In Brief

Robot Wars 2017: Is new series winning over critics?

Little change to the 'winningly whacky format' should please fans as the battles recommence

Robot Wars Christmas Special: What can we expect

25 November

Robot Wars will be back on our screens over Christmas for two hour-long festive specials.

Hosts Dara O' Briain and Angela Scanlon will be joined by other famous faces – two have been named so far – as four celebrity teams design and build their own machine with the help of an experienced roboteer. They will then compete against each other – and the house robots.

Robot Wars made a successful return to the BBC earlier this year after a 12-year-absence (in fact, the 2003-4 series was broadcast on Channel 5). O' Briain and Scanlon stepped into Craig Charles and Philippa Forrester's shoes to general acclaim. Last month, the BBC confirmed that the new presenters would be fronting a second six-episode series.

What can we expect over Christmas?

Metal apocalypse, but with a yuletide spin. The newly designed robots will enter the arena in a fight to the death, aiming to wreak lethal damage on their opponents while avoiding the attentions of the house robots as they marshal the corner patrol zones. The BBC promises that the house robots will not be giving VIP treatment to any celebrity machine that crosses their path.

Which celebrities are appearing?

BBC Two has been coy about revealing the celebrity line-up, but on Thursday announced that Radio 1 DJ duo Scott Mills and Chris Stark are among the guests. On Twitter, Stark announced in bullish fashion: "Sir Killalot we are coming for you." The BBC promises to announce the full celebrity roster soon.

Which house robots will return to our screens?

The Robot Wars revival earlier this year reintroduced the world to the dubious charms of Sir Killalot, Matilda, Shunt and Dead Metal, so we should assume they will all feature. All four were given metallic makeovers before their 2016 comebacks, returning bigger and heavier than in 2004.

We don't know whether other former luminaries of the arena, such as Sergeant Bash and Cassius Chrome, are being lined up for a festive comeback.

The Sun speculates that because it's Christmas we can expect to see Sir Killalot in a seasonal jumper, Matilda and Shunt waving the mistletoe, and Dead Metal singing carols as they lay into their opponents with extreme prejudice.

Robot Wars 2016: Who's in the grand final?

19 August

Robot Wars fans have just one qualifying episode left before the grand final, when six machines will go head to head to determine the winner of 2016.

So who's in the running?

Week one: Carbide

The three-person team behind Carbide have rated their chances of winning the series as "ten out of ten". They made it through to the final in the first week with the help of a spinning blade that has 60 times more energy than a sniper bullet.

Week two: Shockwave

It was a surprise win for this endearing father-and-son team and their untested robot. Shockwave has multiple weapon choices, from spikes to a snow plough, and can flip itself out of danger.

Week three: TR2

The mighty flip of TR2 won the "quietly confident but not cocky" family team a place in the final. The youngest team member, Alex Brown, and his mother Wendy are directly descended from the great engineer and "Father of the Railway" George Stephenson, so it must run in their blood.

Week four: TR2

Last week's Robot Wars was dubbed the "best instalment yet" by Den of Geek. TR2's three-man team first met as members of the famous Pontins "Bluecoats Entertainers" and they were certainly entertaining last Sunday as their flipper robot left even the House Bots helpless and paralysed.

Week five: To be decided

Eight robots will go into battle this week: Beast, Chompalot, Crazy Coupe 88, Gabriel, Infernal Contraption, Ironside 3, Pulsar and Thermidor 2.

Wildcard

The Grand Final winners will be joined by one more robot – a wildcard picked from the runners-up by the judges.

Robot Wars 2016: The eight machines going into battle this week

10 August

Three teams are already through to the final battle of Robot Wars, with the fourth due to be determined this weekend.

Eight robots will go head-to-head in the fourth episode of the BBC 2 revamped show. Here are the machines preparing for battle:

Apollo

This flipper robot can apparently launch a 220lbs rival at least six foot into the air and is so powerful it does somersaults on full power. The three-man team behind Apollo met at Pontins, where they worked as Bluecoats Entertainers. Captain Dave Young has since transformed his farmyard barn into a "robot workshop".

Eruption

Team Eruption, led by 17-year-old Michael Oates, has already won many amateur UK championships with its powerful flipper robot. The bot also has a fixed gripping spike, said to be a "very rare" combination of weaponry in the robot combat community.

Kan-opener

With 12 tonnes of crushing force – equivalent to the weight of a London bus – Kan-opener is the most powerful crusher in the competition. It cost the team more than £25,000 to make over the last 15 years. The team says Kan-opener's destruction of rivals might not be clear on the outside, but its pincers can cause "massive internal damage".

PP3D

Team captain Gary Cairns won series seven of Robot Wars when he was a teenager. Now he's back with another machine. PP3D has a T-shaped chassis with a spinning disc, which Cairns claims is "possibly the most powerful spinner in the world". It is the only robot in the competition to rely heavily on 3D printing for its components.

Sabretooth

The team's weapon operator, Esme, has been dubbed the "Robot Wars baby" as she was born while her father was competing in the original series. Now 14, she will be going into battle with an entirely new robot that boasts not one but three weapons: a spinner; gripper, and armoured wedge.

Storm 2

This robot might look like a harmless metal box but it has a range of interchangeable weapons, including a spinning disk, an electric lifting arm and a forward-firing flipper and self-righter. It has enough power to pull a minibus loaded with school children and cost the team more than £25,000 over 17 years.

Sweeney Todd

Much like the infamous barber, Sweeney Todd uses blades to cut through its victims. It is the only robot in the competition to use Mecanum Wheels, which are found on electric wheelchairs and can move in every direction. It is, however, relatively short so it may be vulnerable to an axe or hammer attack.

Terror Turtle

This "clusterbot" consists of two individual robots: Terror Turtle and The Hatchling. The main robot has a high velocity spinner, while the smaller, non-weaponised Hatchling is designed to cause a nuisance by ramming into opponents. Captain John Frizell was head of Greenpeace for six years in the 1980s and that inspired him to build an animal-shaped machine.

Episode four of Robot Wars is on BBC 2 at 8pm on Sunday 14 August.

New Robot Wars 2016: April and GlitterBomb steal the show

08 August

Robot Wars was won by a flipper with the power to overturn a one-tonne car last night - but it was a little girl who captured its viewers' hearts.

Nine-year-old team captain April Baker was the uncrowned champion of the night after designing the GlitterBomb bot – which featured a giant pink axe that could strike at up to 120mph.

Asked on BBC's Newsround if there were many other girls on the show, she said: "No, it was more like 'big boys and their toys'. That's why we wanted to bring a little more sparkle to the show."

She added: "Robots let us do amazing things that we wouldn't be normally able to do, like go to Mars, go to see the Titanic and make little girls like me make big old men cry."

GlitterBomb, which was built by April's father, James, to her specifications, was left immobile during a battle with rivals Overdozer, King B Remix and Dantomkia, but viewers are hoping the machine will return another year.

April has already been named as Metro's "star of the series", with the paper saying: "No matter who goes on to win now, we will always remember this brilliant nine-year-old contestant."

Den of Geek says it was "gratifying" to see a more varied range of people on the show, which has finally achieved a "more inclusive-feeling balance of ages, ethnicities and genders".

It adds: "And as the saying goes, the family that builds a robot with a polycarbonate-armoured blade that spins at over two thousand RPM together, stays together."

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