Bernadette Hunt, who starred as Falcon in the hit 90s competitive sports combat game show Gladiators, has died aged 59.
The news was shared by her brother-in-law, Rick Jango, on a Facebook page celebrating showbiz from days gone by.
He wrote: “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.
“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.
“She had been battling cancer for a number of years until sadly she lost her fight. R.I.P. Bernie.”
Hunt’s sister, Carol, also commented, writing: “My beautiful sister was the best kind of human being on this earth.”
Suzanne Cox, who was Gladiator Vogue, wrote: “I found out a few days ago.”
A statement on the Gladiators website said Hunt was “the most lovely, warm, generous person with a beaming smile”, adding: “Our Gladiator family is truly heartbroken with our loss of Bernie.”
The statement said she was the second longest-serving female Gladiator.
Stepping out of the limelight
The site goes on to describe her warmth as a competitor, saying: “Win or lose Falcon is always there to congratulate [her contenders]”.
Starring in series two to eight of Gladiators, Hunt had also performed in Gladiators live shows in Wembley and Sheffield.
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Since working on Gladiators, she had left the world of TV and became a personal trainer, holding classes at Basingstoke Sports Centre.
Hunt had said in previous interviews that she had turned down the chance to appear in a Gladiators series reboot, preferring instead to “keep a low profile”.
Broadcast from 1992 to 2000, at its peak Gladiators drew huge audiences to its Saturday evening ITV slot. It was revived on Sky One in 2008, and a second reboot is set to come to the BBC later this year.
She had fallen into the world of TV somewhat by accident after her plans to become a ballerina were crushed due to a back injury.
She had gone on to train as an aerobics teacher, before discovering the world of bodybuilding, and quickly winning several titles.
Hunt had previously been involved in fundraising for both Help the Aged and Children with Leukaemia.
Her brother-in-law said her funeral will be a private affair, attended by family only.
Hunt leaves behind two children, her husband Mark, son Adam, and young daughter Angel.