Robot Wars (TV series)

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This article is about the British television series. For other uses, see Robot Wars (disambiguation).
Robot Wars
Robot Wars.jpg
Genre Technological game show
Created by Tom Gutteridge
Steve Carsey
Directed by Stuart McDonald
Presented by Jeremy Clarkson (1998)
Craig Charles (1998–2004)
Starring Philippa Forrester (1998–2000, 2002–2003)
Julia Reed (2000–2001)
Jayne Middlemiss (2003–2004)
Voices of Jonathan Pearce & Stuart McDonald (Voice of the Robots)
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of series 7 (Original series)
2 (Extreme series)
No. of episodes 121 (Original series)
33 (Extreme series)
Camera setup Multi-camera
Running time 30 minutes (1998–1999)
45 minutes (1999–2003)
60 minutes (2003–2004)
Production company(s) TV21 (1998–2001)
Mentorn (2001–2004)
Distributor Tinopolis
Original channel BBC Two (1998–2001)
BBC Choice (2001–2003)
five (2003–2004)
Picture format 4:3 (1998–2001)
16:9 (2001–2004)
Original release 20 February 1998 (1998-02-20) – 28 March 2004 (2004-03-28)

Robot Wars is a technological game show that was first broadcast on BBC Two from 20 February 1998 until 23 February 2001, then on BBC Choice from 8 October 2001 until 7 February 2003 and finally on Channel 5 from 2 November 2003 until 28 March 2004. Additional series were filmed for specific sectors of the global market, including two series of Robot Wars Extreme Warriors with U.S. competitors for the TNN network (hosted by Mick Foley with Rebecca Grant serving as pit reporter), and two of Dutch Robot Wars for distribution in the Netherlands. The fourth series of the UK Robot Wars was brought to the United States on TNN as Robot Wars: Grand Champions in 2002, and hosted by Joanie Laurer.[1] 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 now operates their traveling robotic combat show under that name.[2]

The series involved teams of amateur and professional roboteers who made their own robots to fight against each other in both friendly and tournament matches. As well as fighting each other, they had to avoid the "House Robots", which were not bound by the same weight or weapon limits as the contestants. Robot Wars had peak audiences of 4 million, and was commercially successful in merchandising.[3]


Robot Wars was the brainchild of Marc Thorpe, a designer working for the LucasToys division of Lucasfilm.[4] In 1992, Thorpe had the initial idea for robot combat sport after unsuccessfully attempting to create a radio-controlled vacuum cleaner.[5] 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.[4]

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.

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, Shepherds Bush, London and hired Derek Foxwell to build 3 combat robots to take on three American robots. The Controller of BBC Two, Michael Jackson, attended the event, which was not filmed, and he promised to commission a series. However, it wasn't 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 scrutineered the robots, got them on and off stage and helped the contestants prepare and repair their robots. Irvine, initially a member of the technical team, served as one of the judges.

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.[5] 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 2 million viewers, and a further 18 episodes were commissioned by the BBC that year. 154 episodes were produced in total, and the show was seen in 26 countries. Two series were produced in the US for the TNN (now Spike) 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.

Battle rules[edit]

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

  • A robot that was immobile for 30 seconds could be counted 'out' and turned over to the house robots for further ‘punishment.’ Beginning with Robot Wars Extreme 1, the Refbot counted down the final 10 seconds.
  • A robot flipped out of the arena lost the battle.
  • A robot that fell or was pushed into the ‘Pit of Oblivion’ was instantly out of the battle (from series 2 onwards).
  • If none of the above conditions were satisfied, a panel of three judges scored the competitors on style, control, damage, and aggression. The judges for the First and Second Wars were Adam Harper, Eric Dickinson and Professor Noel Sharkey. The other judges over the shows run were Professor Martin Smith, Dr Myra Wilson and Mat Irvine.

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


The First Wars[edit]

The format for the first televised UK Robot Wars saw a group of six robots compete in one of six heats. In the First Wars, the six heat champions met in a single melee fight to determine the overall winner (which was televised at the end of Heat 6). Initially they would battle through a series of three challenges:
The first challenge: ‘The Gauntlet’- an obstacle filled maze defended by house robots. Competitor robots pushed as far down the course as possible in the time allowed. The robot covering the least ground was eliminated, leaving five robots to continue.
The second challenge: ‘The Trial’ - This event varied from heat to heat with the games 'Sumo', 'British Bulldog', 'Stock Car', 'Labyrinth', 'Snooker', and 'Football' being used.
The third challenge: 'The Arena' - the familiar combat event that dominated the later wars. The four remaining robots paired off and fought head-to head in the enclosed arena patrolled by the house robots. The two victorious robots then fought for the heat championship.

