|This article needs to be updated. (November 2010)|
Scrapheap Challenge logo
|Also known as||Junkyard Wars (USA)|
|Created by||Eve Kay
|Directed by||Jon Ormrod|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||11 (UK)|
|No. of episodes||156 (UK) (list of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||Bill Hobbins
|Camera setup||Nigel Dupont|
|Running time||52 minutes|
|Original network||Channel 4|
|Original release||12 April 1998 – 27 June 2010|
Scrapheap Challenge is an engineering game show produced by RDF Media and broadcast on Channel 4 in the United Kingdom. In the show, teams of contestants had 10 hours (around sunset) in which to build a working machine that could do a specific task, using materials available in a scrapheap. The format was exported to the United States, where it was known as Junkyard Wars. The US show was also produced by RDF Media, and was originally shown on The Learning Channel. Repeats have aired on another Discovery network, the Science Channel. A campaign has recently been launched on Facebook and Twitter to try and convince the producers to bring back the series.
- 1 Format
- 2 Details of individual series
- 3 Broadcast
- 4 Locations
- 5 References
- 6 External links
A typical episode featured a competition between two 4-person teams, each consisting of three regular members (with one designated the captain), plus an expert in the field related to the particular challenge. The judge for each episode is typically a specialist in (non-scrap) versions of the machine being constructed.
The challenges are many and varied, usually involving teams constructing a machine to achieve a particular objective. The final showdown usually consisted of either head-to-head races or individually run timed events. Examples of challenges included making a jet car, a bridging machine, a car-crusher, and a machine to fling a British Leyland Mini as far as possible.
Assistant producer Eve Kay had the idea for the show after watching a scene in the movie Apollo 13, where NASA engineers had only a short period of time to construct a carbon dioxide filter out of parts available on the space capsule. The show also draws its inspiration from the 1980s TV series The Great Egg Race.
Details of individual series
The UK show was originally presented by Robert Llewellyn, joined in series 2-4 by producer Cathy Rogers, and in series 5-10 by Lisa Rogers (no relation). For series 11, both hosts were replaced with former Scrapheap contestant and judge Dick Strawbridge.
Series 1 was titled Scrapheap, and pitted the same two teams against each other each week. From series 2, the show was renamed Scrapheap Challenge and featured a knockout tournament between teams drawn from the general public. From series 3, a champion of champions contest was initiated.
Series 3 and 4 included a single US team in the field. Series 3 had The Nerds, and series 4 had The Mulewrights brought in at the last minute when one team couldn't travel due to a livestock epidemic. Both US teams made it to the final round.
- Series 1 (1998) – The series was tied 3-3
- Series 2 (1999) – Winners: Megalomaniacs
- Series 3 (2000) – Winners: Brothers in Arms; Champion of Champions: Megalomaniacs
- Series 4 (2001) – Winners: Cat-alysts; Champion of Champions: Cat-alysts
- Series 5 (2002) – Winners: Barley Pickers; Champion of Champions: Cat-alysts
- Series 6 (2003) – Winners: The Destroyers; Champion of Champions: Cat-alysts
- Series 7 (2004) – Winners: Anoraks; Champion of Champions: Anoraks
- Series 8 (2005) – Winners: Powerlifters; Champion of Champions: Powerlifters
- Series 9 (2007) – Winners: Woof Justice; Champion of Champions: Woof Justice
- Series 10 (2008) – Winners: Rusty Regiment; Champion of Champions: Woof Justice
- Series 11 (2009/10) – Winners: The Wheel Nuts; Champion of Champions: N/A
Series 9 was shown in two halves. The first eight episodes aired between 15 April and 3 June, and the remaining episodes between 4 November and 23 December 2007.
Series 11 saw Dick Strawbridge (formerly a competitor from series 1-3) return as an expert and judge, replacing Robert Llewellyn. The show was now produced by RDF Bristol and Exec. producer Jane Lomas and series producer John Macnish had to deliver the new series on a fraction of the budget of previous series. As well as a change in presenters the format of the series changed dramatically with teams of 'scrappers' from across the UK competing against Dick Strawbridge's home team known as 'Dick's Diamonds'. At the end of each episode a battle to determine the week's champion scrappers took place in a public venue in front of crowds of cheering fans. Series 11 of the UK show had its world premiere in Australia on ABC2, with episode 1 airing on 1 July 2009.
A spin-off series, Scrapheap Challenge: The Scrappy Races was instituted in 2003 and was broadcast following the main series. It was also presented by Robert Llewellyn and Lisa Rogers.
It involved several teams being allocated a budget and several weeks to construct a road-legal vehicle which, if classified as a car, must pass the Single Vehicle Approval test. However, a few of the teams managed to avoid taking the SVA test, either by using an unmodified car chassis, such as the Chaos Crew in Series 2, who placed the body shell from an ice cream truck onto the unchanged chassis of a Range Rover, or by using their livelihood in order to classify their vehicle as an agricultural show-piece (The Barley Pickers in series 1). The teams then drove to various tests in-convoy across the UK where they were given eight hours at a local scrapheap to modify their vehicles for the test – although, for all but the final test, the vehicles had to be returned to road-legal condition afterwards.
