Robot Wars (TV series)

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Robot Wars
New Robot Wars logo.jpg
Also known asRobot Wars Extreme
Genre Robot competition
Created by Tom Gutteridge
Steve Carsey
Presented by Jeremy Clarkson (1998)
Craig Charles (1998–2004)
Dara Ó Briain (2016–2018 )
Angela Scanlon (2016–2018 )
Starring Philippa Forrester (1998–2000, 2002–03)
Julia Reed (2000–01)
Jayne Middlemiss (2003–04)
Judges Noel Sharkey (1998–2004, 2016–2018)
Eric Dickinson (1998)
Adam Harper (1998–99)
Martin Smith (1999–2004)
Myra Wilson (2000–01)
Mat Irvine (2001–04)
Sethu Vijayakumar (2016–2018)
Lucy Rogers (2016–18)
Narrated by Jonathan Pearce
Country of originUnited Kingdom
No. of series10 (Domestic)
2 (Extreme)
12 (Overall)
No. of episodes146 (Domestic)
31 (Extreme)
177 (Overall)
Camera setup Multi-camera
Running time30 minutes (1998–99)
45 minutes (1999–2003)
60 minutes (2003–04, 2016–??)
Production company(s)TV21 (1998–2001)
Mentorn (2001–04, 2016–?? )
DistributorPassion Distribution
Original network BBC Two
BBC Choice (2001–03)
Five (2003–04)
Picture format 4:3 (1998–2001)
16:9 (2001–04, 2016–?? )
Original releaseOriginal series:
20 February 1998 (1998-02-20) – 28 March 2004 (2004-03-28)
Revived series:
24 July 2016 (2016-07-24) 
7 January 2018 (2018-01-07)
External links

Robot Wars is a robot combat competition that was broadcast on British television from 1998 to 2004 and again from 2016 to 2018. The series, centred on the sport of robot combat, involves teams of amateur and professional roboteers operating their own constructed remote controlled robots to fight against each other, whilst also avoiding arena hazards and more powerful "House Robots", which were not bound by the same weight or weapon limits as the contestants. Earlier series included assault and trial courses for competing robots before they were ceased from the first "Extreme" series onwards.

Robot combat

Robot combat is a form of robot competition in which two or more custom-built machines use varied methods of destroying or disabling the other. The machines are generally remote-controlled vehicles rather than autonomous robots, though not exclusively.

Remote control system or device used to control other device remotely (or wirelessly)

In electronics, a remote control is a component of an electronic device used to operate the device from a distance, usually wirelessly. For example, in consumer electronics, a remote control can be used to operate devices such as a television set, DVD player, or other home appliance, from a short distance. A remote control is primarily a convenience feature for the user, and can allow operation of devices that are out of convenient reach for direct operation of controls. In some cases, remote controls allow a person to operate a device that they otherwise would not be able to reach, as when a garage door opener is triggered from outside or when a Digital Light Processing projector that is mounted on a high ceiling is controlled by a person from the floor level.


The show was first broadcast on BBC Two from 20 February 1998 to 23 February 2001, on BBC Choice from 8 October 2001 to 7 February 2003 (later repeated on BBC Two), on Channel 5 from 2 November 2003 to 28 March 2004 before being revived in 2016 and broadcast on BBC Two from 24 July 2016 to 7 January 2018. To date, the show has been broadcast as 10 main series each centred around a single competition, two "Extreme" series with several unconnected events and several special episodes.

BBC Two second television channel operated by the BBC

BBC Two is the second flagship television channel of the British Broadcasting Corporation in the United Kingdom, Isle of Man and Channel Islands. It covers a wide range of subject matter, but tends to broadcast more "highbrow" programmes than the more mainstream and popular BBC One. Like the BBC's other domestic TV and radio channels, it is funded by the television licence, and is therefore free of commercial advertising. It is a comparatively well-funded public-service network, regularly attaining a much higher audience share than most public-service networks worldwide.

BBC Choice was a BBC TV station which launched on 23 September 1998 and closed on 8 February 2003. It was the first British TV channel to broadcast exclusively in digital format, as well as the BBC's second non-terrestrial channel launch.

Channel 5 is a British free-to-air television network. It was launched in 1997, and was the fifth national terrestrial analogue network in the United Kingdom after BBC One, BBC Two, ITV, and Channel 4. It is generally the fifth-placed network in the country in audience share, and has been since its inception.

Jeremy Clarkson presented the first series, with "Master of Mayhem" Craig Charles taking over for the second to seventh series. Philippa Forrester co-hosted the first three series, the fifth and Extreme 2. Forrester also hosted the spin-off series Robot Wars Revealed from 1998 to 1999. The fourth series and Extreme 1 were co-hosted by Julia Reed and the seventh by Jayne Middlemiss. Jonathan Pearce provided commentary for all series. The revived series were hosted by Dara Ó Briain and Angela Scanlon.

Jeremy Clarkson English broadcaster, journalist and writer

Jeremy Charles Robert Clarkson is an English broadcaster, journalist and writer who specialises in motoring. He is best known for co-presenting the BBC TV show Top Gear with Richard Hammond and James May from October 2002 to March 2015. He also currently writes weekly columns for The Sunday Times and The Sun.

