Bernadette Hunt, known as 'Falcon' on 1990s U.K. 'Gladiators' program, dead at 59 from cancer

 April 1, 2023

Bernadette Hunt, a former star of the British "Gladiators" combat competition TV program in the 1990s, has passed away from cancer at the age of 59, the U.K. Independent reported.

Known as "Falcon," Hunt engaged in modern (padded) gladiatorial combat in front of a live audience against average contenders seeking to prevail in a series of physical challenges.

"One of the most loveliest people"

Sky News reported that Hunt's death was first shared by her brother-in-law, Rick Jango, in a post to a Facebook group.

"It is with great sadness that I have to tell you of my partner's younger sister Bernadette Hunt. Most people will remember her as Falcon From the hit TV Show Gladiators," Jango wrote. "I had the privilege to be in her company a few times and I have to say she was one of the most loveliest people I have ever met."

"She never had a bad word to say about anyone, indeed she was always known as the nicest Gladiator, always stopping to speak and sign autographs for anyone," he added. "She had been battling cancer for a number of years until sadly she lost her fight. R.I.P. Bernie."

The outlet noted that Hunt's sister, Carol, also commented on the post about her sibling's death, and said, "My beautiful sister was the best kind of human being on this earth."

From ballerina to bodybuilder to gladiator

According to her bio on the "Gladiators" website, it was noted that Hunt was born in 1963 in Brighton, England, and had trained to be a ballerina until a back injury changed her plans and she became an aerobics instructor instead.

The aerobics led to bodybuilding and Hunt soon began to win multiple titles in bodybuilding competitions, which then led to her becoming a Gladiator in 1993 in the program's second season, where she took on the name "Falcon."

"Falcon was a truly all-round Gladiator, turning her hand to any events in the Gladiators show. Her mixture of power and skill meant it took one formidable contender to ruffle her feathers. Win or lose Falcon was always there to congratulate them," the site stated of the former star.

It went on to note the charitable causes she supported over the years and how she had returned to being a fitness instructor in Basingstoke after leaving the show following its eighth season in 1999. It was further noted that Hunt had died on March 14, 2023.

An Instagram post from the "Gladiators" show -- which has been rebooted this year on the BBC in honor of its 30th anniversary -- described Hunt as a "fan favorite" well-known for her "beaming smile" who was the "second longest-serving female gladiator" in the program's history. "Our Gladiator family is truly heartbroken with our loss of Bernie. Please respect the privacy of Bernadette's family at this sad time," the post concluded.


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Funeral will be for family only

Sky News reported that the original run of "Gladiators" in the 1990s had been a huge hit on the U.K.'s ITV and that it was revived on Sky One in 2008, and though Hunt had reportedly been offered an opportunity to return to the show, she turned it down in favor of her preference to "keep a low profile."

Per her brother-in-law Jango, Hunt's funeral will be a private event solely for her family. In addition to her husband Mark, she also leaves behind two children -- a son named Adam and a daughter named Angel.

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