Six million viewers watched the return of competition show Gladiators.

The BBC said an average audience of six million tuned in to watch father and son presenters Bradley and Barney Walsh present the hour-long programme on Saturday from 5.50pm.

TV viewers peaked at 6.4 million people on BBC One, when the series launched, according to overnight ratings.

Bradley Walsh on Gladiators (BBC/James Stack/© Hungry Bear Media Ltd/PA)

In the first episode, the classic challenge The Eliminator, a gruelling obstacle course, returned as well as Duel, where players stand on small platforms and have to knock each other off using sticks.

A new game Ring, where contenders have to get past the “superhumans” to press a button, was also introduced.

Throughout the 11-episodes in the series, Gladiators will appear and be challenged, culminating in a final.

Gladiators have been given a nickname which describes them and this year’s line-up consists of: Apollo, Athena, Legend, Fire, Bionic, Diamond, Nitro, Electro, Giant, Steel, Comet, Viper, Fury, Phantom, Sabre and Dynamite.

First broadcast from 1992 to 2000 in the UK on ITV, the original series regularly drew in a double digit viewership and was presented by Ulrika Jonsson and footballer John Fashanu.

However, audience habits have since changed, the way of calculating ratings has evolved and the series is now airing on a different channel so the viewership cannot be directly compared the 1990s.

Between 2008 to 2009, Gladiators was brought back for a short run on Sky, presented by TV presented Kirsty Gallacher and footballer turned pundit Ian Wright.

Launch episodes of other hit competition shows have also been around six to seven million viewers but air on different dates so cannot be compared directly.

In September, the first episode of BBC One’s Strictly Come Dancing 2023 was watched by an average of 6.2 million viewers, according to overnight ratings.

ITV1’s I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! had an average of seven million TV viewers watching its return in November.