Craig Charles English actor and comedian

Craig Joseph Charles is a British actor, comedian, author, poet, television presenter and DJ. He is best known for playing Dave Lister in the science fiction sitcom Red Dwarf and Lloyd Mullaney in the soap opera Coronation Street, as a funk and soul DJ on BBC Radio 6 Music and BBC Radio 2, and as the presenter of the gladiator-style game show Robot Wars from 1998 to 2004.

Philippa Forrester is a British television and radio presenter, producer and author. She has presented shows such as Tomorrow's World, The Heaven and Earth Show and Robot Wars. She has also made wildlife programmes with her husband, Charlie Hamilton James.

Additional series were filmed at the UK venue for specific sectors of the global market, including two series of Robot Wars Extreme Warriors with American competitors for the TNN network (hosted by Mick Foley with Rebecca Grant serving as pit reporter), two of Dutch Robot Wars for distribution in the Netherlands and a single series for Germany. The fourth series of the UK Robot Wars was shown in the US on TNN as Robot Wars: Grand Champions in 2002 and hosted by Joanie Laurer. [1]

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.

Mick Foley American actor, author and professional wrestler

Michael Francis Foley is an American author, actor and former professional wrestler and color commentator currently signed to WWE.

Rebecca Grant (American actress) American actress

Rebecca Grant, is an American actress. Grant is a graduate of the University at Buffalo, The State University of New York with dual degrees in psychology and communication (1992). She was a hostess on NFL Under the Helmet and Robot Wars: Extreme Warriors television programs. After losing her mother to breast cancer, Grant has become an advocate for the Susan G. Komen For The Cure Foundation and participates in the annual Revlon Run/Walk to Eradicate Cancers in Women.

Its merchandising was commercially successful, being one of the most popular selling toy ranges in 2002. It included a mini arena, pullback, friction and ripcord toys and radio-controlled versions of the House Robots. [2]

In 2003, the roboteers themselves formed The Fighting Robot Association and with their associated event organizers, carry on participating in competitions for new audiences. In 2013, Roaming Robots purchased the rights to the Robot Wars brand from Robot Wars LLC and operated their travelling robotic combat show under that name. [3] The use of the name Robot Wars for live shows ceased in early 2017, being renamed Extreme Robots. [4]

With a peak audience of six million viewers in the UK during the late 1990s, the format went on to become a worldwide success, showing in 45 countries including the US, Australia, Canada, China, India, Germany and Italy. In March 2003, it was dropped by BBC Two after eight series and Mentorn announced it was making 22 episodes for Channel 5, [5] concluding with The Third World Championships broadcast in March 2004. Channel 5 later axed the show after one series due to low ratings.

In July 2016, the show returned to BBC Two with a new arena, house robots and presenters. The first episode was well received becoming the top trending topic on Twitter that evening and having two million viewers, more than the last episode of the 23rd series of Top Gear in the same 8pm Sunday slot just a few weeks earlier. [6] The revived show ran for three series, before it ended in March 2018. [7]


US Robot Wars events

Robot Wars was the brainchild of Marc Thorpe, a designer working for the LucasToys division of Lucasfilm. [8] In 1992, Thorpe had the initial idea for robot combat sport after unsuccessfully attempting to create a radio-controlled vacuum cleaner. [9] In 1994, Marc Thorpe created Robot Wars and held the first competition at the Fort Mason Center in San Francisco. Approximately one month prior to the event, Thorpe formed a partnership with New York-based record company Sm:)e Communications, later Profile Records, who provided additional funding. [8]

Between 1995 and 1997, three further Robot Wars events took place in America and in 1995, Profile Records partnered with production company Mentorn to produce and televise a Robot Wars event in the UK. Mentorn acquired the worldwide television rights from Profile in 1995 after Tom Gutteridge (the head of Mentorn) had seen an amateur tape of a San Francisco event.

Original television series

Original Robot Wars logo from 1997 to 2004 Robot Wars.jpg
Original Robot Wars logo from 1997 to 2004
Razer, one of the most successful robots in the original series. It had the ability to puncture competitors. Razer side-on view.jpg
Razer, one of the most successful robots in the original series. It had the ability to puncture competitors.

Gutteridge and one of his producers Steve Carsey created a television format based on the Robot Wars concept. They produced a live event opposite BBC Television Centre in Wood Lane, Shepherd's Bush, London and hired Derek Foxwell to build 3 combat robots, 2 of which were named The Mouse and Grunt who would eventually take part in the first UK series of Robot Wars, to take on three American robots, Thor, La Machine and The Master, all of which were veterans of the original American competition. The Controller of BBC Two, Michael Jackson, attended the event, which was not filmed and he promised to commission a series. However, it was not until 1998 that a subsequent Controller of BBC Two, Mark Thompson, fulfilled Jackson's promise and actually commissioned 6 episodes. Gutteridge and Carsey were producers and Foxwell was the technical supervisor and senior technical consultant. He drafted the rules and regulations and was in charge of the pit area and the technical team, which scrutinised the robots, got them on and off stage and helped the contestants prepare and repair their robots. Mat Irvine, initially a member of the technical team, served as a member of the judging panel in 2002 and 2003.

