Gladiators 2023 Sheffield Arena: Some tickets 'cancelled' after 'thousands' fail to get in for BBC filming
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Many people were left disappointed after booking free tickets to watch the new BBC series being filmed on Thursday, June 1, only to turn up and be told there was no space for them. Applause Store, which handles ticketing for the show, does advise people in its FAQs that a ticket does not guarantee entry, with events typically being overbooked to ensure there are no empty seats in the case of no-shows.
However, the number of fans who failed to get in on Thursday, which was the first of 11 days of filming for the revival of the hit 90s show, featuring a new team of Gladiators and presented by Bradley Walsh and his son Barney, suggests it was hugely overbooked. People told how they had turned up more than two hours before the listed start time of 1pm and were still turned away. Some of the unlucky people who failed to get in said they were told there was only space for 3,000 people in the studio yet more than 9,000 tickets had been allocated.
What have organisers said about ticketing for Gladiators?
A spokesperson for Applause Store said: “We apologise for any disappointment caused yesterday morning. Due to an unprecedented demand for tickets for the recording of Gladiators at Utilita Arena Sheffield, we reached full capacity sooner than anticipated, which meant we sadly couldn’t accommodate everyone that turned up for the recording of the show.
“As clearly stated on all our free tickets and on our website, entrance is on a first-come, first-served basis, subject to venue capacity and entrance is not guaranteed. All scanned tickets will receive priority tickets to a different show in the future.”
A number of people have told online how they have now received notification that their tickets for future shows have been cancelled.
One person shared a notification which stated: “We are so sorry to inform you that we have had to cancel your tickets for tomorrow’s recording. We are letting you know now as we do not want you to have a wasted journey to Utilita Arena Sheffield.” It is not known at this stage how many tickets have been cancelled, but everyone whose ticket has been cancelled should have been notified.
What is the capacity of Sheffield Arena and when do I need to arrive to get in to see Gladiators being filmed there?
The Utilita Arena Sheffield website states that it can accommodate anywhere from 3,500 people for a ‘theatre-style’ show to its maximum capacity of 13,600. A number of people who arrived for filming on Thursday, having secured free tickets, said they were told there was space for 3,000 people on the day.
Some people reported arriving at the arena as early as 9.30am and still failing to get in but based on comments online the typical cut-off point on day one, when the start time was listed as 1pm, appears to have been around 11am. Those who didn’t get in say they were told as late as 12.50pm that there was no space for them, leading to anger from some that they were made to queue for so long with little prospect of getting in.
What did those who got in to Gladiators filming say, how long did filming last and what food is available?
Those who were lucky enough to get in to watch Gladiators being filmed told how filming had overrun by around four hours and did not finish until around 10pm – meaning they were in the arena for nine hours, not accounting for any time spent queueing.
Some people said they had queued particularly early to secure the best seats, but those who did get in said seats appeared to be allocated randomly, with one fan telling how they were among the first to get in but were still given seats on the top row.
Despite it being a long day, those who did get to watch the show appeared to have enjoyed themselves. One person told how the staff inside were ‘lovely’ and it was a ‘great’ show, while another called it ‘fantastic’ and a third described it as an ‘excellent day out’, adding ‘the Gladiators are amazing’.
Regarding food, some people said that once they had been allocated their seats they were allowed to go and get food, with some tucking into picnics and others heading to nearby restaurants, including those at Meadowhall, before returning by 1pm. As for the food available inside the arena, one person told how there was food but it was ‘very expensive’, with a pizza costing £19.
What happens if you failed to get in to filming for Gladiators at Utilita Arena Sheffield?
The Applause Store website states that those who fail to get in having booked free tickets may be offered ‘priority pass’ seating to a future recording of the same show or a different show. A number of people who were turned away on Thursday said they had been offered a priority pass for a future show but people are unlikely to get them for Gladiators since filming for the 11-episode series is only taking place until Sunday, June 11, and the Applause Store website states that it is ‘currently full for this year's series’.
The Applause Store does advise people to register their interest now so they can be contacted if there are any cancellations.
Some people reported travelling for hours to get to Sheffield to watch Gladiators, and even staying in hotels overnight, while lots of people said they had paid £5 for parking before being turned away. Applause Store states that is is unable to reimburse any travel or accommodation costs for ticket holders who are not admitted.
What have people said about how ticketing was organised?
There has been widespread criticism of the way the ticketing process was handled, from the number of tickets issued to the communication on the day and afterwards.
One disappointed fan wrote: “9,500 invites for 3,000 seats is disgusting. They should be ashamed of themselves. I understand overbooking some seats to compensate for no shows but that number is ridiculous. We are talking about heartbroken little kids with banners and face paint, parents taking time of work. There where over three times as many people let down by the organisers then that actually made it in. All down to poor planning and I won't be watching the show on TV because of they way they treated their fans.”
Another person commented: “We travelled for three-and-a-half hours to get there and were turned away at the car park. That invite allocation compared to ticket allocation is absolutely disgusting.”
Other disappointed ticket holders branded the organisation ‘diabolical’ and said it had been ‘absolute chaos’, with one person describng how they had travelled over from Cardiff, stayed overnight in a Premier Inn and arrived a couple of hours early, only to be told there were no seats left.
Some people did defend the organisers. One person who got in said: “Everyone knew the risk. We queued and got in. The show is fantastic. Well worth any form of disappointment for the opposite. All the staff at the arena and ticket company have been excellent! So it’s a real credit to all involved.”