30 Facts You Probably Never Knew About "Robot Wars"
The show almost resulted in the decapitation of Jeremy Clarkson.
1. The concept for Robot Wars came from Marc Thorpe, an employee working in the toy department of Lucasfilm.
2. The idea came to him as he was trying to create a radio-controlled vacuum cleaner.
3. Long running host, Craig Charles, wasn't even told about the planned reboot.
4. While filming his first episode as the show's presenter, he thought that the show would fail and that he'd ruined his career.
5. For its first series the show was hosted by Jeremy Clarkson.
6. Who was nearly decapitated when a rotating blade from a competing robot flew towards him at more than 200 miles an hour and missed his head by less than two inches.
7. Clarkson wasn't the only one nearly killed by a competitor. A director was hacked in the foot by a pickaxe when a robot sharing the same frequency as a local taxi firm unexpectedly "woke up".
8. At its peak the show had over six million viewers.
9. And the UK version of the show was broadcast in over 45 countries including Australia, China, and India.
10. The US had their own version, hosted by professional wrestling legend Mick Foley for some reason.
11. There was a celebrity special in 2000 involving stars such as 5ive, Shane Lynch, and Chris Eubank.
12. Ian Beale and Sonia from Eastenders won the special piloting a robot named "Pussycat".
13. The house robots were all designed by one man: SFX Supervisor Chris Reynolds.
14. Whose team were tasked with building the robotic fleet in 6 weeks.
15. Sir Killalot was built in less than 10 days.
16. Reynolds now works in the movie industry and is responsible for the creation of special effects for films such as The World's End, Sherlock Holmes (2009), and The Inbetweeners 2.
17. The only robot to win the tournament twice was Chaos 2, who won the third and fourth series.
18. One of the cheapest robots to appear on the show was 101, who "…cost something like £12 to make."
20. One team tried to enter a robot with napalm as a weapon into the competition. They were denied entry.
21. The banned list of weapons included projectiles, explosives, corrosives, acidic, and liquid weapons.
22. And to ensure their safety, audience members had to remain seated during the duration of fights.
23. Head of the judging panel was – and still is – computer scientist Noel Sharkey, professor of artificial intelligence and robotics at the University of Sheffield.
24. He now chairs The International Committee for Robot Arms Control, an NGO calling for a treaty to prohibit the use of autonomous robots as weapons.
25. The first series was filmed in a warehouse at the London Docklands.
26. And the arena was set up by 30 people in just three days.
27. But when the combat arena grew too large by the end of the first series, filming was moved to an aircraft hangar at RAF Newton.
28. Most of the junkyard-looking set design actually did come from a junkyard.
29. The whole arena at RAF Newton was eventually sold for scrap for just £250.
30. Despite the violent and destructive nature of the show, the contestants showed great sportsmanship, with competing teams often lending a hand to help repair their opponent's robots.