‘As Jet, I was very feminised and glamorous’: Gladiators legend Diane Youdale, 50, reveals the show helped her overcome teen bulimia and learn to love her body
Gladiators legend Diane Youdale, known by her stage name Jet, revealed the 90s show helped her overcome the bulimia she suffered from ages 14 to 19.
Speaking on the Celebrity Catch Up: Life After That Thing I Did podcast, the TV personality, 50, detailed how training as a gymnast as a teen meant she wanted to remain ‘boy-looking’ yet becoming Jet meant being ‘very glamorous’.
She said: ‘Gladiators helped me go, well actually having a bit more booby and botty, and it not wobbling around too much – it’s alright to have lumps and bumps in all the right places. I’m being Jet because of who I am, because of how God made me’.
Wow! Gladiators legend Diane Youdale, known for her stage name Jet, revealed the 90s show helped her overcome the bulimia she suffered from ages 14 to 19
Gladiators regularly pulled in audiences of up to 14 million, with almost 100,000 people applying to battle against the likes of Jet, Wolf, Panther and Cobra.
Diane was forced to quit the show after four years in 1996 after suffering a neck injury, after which she trained as a fitness instructor as well as a psychotherapist, using her skill as a regular studio guest on Big Brother’s Bit On The Side.
In her new chat, she reflected on her life as a gymnast: ‘I remember looking in the mirror and really being very tortuous about my own body image. As a gymnast I’d grown to the height of a senior by 13…
‘I started developing and I wanted to remain boy-looking as long as possible because my career as a gymnast was at risk. But for me at the time, turning into a woman with boobies and bottom…
Jet-set: Gladiators regularly pulled in audiences of up to 14 million, with almost 100,000 people applying to battle against the likes of Jet, Wolf, Panther and Cobra
‘Somebody behind me on a tumble run one day said, ‘Oh Di, you’re getting a beautiful figure,’ – I could have died. So from 14 to 19 I really wrestled with becoming what visibly in the end, as Jet, was very feminised and very glamorous’.
Discussing how she overhauled life, she said: ‘Gladiators really helped me go, well actually having a bit more booby and botty, and it not wobbling around too much – it’s alright to have lumps and bumps in all the right places….
‘I’m being Jet because of who I am, because of how God made me. I’m very much [of the opinion] you can’t change what’s outside of you, but you can very much start to change how you look at the world from inside. I love the body I’ve been given.’
Last year, Diane stunned viewers by slipping her trim figure into a familiar pink crop top to host a retro fitness video, as she led the 10-minute online workout routine in a lycra and leggings for over-50s dating app Lumen.
Changes: Discussing how she overhauled life, she said: ‘Gladiators really helped me go, well actually having a bit more booby and botty, and it not wobbling around too much – it’s alright to have lumps and bumps in all the right places’ (pictured in 2019)
At the time, she spoke ahead of her own 50th birthday, saying: ‘Feeling too old or not fit enough is just a mind-set – anyone is able to exercise, regardless of age.
‘Once you hit 50, it’s important to do exercises that work for the mind as well as the body, and the comprehensive yet concise routine has everything the over 50s need.
‘Once you learn it, aim for three to four times a week and, for the more advanced, every day and even twice a day.”
‘As a single woman who’s about to turn 50, I know how important it is to feel body confident and stay mentally sharp.’
Wow! At the time, she spoke ahead of her own 50th birthday, saying: ‘Feeling too old or not fit enough is just a mind-set – anyone is able to exercise, regardless of age’
Gladiators: Where Are They Now?
Wolf: Michael Van Wijk
Then and now: Michael now runs his own gym in Auckland, where he currently resides, which is named Wolf’s Gym, after his Gladiators persona
Name: Michael Van Wijk aka Wolf
Occupation: Michael owns a gym called ‘Wolf’s Gym’ in Auckland, New Zealand where he now lives. He had owned gyms previously before finding fame on Gladiators
Gladiators history: He starred on the show for seven years and eight series throughout the entire time Gladiators aired on ITV.