The three person judging panel consisted of Noel Sharkey (head judge on every series: 1998–2003, 2016–), Eric Dickinson (1998), Adam Harper (1998–99), Martin Smith (1999–2003), Myra Wilson (2000–01), Mat Irvine (2001–03), Sethu Vijayakumar (2016–) and Lucy Rogers (2016–).

On the first day, I was in the dressing room and looking in the mirror and looking down at the arena. And they were pulling the robots into the arena on an invisible twine because nothing was working. And I was thinking: "Oh my God, what have I done with my career?" And you know, within the blink of an eye, it was the most watched show on BBC2.

Presenter Craig Charles on the success of Robot Wars in the late 1990s and early 2000s which aired at 6:30 on Friday evening and attracted over six million viewers. [10]

Profile sought no input or consent from Thorpe before doing this and this aggravated the already troubled relationship between Thorpe and Profile Records and indirectly spurred legal disagreements surrounding the ownership of the Robot Wars concept. The legal proceedings surrounding these would last until 6 February 2002. [9] Mentorn used Thorpe as a Consultant on the series, however and the initial series of Robot Wars in the UK was broadcast over six weeks in February and March 1998. It was an immediate hit, with more than two million viewers and a further 18 episodes were commissioned by the BBC that year. 155 episodes were produced in total and the show was seen in 26 countries. Two series were produced in the US for The National Network (now Paramount Network) and a version was also shown on Nickelodeon. Series were also produced in many European countries. Although the series had various directors and producers, all were produced in the UK by Mentorn and executive produced by Tom Gutteridge and Steve Carsey. The initial series were staged in various film studios around London but the stage and pit area became too large to fit into any of the conventional studios, so filming was later moved to an aircraft hangar at RAF Newton.

Viewing figures dropped significantly in the early 2000s, reaching only 1.2 million in the sixth series - the final to be broadcast on BBC Two. Following its move to Channel 5 in November 2003, the show first began airing in a new Sunday night slot and launched with one million viewers; however ratings fell quickly to 800,000 resulting in the show moving to Saturday nights after just three episodes. [11] After Robot Wars ended, an edited half hour version of this series aired on Fox Kids (later Jetix) from 2004.


Carbide, the winning robot in the second rebooted series. A fast-spinning bar is its primary weapon. Robot Wars Carbide (cropped).jpg
Carbide, the winning robot in the second rebooted series. A fast-spinning bar is its primary weapon.

On 13 January 2016, the BBC confirmed that it would be rebooting the show for a six-part series. [12] The revived series was hosted by Dara Ó Briain and Angela Scanlon with Jonathan Pearce returning as commentator. [13] The first episode was broadcast on 24 July at 8pm, the same slot as Top Gear . Some robots from the original series returned, including Behemoth and Storm II, as well as four of the original House Robots, which were upgraded to be heavier, faster, better armed and with new looks. [14] The 2016 series was filmed in a warehouse at Westway Park in Renfrew, Scotland. [15]

The first episode received about two million viewers and was the top trending topic on Twitter with over 20,000 tweets. [16]

A second rebooted series was commissioned with a first celebrity special in 16 years, in which celebrities, such as Olympians Kadeena Cox and Alistair Brownlee and Jonny Brownlee, TV presenters Suzi Perry, Neil Oliver and Maggie Aderin-Pocock, singer Jordan Stevens and radio presenters Scott Mills and Robbie Savage had bespoke robots designed for them by eight major roboteers, who mentored them during the specials. [17]

During its original airing, the first rebooted series was sometimes referred to as 'Series 1', presenting itself as a completely new show. Starting in 2017, however, the BBC began referring to it as Series 8, with the following second series appropriately dubbed Series 9, acknowledging itself as a continuation of the original show. [18] [19] Following the 10th series, it was revealed that the BBC had decided not to renew the show for an 11th, and Robot Wars was cancelled for the second time, to much criticism from fans. [20]

Battle rules

A robot could lose a match in several ways during the knockout format of the show:

The judges' decisions are based on the following categories:
  • Aggression: The extent to which the robot was on the 'front foot' against the opposing robot as opposed to staying out of trouble.
  • Damage: The amount of damage inflicted on the opposing robot.
  • Control: The ability of the driver to push opposing robots, avoiding the arena hazards and if they're attacking how they're meant to.
  • Style (original series only): The extent to which the robot demonstrated its abilities such as self-righting. For the revived series, the style category was omitted. [21]
In the original series, the Aggression, Damage, Control and Style points were weighted 3:4:2:1 respectively. In the 2016 series the weightings for Aggression, Damage and Control were 3:2:1, [22] with "Style" no longer a judged criterion.

Although the format changed several times over the years, these rules remained the same across all series and competitions.