The Second Wars[edit]

The Second Wars followed the same format as the first.
‘The Gauntlet’ - Again an obstacle course. Competitors could chose one of 3 lanes. However the design and layout of the Gauntlet varied week by week.
The Trial’ - The Second Wars retained Sumo and football and also added 'Skittles', 'Tug of War', 'King of the Castle' and 'Joust'. Each of these 6 was played twice during the heats. For the Semi Finals, 'Pinball' was introduced.
'The Arena' - Exactly the same format as Series 1.
One major difference was the increased number of shows. There were now 12 heats, with the winner of each going onto one of two semi finals . Four finalists (two from each Semi final) paired off and fought head-to head in 'The Arena' with the two victorious robots moving on to a final arena battle to determine the champion. The two robots defeated in the first round grand final battles, fought it out for 3rd and 4th place. Series 2 also saw 3 specials broadcast:
The Best of The Second Wars - Highlights from the second series.
The Grudge Matches - Much like the vengeance battles that would appear in later series this gave robots with unfinished business or disagreements a chance to sort things out once and for all. Also showed 2 melees between reserve robots and "super heavyweight" robots respectively.
The Making of The First Wars - A behind the scenes look at how the first series was made, including a look at the design and building of the house robots and arena.

The Third Wars[edit]

The Third Wars eliminated 'The Gauntlet' and 'The Trial" from the main tournament, concentrating on 'The Arena'. This format continued throughout the remainder of the Wars, although it was tweaked occasionally. The show became a main knockout tournament. This series contained 16 heats, 2 semi finals and a grand final. 16 Heat winners went into 2 semi finals and like the previous wars 4 robots from the Semis made it into the Grand Final where they would fight it out for the championship. There were 4 side events during series 3. The Pinball warrior tournament, Football tournament, Middleweight Melee and 2 walker battles. 2 special shows were also shown:
The First World championship - 16 robots from all over the world compete in a straight knockout tournament to be crowned world champion.
The International League championship - This featured 6 robots split into two groups of three. Each robot fought on a round robin basis within their group until the top team from each group fought one on one for the title.

The Fourth Wars[edit]

Series 4 continued the same format as Series 3 but now with only 2 round 1 battles. These bouts were now a Melee featuring 3 robots going against each other. Everything else was exactly the same. There were 2 side events during this War. A pinball warrior tournament and a "Sumo Basho". 4 special editions of the show were shown:
Tag Team Terror - Where 2 robots teamed up to do battle at the same time.
Northern and Southern Annihilators - 6 robots were whittled down to one over 5 battles,
Celebrity Robot Wars - Featuring famous faces teaming up with roboteers.
War Of Independence - This saw the best of the British robots take on the best of the Americans.

Robot Wars: Extreme 1[edit]

This series saw various battles from various competitions over the entire series with a "headline Battle" shown at the end of each show. It consisted of 15 episodes. Main competitions included:
All Star tournament - Where some of Robot Wars most famous and successful robots did battle against each other.
Tag team terror - Same as the Series 4 special.
Vengeance battles - This allowed robots with unfinished business or grudges to settle things once and for all.
Mayhems - Three way Melees where the winners progressed into the annihilators.
Annihilator. - Same format as the Series 4 specials.
Challenge belt - Where one of the toughest robots would defend their honor for the challenge belt.
Wild Card Warriors - Robots with no fighting experienced would take on established robots for pride and bragging rights.
Two separate shows appeared during this series.
Armed forces special - Teams from British forces including the police force, army, navy and Air Force do battle.
Second World Championship - Robots from Britain, America, Germany, Italy, Sweden etc., competed in 4 matches containing 4 robots (All from different countries) The 4 winning robots from each match would go into 2 one on one matches. The 2 winners would then fight to become the second world champion.

One event that did not appear was The People's Challenge. This was an event due to be held in Extreme 1. The concept of this event was that the robots competing were chosen by the viewers. Fans would post their ideas for fights on the internet, before a vote was held to determine the most popular. These would then be discussed on the show itself, whereby the most popular or interesting battle would take place. The winning "match-up" was between Hypno-Disc and Razer, but both teams declined, and the event never went ahead.

The Fifth Wars[edit]

In this series, the 4 one on one round 1 battles returned. The amount of heats was reduced to 12. The winner of each heat moved into the semi-finals where they battled in 3 one on one bouts. The winner moved to the next round. for this series a "Losers Melee" was introduced where the 3 defeated robots from the previous battles fought to gain a place in the next round of the semi finals. Once again 4 robots moved into the grand final. Due to the introduction of "Robot Wars: Extreme", no special events or shows were included in this series.