Fun facts: Wolf was deemed the most popular gladiator on the series, albeit controversial thanks to his mean persona
Ace: Warren Furman
Change: Having turned his back on showbusiness, Warren found God and now runs a Gospel choir in York, where he lives with his wife and two kids
Name: Warren Furman
Occupation: Having turned his back on showbusiness, Warren found God and now runs a Gospel choir in York, where he lives with his wife and two kids.
Speaking on This Morning yesterday, he said: ‘I used to worship myself, I thought I was fantastic. I have now turned to God’s grace. I am a Gladiator of the gospel.
‘You’ll never know God until you change your direction and so I realised this. It was great, we had loads of money and women, but I realised I had to change’.
Gladiator history: Four years after the show began in 1996, the blond hunk beat 60 other hopefuls for a place on Gladiators, where he stayed on the series until its end in 2000. He returned for the revival in 2008
Fun facts: Warren was engaged to Katie Price in the late Nineties, during which time they enjoyed a particularly lavish lifestyle. He previously said: ‘We travelled the world first class, went for expensive dinners, had big houses and fancy cars’, yet things later broke off acrimoniously.
Amazon: Sharron Davies MBE
Heading up: Prior to heading on to the show, Sharron was a swimmer for Great Britain in the Olympics and European championships
Name: Sharron Davies aka Amazon
Occupation: Prior to heading on to the show, Sharron was a swimmer for Great Britain in the Olympics and European championships. She also competed for England in the Commonwealth Games. She has produced various fitness videos and served as a patron of charities for disabled children
Gladiator history: Sharron joined the show in 1995 yet a knee injury forced her to withdraw from the show in 1996. She famously complained of the health and safety aspects of the show
Fun fact: The blonde beauty enjoyed a stint on Dancing On Ice in 2011. The mother-of-three has remained in the spotlight, commentating on sporting events, presenting on the now-defunct Channel 4 show The Big Breakfast
Jet: Diane Youdale
Now: Diane has gone on to become a PE teaching assistant, before training as a pscyhotherapist
Name: Diane Youdale
Occupation: Diane started out with a career in gymnastics and dance, before rising to stardom on Gladiators, but was later forced to take up presenting and acting after injuring herself during the show’s live event held at Wembley Arena in 1996.
She then went on to become a PE teaching assistant, before training as a pscyhotherapist.
Fun facts: With 20 years in psychology behind her, Diane has landed herself a regular slot on Big Brother’s Bit On The Side and is seen analysing the housemates – she has appeared on 33 episodes of the show.
The Rhino: Mark Smith
On the up: Since appearing on Gladiators, Mark has gone on to bag several acting roles, including appearances on EastEnders, The Bill and Robin Hood
Name: Mark Smith
Occupation: Since appearing on Gladiators, Mark has gone on to bag several acting roles, including appearances on EastEnders, The Bill and Robin Hood. He then set his sights on Hollywood and has featured on high-profile films including Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Argo, which was directed by Ben Affleck and Frozen Ground, starring Nicholas Cage.
Gladiator history: Mark starred on the show from 1995 until its finale in 2000.
Fun facts: Rhino was deemed the joker of the Gladiator pack and would have the live audience in fits of giggles with his robotic dancing and body popping moves. Mark too had enjoyed a fling with show host Ulrika.
Panther: Helen O’Reilly
Helping others: Helen now has her own gym in Uxbridge, London, where she preps other girls and travels all across the globe judging bikini girls
Name: Helen O’Reilly aka Panther
On Gladiators: ‘It was great, it inspired so many people into sport, to be able to be strong and feminine at the same time. We still get messages today, 25 years later, of people still being inspired to go to the gym.’
Occupation: Helen is a champion bodybuilder and became one of Britain’s best, with a number of accolades to her name including Miss Central Britain, Miss Europe, Miss Great Britain, Miss Russia and Miss Universe.
Fun facts: She now has her own gym in Uxbridge, London, where she preps other girls and travels all across the globe judging bikini girls, fitness girls and men’s physique and body building.