SeriesCompetition FormatThe HeatsThe Semi-finalsThe FinalSide and Trial Events
1Six robots in six heats. The winners met in a single melee fight to determine the champion.All six robots took on the Gauntlet with one eliminated. The remaining five took part in a trial with a further one eliminated. The final four took part in one-on-one Arena battles in a knockout format.There was no Semi-Final heldThe Final was held as a melee at the end of the final heat.'British Bulldog', 'Football', 'Labyrinth', 'Snooker Octagon', 'Stock Car' and 'Sumo Basho'.
2Six robots in twelve heats. The winners of each heat went into one of two semi-finals. Two robots from each semi-final reached the final show.All six robots took on the Gauntlet with one eliminated. The remaining five took part in a trial with a further one eliminated. The final four took part in one-on-one Arena battles in a knockout format.Arena battle knockout of two rounds plus a third place playoff.'Joust', 'King of the Castle', 'Pinball Warrior', 'Football', 'Skittles', 'Sumo Basho' and 'Tug of War'.
3Eight robots in sixteen heats. The sixteen heat winners reached one of two semi-finals. Two robots from each semi-final reached the final.Arena battle knockout of three rounds.Arena battle knockout of two rounds.'Pinball Warrior', 'Football', the 'Middleweight Melee' and 'Walker Battles'.
4Six robots in sixteen heats. The sixteen heats winners reached one of two semi-finals. Two robots from each semi-final reached the final.Three-way Arena melee first round before two Arena knockout rounds.'Pinball Warrior' and 'Sumo Basho'.
5Eight robots in twelve heats. The twelve heat winners reached one of two semi-finals. Two robots from each semi-final reached the final.Arena battle knockout of three roundsArena battle knockout of two rounds, with the three losers of the first round having to compete in a second-chance three-way melee for a place in the second round.
6Arena battle knockout of three rounds. The first round as a four-way melee with two qualifiers.
7Eight robots in sixteen heats. The sixteen heat winners reached one of two semi-finals. Two robots from each semi-final reached the final.Arena battle knockout of two rounds.Qualifying bouts for the World Championships and fights from other weight classes
8Eight robots in five heats. The five heat winners would move on to the grand final along with a wildcard robot chosen by the judges.Round 1 was done the same way as series 6 and 7, but the two winners of each group battle go into a mini league where they fight its three opponents once each, with 3 points for a knockout win, 2 for a judges' decision win and 0 for a defeat of either form, with the top 2 advanced into the heat final and the bottom 2 eliminated. In the event two robots are tied for a qualifying position, the robot who won their bout against the other proceeds.There was no Semi-Final held.The final works the same as the heats except the group battles feature three robots as opposed to four, with one robot being eliminated in each melee, similar to the heats of series 4.
10Six robots in five heats. The heat winners move on to the grand final. Robots in second and third place entered into 10 way wild card battle of which the winner would also move into the grand final.Round 1 was two 3 way battles similar to series 4 which the winners would progress to the heat semi-final. Losers would compete against the losers from the opposite round 1 from which the winners would progress to the heat semi-final. After the two semi-finals, there was a third-place match for a place in the 10-way wild card battle and a first-place battle of which the winner would proceed and the loser would also compete in the 10-way battle.The 10 way wild card battle took place then the winner joined the 5 heat winners. The rest of the final worked the same as the heats except for the omission of the third-place match.


There were also two series made for the UK, Robot Wars Extreme, which did not focus on a single championship.

Extreme 1 and 2 EventsThese tournaments and themed battles continued over the entire series
All-Star TournamentKnockout tournament featuring the most well-known competitors.
AnnihilatorSix-way battles with one robot eliminated per round.
Challenge BeltWhere robots would try to defend their honour for the challenge belt.
MayhemsThree-way battles to progress to the series annihilators.
Tag Team TerrorTwo robots team up and fight tag-team style (though usually all four robots were out).
Vengeance BattleThis allowed robots with unfinished business or grudges to settle things once and for all.
Wildcard WarriorsNewcomers take on established robots.
Extreme 2 Added EventsThis series followed one theme over each episode
New BloodA new robot tournament.
Iron MaidensWomen took control.
Minor MeltdownChildren took control.
Robot RampageA tournament with robots in lower weight classes such as antweight, featherweight, lightweight and middleweight.
University ChallengeAll robots were entered by Universities.
Commonwealth CarnageAll robots were from teams based in the Commonwealth.
European ChampionshipAll robots were from teams based in Europe.


Main presenters
Jonathan Pearce, commentator
Craig Charles.jpg
Craig Charles (1998–2004)
Dara O Briain 2011 BAFTAs.jpg
Dara Ó Briain (2016–2018), co-host with Angela Scanlon.

The first series of Robot Wars was presented by Jeremy Clarkson and co-hosted by Philippa Forrester. In keeping with his edgy persona established on Top Gear , Clarkson frequently made tongue-in-cheek jokes about competitors and their robots, such as remarking that a contestant robot called "Skarab" looked like "cheese on toast". [23]

Clarkson left Robot Wars after the first series and was replaced with Craig Charles. [24] Charles, well known as playing the character Dave Lister in the science fiction-themed sitcom Red Dwarf , [25] was seen as taking the programme and its contestants more seriously than Clarkson and was more enthusiastic while presenting it. [23] Charles would close each episode with a four line poem ending with the words "Robot Wars". Charles presented Robot Wars until it ceased production in 2004.

"My son, Jack, was a fan of the first series and said I should get involved. So I made a few phone calls and the rest is history."