The Sixth Wars[edit]

Another slight change came with the reintroduction of the first round melees. The rest of the format remained exactly the same with 12 heats, 2 semi-finals and a grand final.
UK vs Germany - Old wounds are opened as the UK and Germany do battle in the Robot Wars arena.

Robot Wars: Extreme 2[edit]

Like Extreme 1, this series saw battles across various competitions. However unlike Extreme 1, each show focused on a single event.
Shows 1 and 2 featured the All Stars Tournament.
Show 3 was an Annihilator Special.
Show 4 was the Minor Meltdown where the kids took the controls.
Show 5 was Tag Team Terror.
Shows 6 to 10 were New Blood. This competition consisted of 4 heats and a final and saw new robots with no or little battle experience a chance in the arena.
Show 11 was Robot Rampage, where robots from different weight classes competed.
Show 12 was The Challenge Belt.
Show 13 was the Iron Maidens competition where female roboteers took over the controls.
Show 14 was the University Challenge where teams from Universities around the UK fought their robots.
Show 15 was the Commonwealth Carnage where robots from all over the commonwealth came together to do battle.
Show 16 was the first European Championship, which saw robots from all over Europe come to compete in the arena.

The Seventh Wars[edit]

This series, the last to be made, retained the melee format for round one of the heats but there were now 16 heats again along with the 2 semi finals and grand final. Each show also contained a special fight. These included qualifying bouts for the upcoming world championships or fights between different weight classes. The series also featured 3 special shows.
All Stars tournament.
The Third world championship.


Craig Charles presented Robot Wars from its second series onwards.

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 "Scarab" looked like "cheese on toast".[6] Clarkson left Robot Wars after the first series and was replaced with Craig Charles.[7] Charles, well known as playing the character Dave Lister in the science fiction-themed sitcom Red Dwarf,[8] was seen as taking the programme and its contestants more seriously than Clarkson, and was more enthusiastic while presenting it.[6] 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.

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.[9] Her role on Robot Wars was as the pit reporter[10] 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 and final series, Forrester did not return for unknown reasons, so Jayne Middlemiss took over the pit reporter duties.[7]

Jonathan Pearce was the show's commentator throughout its entire run. He commentated in the same loud and enthusiastic manner as his football commentaries.[11]

House robots[edit]

The Robot Wars arena was also patrolled by the house robots, created as part of the television format. The house robots were a huge success, and particularly popular with younger viewers. The original house robots were designed and constructed by BBC Visual Effects and did not have to conform to the same rules as contestant robots; for example, they were allowed to be considerably larger and heavier, and were allowed weaponry prohibited in the competitor robots (such as Sgt. Bash's flamethrower). There were nine main house robots that appeared throughout the shows run:

Cassius Chrome[edit]

  • Competed: The Seventh Wars and Seventh Wars Specials.
  • Weight: 250 kg
  • Speed: 20 mph
  • Height: 85 cm
  • Length: 130 cm
  • Width: 100 cm
  • Power: Two magnetic 24v drive motors.
  • Weaponry: Two rotary driven interchangeable "fists" and front shovel.
  • Strengths: Fastest house robot and able to cause devastating damage with his speed.
  • Weaknesses: Weaponry can be ineffective unless allowed time to build up an attack. Also has a high ground clearance.
  • Method of Attack: Build up speed and ram competitor robots.

The last house robot to be introduced, Cassius Chrome, was a boxing-themed robot with a name based on Cassius Clay. He was equipped with two punching arms with interchangeable weapons. Examples of his weapons include metal fists and metal spikes. Although his weaponry seemingly lacked power, it was still rather effective in the capacity of pushing other robots and he could move very swiftly across the arena. By far the least effective of all the House Robots, as it never did very much damage to opponents.

Dead Metal[edit]

  • Competed: The First Wars, The Second Wars, Second Wars Specials, The Third Wars, Third Wars Specials, The Fourth Wars, Fourth Wars Specials, Robot Wars: Extreme 1, The Fifth Wars, The Sixth Wars, Sixth Wars Special, Robot Wars: Extreme 2, The Seventh Wars and Seventh Wars Specials.
  • Weight: 112 kg
  • Speed: 12 mph
  • Height: 70 cm
  • Length: 160 cm
  • Width: 100 cm
  • Power: Battery driven motors.
  • Weaponry: Hydraulically driven pincers and a 3000rpm circular saw.
  • Strengths: Synergy of weapons.
  • Weaknesses: Reliability.
  • Method of Attack: Grab competitor robot with pincers and engage circular saw.