Shadow: Jefferson King
On the up: Jefferson now works in a drug rehabilitation unit having overcome his own demons over the years
Name: Jefferson King
Occupation: He now works in a drug rehabilitation unit having overcome his own demons over the years
Gladiators history: Jefferson’s Gladiators career fell apart when he was ousted off the programme for taking steroids. Soon after the drug scandal a mistress sold a tale of his infidelity to a newspaper and his marriage broke down.
He said at the time: ‘There is no excuse for cheating. I was mixing with drugs before Gladiators and when I was tested during the show there were no traces of cocaine but they found steroids’
Fun fact: Jefferson become a wrestler following his TV career and had a cameo role in the Spice Girls movie Spiceworld in 1997.
Lightning: Kim Betts
Strong: Lightning was known as the ‘Queen of Hang Tough’ and had remained undefeated in the UK Arena – asides from being beaten just once in Australia
Name: Kim Betts
Occupation: Kim is a gymnast, bodybuilder and TV presenter.
Gladiators history: She had starred on Gladiators from its launch in 1992 until its end in 2000, before returning for its revamp eight years later. She was the longest-serving female star of the show.
Fun facts: Lightning was known as the ‘Queen of Hang Tough’ and had remained undefeated in the UK Arena – asides from being beaten just once in Australia. Kim had given birth to her son, Lexus, just three weeks before competing in 1999.
Hunter: James Crossley
Trainer: James is now currently working in the sports industry as a fitness instructor and personal trainer
Name: James Crossley
Occupation: James is now currently working in the sports industry as a fitness instructor and personal trainer, but had dabbled in acting following his time in Gladiators.
On Gladiators: ‘Discussing his time on the show, he said: ‘The first year I joined I couldn’t do anything – I locked myself away for a year to get better. You can be muscular and look good but it doesn’t mean you can climb those walls.’
Romantic life: James dated the show’s host Ulrika Jonsson, but the pair remained coy on their romance, until she uncovered all in her 2003 autobiography.
Fun facts: James was the youngest Gladiator on the show and was just 19 when he started.
Blaze: Eunice Huthart
New career: Eunice went on to become stunt doubles for A-listers including Angelina Jolie (pictured together, right), Milla Jovovich, Famke Janssen and Uma Thurman
Name: Eunice Huthart aka Blaze
Occupation: The Liverpudlian star went on to become stunt doubles for A-listers including Angelina Jolie, Milla Jovovich, Famke Janssen and Uma Thurman. She has starred in films including Golden Eye, Avengers and Titanic
Gladiators history: Former McDonald’s manager Eunice made her debut on the show in 1994 where she was originally a contender going against one of the Gladiators but became the first ever UK contestant to come a Gladiator.
Fun fact: Eunice frequently works alongside Angelina Jolie and the pair have become close friends. She is also godmother to Angelina and Brad Pitt’s daughter Shiloh Jolie-Pitt.
Cobra: Michael Wilson
Artist: Now living in the West Midlands, Michael spends his time making watercolour paintings
Name: Michael Willson aka Cobra
Occupation: Now living in the West Midlands, Michael spends his time making watercolour paintings. He also travels to schools and youth clubs up and down the UK, promoting that keeping fit can be fun
Gladiator history: Thanks to his quick-thinking and agility he became a master of the Hang Tough ring and was also the best Duel podium contender having never been knocked off. He became a fan-favourite Gladiator alongside the likes of Shadow, Wolf, Jet, Lightning and Hunter.
Fun fact: Proving that good things can come in small packages, Cobra – whose real name is Michael Wilson – didn’t let his tiny height get in the way of victory.
Nightshade: Judy Simpson
Happy days: Judy now spends her time working for the Duke of Edinburgh Awards and is an Honorary President of the Women’s Sports Federation
Name: Judy Simpson aka Nightshade
Occupation: Judy now spends her time working for the Duke of Edinburgh Awards and is an Honorary President of the Women’s Sports Federation. She has been awarded an MBE because of her sporting achievements.
Gladiator history: After retiring from professional sport, she joined Gladiators in 1993, under the alias Nightshade. She became renowned as one of the toughest female Gladiators ever. Her particular strengths were in Duel, Pole-Axe and Suspension Bridge
Fun fact: Jamaican-born Judy Simpson was one of Britain’s greatest all-round female athletes. The three-time Olympian competed in the Commonwealth Games, European Championships and World Championships.
