Bot-on-bot bash-em-up Robot Wars is back on TV this Sunday, and it’s all change at the state-of-the-art Glasgow arena.
No, we’re not talking about host Angela Scanlon’s new haircut (though that looks pretty good too) – this year will see some pretty major alterations to the BBC2 series’ format, including new rounds, perfected behind-the-scenes interactions and even a deadly new smoke hazard.
But perhaps most notable of these features is the new Ten Robot Rumble, where wannabe robots who missed out on a chance at the grand final will be pitted against each other to secure a spot in the final six, in what is described as “the biggest battle in Robot Wars history.”
Previously, the sixth spot in the final was decided by a panel of judges, but now the “wildcard” competitor will emerge triumphant after destroying its nine closest rivals in “a ten robot, no time limit, last robot standing, fight to the death” made up of losing teams from previous episodes – probably a bit more exciting, on balance.
“It allows the cool and quirky robots normally marmalised or destroyed in the first fight, but are great fun to watch, the chance to fight at least one more time,” co-host Dara Ó Briain said.
“It’s the longest fight in the history of the show and at the end of it there’s only one robot left standing, with the other nine robots ending up in the pit whirling and clanking, grinding up against each other.”
And it’s not the only change to the format this year, with the traditionally-awkward backstage interviews revamped to take place directly after devastating clashes and a new “Robot Redemption” round letting contenders battle for a chance in the semi-final after suffering a loss.
“We have loosened it up enormously,” Ó Briain said. “We now do the chats with the teams in the arena as they are picking their robots up and follow them as they do repairs, so it is a much more fluid show.”
“This series myself and Dara are much more involved in the action, we’re in the faces of competitors as they leave the arena, crying,” Scanlon added.
“We’re in the trenches showing viewers the destruction up close. We’re right in there, stuck in the action and hope that viewers will feel the energy that is so palpable in that warehouse!”
And if all that wasn’t enough, there’s also ANOTHER new feature in the Robot Wars arena this year – a hazard called The Fog of War, which will fill the area with a dense smoke and release the House Robots when competitors hit the regular Dial of Doom button (with the fog seeming to replace the previous Rogue House Robot setting on the Dial).
“We’ve also introduced ‘entanglement’ to help keep the spinners in the competition under control!” Scanlon said. “Ropes, chains, whatever they can get their hands on.
“The pressure has kicked up a notch and I think teams are now hungry for the win. They still help each other out but tactically they’re designing to destroy or stop particular dominant machines…. They are throwing everything at it.”
“Years and years of their lives are spent devising their robots,” Ó Briain concluded. “It’s not just a singing competition with someone who goes ‘oh my Granny always liked my voice’, they’ve built an actual robot!
“It’s cool and they genuinely know what they’re talking about, but it can all end really quickly…”
Consider our enthusiasm fully activated.
Robot Wars returns to BBC2 on Sunday 22nd October at 8.00pm