Robot Wars has been resurrected after 12 years off-air. Why? Good question. Either way, it gives them a chance to promote it from 6pm tea-time (which now languishes in never-ending quiz-show hell) to Sunday prime time.
The battle arena is back with the spikes, the zones occupied by the house robots, the fires and pits – each of which the contestants will try to push them into, and self-righting robots that get back up when they’re knocked over. Oh, and don’t put wheels on your robot because they’re likely to get punctured.
With new presenters, it felt like it had never been away with the Kill-E-Krank-E robot reminding Dara O’Briain (and no-one else) of The Krankies, while one ‘unbreakable’ robot didn’t win because… it’s not unbreakable. Meanwhile, one young participant was asked the burning question of the qualities of his killing machine, to which the eternity-seeking answer came: “It destroys things”.
A question of my own was: Why isn’t Craig Charles back? Well, a second question – Doesn’t Dara get paid enough by the BBC already?
There’s no sign of Philippa Forrester, either, nor Jayne Middlemiss, but in their bid to find a new ‘hot young thing’, they brought in Angela Scanlon (who). However, for continuity, original shouty commentator Jonathan Pearce is back.
Four players take each other on in the initial group battles, with the house robots (Matilda, Dead Metal, Sir Killabot and Shunt), staying within their own zones, only attacking if someone invades its personal space, while later on, it just felt like one random battle after another. For me, about 30 minutes was okay for this, and an hour is way too long. Still, in the age of austerity, if you’ve got schedules to fill then you may as well stretch it out to the full 60 minutes. But then, it’s cheap TV to make, so expect it to stay for a good while longer.
Robot Wars Series 8 is available to pre-order on DVD, ahead of its release on August 29th. If you missed it, you can watch the episode on BBC iPlayer, up until August 23rd, and click on the packshot for the full-size version.
Episode 1 Score: 5/10
Director: Nikki Parsons
Series Producer: Matt Wilkinson
Executive Producer: Andrew Robertson
Presenters: Dara O’Briain and Angela Scanlon
Judges: Lucy Rodgers, Noel Sharkey and Sethu Vijayakumar
Commentator: Jonathan Pearce
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.