AS THE smash-hit television series Gladiators returns to the small screen with a whole new look, one family from the Basingstoke area will be watching the revival more keenly than most.

Former Gladiator Bernadette Hunt, better known as Falcon, delighted fans in the '90s with her amazing power and incredible skill.

The fan-favourite, who lives in the Basingstoke area, was one of the most popular Gladiators.

She was known for being an all-rounder, able to turn her hand to any of the gruelling events, whether she was armed with a pugil stick in Duel or traversing the rings of Hang Tough.

Nowadays, the 44-year-old is more likely to be holding fitness classes at Basingstoke Sports Centre or relaxing at home with her partner and two children.

As Sky bosses gear up for what is sure to be one of the biggest television events of the year - it airs on Sky One at 6pm on Sunday - Bernadette told The Gazette she will certainly be among those watching.

She said: "I'm very excited at the prospect of seeing the show back on air and I'm sure it will bring back some memories.

"I can remember when I auditioned and having no idea it would go on to become such a success.

"I first had an inkling when my son said, Mummy, I like Gladiators. If you get on, it would be brilliant.'"

Athletic Bernadette sailed through the auditions and joined the show in 1993 for the start of the second series.

She became renowned for being the show's nicest character, always willing to sign autographs and shaking competitors' hands, even if she had lost.

She said: "I just hope they have an interesting cast of people and bring back some of the favourite games.

"Characters such as Wolf and Jet really stick in people's minds, along with games like Duel and the Eliminator.

"It would be nice to see that recaptured.

"I think it's about time the show came back, especially with the problems at the moment with child obesity.

"The show did a great job at promoting health and fitness and that was why I actually got into it."

Bernadette was on the ITV show for seven series until it ended in 1999.

Since hanging up her leotard, she has visited schools to promote healthy living and carried out promotional work for charity.

"I'm very happy with the work I do now and am always busy. My time is spent as a personal trainer and with my children Adam, 23, and Angel, four."

Asked if there's any chance of a comeback for a one-off special against the new wave of Gladiators, she quickly dismissed the idea.

She said: "The show's producers have been in talks with the former Gladiators to organise an event against the new guys, but I've turned it down as I try to keep a lower profile and have lots of commitments.

"But I'm sure that come Sunday, the family and I will be curled up on the sofa, cheering on the Gladiators."