Vulcan: John Seru
Changing ways: John owns a wrestling school, fitness shop and fitness centre that he has been running for 18 years in Sydney with his family
Name: John Seru
Occupation: John owns a wrestling school, fitness shop and fitness centre that he has been running for 18 years in Sydney with his family having previously enjoyed success as an actor
Gladiator history: In order to give villain Wolf a run for his money, Australian Gladiator Vulcan was drafted in for seasons seven and eight of the British show. The former bodybuilder and wrestler didn’t disappoint, showcasing his skills on the Duel platform and in the Gauntlet.
Fun fact: After he was talent spotted by an acting scout he scooped the role of a James Bond villain. He starred in the 1999’s The World Is Not Enough, playing henchman Gabor.
Rebel: Jennifer Stoute
Career: Jennifer bagged a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in 1990 and now runs a management agency for athletes, Stellar Athletics
Name: Jennifer Stoute aka Rebel
Occupation: Jennifer had been a former sprinter, with a hamstring injury halting her career for two years in 1993. She bagged a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in 1990 and now runs a management agency for athletes, Stellar Athletics
Gladiators history: She joined the show in 1996 as Rebel, but chose to continue with athletics while she was competing on the series. Jennifer later quit the show in 1999.
Fun facts: Jennifer had appeared alongside Russell Crowe in the blockbuster movie Gladiator, directed by Ridley Scott.
Vogue: Suzanne Cox
Keeping it fit: Suzanne is now an aerobics instructor and had gone on to model and present TV show titled The Fix following Gladiators
Name: Suzanne Cox aka Vogue
Occupation: Suzanne is now an aerobics instructor and had gone on to model and present TV show titled The Fix following Gladiators.
Gladiators history: She joined the show in 1995 and had stayed with the series until it came to an end after its eighth series in 2000.
Fun facts: Suzanne is married to 1997 Gladiators quarter finalist Mark Roberts and they share two children together. She was a firm favourite among teenage boy viewers and was known for back-flipping while entering the arena to Vogue by Madonna.
Saracen: Michael Lewis
Different career: Micahel has swapped his spandex for fire gear as he is now a firefighter following years in the ring
Name: Michael Lewis aka Saracen
Occupation: He has swapped his spandex for fire gear as he is now a firefighter following years in the ring
Gladiators history: Michael and his girlfriend Chrissie, tried out for the Gladiators show in 1992, Chrissie becoming a first series contender and of course Saracen joining the team. They are now happily married.
Fun fact: Mike tackled the tough Ninja Warrior course
Warrior: Mike Ahearne
Incarceration: Mike, left, was jailed for 15 months after being found guilty of corruption and perverting the course of justice alongside Merseyside detective Elmore Davie
Name: Mike Ahearne
Occupation: Ahearne played rugby union for England at youth level before becoming a decorated bodybuilder. He now owns a gym.
Gladiators history: The 6ft 4in former runner-up Mr Britain and ex-Mr Universe competitor became one of the stars of ITV’s Gladiators, competing on seasons 1-6.
Police run-ins: After the sixth series in 1997, he was sacked from the show after being arrested for a firearms offence.
The following year he was jailed for 15 months after being found guilty of corruption and perverting the course of justice alongside Merseyside detective Elmore Davie
And referee John Anderson…
Keeping them in check: John had been the show’s iconic referee and personally trained the gladiators on the show
Name: John Anderson
Occupation: John has continued to mentor and coach athletics stars in his later years, first starting out as a trainer prior to appearing on Gladiators.
On the show: ‘They were very good, they were professionals. They did everything very well, they were easy to work with. I was delighted to work with them,’ he said yesterday.
Gladiators history: John joined the show when it first launched in 1992 and stayed with it until it wrapped in 2000. He reprised his role as referee back in 2008 when the show returned.
Fun facts: John has trained an Olympian at every summer games between 1964 and 2000. He has also enjoyed success as a footballer and played for Scotland.
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