Craig Charles speaking on how he got involved with Robot Wars.

In comparison to Charles' background in science fiction, Philippa Forrester was best known as co-host of the science and technology programme Tomorrow's World . [26] Her role on Robot Wars was as the pit reporter [27] who would speak to contestants about their robots before and after battles. Forrester was pit reporter for six of the show's nine series; Julia Reed took the role for Series 4 and Extreme 1 since Forrester was unable to participate in the programme due to pregnancy, but Forrester returned for Series 5, Series 6 and Extreme 2. When the programme moved to Channel 5 for the seventh series, Forrester did not return for unknown reasons, so Jayne Middlemiss took over the pit reporter duties. [24]

Jonathan Pearce was the show's commentator throughout its entire run, becoming one of only two people (the other being judge Noel Sharkey) to appear in every episode of the programme; he commentated in the same loud and enthusiastic manner as his football commentaries. [28] The programme was well known for phrases such as "Roboteers, stand by", "3. 2. 1. Activate" and "Cease!". These phrases were announced by the director, Stuart McDonald and became a recognisable part of the series for the entire duration of its run. [29]

In 2016, Dara Ó Briain and Angela Scanlon were announced as the hosts of the eighth series, with Jonathan Pearce returning as commentator. They reprised their roles in the ninth and tenth series.

House robots

Throughout the series, house robots acted as obstacles to competing robots in battles and challenges. House robots were permitted to attack robots that were in the Corner Patrol Zones at the corners of the arena or upon the submission of a competing robot. The house robots were an intrinsic part of the programme's success and merchandising of these robots was highly successful. [30] Furthermore, the house robots were not subject to the 100 kg (220 lb) weight limit or weapon rules that contestant robots had to adhere to, the most notable example of this was Sergeant Bash's flamethrower.

From the Fourth Wars, a non-competitive "Refbot" was present during fights. This robot conveyed officiating signals (such as counting out immobile competitors) on the arena, gave occasional nudges to help battles along and could deploy a fire extinguisher where necessary.

For Series 8, new versions of Matilda, Shunt, Dead Metal and Sir Killalot were constructed. They are considerably heavier with improved weaponry. All the house robots are over 300 kg (661 lb) in weight and Sir Killalot now weighs 741 kg (1,634 lb). Visually, all four look similar to their predecessors, but with significant differences: Dead Metal's head has been enlarged with glowing eyes, Matilda's back-mounted fins have been replaced with smaller crocodilian scales, spikes appear on her frill, her eyes are now red and her whole head section now flips up; Shunt has enlarged wheel protectors and metal chimneys replacing the smokestack; and Sir Killalot's armour and helmet has been entirely redesigned. This was said to be to show the actual shape of Sir Killalot's head, rather than the helmet he is wearing. The other house robots did not return for this series. [31]

Bold text indicates house robots that returned for the new series.

House robotFirst competedWeight
kg (lb)
km/h (mph)
cm (in)
cm (in)
cm (in)
Cassius ChromeSeventh War250 (550)32 (20)85 (33)130 (51)100 (39)2x24V magnetic drive motorsTwo rotary driven interchangeable "fists" and front shovel.Fastest house robotRequires attack time, high ground clearanceHigh speed ramming
Dead MetalFirst War112 (247) (original)
343 (756) (revival)
21 (13)70 (28)160 (63)100 (39)Battery driven motorsCO2 power driven 1.4m wide pincers with 300 kg (660 lb) grip and 4000rpm magnesium circular saw which spins at 340 km/h (210 mph)Synergy of weaponsPoor manoeuvrabilityGrabbing a competitor robot and engaging the saw
GrowlerSixth War375 (827)27 (17)76 (30)152 (60)130 (51)Six batteries and two electric motors3,000 psi (21,000 kPa) front jaws; occasionally active rear-mounted flamethrowerSpeed and sheer destructive powerUnpredictableGrabs with jaws to push
MatildaFirst War116 (256) (original)
350 (770) (revival)
23 (14)66 (26)140 (55)66 (26)Battery driven engine800 psi (5,500 kPa) pneumatic tusks that can lift 1.5 t (1.7 tons) and vertical 35 kg (77 lb) Hardox flywheel spinning 25 times per second; formerly a chainsaw tail (S1-4)Tough exo-skeletonLacks self-controlLifts with tusks or hits with rear weapon
Mr. PsychoSixth War750 (1,650)13 (8)150 (59)163 (64)145 (57)12 batteries30 kg (66 lb) hammer and grabbing claw of 5 t (5.5 tons) forceBiggest and tallest house robotDisabled power sourceHammer strike or claw grab
RefbotFourth War120 (260)11 (7)130 (51)140 (55)90 (35)Battery powerFront and rear scoops; electric countout; fire extinguisher and coloured card lightsNon-competitiveNon-competitiveN/A
Sergeant BashFirst War120 (260)13 (8)90 (35)140 (55)90 (35)Four BatteriesPropane fueled flamethrower and front hydraulic pincers (s3 onwards); ramming spike and rear grinding disc in S1-2.Long-range weaponryLimited fuel capacityEngage flamethrower or grabbing with jaws
ShuntFirst War105 (231) (original)
327 (721) (revival)
18 (11)70 (28)130 (51)110 (43)Prototype electric motorRear ramming plough, Front lifting 300 psi (2,100 kPa) scoop that can lift 350 kg (770 lb) and titanium-tipped axe that can strike at the speed of 0.25 secondsHigh pushing powerLightest and has no side self-righting mechanismsHit with axe or push
Sir KillalotSecond War519 (1,144) (original)
741 (1,634) (revival)
16 (10)130 (51)120 (47)120 (47)Petrol engineHydraulic claws with 2.5 tonnes (2.8 tons) of crush force and rotating drill lance (S3-S7); non-rotating spike lance for S2Heavy with powerful weaponryUnpredictableSpike with lance / grab with claw

