A FORMER Gladiator is reprising her role as Panther for a special episode of the hit TV show.
Helen O'Reilly, 47, runs Panther's Gym, off Packet Boat Lane in Cowley but in the mid-nineties contestants would pit their skills against the fitness competitor in the prime time TV programme, Gladiators.
Last weekend Mrs O'Reilly was once again back in the arena to fight her counterpart in the new series of the show.
She said: "They rang and said they'd really like me back and what it's done is given me an incentive to get in and train really hard. It's a different set up to before, over water, and when I was with all these incredible stars like James de Gayle I thought have I made the right decision? But it's amazing how you feel when you get your costume on and slip back into it."
For Mrs O'Reilly one of the biggest challenges was facing her fear of water.
In one of the events the Gladiators must fight competitors with pugil sticks over a pool of water.
But during a Gladiators' trip to Mauritius in the shows hay day, Mrs O'Reilly nearly drowned and has been terrified of going under water ever since.
"It was a massive fear of mine. I had some coaching and now a fear I've had for years has been over come. I can jump into water and get my face under," she explained.
The episode, which is due to be aired on Sky One later this month, will see Mrs Reilly in combat with the new Panther who is 20 years her junior.
Mrs O'Reilly, who was originally recruited after being spotted by media mogul Nigel Lithgoe, added: "Two generations have enjoyed Gladiators. It reaches a broad spectrum. The Gladiators today were fans of the programme when they were young. It's absolutely fabulous."