In a very large warehouse near Glasgow, two killing machines are about to turn each other into robo-pulp in Robot Wars. A brief hush descends, followed by a familiar countdown: ‘Three... two... one... activate!’
We’re on the set of legendary tea-time combat-fest Robot Wars, back on our screens for the first time in 12 years on Sunday, July 24 (BBC2). If you remember the original series, you’ll find plenty of old friends in the new six-part format, from souped-up versions of the House Robots – Matilda, Shunt, Dead Metal and Sir Killalot – to excitable commentary from Jonathan Pearce.
But there have been some changes too, not least to the presenting team. Out goes host Craig Charles. In come Dara O’Briain and compatriot Angela Scanlon.
“I like the metal-on-metal aspect,” Dara told us. “The human part is great, but then they go into this closed-off arena, surrounded by bulletproof glass, with the pure intention of destroying each other.
“What doesn’t always come across on screen is the sheer kinetic energy when these things smash into each other. The noise of it! A number of times we’ve been sitting there watching and a shard of metal has smashed into the glass in front of us. They can do proper damage.”
Design-wise, the new generation of robots – which were recruited from the amateur tournaments that continued after the TV series ended – have a bit more about them, too.
Not to be outdone, the Robot Wars HQ has also upped its game. The arena, which is housed in a giant industrial hanger near Glasgow Airport, now sports 16 tonnes of ‘double-skinned’ polycarbonate to shield the audience from shrapnel.
The House Robots have been given a design overhaul, too. The new-look Matilda, for example, is twice the weight and nearly twice the size of the previous version, with ‘pneumatic flipping tusks’ and a head that can lift 1.5 tonnes. Sir Killalot has arms that can lift 300kg apiece (about the weight of three competitor robots combined), and hydraulic claws with ‘2.5 tonnes of crush force.’