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"The conspiracy is true, ELVIS was abducted by rock 'n roll loving aliens, but not looking forward to singing Love Me Tender to Yoda for the rest of eternity he escaped and returned to earth in one of their super hi-tech flying saucers. Feeling a bit groggy after the long space journey, instead of trying to revitalise his singing career he took advantage of the stolen alien technology and decided to enter RobotWars.....or something."
— The Elvis website

Elvis was a heavyweight robot that competed in Series 1 and 2 of Robot Wars. It had a mixed run of success, being eliminated in the Gauntlet stage in Series 1, but reaching the Arena Semi-Final stage in Series 2, where it lost to Behemoth. The robot was named after the famous musician Elvis Presley.

Design[]

"For Neil Lambeth and John Ebdon, the most important aspect of their robot Elvis was fun. ... They struck on the idea of a UFO motif, which originally was to have had an alien driver in the cockpit. However, Neil and John were still not convinced. They eventually had the brilliant notion of having Elvis Presley as the UFO pilot. (You may be aware of the theory that Elvis did not die, but went to live on another planet.)"
— The Robot Wars Technical Manual

Elvis in Series 1 with its rivet ram extended

Elvis was a robot that appeared in the first two series of Robot Wars. Although the two versions had different weaponry, both versions were cone-shaped, with a novelty head of the robot's namesake on top. In both series, Elvis' shell could be raised and lowered via pneumatics to give it an adjustable ground clearance, although it was made considerably lower for Series 2. The ground clearance was listed as 2.5 cm in Series 1, whereas the Series 2 statistics board lists the ground clearance as 10-140mm.

"Apart from presenting a splendidly bizarre sight, the comical design of Elvis has a practical application which is worth bearing in mind: not only is a curved surface hard to grab and hold, it also deflects blows very nicely.)"
— The Robot Wars Technical Manual

The Series 1 incarnation of Elvis with its shell raised

In Series 1, it had a sparkling blue shell (which represented the outfit Elvis himself wore during his early years as a musician) and was armed with a pneumatically driven rivet ram, with a spiked tip. It was powered by two 12 Volt motors, giving the robot a top speed of 10mph. It lost in the Gauntlet stage, as its round base became caught when trying to drive up the ramp. The robot had a toy head of Elvis within a dome on the top, to represent the idea of Elvis as the pilot of a UFO.

Neil Lambeth: "Elvis had a new set of clothes since the last war, just put this lifting flap on the front which can lift about 150 kilograms!"
John Ebdon: "And at the back here we have the diamond disc, which'll just about cut through anything!"
— The team introduce Elvis' new weapons in Series 2

Elvis in the arena in Series 2

For Series 2, a new paint scheme was adopted, predominantly white and black and decorated to resemble the jacket worn during Elvis' 'Vegas stage, as the team and Craig Charles described it, and the robot had a larger Elvis head as decoration on the top. The weaponry was changed, with a lifter on the front, capable of lifting 150 kg and a 12' circular saw on the back. The lifter was powered by an old welding gas cylinder, and the statistics board and Jonathan Pearce incorrectly claimed it could list 50kg rather than 150kg. The robot was significantly heavier than the Series 1 version, going from 65.7kg to 83.0kg, which was actually four kilos over the original Heavyweight limit in Series 2, though it still used the same batteries as Series 1. The round base from the Series 1 version was raised, to prevent it getting caught like it did in Series 1.

"Well Elvis was back from last year but reworked quite a bit. The main addition was a 12" Stil circular saw on the back which was one of the nicest pieces of kit since I saw someone's Mucolluch {sic} Chainsaw (you know who you are!). At the front was a 50kg lifting scoop powered by CO2 but it was not very effective due to it's layout. The main problem with Elvis was it's lack of bearings on it's drive shaft which kept causing it to seize up and constantly needed fixing. I suspect this was a big reason why they went out. One interesting fact is that Elvis had 150W motors which were upgrades to the 120W house robot motors!"
Oliver Steeples on the design of Elvis in Series 2[1]

The Team[]

The team controlling Elvis in Series 1

The team in Series 2

Elvis was entered by Team Orange Peel from Enfield in Middlesex. Team captain Neil Lambeth built and designed the robot along with John Ebdon, with Neil Lambeth driving the robot.