One of the 4 original house robots, Dead Metal was designed as a scorpion-like robot with pneumatic pincers and a circular saw mounted on an overhead arm. He received a massive overhaul for The Third Wars. A pneumatic ram was added onto a much larger circular saw blade. This meant the whole weaponry section of him moved forward. This enabled him to cause much more damage to competitor robots. He was tweaked again slightly for The Fifth Wars when the front end of him became articulated and could move up and down. This allowed him to get a better grip on competitors depending on their height.


  • Competed: The Sixth Wars, Sixth Wars Special, Robot Wars: Extreme 2, The Seventh Wars & Seventh Wars Specials.
  • Weight: 375 kg
  • Speed: 17 mph
  • Height: 76 cm
  • Length: 152 cm
  • Width: 130 cm
  • Power: Powered by six batteries and two electric motors.
  • Weaponry: Front jaws with a force of 3000psi.
  • Strengths: Speed and sheer destructive power. Runs on a "Skid Steer" system.
  • Weaknesses: Very unpredictable and can cause damage to arena.
  • Method of Attack: Grab with jaws, hold and push into arena hazards or a fellow house robot.

In The Sixth Wars two new huge house robots were introduced. Growler, a dog-like robot described as Mr. Psycho's pet pooch, had hydraulic jaws and a powerful drive designed to grab and push competitors around the arena or into a fellow house robot. During Robot Wars Extreme 2, Growler briefly experimented with a rear-mounted flamethrower, however it was only fired twice during one battle and proved ineffective so it was removed shortly afterwards.


  • Competed:The First Wars, The Second Wars, Second Wars Specials, The Third Wars, Third Wars Specials, The Fourth Wars, Fourth Wars Specials, Robot Wars: Extreme 1, The Fifth Wars, The Sixth Wars, Sixth Wars Special, Robot Wars: Extreme 2, The Seventh Wars & Seventh Wars Specials.
  • Weight: 116 kg
  • Speed: 8 mph
  • Height: 66 cm
  • Length: 140 cm
  • Width: 66 cm
  • Power: Battery driven engine.
  • Weaponry: Pneumatically driven flipping tusks and a rear interchangeable weapons bay that can hold a chainsaw or vertical 27 kg flywheel.
  • Strengths: Devastatingly powerful flywheel weapon.
  • Weaknesses: Lacks self-control.
  • Method of Attack: Lift with tusks / wait for a competitor to enter CPZ and hit with flywheel.

Another House robot who was with the show throughout its run, Matilda was originally designed to resemble a mutant robotic dinosaur. The only "Female" house robot, she was armed with front tusks and a rear chainsaw, she quickly became the house robot that was frequently attacked by competitors, culminating in her being practically destroyed by Razer in The Fourth Wars Southern Annihilator . She returned for Extreme 1 having been rebuilt from the ground up. The tusks remained but her rear chainsaw was now interchangeable with a 27 kg flywheel. The chainsaw was never seen again during the UK series as the flywheel proved very effective against competitors making her one of the most dangerous robots in Robot Wars.

Mr. Psycho[edit]

  • Competed: The Sixth Wars, Sixth Wars Special, Robot Wars: Extreme 2, The Seventh Wars and Seventh Wars Specials.
  • Weight: 750 kg
  • Speed: 8 mph
  • Height: 150 cm
  • Length: 163 cm
  • Width: 145 cm
  • Power: 12 Battery powered electric motor.
  • Weaponry: 30 kg Hammer and grabbing claws with 5 tonnes of force.
  • Strengths: Biggest house robot.
  • Weaknesses: Sheer size can drain battery power very quickly.
  • Method of attack: Repeatedly strike with hammer / crush and lift with grabbing claws.

This giant became king of the house robots when he was introduced in The Sixth Wars. Mr. Psycho was armed with a huge claw for crushing and lifting up competitors and a 30 kg pneumatic hammer with which to hit them. Mr. Psycho was the largest and heaviest house robot ever built and most feared by competitors.[citation needed]


  • Appeared: The Fourth Wars, Fourth Wars Specials, Robot Wars: Extreme 1, The Fifth Wars, The Sixth Wars, Sixth Wars Special, Robot Wars: Extreme 2, The Seventh Wars and Seventh Wars Specials.
  • Weight: 120 kg
  • Speed: 7 mph
  • Height: 130 cm
  • Length: 140 cm
  • Width: 90 cm
  • Power: Battery powered electric motor.
  • Equipment: Front and rear scoops for pushing immobilized robots from the arena, electric counting display to count out immobilized robots, fire extinguisher to tackle fires within the arena and a medallion on the left arm which indicates green to start a battle, yellow to give a robot an official warning and red to eliminate a robot from a battle.
  • Strengths: N/A - non competitive.
  • Weaknesses: N/A - non competitive.
  • Method of Attack: N/A - non competitive.

