In 1998, the BBC introduced a show in which teams designed and built their own remote-controlled robots and sent them out into a fire-ringed, metal-clad field to mangle each other. Given that it involved lots of knives, blades, and (yes) hammers, there was naturally only one person fit to host.

Robot Wars began life as an engineering competition, conceived in 1994 by Marc Thorpe, that simply invited enterprising builders to test their bots against others–the competition ran several successful events before it was picked up for British TV by BBC bigwig Mark Thompson in 1998.

Jeremy Clarkson was the first host, likely drawn by the quantity of gratuitous violence, and was perfectly at home presenting teams siccing metal injury machines on one another. Hosting duties were shared with pit reporter Philippa Forrester, who would interview the teams in the aftermath of the carnage.

Here’s a very early clip from the show so you can see what I mean:

Sadly, Jeremy only stuck around for one season–as his schedule picked up, there wasn’t enough time in his day to devote to Robot Wars. He was replaced for the second season by Red Dwarf star Craig Charles, who presented the show until 2003.

Robot Wars was revived in 2016 after the wild success of BattleBots, an American show with a very similar concept that came after the original series. Ratings success has ensured the show will stay around for at least three years; perhaps if Clarkson is looking for something a little lower-energy than The Grand Tour, there’s an opening waiting for him. If he can convince the BBC to let him back in the building, of course.

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