Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)


Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)


Article excerpt


SIR James Dyson wants to develop robots that can take on all our household chores. No more cleaning, putting out the dustbins, or replacing lightbulbs - what bliss.

I hope his robots last longer than his vacuum cleaners. We went through three of them in as many years, with their purple plastic bits and bobs, until our cleaner finally put her foot down and insisted on a nice old-fashioned Miele with a bag, which is lighter, seems to be more powerful, and has just passed its fiveyear warranty milestone without incident.

Now that the warranty has expired, though, it will alms ost certainly contract some terminal illness in the next fortnight. Dyson should be warned that robots are, intrinsically, unreliable beasts. I know this at first hand, having created and produced Robot Wars for the BBC.

Of course these weren't strictly robots at all, but bits of electric wheelchairs and remote controlled cars bearing vicious weapons like chain saws and axes.

We had this vision of geeks with weird machines that ran around on stage doing clever things with deadly armaments.

These were awesome creatures of mass destruction, which is why, for the first episode, I wanted the robots to make a grand entrance with tumultuous applause from a rapturous crowd.

Jeremy Clarkson was the host. "Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, ready to do battle, our ultimate warriors of doom, the robots!" he cried, over the whirring of blades and popping of lawnmower engines.

The music swelled and the huge curtains beneath him opened to reveal a pall of smoke through which the lights picked out the first contestant - a small circular biscuit tin on wheels. The crowd went wild.

"Cue the robot", I shouted to my crew and, after a tense few seconds, the biscuit tin spun round in a little circle, lurched forward and promptly fell off the stage.

The crowd went silent, the roboteers standing in their little booth went red with embarrassment, and the warm-up man came on to tell some jokes. Twenty minutes later, the bot was ready to go again.

"Ladies and gentlemen, the robots! …

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