"Neil Lambeth, driving Elvis, has worked on West End musicals and Judge Dredd as a model-making special effects artist!"
— Jonathan Pearce in Series 2, during Elvis' battle with Behemoth

In Series 2, the team were joined by a third team member, who operated the weaponry with help from John Ebdon, but he was not credited on the statistics board and his name is unknown.

Qualification[]

Due to the shortage of available competitors for the first series, every robot that was working for Series 1 qualified automatically, although all the competitors had to attend the audition before filming so the producers could inspect them, and to do a driving test to prove they were working. Elvis attended, was inspected and had to do a maze as a driving test.

Elvis was mostly finished when it attended the Series 2 auditions, and passed the driving test, but was 5 kg overweight.

"After spending a few weeks working on it, I had an almost finished robot, with new weapons and a new speed controller and I still had plenty of time to do the final touches. At the preliminary meeting, one month before the actual event we hit our first problem, we were 5kg's overweight and I still had more stuff that I wanted to put on. Apart from that, the meeting went well, I even drove over the ramp that I got stuck on so dismally in the first series."
— The Elvis website on the Series 2 auditions[2]

To make the weight limit, the team redesigned and rebuilt the whole chassis, which took a month to complete, and the robot was only finished only day before filming Series 2. The robot was actually still over the weight limit, but was allowed to compete regardless.

"That left me with a small dilemma, do I leave the robot as it is (almost finished, but rather prone to wedge attacks as the shell is about 50mm above the ground, which it needs to get over uneven surfaces without grounding) and just grind off any non essential bit to loose {sic} the weight, or do I redesign the chassis to enable me to fit a lifting mechanism to adjust the ground clearance (so I can lower it to defend against wedge attacks or raise it to move) and hopefully loose {sic} some weight in the process. So with one month to go, what do I decided to do?. Yes in my infinite wisdom I decide to redesign the whole chassis, bring on the late nights in the workshop. One month later and yes Elvis 2 is finally finished (sort of), the day before the actual event. The only problem is, like last year we've had hardly any time to practise driving. Also i've only got the one decent transmitter, so i'm trying to control six functions on the robot without a clue what does what."
— The Elvis website on getting Elvis ready for Series 2

Robot History[]

Series 1[]

"Yes, the King is alive! And protected by a pneumatic expanding rivet ram at the front, and a body shell which gyrates, just like "Elvis the Pelvis"!"
Jonathan Pearce introduces Elvis

Elvis competed in Heat F. Before it even competed in the Gauntlet, the team had problems, as Neil Lambeth accidentally cut his finger with an angle grinder whilst waiting for a van to arrive to take Elvis to the studio, then the next day, the team were refused to give Elvis a test drive due to it was on the same frequency as 4 other teams.

"OK, Here is my explanation (excuses) of why ELVIS turned out to be rather crap. First day of filming. Ooops, it's to big to fit in the car. No problem, get a courier van to take it to Docklands (about 4 miles from the workshop). Turns up about 3 hours later, morning wasted. Still some things to do, so I start working straight away, have an accident with an angle grinder and take a chunk out of my finger. Spend 4 hours in A & E, afternoon wasted. Not in a particularly good mood. Second day of filming. Everything is going ok. Take Elvis out for a first fully loaded test drive. Well organised transmitter control won't let me, as I am on the same frequency as 4 other people."
— The Elvis website on their problems prior to filming[3]

Elvis becomes stuck on the ramp

In its Gauntlet run, Elvis started with its body shell raised. It aimed for the ramp, but came off the turntable before it was facing it. As it drove off the turntable, it turned towards the ramp, but drove along the edge, so turned off the ramp. After turning and reversing, Elvis drove back at the ramp, but due to its low ground clearance and wide base, it became stuck, with its wheels becoming caught off the ground.

"I'm no too sure whether Elvis would've wanted one. Ah, but the lightshade moves!"
— Jonathan Pearce on Elvis' expanding ram as Elvis gets stuck

Sergeant Bash saws into Elvis

Elvis lowered its shell, but this didn't help it get free. Sergeant Bash reversed over, intending to damage Elvis with his rear saw. As the House Robot tried cutting into Elvis, Elvis raised its shell against the blade. Sergeant Bash turned, then turned back at Elvis, using his saw to cut into the side, causing lots of sparks. Elvis lifted the shell a little on one side, and Sergeant Bash raised his saw, then lowered it and cut into Elvis again.

