He was known around Australia as “Commando”, a member of the muscly cast of the ’90s sports game show Gladiators, but life today for Geoff Barker is very different.
After spiralling into depression and alcoholism, Geoff swapped his spandex tights for a simpler life. In 2008 he left behind the trappings of fame to up sticks with his wife Bessie Bardot and daughter Bluebelle, now 11, and travel the world in a camper van.
“I had been very driven by fame, fortune, wealth and success and I was determined to ‘make it’,” Geoff tells Woman’s Day. “I worked my guts out to make it happen and I would never in a million years have thought I would give away all my things... and completely enjoy my life.”
The 52-year-old still remembers the moment he was told he’d be joining the cast of Gladiators. Plucked from obscurity, he’d beaten 10,000 other hopefuls who tried their luck to be cast as one of the 19 stars of the show.
“I’d spent a long time training... It was my dream to make in on TV,” says Geoff.
“They whittled us down through a series of insanely brutal exercise routines. We were put in front of a camera to see if we could talk, and there was a lot of competition. But it was fun.”
The show, which first burst onto our screens in April 1995, took off, with millions of Aussies tuning in every Saturday night to see the biggest and best athletes battle it out in the arena.
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