Introduced in The Fourth Wars, Refbot was a humanoid referee whose initial role was to separate robots, if stuck together, with his scoop and to put out fires. Starting in Robot Wars Extreme 1, Refbot became much more active in battles and counted out immobile competitors using a counter on his chest and he was now able to give yellow and red cards to competitors and house robots for breaches of the rules or if immobilized.

Sergeant Bash[edit]

  • Competed: The First Wars, The Second Wars, Second Wars Specials, The Third Wars, Third Wars Specials, The Fourth Wars, Fourth Wars Specials, Robot Wars: Extreme 1, The Fifth Wars, The Sixth Wars, Sixth Wars Special, Robot Wars: Extreme 2, The Seventh Wars and Seventh Wars Specials.
  • Weight: 120 kg
  • Speed: 8 mph
  • Height: 90 cm
  • Length: 140 cm
  • Width: 90 cm
  • Power: Four batteries running in parallel.
  • Weaponry: Propane fueled flamethrower and front mounted hydraulic pincers.
  • Strengths: Long-range weaponry.
  • Weaknesses: Limited fuel supply.
  • Method of Attack: Engage flamethrower from CPZ / grab and hold with jaws and drag around the arena.

Sergeant Bash was a military-themed robot with a ramming blade, rear circular saw and propane flamethrower. From The Third Wars, the front ramming blade was replaced with a pair of hydraulic pincers, and the rear saw was removed. The pincers were upgraded in The Fourth Wars and became more powerful. The flamethrower also had a slight upgrade which allowed for a small up and down movement.


  • Competed: The First Wars, The Second Wars, Second Wars Specials, The Third Wars, Third Wars Specials, The Fourth Wars, Fourth Wars Specials, Robot Wars: Extreme 1, The Fifth Wars, The Sixth Wars, Sixth Wars Special, Robot Wars: Extreme 2, The Seventh Wars & Seventh Wars Specials.
  • Weight: 105 kg
  • Speed: 10 mph
  • Height: 70 cm
  • Length: 130 cm
  • Width: 110 cm
  • Power: "Prototype cold-fusion engine"
  • Weaponry: Front ramming plough, rear lifting scoop and a pneumatically driven diamond edged axe.
  • Strengths: Pushing power.
  • Weaknesses: lightest house robot and Inability to self-right.
  • Method of Attack: Hit with axe repeatedly / lift and push around arena.

The last of the 4 original house robots, Shunt was bulldozer-like and centred around pushing power. He was equipped with a plough, scoop and pickaxe although in series one the pickaxe was more for visual effect than to cause damage. In The Second Wars, the rear scoop became pneumatic allowing him to lift robots and the pickaxe was upgraded meaning he could cause some damage. For The Third Wars, Shunt's axe had a huge upgrade and became his main weapon. It was now powered by pneumatics and diamond edged and proved very effective against competitor robots during The Third and Fourth Wars. However, as the show went on, especially in The Seventh Wars his weaponry struggled to break though armour and he became a target for attacks from the competitor robots, being flipped on several occasions. Had the show returned, he was due to have a massive redesign.

Sir Killalot[edit]

  • Competed: The Second Wars, Second Wars Specials, The Third Wars, Third Wars Specials, The Fourth Wars, Fourth Wars Specials, Robot Wars: Extreme 1, The Fifth Wars, The Sixth Wars, Sixth Wars Special, Robot Wars: Extreme 2, The Seventh Wars & Seventh Wars Specials
  • Weight: 281 kg
  • Speed: 5 mph
  • Height: 130 cm
  • Length: 120 cm
  • Width: 120 cm
  • Power: Petrol driven engine with hydraulic power packs for weaponry.
  • Weaponry: Rotating drill lance and hydraulic cutting claws.
  • Strengths: Weight and powerful weaponry.
  • Weaknesses: Slowest house robot.
  • Method of Attack: Spike with lance / grab and lift with claw.

Introduced in The Second Wars and built in only six weeks, Sir Killalot (Also known as "Sir K" in Nickelodeon Robot Wars), or "Killalot" as he was affectionately known, was a semi-humanoid robot with a lance on one arm and pincers on the other. In The Third Wars the lance became a rotating drill and the strength of the hydraulic claw was improved. For the Fourth Wars his hydraulic cutters were improved again becoming 3 times the size meaning grabbing robots was much easier. Until the introduction of Mr Psycho, Sir Killalot was considered the "king" of the house robots.