"...the pretty paintwork is wrecked, totally! And could be burnt off with a flamethrower! And Elvis is going nowhere at the moment! He needs some blue suede shoes to get out of there! Oh, you Hound Dog Sergeant! Leave him alone!"
— Jonathan Pearce

Sergeant Bash turned, and Elvis continued to lift the shell up a little, but could not get free. Sergeant Bash turned back at Elvis, cutting into the side again. Elvis raised the shell, and Sergeant Bash turned away, then turned back, but Elvis still had its shell raised, and Sergeant Bash's saw bent as it hit the shell. Elvis lowered the shell as Sergeant Bash turned, and suddenly Sergeant Bash's saw shattered, leaving only about a third. Cease was called, and Elvis had only covered 2.75m.

Jeremy Clarkson: "Good Heavens, its Jacques Villeneuve, except he's World Champion and you're not! What on Earth went wrong there?"
Neil Lambeth: "Obviously, not quite my sport! Need to practice the old driving skills there a bit!"
Jeremy Clarkson: "Still, thanks very much for coming, and now... go home!"
Jonathan Pearce: "And I think they will be, with 2.75 metres! That isn't very far boys!"
— Post-Gauntlet interview, then Jonathan Pearce confirms the distance

Ultimately, this distance placed it sixth overall in its heat, resulting in it being eliminated.

Philippa Forrester: "The king is dead!"
Neil Lambeth: "Obviously, I've damaged my paintwork there!"
Philippa Forrester: "It was so beautiful as well, wasn't it?"
Neil Lambeth: "Best part of it though, wasn't it? Spent hours doing that!"
— Philippa Forrester confirms Elvis' elimination to Neil Lambeth

Unseen on television however, after its Gauntlet run, T.R.A.C.I.E. had problems with its speed controllers, and the team feared they would have to withdraw. The T.R.A.C.I.E. team eventually managed to get the robot working, albeit with reduced power, so Elvis was eliminated. Although not shown in the televised episode, Robot Wars: The First Great War video included some deleted interviews with the T.R.A.C.I.E team whilst they tried to repair the robot, as well as an interview with the Elvis team who were preparing their robot in case T.R.A.C.I.E. had to withdraw. Neil Lambeth showed his bandaged finger during these clips[4].

"Compete in the Gauntlet. How do I drive this thing? Get knocked out of the Gauntlet. Go home. Definitely not in good mood. Third day of filming. Catch up on lost sleep."
— The Elvis website on their Series 1 experience

Series 2[]

"The king is still alive! Not even The First Wars could finish him off! It could be lift off for Elvis too, the 3 millimetre-thick shell rises up and down pneumatically, and a lifting mechanism under the cape can throw 50 kilos! Err, how much do you weigh Craig?"
— Jonathan Pearce introduces Elvis

Elvis returned for Series 2, entering Heat D, where it was the last robot to run the Gauntlet. It started its Gauntlet run with its shell raised, and chose the middle route.

"Didn't fancy taking on Killalot, to big to go through the ram rig. The wall it is then."
— The Elvis website on taking the Gauntlet[5]

Elvis tries to knock down the bricks

It slowly drove forwards, then fired the lifting arm. As it closed the lifter, Elvis lowered its shell, then drove at the wall, briefly being lifted a little by the spikes. It drove into the wall, pushing the blocks a little, but couldn't knock them over or push through the wall. It reversed and tried again, hitting a different part of the wall, but again, it pushed the blocks a little, but could not push through. Elvis raised its shell and fired the lifting arm, which knocked over some of the blocks.

"Can't break through that "Jailhouse Rock" wall, and in danger of being "Returned to Sender"!"
— Jonathan Pearce as Elvis is unable to get through the block wall

It drove into the blocks, but couldn't push past them, and despite trying a couple more times, could not push past. It used its lifter on the blocks, toppling a few of them, then reversed for another attempt, but still couldn't push past the blocks.

"It's slow progress, but then they've only got 3 metres to beat, don't forget! Elvis' smile is fixed, and I think it's gonna be a smile of delight!"
— Jonathan Pearce as time runs out on Elvis' run

It tried closing the lifter, but a block was caught under it, so it couldn't close. Elvis raised his shell, reversed, and tried to get past the blocks, unsuccessfully. It then turned, trying to push past the blocks it had knocked over, but still couldn't. It fired the lifter, then lowered the shell, and time ran out.

