Robot Wars (lost near death footage of Jeremy Clarkson from robot combat gameshow; 1998)
Robot Wars is a British robot combat game show produced by Mentorn. Broadcast on BBC Two and Channel Five from 1998-2004, and from 2016 to 2017, the premise involved machines built by amateur engineers battling other competitors in combat. Series 1 (also known as The First Wars), had British TV presenter and journalist Jeremy Clarkson as host. During filming for the inaugural series, a robot malfunctioned, which almost resulted in the death of Clarkson.
Background[edit | edit source]
Best known as being a presenter of the BBC motoring show Top Gear from 1977-2001, and during its reboot from 2002-2015, Jeremy Clarkson became the host of the first series of Robot Wars. His role as host included opening the show with a written speech, announcing the events the robots would partake in, and interviewing the roboteers post-match. Despite finding the show as "hilarious", he would not return for the following series because of other commitments, mainly Top Gear and Clarkson, and for not really intending to be involved in a second series. He thus was replaced as host by Craig Charles.
In a 2012 interview with the Robot Wars Wiki, Mentorn founder Tom Gutteridge revealed that Clarkson had to endure many hours of false starts, mainly because the few robots competing in Series 1 often lacked reliability and required constant fixing for them to compete. However, his time on the show almost resulted in his untimely demise. According to a 2008 blog post made by Gutteridge, during day two of filming, Dead Metal, one of the shows House Robots, was cutting into a defeated competitor with his saw. Suddenly, the metal saw suddenly broke away from the House Robot. It flew in the air at over 200mph, before ultimately embedding itself within a concrete wall that was behind where Clarkson was standing.
The incident was recorded and analysed in slow motion. The production crew determined that the blade had barely missed Clarkson's scalp by less than two inches. Thus, a change in its trajectory could have resulted in Clarkson being instantly decapitated by the blade. It resulted in the show's recording being put in hiatus for a week so that bulletproof Perspex could be added to the Robot Wars Arena's auditorium, shielding Clarkson from further debris. As a result, filming resumed with no further safety incidents occurring, with Clarkson fulfilling his host role. Gutteridge claimed in the Robot Wars Wiki interview that the incident had no influence on Clarkson's decision to leave the show.
Availability[edit | edit source]
As confirmed in Gutteridge's Blog From The North post, a recording of the incident was recorded and viewed by Robot Wars production crew. However, no images or footage of the incident have ever been publicly released. While Mentorn or the BBC may still hold the footage, it is unlikely to ever be available for public viewing, mainly because of its context and for Robot Wars generally distancing itself from Clarkson following Series 1.
Gallery[edit | edit source]
See Also[edit | edit source]
- 1995 Robot Wars UK Open (partially found rejected robot combat TV show pilot; 1995)
- BattleBots (found game show; 2000-2002)
- BattleBots Collegiate Championship (partially lost unaired spinoff of robot combat TV show; 2009)
- Clarkson (partially found BBC Two talk show; 1998-2000)
- Clarkson's Star Cars (partially found BBC One television series; 1993)
- Jeremy Clarkson's Extreme Machines (partially found BBC Two television series; 1998)
- Mechanoids (partially found BBC game show; 2003)
- Robot Wars (lost MTV pilot of British robot combat gameshow; 2000)
- Robot Wars (lost work on unfinished cartoon series based on robot combat gameshow; existence unconfirmed; 2002-2004)
- Robot Wars (partially found unaired or partially aired battles of BBC gameshow; 1998-2017)
- Robot Wars (partially found uncut battles from BBC robot combat gameshow; 1998-2017)
- Robot Wars Extreme: Series 1 (lost original BBC Choice version of robot combat battle; 2001)
- Robot Wars: Extreme Warriors: Season 1 (found TNN robot combat gameshow; 2001)
- Robot Wars: Extreme Warriors: Season 2 (partially found behind-the-scenes footage of TNN robot combat gameshow; 2002)
- Robot Wars Revealed (partially found BBC Choice spin-off of robot combat gameshow; 1998)
- Robot Wars: Series 3 (lost HSE documentation concerning behind-the-scenes accidents; 1999)
- Robot Wars: Series 8 (lost unaired pilot of BBC gameshow; 2016)
- Robot Wars: The Kick-Off (lost BNN robot combat special; 2001)
- Robotica (found TLC robot combat game show; 2001-2003)
- Robots Revenge (lost Discovery robot combat documentary series; 2001)
- Top Gear (partially found episodes of BBC Two television series; 1977-2002)
- Top Gear (partially found original British airings of BBC Two television series; 2002-2003)
- Top Gear (unaired segments of BBC TV series; 2002-2015)
- Top Gear - Series 1: Episode 1 (unaired pilot episodes of BBC Two television series; 2002)
- Top Gear - Series 22: Episode 10 (cancelled episode of TV show; 2015)
- Why Hypno-Disc can't work in an office (found testing video of Robot Wars competitor; 2000, 2007)
References[edit | edit source]
- Grand Tour Nation discussing Clarkson's time as host of Robot Wars. Retrieved 1 Aug '21
- Robot Wars Wiki interview with Tom Gutteridge, where Gutteridge explains why Clarkson left after one series, and stating that the incident played no factor in his decision to leave. Retrieved 1 Aug '21
- Blog From The North, where Gutteridge discussed the incident and confirmed a recording was made of it. Retrieved 1 Aug '21
- Robot Wars: The First Great War, where despite being a documentary and compilation of Series 1, completely omits footage of Clarkson as host. Retrieved 1 Aug '21