Robot Wars (lost near death footage of Jeremy Clarkson from robot combat gameshow; 1998)

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This article has been tagged as NSFL due to its discussion of a near-death experience.


Jeremy Clarkson as host of Robot Wars

Status: Lost

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.[1]

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.[2] 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.[3] 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.[4]

Gallery[edit | edit source]

See Also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]