Craig Charles: "What do you think was the problem, lack of power?"
Neil Lambeth: "Yeah basically, I thought we'd have enough drive to get through 'em!"
Craig Charles: "Ladies and gentlemen, give them a round of applause!"
Jonathan Pearce: "Problem being, too many burgers for Elvis! But they're though, Bodyhammer are out!"
— Post-Gauntlet interview, then Jonathan Pearce confirms the final results

Elvis had managed 3.7 metres, but this was still better than the seeded Bodyhammer, which had only managed 3.0 metres, putting Elvis through to the Trial.


The Trial for this Heat was Football.

Philippa Forrester: "Was Elvis very good at football?"
John Ebdon: "No, not at all really!"
Philippa Forrester: "Is he going to be good at football here?"
John Ebdon: "Err, we hope so, we really do?"
— Pre-Trial interview

Sergeant Bash attacks Elvis whilst Razer tries to score

Elvis is burnt during the Football trial

At the start, Elvis slowly moved forwards, whilst Razer rushed to the ball. As Razer pushed the ball towards the goal, Elvis drove after it, but Inquisitor drove between it and Razer. Whilst Razer tried to score, Sergeant Bash drove at Inquisitor, which reversed away. Elvis tried to get around Sergeant Bash, but Sergeant Bash used his flamethrower on it. Suddenly, the round ended when goalkeeper Dead Metal accidentally reversed the ball into his own net. Razer reversed into Elvis, pushing it away from Sergeant Bash, and small flames could be seen on Elvis' back.

"Ooh! Hot stuff for Elvis, from the Sergeant... Elvis is on fire!"
— Jonathan Pearce, clearly delighted at the scene.

Elvis attacks Milly-Ann Bug as Behemoth (left) possesses the ball

In the second round, Milly-Ann Bug was the first to get to the ball, and it pushed the ball towards the side of the arena, but Elvis drove at it, getting its lifter under the side and lifting it a little.

"Ooh Elvis, that's a foul challenge referee! Not too sure what Elvis is trying to do to Milly-Ann Bug! One dreads to think!"
— Jonathan Pearce as Elvis lifts Milly-Ann Bug

Behemoth scores the second goal despite pressure from Elvis

Behemoth took advantage, driving at the back of Milly-Ann Bug, lifting it with its scoop, and getting to the ball. Elvis drove after Behemoth as it pushed the ball towards the goal, before Dead Metal blocked it. As Dead Metal let Behemoth go, Elvis tried pushing Behemoth against the wall, but this did not stop it pushing the ball over the line.

Inquisitor scores, despite Elvis' attempts to stop it

In Round 3, Elvis had to start by reversing at the ball, having started near the goal. It reversed past the ball, but Inquisitor got to the ball first, pushing it to the side of the arena. Dead Metal rushed off his line to ram Inquisitor, which reversed away. Elvis charged forwards, between Inquisitor and Dead Metal as Dead Metal reversed back to the goal line, but Inquisitor got to the ball first and knocked it in to go through to The Arena stage.

The House Robots attack Milly-Ann Bug, leaving Elvis free to get to the ball

This left Milly-Ann Bug and Elvis to score the last goal to determine which robot would be eliminated. The two robots started side-by-side, and Elvis reversed and fired its lifter to try and get Milly-Ann Bug off its side. Milly-Ann Bug drove over the side, and Elvis drove forwards, but drove into Dead Metal, who was spinning around. One of his arms hit Elvis, pinning it down, and Sergeant Bash pushed against Elvis, blasting his flamethrower at it. Elvis raised its body shell and fired its lifter, then turned away from Sergeant Bash, but smoke could be seen rising from it.

"Elvis, you will not get rid of the Sergeant with that flap. There's a whiff from the quiff! Elvis is smokin'!"
— Jonathan Pearce as Sergeant Bash blasts Elvis with the flamethrower

Elvis struggles to get the ball to the goal

It drove past the House Robot, and as Sergeant Bash reversed, it got to the ball. Meanwhile, Milly-Ann Bug had broken down by the side fence by the goal, and Dead Metal rammed it whilst Sergeant Bash set the hair alight. This left Elvis free to push the ball, which it flicked with its flipper. Elvis got the ball closer to the goal, but as it tried for a final push, it pushed it the wrong way due to its round shape, pushing it against the fence.