Other house robots[edit]

Two other house robots were used during the show, one on-screen and one off:

Introduced early in The Second Wars, The Sentinel was a modified, immobile, JCB digger which pushed competitors toward one of two pits on either side in 'The Gauntlet' or into a house robot. He also appeared in the PPZ of the "Arena" section of the show for the Semi Final's and grand final. It was the only house robot to have an operator inside the arena. Format changes for The Third Wars removed the Gauntlet round from the competition and therefore the Sentinel from subsequent series.

Shove was a simple House Robot never shown on the televised broadcasts. It had a scoop on the front to push robots out of the arena that could not get out themselves after battles. Shove also cleaned the arena floor but was replaced largely by Refbot from Series 4 onwards. He did participate in the qualifiers for the main series for the remainder of the show's run.[citation needed]

Arena and hazards[edit]

The arena was approximately 32 feet by 48 feet. For Series 1 to 3 the Arena was not enclosed as such as the audience were raised above the arena. For Series 4 the battle zone was enclosed in a huge clear plastic box 20 feet high. There were assorted hazards in the arena that changed from one series the next:

The Patrol Zones[edit]

The First Wars only - Four large squares in the corners of the arena marked with striped tape, each occupied by one House Robot and a hazard. Once a competitor robot entered one of these zones, it was open to attack by the House Robot within. The Patrol Zones were much like the CPZ's that appeared in later series but were much larger.

Arena Sidebars[edit]

The First Wars Only. These were parts of the arena side fence that were on the floor. These trapped robots and potentially immobilised them if they could not drive off.


Grille floor panels that, like the arena sidebars mentioned above, were designed to trap robots and not allow them to drive off. Proved much more effective than the sidebars.

Floor Spikes[edit]

The First Wars to The Third Wars - These were pneumatic spikes located in several positions on the arena floor that came up whenever a robot drove over them. They trapped robots and on occasion flipped them. They were removed for series 4 after causing many upsets during The Third Wars where robots currently winning battles would be overturned and then lose. This most notably happened during Heat B when Behemoth was flipped, couldn't self-right and its opponent Pitbull won by default.

The Perimeter Patrol Zone/PPZ[edit]

The Second Wars only – A narrow band around the perimeter of the arena that replaced the Patrol Zones. A competitor robot that entered this area was open to attack by any or all of the House Robots stationed there.

The Pit of Oblivion[edit]

The Second Wars onwards - The Pit of Oblivion was a 4-foot square hole in the arena floor painted black on the inside, and partially filled with old tyres into which a robot might drive, fall or be pushed, instantly eliminating said robot. In The Second Wars, pits were added to both lanes of The Gauntlet. For The Third Wars the Pit was open during the first two rounds of each heat, then covered during the heat final and following matches. In The Fourth Wars, the Pit was redesigned as a yellow and black chevron tape outlined area that would descend at some point during the match to form a pit. From its very first appearance in The Second Wars the Pit included a small pyrotechnic "explosion" that formed a large ball of white smoke. This would activate when a robot fell into the Pit, primarily used to show that a competitor had fallen in. This was changed to a small firework explosion for The Third Wars but the smoke returned for The Fourth Wars and remained until the end. From Extreme 1 onwards there was a device on the arena wall that competitor or house robots could use to activate the pit opening. In Extreme and The Fifth Wars that device was a tyre. For The Sixth Wars the tyre was replaced by a metal bumper. The tyre returned in Extreme 2 and remained for the remainder of the shows' run.

Flame Pit[edit]

The Second Wars onwards - A large square grill located close to the right bottom corner of the arena. Used to set fire to flammable robots and damage electronics.

The Corner Patrol Zones/CPZ[edit]

The Third Wars onwards - the House Robots were now confined to the four corners of the arena much like in The First Wars. Which house robot was used in which battle was and defined by a rota system but would also sometimes depend on if a house robot was being repaired. In The Fourth Wars, the house robots switched to a rota system of Shunt, Matilda, Sgt.Bash, and Dead Metal. Sir Killalot consistently appeared every round. From Extreme 1 onwards only two house robots were allowed in the arena at a time, and this moved in a rota through all of the machines. However some House Robots didn't appear in a show or on some occasions missed several shows before making an appearance.

The Floor Flipper[edit]

The Third Wars onwards - This was a powerful pneumatic flipper that can toss a robot across the arena. When originally introduced it just looked like a part of the arena floor. For The Fourth Wars the flipper was given yellow/black paint scheme similar to the redesigned Pit of Oblivion. From Extreme 1 the power of the flipper increased, allowing it to hurl even the heaviest robots into the air, and flip featherweight robots out of the arena.

Angle Grinders[edit]

The Third Wars, Extreme 1 onwards - Abrasive grinding wheels built into the arena railings. The grinders were replaced with small pneumatic spikes in The Fourth Wars but brought back from extreme 1 onwards.

