They think it’s all over…
The BBC for reasons we don’t know, will probably never know- given they’ve opted NOT to make a official announcement, rather leaving it to some heartbroken roboteers to tell their fans themselves- have decided not to have any more Robot Wars.
Taking my own thoughts out of the equation for a moment, I can’t understand why. But I’ll try and explain the best I can. So why has it come to this?
They Just Didn’t Care…
Okay, so on the face of it, the ratings for the last series were down compared to previous ones. Due to lack of interest? Because people stopped caring? The answer is a resounding NO. They scheduled Series 10 against the might that is Blue Planet on BBC which gobbled up ratings on a level comparable with Stephen Beer in a McDonalds. ITV had X Factor. Robot Wars didn’t stand a chance. So that’s your casual viewers lost, and given it was left to the hardcore, the figures were more than respectable and within a parameter often considered acceptable for BBC Two’s audience reach.
The promotion of the show was utterly abysmal. They were advertising Blue Planet about to start on BBC One, right before Robot Wars started on BBC Two, driving away even more viewers. There was little advertisement across all their platforms, so yet again you’ve lost casual viewers. Which is a shame, because Series 10 was easily one of the best series for a while.
The raison d’etre for bringing back Robot Wars was to focus on the 16-34 audience and encourage more people to take up STEM subjects. It succeeded in this. Hell, they even had Josh Valman of Team RPD, who went on from a childhood love of Robot Wars to build up a multi-million engineering company, and he’s younger than me! I mistakenly believed this would be the key to Robot Wars survival, but I now feel the novelty wore off that mission of the BBC, and now we’re going to be treated to more 1940’s films on BBC Two instead.
Is the future devoid of Robot Carnage?
Thankfully not. There’s never been a better time for Robot combat. When Robot Wars came back, it was the only show on TV but Battlebots is about to enjoy a revival across the pond, and the Chinese are going mad for King of Bots- which involved several teams from Britain, was won by Spectre by RoboChallenge (the people behind the house robots) and while I couldn’t understand the bits between, robot fighting is a universal language and the series was absolutely brilliant. The Chinese are about to take the combat robot world by storm, mark my words.
There’s also the live events- the two major ones that spring to mind are run by Extreme Robots, and Robots Live (which if memory serves is run by Team Apollo, winners of Series 8). These were born after the first demise of Robot Wars back in 2004 and kept the spirit alive, and it’s where a lot of the modern roboteers started. It also has a lot of different formats, ranging from mini ant-weights to your giant heavyweights.
There is also a big Robot Wars community online- and the roboteers engage with fans on a regular basis, hell, they’re fans themselves. So despite today’s hammer blow, things are still good.
So Robot Wars is dead, right? No more Matilda?
As it stands, yes. But we’ve been here before. The hopeful little boy in me, and the media analyst I like to be now remains optimistic. Here’s why. As far as memory serves, the arena is still intact and Mentorn, who produce the series and own the rights to it still have quite a bit of time to run on it. There’s also been a lot of Robot Wars related merchandise released in the last year. I am very confident they will be trying to find a new home for Robot Wars, it’s just a matter of time. Personally, I think it would be an excellent fit on a channel like Dave which has done a tremendous job with Red Dwarf (another show very poorly treated by the BBC, I guess they just hate the things I love). I am reasonably confident that one day, hopefully not in the too distant future we’ll see more metal mayhem made in Britain.
Until then, let’s raise a toast to all that’s been, and all that will be.