- Series 1 (2003–04) – Winners: Chaos Crew
- Series 2 (2004–05) – Winners: Chaos Crew
Scrappy Races Rally
Scrappy Races Rally was another spin-off series broadcast in 2006, presented by Robert Llewellyn and Lisa Rogers.
Four teams were given vehicles and participated in 5 challenges in the Galloway Forest Park. They had to adapt the vehicles to perform two different tasks in each episode. This series was unusual for Scrapheap in that the build time was added together with the time taken to complete each stage.
The winner was Maximus, a team of alternative-lifestyle boatbuilders and rickshaw makers from Bath.
Scrapheap Mega Challenge
Another spin-off, the contestants have more time and a harder project to build.
Warship Mega Challenge
With the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar, the teams set out to build warships in the usual 10 hours to battle each other with coconuts. Each ship had to have a coconut launcher, and the hulls were weakened to enable them to be sunk more easily. On test day, each team had its usual spate of technical difficulties and, because none of the ships sank, the final winner was chosen by their seamanship, tactics and offensive firepower.
The overall winners of challenge were The Aquaholics. This was a different team to the Aquaholics who won Full Metal Challenge.
- Season 1 (2001) – Winners: Long Brothers
- Season 2 (2001) – Winners: Miami Gearheads
- Season 3 (2002) – Winners: The Pit Crew
- Season 4 (2002) – Winners: Kentucky Fried Family
- Season 5 (2003) – Winners: Jet Doctors
Former North Dakota Governor Ed Schafer was one of many notable people appearing on the show. Schafer was on during the fifth season as a member of the High Flyers which lost to the Jet Doctors in the Fifth Series finale. The first season was filmed in the UK, and included a competition between the grand winner of UK series 3, Megalomaniacs, and the US season 1 champs the Long Brothers (who won).
The first season of the show was nominated for an Emmy award.
- Season 1 (2002) – Captains: Bowser and Crash
- Season 2 (2004) – Captains: Hackett and (retired) Dick Strawbridge
Full Metal Challenge
A spin-off from 2001 that had teams from around the world. Teams had a fixed budget and a month to build a vehicle to compete in a varied set of trials, such as auto "bowling", a race through a flooded course, a "car coaster", car "sumo" and other tests.
Wright Brothers re-enactment
For the 100th anniversary of the first flight of the Wright Brothers, Scrapheap presenter (Robert Llewellyn) and the Junkyard Wars presenters (Karyn Bryant and Tyler Harcott) hosted an episode that had teams from Great Britain, the United States of America and France compete to try to build a plane that could fly.
Instead of the usual time, each team was given 20 hours. With safety in mind, each was given a propeller and an engine to help build their plane. Another difference between this challenge and the usual was that the teams used period tools to build their planes. Normally "kit built" aircraft need a minimum of 500 hours build time to be certified by the FAA as airworthy whereas these aircraft were certified as airworthy and all carry a US registration.
The clear winners were the British who created a plane with an estimated flight time of twelve minutes.
The UK show was broadcast on US television under the then-current US title (Junkyard Wars for series 1-3; Junkyard Mega-Wars for series 4 onwards). The US show was broadcast in the UK as Scrapheap Challenge USA on Channel 4, and as Junkyard Wars on the Discovery Channel.
Repeats of older episodes of the UK version aired on More4, typically on Sunday mornings, where episodes are often run back-to-back. From March 2015, the first three UK series are being shown on Quest. In May 2015, UKTV channel Dave started showing Series 9
Various locations have been used for filming. Several of the early series of the UK series, and the first season of the US series were filmed in a corner of a real scrapyard in the Canning Town section of London (it was space rented in an actual scrap dealer's yard).
The next two series of both the US and UK series, were filmed in California. The US edition continued to use the Los Angeles site, and for the next two series the UK version moved to a new site, a rented part of a scrapyard near Wokingham. For Series 8, a new Scrapheap with indoor workshops was used within an army training area in Bramley, just outside Basingstoke, and is not open to the public.
For series 11, construction of a scrapheap at Phelps Brothers scrapyard in Sudmeadow Road, Gloucester, was commissioned. It utilised the helicopter seen in previous series rescued from the Bramley yard.
The US Scrapyard was situated at Memory Lane (a classic car dismantler and wrecking yard) in California for three years.
- Mirza, Munira, ed. (2006). Culture Vultures: Is UK arts policy damaging the arts. London: Policy Exchange. p. 72. ISBN 0-9551909-0-8. Archived (PDF) from the original on 25 May 2013.
- The New England Rubbish Deconstruction Society; The NERDS
- Steve G's Scrapheap and airing dates page
- ABC2 schedule Wed 1 July 2009 'Scrapheap Challenge – Chariot Jousting'
- Scrapheap Challenge at Channel4.com
- Scrapheap Challenge at the Internet Movie Database
- Scrapheap Challenge at TV.com
- UK Gameshows Page: Scrapheap Challenge
- A comprehensive Junkyard Wars fansite
- Steve G's Scrapheap website
- Robert Llewellyn Forums
- The NERDS; first US team to appear, FAQ
- Cathy Rogers Interview about the origins of Scrapheap Challenge
- The Nerds – Series 3 – construction of a coal-fired steam car – an account of a challenge from the viewpoint of a competitor