Flame Jets[edit]

The Fourth Wars onwards - 3 of these were located around the arena. Two at the front in between the CPZ's and one on the left of the arena towards the centre.

Pneumatic Spikes[edit]

The Fourth Wars only - As mentioned above they replaced the Angle Grinders but proved rather ineffective so were removed after one series.

CO2 geysers[edit]

Extreme 1 onwards - Designed to cause internal damage to robots but more useful for putting out fires.

The Drop Zone[edit]

The Sixth Wars onwards - A square on the arena floor where heavy objects (television sets, ocean buoys, refrigerators, washing machines, etc.) fell from the top of the arena. It first appeared in series 6; although the spot where the object would fall, a black square with a yellow 'X' shape across it first appeared in The Fifth Wars and Extreme 1. Viewers did not know the purpose of this at the time. It is believed it was due to be used in Extreme 1 but technical difficulties meant it was abandoned.

The Disc of Doom[edit]

The Sixth Wars only - A circular spinning panel set into the arena floor activated by a buffer similar to the pit release. This hazard was used to disrupt a robot's driving and worked well on lighter competitors but proved in-effective against Heavyweight robots. It first appeared in The Sixth Wars but was removed for The Seventh Wars.

Arena legal dispute[edit]

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 Robot Wars 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.[12]

Competitors and results[edit]

Chaos 2 was the only robot to be British Champion twice, and the first to flip another robot out of the arena.
UK Championship results
Series Winner Grand Finalists
The First Wars Roadblock Bodyhammer, Cunning Plan, Recyclopse, Robot The Bruce, T.R.A.C.I.E.
Series Winner Runner-up Third Place Fourth Place
The Second Wars Panic Attack Cassius Roadblock Killertron
The Third Wars Chaos 2 Hypno-Disc Firestorm Steg-O-Saw-Us
The Fourth Wars Chaos 2 Pussycat Stinger Hypno-Disc
The Fifth Wars Razer Bigger Brother Firestorm III Hypno-Disc
The Sixth Wars Tornado Razer Firestorm IV Terrorhurtz
The Seventh Wars Typhoon 2 Storm II Tornado X-Terminator
World Championship results
Championship Winner Runner-up Semi-Finalists
The First World Championship Razer (UK) Behemoth (UK) 101 (UK) Diotoir (Republic of Ireland)
The Second World Championship Razer (UK) Drillzilla (USA) Manta (USA) Tornado (UK)
The Third World Championship Storm 2 (UK) Supernova (Sri Lanka) Crushtacean (South Africa) Tough As Nails (Netherlands)

The competing robots are listed in Category:Robot Wars competitors.



A Sir Killalot toy

Pullback friction toys were made of all the House Robots, with the exception of Cassius Chrome as the toys had stopped production when he was introduced for the final series. There were also pullback toys of Chaos 2, Dantomkia, Firestorm, Hypno-Disc, Panic Attack, Pussycat, Razer, Stinger, Tornado, Wheely Big Cheese and X-Terminator. Each came with an accessory.

There were remote controlled versions of Shunt, Matilda, Sir Killalot, and Growler. There also were smaller remote control battlers, which had "imobolisation 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.[citation needed]

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, Plunderird 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[edit]

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 a "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.

Video games[edit]

Robot Wars: Metal Mayhem is the first game based on the show, released on Game Boy Color in 2000. It followed in 2001 by Robot Wars: Arenas of Destruction on PlayStation 2, Microsoft Windows and Game Boy Advance. After the first two titles sold over 250,000 copies, a third and final game, released on Game Boy Advance, Microsoft Windows and Xbox in 2002 called Robot Wars: Extreme Destruction.[3]


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. Much of this merchandise is still highly collectable today.[citation needed] 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)".[13]


Original series[edit]

Series Start date End date Episodes Notes
1 20 February 1998 27 March 1998 6 First series and shortest run recorded from December 1997 to January 1998
2 6 November 1998 5 March 1999 15 Increased number of heats and Semi Final and Grand Final stages added
3 3 December 1999 21 April 2000 19 New "battle" format introduced. Gauntlet and trial removed from main competition
4 22 September 2000 23 February 2001 19 Repeated on BBC Choice from 2000 to 2001
5 6 May 2002 27 May 2002 15 Repeated on BBC Two from 24 May to 1 November 2002
6 16 September 2002 4 October 2002 15 Repeated on BBC Two from 8 November 2002 to 7 March 2003
7 2 November 2003 7 March 2004 19 Moved to Five. Last series to be made and broadcast

Extreme series[edit]

Series Start date End date Episodes Notes
1 8 October 2001 26 October 2001 15 Repeated on BBC Two from 19 October to 14 December 2001 and 4 January to 8 February 2002
2 13 January 2003 7 February 2003 16 Repeated on BBC Two from 9 May to 19 September 2003, although three episodes were not repeated on the channel.