Arena and hazards


The Renfrew arena used for the rebooted series Robot Wars Arena.jpg
The Renfrew arena used for the rebooted series

There were numerous arena incarnations used during the original run of Robot Wars on the BBC. These arenas were also used by international versions such as Robot Wars: Extreme Warriors in the United States. The arena was approximately 32 by 48 feet (9.8 by 14.6 m). For Series 1 to 3 the arena was not enclosed as such, as the audience were raised above the arena. The increasing sophistication of weaponry from contestant robots - most notably demonstrated by Hypno-Disc in Series 3 - as well as arena hazards prompted producers to enclose the arena entirely in a perspex box 20 feet (6.1 m) high from Series 4 onwards, to protect the audience and production team from debris.[ citation needed ]

In early 2004, the Robot Wars arena was purchased from the television production firm Mentorn by a company called Robot Arenas Ltd., based in the UK, an organization set up by a past competitor in Robot Wars to continue the sport of robot combat in the UK. The arena - valued originally at £11,000 - was sold for scrap in 2005 for £250 by the new owners of the former RAF Newton air base, where the arena was housed. A suit filed against RAF Newton by Robot Arenas Ltd. found that RAF Newton had acted reasonably in the matter and owed no compensation to Robot Arenas Ltd. [32]

In 2016, a new arena was constructed in a warehouse in Renfrew, on the outskirts of Glasgow, for use in the rebooted series. This arena is 15 metres (49 ft) square, with a 6 mm (0.24 in) steel floor [33] and higher bulletproof walls, making it harder for robots to be thrown out of the arena.


Throughout Robot Wars' run, arena hazards were introduced and amended. Generally, hazards which proved ineffective were omitted in later series, however some hazards proved to be a success (such as the Pit of Oblivion, Floor Flipper and the Drop Zone) and were retained. The assorted hazards in the arena that changed from one series the next included:

Competitors and results

Chaos 2 was the only robot to be British Champion twice and the first to flip opponent robots over the fence and out of the arena. Chaos 2.jpg
Chaos 2 was the only robot to be British Champion twice and the first to flip opponent robots over the fence and out of the arena.
Domestic Championships results
SeriesWinnerGrand Finalists
1RoadblockBodyhammer, Robot The Bruce, Recyclopse, Cunning Plan, T.R.A.C.I.E.
SeriesWinnerRunner-upThird PlaceFourth Place
2Panic AttackCassiusRoadblockKillertron
3Chaos 2Hypno-DiscFirestormSteg-O-Saw-Us
4Chaos 2PussycatStingerHypno-Disc
5RazerBigger BrotherFirestorm 3Hypno-Disc
6TornadoRazerFirestorm 4Terrorhurtz
7Typhoon 2Storm 2TornadoX-Terminator
SeriesWinnerRunner-upGrand Finalists
8ApolloCarbideTR2, Thor, Shockwave, Pulsar
9CarbideEruptionIronside 3, Aftershock, Concussion, Apollo
10EruptionCarbideNuts 2, Behemoth, Rapid, Magnetar
Special Championships Results
International League ChampionshipRazer (England)Diotoir (Republic of Ireland)
First World ChampionshipRazer (England)Behemoth (England)101 (England)Diotoir (Republic of Ireland)
First Celebrity SpecialPussycat (Adam Woodyatt)Diotoir (Vic Reeves)Gemini (Anthea Turner & Wendy Turner)Sir Chromalot (Shane Lynch)
ChampionshipWinnerRunner-upThird PlaceFourth Place
Tag Team TerrorKing B3 & 101Firestorm 2 & ScorpionBigger Brother & Plunderbird 4X-Terminator 2 & Invertabrat
Annihilator NorthSpikasaurusDominator 2
Annihilator SouthRazerOnslaught
War of IndependenceMortis (UK)Frenzy (USA)Ming 2 (UK)Panic Attack (UK)
Second World ChampionshipRazer (UK)Drillzilla (USA)Manta (USA)Tornado (UK)
The Forces SpecialAnvil (Royal Air Force)Mega-Hurts (Royal Navy)Oblark (Fire Brigade)Sub-Version (Submariners)
UK vs. GermanyFluffy (UK)Das Gepäck (Germany)259 (UK)Delldog (Germany)
All-StarsPussycatDantomkiaKat 3Panic Attack
Third World ChampionshipStorm 2 (UK)Supernova (Sri Lanka)Crushtacean (South Africa)Tough As Nails (Netherlands)
Battle of the StarsArena Cleaner (Scott Mills & Chris Stark)Kadeena Machina (Kadeena Cox)The Cat (Suzi Perry)Robo Savage (Robbie Savage)
World SeriesUK (Apollo, Terrorhurtz, Sabretooth, Gabriel 2)UK (Eruption, Thor, Concussion, Big Nipper)Rest of the World (Diotoir, Cobra, Rabid M8, TMHWK)Rest of the World (Cathadh, Terror Turtle, THE BASH / Tough As Nails*, Weber)



