In a galaxy far, far away, or in this case 13 years ago in the UK, there was a programme called Robot Wars. The show which pitched Robots in direct combat was a sensation and created a legion of fans. It now returns to our screens, sometime this year, on BBC and promises to be bigger and better than ever, so what can we expect?
Robot Wars was a seminal TV show. A fight between robots, built my amateurs and professionals, competing on TV in front of millions. The presenters were Jeremy Clarkson (1 series), Craig Charles and Phillipa Forrester. The battles were commentated on by an energetic Johnathan Davies and having a professional sports commentator involved meant that the competition gained serious validation.
The teams involved were often families or groups of friends and viewers seemed to love to watch their months of hard work go up in smoke - literally. It was Gladiatorial combat for the noughties. Unfortunately the excitement for the future after the millennium fizzled out, and in 2003 the show ended a sad death on Channel 5.
Well it is back with a vengeance! A new state of the art arena has been built in Glasgow with an expectation the new series will be improved beyond recognition. The arena will be bulletproof, though this does not mean there will be live ammunition in play!
Intuitive cameras will be used to get the viewers closer to the action, whilst advances in technology mean that the Robots will be a much more interesting part of the show.
The previous incarnation was filled with lightweight 'flipping' designs. Alan Tyler, BBC acting controller of entertainment commissioning, said: "It is remarkable to see how much more powerful these robots have become since the series last aired, with battles now staged in an arena that is literally bulletproof, and yet, the show is still fundamentally driven by the eccentricity of the brilliant brains behind the machines."
Returning are the famed House Robots which act as extra hurdles to jump in competition. The famous names of Sir Killalot, Matilda, Shunt and Dead Metal are all back and look more menacing than ever. They look familiar, but all are brand new, built from scratch. Fan favourite Sir Killalot is armed with a vice grip and a huge drill bit lance.
To put into perspective of the size, he is half the size of a smart car, so any Robot hoping to tip him will have to have some serious power. That power will be hopefully coming from new lithium batteries which will provide more power than in the past. They are also smaller which will leave room for more armour or weapons! Some confirmed weapons include a spinning saw that rotates up to 9000rpm so you can understand the reason for bullet proof glass!
In an interview with the Daily Mirror, new host Dara O'Briain told how the bulletproofing had saved his life from these vicious new weapons: "We were watching one time and these spinner things were going at over 200mph and we saw it bang [the triple bulletproof glass] in front of us – a twisted shard of metal was flung at our windows," he said
Dara O'Biain will be joined by fellow Irish presenter Angela Scanlon and the BBC will hope that it will go down better than the new Top Gear, which has seen repeated bad reviews. Craig Charles was very popular and his excitement will be missed.
Back in 2002 Robot Wars was one of the most commercially successful shows ever for the BBC, who were able to sell a lot of merchandise off the back of it. They will be hoping they can achieve the same as dwindling funding and some shows missing the mark in recent times means the BBC needs a good news story, and it could be Robot Wars to give it.