Robot Wars: Series 3 (lost HSE documentation concerning behind-the-scenes accidents; 1999)

From The Lost Media Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search


This article has been tagged as NSFL due to its disturbing subject matter.


A newspaper report concerning the incident that occurred during filming for Series 3.

Status: Lost

Robot Wars: Series 3 (also known as Robot Wars: The Third Wars) was the third season of the British robot combat gameshow Robot Wars. Produced by Mentorn and broadcast on BBC Two, the original airings lasted from 3rd December, 1999 to 15th September, 2000, with filming having commenced in October 1999. During filming on 20th October at Ellstree Studios, a robot malfunctioned, which resulted in a serious ankle injury being inflicted onto the assistant director for the show. Another incident caused by the same robot was reported by some publications to have occurred months prior, likely during the series' audition stage, where a production member suffered from an arm injury. Because of the seriousness of both injuries, HSE documentation including RIDDOR reports concerning the incidents were filled, as required under British law.

Background[edit | edit source]

During filming for the series on 20th October, 1999, a robot was removed off its trolley and carried into the Arena. As to ensure the safety of production members, the robot contained a rotary key switch on a barrel, which when utilised would switch the machine off and allow it to be carried safely into the Arena. However, the key switch was said to be cheaply made, and when it was used, the switch became detached from the barrel, resulting in only the barrel being moved and not the contactor needed to safely immobilise the machine.[1]

Thus, when radio interference within the Arena mixed up with the still-mobile machine, it suddenly began moving. With no functional switch to safely stop the robot, it ended up charging into the feet of Robot Wars' assistant director Alex Rofaila, knocking him down and impaling his ankle with one of its spikes.[2] It then continued to drag Rofaila across the Arena, before the malfunctioning machine was finally stopped.[3] Rofaila suffered a serious ankle injury, which required hospital treatment and prevented him from walking for 16 weeks. Ultimately, he would make a full recovery from the accident.[4] The accident resulted in filming being delayed for a few days, and when it resumed, numerous cancellations of side-events and swift changes to health and safety rules were made.[5]

The culprit for many years was believed to have been More Panda Monium, the sequel to Series 2 competitor Panda Monium. However, an investigation into the incident by Robot Wars Wiki users in 2018 revealed posts from 1999 on the roboteer forum Tinweb that indicated More Panda Monium was not even present at filming when the incident occurred.[6] Following further investigation, it was revealed the real culprit was a robot called Roadkill, which was armed with a multitude of spikes and was considered "hedgehog-like".[7] This was confirmed by Rofaila himself during an interview in 2021.[8] Additionally, Roadkill was reported by some publications to have been involved in a separate incident that resulted in a production member suffering from an arm injury, most likely during the auditions stage, where robots were tested to see whether they were functional and entertaining enough to appear on the show.[9][10][11] However, no photos or footage of Roadkill have ever resurfaced.

Availability[edit | edit source]

Because the accidents resulted in serious injuries, reports under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR) would have been made mandatory under British legalisation. The reports were made via the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website, and would have contained critical information such as the date, time and location of the incidents; personal details of the people involved; and a description of the injuries or occurrences that resulted from the incidents.[12]

The documentation would have been available following a Freedom of Information (FoI) Act 2000 request. However, these can no longer be accessed this way, as in accordance with HSE's Corporate Retention Policy, any paperwork would have been destroyed following seven years of the closure of any investigations concerning the incidents.[13] Thus, the only known way of obtaining the documentation would be to contact anyone who requested it prior to HSE's destruction of the reports. At least one roboteer claimed to have had physical documentation of the incidents, but said that he left it in the UK and it has since gone missing.[14]

Video[edit | edit source]

Part 1 of Robot Wars History Podcast's History of Series 3, where the incidents were discussed in detail.

See Also[edit | edit source]

External Link[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Correspondence in 2020 on the Out of the Arena Discord, where roboteer Craig Danby discussed the incident and its cause. Retrieved 2 Oct '21
  2. Unofficial Robot Wars Facebook post discussing the incident. Retrieved 2 Oct '21
  3. Gearheads: The Turbulent Rise of Robotic Sports discussing the incident. Retrieved 2 Oct '21
  4. Host Craig Charles' website, where he would briefly discuss the incident and confirm Rofaila had recovered. Retrieved 2 Oct '21
  5. Archived Robot Wars forum post where producer Bill Hobbins announced the cancellation of several side-events following the incident and subsequent filming delays. Retrieved 2 Oct '21
  6. Tinweb post, which among many confirmed that More Panda Monium and its team were not present when the incident occurred. Retrieved 2 Oct '21
  7. Unofficial Robot Wars Facebook post providing some details of Roadkill. Retrieved 2 Oct '21
  8. Private correspondence between Robot Wars Wiki user SFCJack and Alex Rofaila in September 2021. Retrieved 2 Oct '21
  9. Tinweb post containing a Daily Mirror brief report into both incidents. Retrieved 2 Oct '21
  10. Alt Robot Wars Google Group post containing a Times report into both incidents. Retrieved 2 Oct '21
  11. East Anglian Daily Times report into the incidents Retrieved 2 Oct '21
  12. OSHCR detailing RIDDOR 1995, which would have made the reporting of the incidents mandatory. Retrieved 2 Oct '21
  13. Archived 2016 FoI request for the HSE documentation, which was denied as the reports had already been destroyed seven years after the conclusion of any investigations. Retrieved 2 Oct '21
  14. Unofficial Robot Wars Facebook group where a roboteer claimed to have once held HSE documentation concerning the incidents. Retrieved 2 Oct '21