A Sir Killalot toy Sir Killalot spear.jpg
A Sir Killalot toy

Pullback and friction toys were made of all the House Robots, with the exception of Cassius Chrome as the toys had stopped production when it was introduced for The Seventh Wars and the toys would have resumed production by Series 10 but this did not happen until Hexbug did so rather late in 2018. There were also pullback and ripcord toys of Chaos 2, Dantomkia, Firestorm, Hypno-Disc, Panic Attack, Pussycat, Razer, Stinger, Tornado, Wheely Big Cheese and X-Terminator 2. Each came with an accessory.

There were remote controlled versions of Shunt, Matilda, Sir Killalot and Growler. There were also smaller remote control battlers, which had "immobilisation spots" on the rear of the toy. Sgt. Bash and the competitor robot Tornado were the only two made. These were smaller than the other remote control robots mentioned above.

There were customisable kit toys of the House Robot Matilda and competitors Hypno-Disc and Panic Attack. A Sergeant Bash pitstop kit was prototyped but never released.

Minibots were a series of small die-cast replica robots. The range included all of the Series 5 House Robots along with competitor robots Chaos 2, Dominator 2, Firestorm III, Gemini, Hypno-Disc, Mega Morg, Panic Attack, Plunderbird 5, Pussycat, Razer, Suicidal Tendencies, Tornado, Wheely Big Cheese, Wild Thing and X-Terminator 2. They had an interactive replica arena and two additional playsets.

Home media

Several VHS videos were released of the show. These included "The First Great War" a look at the making of Series 1, "The First World Championship" which was released exclusively on video at the time and the "Ultimate Warrior Collection" featuring exclusive access to the teams of Chaos 2, Hypno-Disc and Razer, along with footage of their battles. Along the same lines an "Ultimate Archive Collection" was released showing exclusive footage of the House Robots and their operators along with some of their greatest battles and most embarrassing moments.

The Ultimate Warrior Collection, Ultimate Archive Collection and First Great War were also released on DVD. The footage and content remained the same as the VHS releases. Series 8 was released on DVD and Blu-ray on 29 August 2016, making it the first full series of Robot Wars to be released on home media. It was later released digitally. Series 9 and 10, along with the "Battle of the Stars" specials, were released on 11 December 2017 as a 5-disc DVD box set.

Video games

Robot Wars: Metal Mayhem is the first game based on the show, released on Game Boy Color in 2000. It was followed in 2001 by Robot Wars: Arenas of Destruction on PlayStation 2 and Microsoft Windows and Robot Wars: Advanced Destruction on Game Boy Advance. After the first three titles sold over 250,000 copies, a fourth and final game, released on Game Boy Advance, Microsoft Windows and Xbox in 2002 was called Robot Wars: Extreme Destruction . [2]


A huge array of other merchandise was produced due to the success of the show. Items available included mugs, glasses, mobile phone covers, toiletries, stationery, clocks, watches, bedding, curtains and clothing. The show even produced an unsuccessful single, which peaked at number 51 in the UK singles charts in December 2000, called "Sir Killalot Vs. Robo Babe - Robot Wars (Android Love)". [34] A custom made game officially licensed under Robot Wars LLC was started on in October 2013, using the Robot Arena 2 video game as the base engine. It featured many robots from the TV series as well as robots competing in the newer live events. It also included the original Robot Wars arena and various live arenas. It was released to the public in September 2015 and an updated version which included more robots was released in February 2016. A smaller update was released in January 2017, adding two new robots. Another update came in August 2017 which added the new Robot Wars arena from the current series and another new arena as well as some unreleased robots from the beta and robots that were due to be released in a cancelled expansion. It is only available for Microsoft Windows.


All episodes were announced by Jonathan Pearce.

Domestic series

SeriesStart dateEnd dateNetworkHostsJudges [note 1] CommentatorEpisodes
Original series
120 February 199827 March 1998 BBC Two Jeremy Clarkson Philippa Forrester Noel Sharkey Eric DickinsonAdam Harper Jonathan Pearce 6
26 November 19985 March 1999 Craig Charles 15
33 December 199921 April 2000 Martin Smith 19
422 September 200023 February 2001 Julia Reed Myra Wilson 19
56 May 200227 May 2002 BBC Choice Philippa Forrester Martin Smith Myra Wilson Mat Irvine 15
616 September 20024 October 2002 Martin Smith Mat Irvine 15
72 November 20037 March 2004 Channel 5 Jayne Middlemiss 19
Revived series
824 July 201628 August 2016 BBC Two Dara Ó Briain Angela Scanlon Noel Sharkey Sethu Vijayakumar Lucy Rogers Jonathan Pearce 6
95 March 201716 April 20176
1022 October 20173 December 20176

Extreme series

All Extreme episodes premiered on BBC Choice.

