrocks, near Edinburgh, was "absolutely buzzing" at the end of the programme.

Finlay explained he used to play at being a Gladiator in his granny's living room in Wick as a five year old when the programme was first broadcast in the 1990s. His granny and grandad were the late Stella and Sandy Anderson.

"To go from that to the real thing was just so surreal and was a childhood dream come true," he said in an interview with the John O' Groat Journal.

"It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and lived up to expectations. It was a friendly competition and I made some friends who I will stay in touch with."

Finlay Anderson was a contestant on the Gladiators programme last Saturday
Finlay Anderson was a contestant on the Gladiators programme last Saturday

He added: "The Gladiators are really big guys and I was pretty battered and bruised by the end of the programme but my Army training has helped make me mentally and physically resilient."

Finlay, who is married to Lauren and has one son, Beauden and another due in early March, said his northern relatives were all rooting for him. " I have a big crew of support in the north. I have got aunts, great aunts and cousins in Caithness as well as family in Orkney," he said,

His dad, Evan Anderson, comes from Wick and grew up in the town but now stays in Edinburgh. His mother, Jacqueline is from the Borders. Finlay has two younger brothers, Jamie and Ethan.

"We used to go up to Caithness two or three times a year because my granny and grandad were there. I have fond memories of Caithness and being on Reiss sands. The last time I was there would be about three to four years ago, said Finlay who was originally commissioned into the Highlanders Battalion of The Royal Regiment of Scotland.

Dad Evan and Finlay at the show
Dad Evan and Finlay at the show

Asked how he got involved in the programme, he replied: "I am always up for a challenge and just applied online. There were about 20,000 applications and that was narrowed down to 20 – 10 males and 10 females. I found out I was one of the contestants in April last year and the filming took place in June."

The successful applicants had to undergo trials, tests and training before the filming began.

Evan, is a big fan of Gladiators and came down to support his son during the recording of the programmes in Sheffield.

"There was a great atmosphere with the families there and thousands in the arena. The first episode attracted 8.7 million viewers and is proving very popular with the kids, "said Finlay who featured in the third episode last weekend.

He can be seen again in the quarter final when it is screened on February 17.

Finlay, Gladiators presenter Bradley Walsh and Evan pose for a photo
Finlay, Gladiators presenter Bradley Walsh and Evan pose for a photo

The Gladiators series was revived on BBC 1ast month but was first screened on ITV in the early 1990s.

Each episode consists of four players – two male and two female – competing in a series of physically challenging events against the show's resident Gladiators – a group of elite athletes. The contenders aim to secure a place in the grand final, and ultimately be crowned champion. The series is presented by Bradley Walsh and his son, Barney. It is refereed by Mark Clattenburg and voiced-over by Guy Mowbray.

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