Gladiators: The Untold Story of Shark
Back in 1997, series 6 of Gladiators was beginning production at London Weekend Television. Due to the unfortunate loss of some high-profile Gladiators in the previous years, the hunt was on to find some new blood to fill their shoes and help to invigorate the show. As most GladFans remember, series 6 was a year of major changes and shake-ups, but not all of them exactly went to plan...
We also were treated to a couple of new events, Tightrope and Cyclotron. Cyclotron (best described as a kind of upside-down bicycle race) encountered multiple technical issues and was sadly scrapped even before making it onto our TV screens (although eagle-eyed fans could still spot a CGI model of it in the opening titles).
Finally, we had an influx of 5 new lycra-clad Gladiators (something which hadn't happened in such numbers since way back in series 2) in the form of female Gladiators Fox, Gold, Siren, Rocket and the only new male Gladiator, Khan... or was he? This is the story of the mysterious Gladiator.
A year or so before, Metin Hussein, a bodybuilder and training partner of Mark 'Rhino' Smith since they were 22 years old, had aspirations of joining the show as a new Gladiator.
He wanted to get in on the action.
Rhino advised Metin on how to adjust his training for the show and recommended him to the Gladiators producers, Nigel Lythgoe and Ken Warwick.
Metin supplied some recent photos and a resume good enough to secure him an audition at the London Nautical School.
After passing the gruelling fitness test and video interview against hundreds of other hopefuls, the producers expressed their interest, however, there was one condition - he would have to grow his hair!
After numerous visits to the LWT production office over a year for progress photos, Metin was informed that his hair was finally long enough and he'd made it onto the team, he was a Gladiator, he was SHARK!
I was briefed to be the new baddie Gladiator.
London-born Shark was touted as the new bad-boy of the Gladiators arena, a rival and adversary to the already established master of mean, Wolf.
It was obvious the producers had put in a lot of time and effort to find the right character and having two bad-boys would've certainly added a new dynamic to the show.
"I was briefed to be the new baddie Gladiator. I would've had lines like 'Wolf you're just an old prairie dog, I'm Shark, the king of the sea!' He was going to be quite a tough act to follow, but one I would have enjoyed, I'm sure." he explains.
Before the filming of the new series began, the team was whisked off to the Gladiators Training Camp in the sunnier climes of Mauritius.
Two of the four new female Glads, Fox and Gold (Siren and Rocket were hired later), joined Shark and existing Gladiators Lightning, Saracen, Ace (who nicknamed him 'Mighty Met'), Hunter, Rebel and Cobra for a week of extensive training, courtesy of referee John Anderson.
They filmed additional 'Time Out' segments (fans may have spotted Shark in the background of some of the shots), had a photoshoot and of course time to top-up their tans!
A week before arriving at the Coco Beach resort in Mauritius, Shark had begun experiencing abdominal pains.
As the new kid on the block, he decided to keep this to himself and not divulge to the producers that he wasn't feeling on top form, hoping that it would pass.
Unfortunately, as the training week went on he became less capable of performing, hiding the fact he was in considerable pain and discomfort whilst desperately not wanting to scupper his chances.
Despite this, Shark integrated well within the Gladiators team, getting on best with Ace and obviously his mate Rhino, who was on the second half of the Mauritius trip. Shark also started to forge connections with some of the production team.
"There was a lovely lady called Ellie who had a wonderful way of asking me if everything was okay. I thought she was very spiritual and after a day of shooting, when we were having recreational time playing pool after dinner, Ellie was standing with me and it seemed she knew something was wrong. She looked directly in my eyes and asked 'Are you okay? Are you sure?', but at that time as I didn't want to let anyone down and thought I had to keep fighting forward. I said 'Yes, everything is fine'. Perhaps with hindsight, I should have opened up to her."
Returning home to the UK, Shark visited his doctor for some answers to the pain he had been experiencing.
After undergoing some investigation he was diagnosed with a stomach ulcer.
Recovering from this would take time, but with the recording of the new series fast approaching, time wasn't on his side.
Arriving at the National Indoor Arena, Birmingham, Shark was half-a-stone lighter, feeling weak and under pressure of following in Wolf's footsteps
He started training in the events and enjoyed Duel, Hang Tough, Powerball and The Wall; although Skytrak was slightly more challenging to master.
During training, he was called for a meeting with the producer Ken Warwick where he was informed that he would no longer be required for the show and was sent home, just missing out on the official photoshoot in which he was replaced by Khan, who had recently completed his audition.
"I had no idea Khan was a potential replacement." Metin explains, "My first encounter with him was when I arrived for the filming of the show".
I do feel bad, I let Nigel and Ken down after they had invested so much time and preparation into getting me on the show.
Speaking to GladiatorsTV.com 23 years after his Gladiators experience, Metin admitted he had no hard feelings about his time as Shark but did have some regrets over how it happened.
"I do feel bad, I let Nigel and Ken down after they had invested so much time and preparation into getting me on the show. Although looking back maybe it just wasn't the right time and there was a reason it didn't work out."
Returning to his life as psychic Metin Medium (now known as 'Mystic Met), a gift he acquired from birth, would he be interested in competing in Gladiators if it ever returned?
"I'd love to have a role in the show predicting who would win the events, although I do still train, doing full-time spiritual work is quite an extreme change." laughs Metin.
So why has Metin decided to share his Gladiators story now?
"It's all kind of bizarre. For a short time after Gladiators, I was contacted and approached by various people claiming to be from newspapers and magazines asking for my explanation as to why I never continued in the show. I was totally in awe of the Gladiators and all those involved and I really did not want to have anything misconstrued as to why I wasn't continuing."
"For many years I carried on my life with various business interests but I always found my way back to being a psychic medium. It wasn't until my eldest son came to me a year or two ago and said 'Dad they are still mentioning you and they are looking to find out your side of what happened'. I continued to dismiss it or even look it up. I've never been a social media person but I thought it was time to evolve as many of my clients jokingly would call me 'Mystic Met'."
"I started an Instagram account and bizarrely it showed me who I could potentially follow, and with that GladiatorsTV.com showed itself. I clicked on it and after seeing the interest and the void as to my story not being shared, I thought it would only be right and proper as there are interested fans to go public and share this lovely story. So with over 20 years of emotion and stored up questioning why it was never for me, I sent a private message asking if anyone was still interested in finding Shark. To my surprise, a message returned promptly, and the rest of the story is here as told."
Now that the mystery of Gladiator Shark has finally been solved, does Metin have a message for the GladFans?
"I do hope this puts some closure for the lovely fans that have been so dedicated and interested after all these years. They deserve a pat on the back for keeping it going. Hope, love and comfort."