SeriesStart dateEnd dateHostsJudges [note 1] Episodes
18 October 200126 October 2001 Craig Charles Julia Reed Noel Sharkey Martin Smith Myra Wilson Mat Irvine 15
213 January 20037 February 2003 Philippa Forrester Martin Smith Mat Irvine 16


Date airedTitle
31 December 1998The Making of Robot Wars
12 March 1999The Grudge Matches
19 March 1999The Best of Robot Wars
15 September 2000International League Championship
27 December 2000Celebrity Special Championship
28 December 2000Tag Team Terror
29 December 2000Northern Annihilator
30 December 2000Southern Annihilator
31 December 2000War of Independence
16 November 2001The First World Championship
14 December 2001The Second World Championship
21 December 2001Forces Special
10 January 2003UK vs. Germany
14 March 2004Annihilator
21 March 2004All-Stars
28 March 2004The Third World Championship
11 July 2016Meet the House Robots
28 December 2016Battle of the Stars: Episode 1
29 December 2016Battle of the Stars: Episode 2
31 December 2017World Series: Episode 1
7 January 2018World Series: Episode 2

See also

Notes and references


  1. 1 2 For series 5 and Extreme series 1, Martin Smith, Myra Wilson and Mat Irvine took it in turns.


  1. "Robot Wars: Grand Champions". Retrieved 2013-12-01.
  2. 1 2 "Robot Wars Activated on Xbox". BBC. Retrieved 2013-12-01.
  3. "Home - Robot Wars". Retrieved 2017-04-27.
  4. "History". Extreme Robots. Retrieved 2017-04-27.
  5. "Entertainment - Robot Wars leaves BBC". BBC. 25 March 2003.
  6. John Plunkett. "BBC2's Robot Wars attracts more viewers than Top Gear reboot finale | Media". The Guardian . Retrieved 2017-04-27.
  7. "Robot Wars has been cancelled by the BBC after three series". 16 March 2018.
  8. 1 2 "Robot Wars History". Marc Thorpe. Retrieved 2006-11-19.
  9. 1 2 "Robot Wars History". Retrieved 2006-11-19.
  10. "Interview with Craig Charles". Retrieved 2016-03-07.
  11. "Saturday night switch for Robot Wars". The Guardian. 21 November 2003. Retrieved 30 July 2016.
  12. "Robot Wars rebooted for BBC Two". BBC. Retrieved 2016-01-13.
  13. "BBC Press Office on Twitter". Twitter.[ non-primary source needed ]
  14. Graeme Virtue. "There will be shrapnel: the return of Robot Wars | Television & radio". The Guardian . Retrieved 2017-04-27.
  15. "VIDEO: Robot Wars set to return to our screens ... filmed in a warehouse in Renfrew°". The Herald. Glasgow. 7 February 2016. Retrieved 2016-03-21.
  16. "Robot Wars 2017: Is new series winning over critics? | The Week UK". 2017-03-06. Retrieved 2017-04-27.
  17. Harrison, Ellie (2016-12-02). "Robot Wars: Battle of the Stars line-up: Robbie Savage and the Brownlee brothers join Christmas show". Radio Times. Retrieved 2017-04-27.
  18. "BBC Two - Robot Wars - Episode guide". BBC. 1970-01-01. Retrieved 2017-04-27.
  19. "BBC Two - Robot Wars, Series 9: Teaser". BBC. Retrieved 2017-04-27.
  20. "Robot Wars has just been cancelled again by the BBC and the fans are mad". inews. Retrieved 2019-02-22.
  21. "The Show - Robot Wars". Retrieved 2016-07-16.
  22. "Robot Wars Press Pack" (PDF). BBC Two. Retrieved 12 September 2016.
  23. 1 2 "Robot Wars". SphereTV. Archived from the original on 5 December 2006. Retrieved 18 November 2006.
  24. 1 2 "The Presenters". Robots Rule. Retrieved 2006-11-18.
  25. "Dave Lister Biography". The SadGeezers Guide. Archived from the original on 2006-10-21. Retrieved 2006-11-19.
  26. "Philippa Forrester". BBC Radio Bristol. Retrieved 2006-11-19.
  27. "Philippa Forrester". IMDb. Retrieved 2006-11-19.
  28. "Jonathan Pearce | Metro News". Metro. UK. 2009-10-27. Retrieved 2013-12-01.
  29. "Robot Wars is Finally Coming Back to BBC After 12 Years". 13 January 2016. Retrieved 2016-03-03.
  30. "Robot Wars returns: How well do you remember the House Robots?". Metro. 14 January 2016. Retrieved 2016-03-01.
  31. Gill, James (23 June 2016). "The first proper look at the upgraded 2016 Robot Wars House Robots". Radio Times. Retrieved 12 July 2016.
  32. "Robot wars battle arena case decided". The Daily Telegraph. London. 8 February 2010.
  33. "BBC Robot Wars - Page 9". Retrieved 2017-04-27.
  34. "Trading Robot". Trading Club. Retrieved 2017-05-13.

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