Date Entitle Notes
31 December 1998 The Making of Robot Wars Parts of this episode were later released on VHS.
12 March 1999 The Grudge Matches Broadcast at the end of Series 2.
19 March 1999 The Best of Robot Wars Highlights of Series 2.
15 September 2000 International League Championship Recorded during Series 3, shown a week before Series 4.
27 December 2000 Celebrity Special Recorded during Series 4. The first and only celebrity special made and only episode ever to be shown on BBC One.
28 December 2000 Tag Team Terror Also made during Series 4 and first tag team event.
29 December 2000 Northern Annihilator Again made during Series 4. First Annihilator event to be shown. Featured robots from the northern half of the UK.
30 December 2000 Southern Annihilator Again made during Series 4. Same format as previous show but featuring robots from the southern half of the UK.
31 December 2000 War of Independence First special to be made during Series 4 with 2 matches filmed before the Series 4 arena was complete.
14 December 2001 Second World Championship Made during Extreme 1. Repeated on BBC Two on 30 December 2001.
21 December 2001 The Forces Made during Extreme 1. Repeated on BBC Two on 3 January 2002.
10 January 2003 UK vs. Germany Made during Series 6. Repeated on BBC Two on 4 April 2003.
14 March 2004 Annihilator Made during Series 7 and shown after the Grand Final. Also featured House Robot Rebellion.
21 March 2004 All Star Championship Made during Series 7.
28 March 2004 Third World Championship Final special to be Made during Series 7 and last episode to be shown.

US Robot Wars[edit]

A forerunner to the UK Series, The 1994 Robot Wars in San Francisco, California featured three different 'games' for each of three robot weight classes:

The FACE-OFF paired robots to battle through an elimination tournament. A robot won a match by immobilizing its opponent, either by damage or by pinning. If both robots were still mobile at the end of ten minutes, they both advanced to the next round of the tournament.
The MOB SCENE was a free-for-all melee fight amongst multiple robots. There were two Mob Scene fights: one for lightweight robots, and a never-repeated 'all weight classes' melee.
The ESCORT event had a single competitor robot escort a defenseless "drone" robot across the arena while a "house robot" attempted to attack the drone. The successful escort with the lowest time was declared the winner. The Escort event was contested only in 1994.

Weight classes for the first event were:

Lightweight: 10 to 40 pounds
Middleweight: 41 to 70 pounds
Heavyweight: 71 to 100 pounds

The competition format remained much the same through 1997. Additional safety regulations were implemented each year, match length was trimmed to 5 minutes, a 'featherweight' weight class was added, and weight allowances crept upward; by 1997 the heavyweight maximum was 170 pounds.

The 1997 judging criteria removed pinning an opponent for 30 seconds as an automatic win and required such immobilization techniques to be limited to one minute. The 1997 judging criteria also removed 'audience applause' for selection of a winner when a match ended with both robots still mobile. Robots were judged by a panel based upon a point system that took into account three factors: damage, aggression, and control. Of these three factors, damage was the primary criteria for determining a winner.

Nickelodeon Robot Wars[edit]

In 2002, the American television network Nickelodeon created Nickelodeon Robot Wars, in which children operated combat robots provided by American teams.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Robot Wars: Grand Champions". Retrieved 2013-12-01. 
  2. ^ "Roaming Robots News". 
  3. ^ a b "Robot Wars Activated on Xbox". Retrieved 2013-12-01. 
  4. ^ a b "Robot Wars History". Marc Thorpe. Retrieved 2006-11-19. 
  5. ^ a b "Robot Wars History". Retrieved 2006-11-19. 
  6. ^ a b "Robot Wars". SphereTV. Retrieved 2006-11-18. 
  7. ^ a b "The Presenters". Robots Rule. Retrieved 2006-11-18. 
  8. ^ "Dave Lister Biography". The SadGeezers Guide. Archived from the original on 2006-10-21. Retrieved 2006-11-19. 
  9. ^ "Philippa Forrester". BBC Radio Bristol. Retrieved 2006-11-19. 
  10. ^ "Philippa Forrester". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2006-11-19. 
  11. ^ metrowebukmetro (2009-10-27). "Jonathan Pearce | Metro News". Retrieved 2013-12-01. 
  12. ^ "Robot wars battle arena case decided". The Daily Telegraph (London). 8 February 2010. 
  13. ^

External links[edit]