"Elvis is gonna make sure this girl ain't gonna stay, for not even a day! Elvis, come on, you've got to get it in! Elvis is, the goal is unmarked Elvis!"
— Jonathan Pearce as Elvis struggles to score

Elvis gets the ball in whilst the House Robots attack Milly-Ann Bug

The House Robots were still attacking Milly-Ann Bug, but as Elvis reversed to try and push the ball in, Sergeant Bash came over, driving between Elvis and the ball. This pushed the ball closer to the goal-line, and despite Sergeant Bash's attempts to stop it by driving against its side, Elvis drove to the ball. Dead Metal started spinning, and Elvis flicked the ball towards him with its flipper, causing Dead Metal to knock the ball over the line.

Craig Charles: "You only just about popped through then!"
Elvis team: "Just about, yeah! It was touch and go."
Craig Charles: "It was a bit like Paul Gascoigne!"
Elvis team: "Well Paul Gascoigne can usually get it in one go!"
Craig Charles: "Yeah, it was kind of fat and waddling all around the pitch there!"
Elvis team: "At least we got in there in the end!"
— Post-Trial interview

This eliminated Milly-Ann Bug, and put Elvis through to the Arena stage.

"Time to put those driving skills to the test, but watch the first three goals go in as I play a completely different game on my own. So it's down to me and Milly Ann Bug, who unfortunately brakes [sic] down. The two house robots go off to inflict some damage on the downed robot and leave me with a totally open goal, which even I should be able to score in, right? Oh no, 5 million attempts later and still no goal. To save me any more embarrassment, Dead Metal comes over and effortlessly puts the ball in the net for me, I scrape through again."
— The Elvis website's summary of the Football Trial

In the Arena Semi-Final, Elvis fought newcomers Behemoth.

"We needed to sort out the steering on Elvis so we took it back to the workshop the night before the Arena to put it right. The main problem was one of the drive belts was sliping [sic], which made it almost impossible to go in a straight line. As soon as we fixed this I took it for a test drive, which proved very successful. The next problem was to add another transmitter so I could concentrate on driving and John could operate the weapons. The transmitter that I used at the preliminary meeting was an old 2 channel, 27 Mhz AM set which is rather prone to interfearance [sic], but it worked absolutely fine then so I hoped it would be ok. I thought i'd [sic] connect it up in the morning as we were bound to have a few hours before we were called to compete, so off to bed."
— The Elvis website on the problems before the battle

Sparks fly as Elvis' saw makes contact with Behemoth's scoop

Behemoth pushes Elvis back

Behemoth had the quicker start, driving at Elvis, whilst Elvis paused to begin with. As Behemoth got closer, it turned to face Behemoth. Behemoth fired its scoop before reaching Elvis, and Elvis got under the scoop with its own lifter, flicking Behemoth up. Behemoth reversed as Elvis turned around, and Behemoth lifted its scoop right into Elvis' saw, sending off lots of sparks. Elvis could not get away as Behemoth got under the side and lifted it up. It dropped Elvis, then Dead Metal got behind and rammed it a little. Elvis reversed away from Matilda, then drove forwards. It turned around as Behemoth drove at it, but fired the lifter too early, before it was under its opponent, allowing Behemoth to get under with its scoop. Behemoth pushed Elvis into the PPZ, where Matilda blocked its escape, pushing it further in as Shunt came over to axe it and lift it with his scoop. Elvis was pushed to the bottom of the arena by Matilda, and it turned around, but Matilda blocked it from getting away, lifting it up with her tusks and pushing it against the pyramid in the corner.

"They can't get Elvis off the deadly tank trap! Oh, look at the Las Vegas gear!"
— Jonathan Pearce notes the damage to Elvis by the House Robots

Elvis is attacked by Matilda

Elvis smoulders in defeat

Matilda and Dead Metal pushed Elvis into Shunt, who continued to axe into the top. Matilda dragged Elvis away, with help from Dead Metal, who pushed it, and they took it over to the flame pit, where Matilda held it over the flames.

"Elvis on fire Well, he did like his burgers 'flame-grilled'..."
— Jonathan Pearce as Elvis is burnt

Matilda pulled Elvis off, only to push it back on again as smoke rose from Elvis and the decorations began to melt, much to the amusement of the Elvis team. Time ran out, and Elvis was eliminated.

"All the love, all the care, all the dedication to build your robot, and when it's destroyed, you have to have a laugh! Well, fair play!"
— Jonathan Pearce as the Elvis team laugh at Elvis being attacked by the House Robots towards the end of the battle

After the battle, the team revealed that the House Robots hadn't actually punctured the shell, and that the steering did not work during the battle due to the transmitter not working.

"So after running behind schedule for the past three days, as soon as we arrive at the venue in the morning we get called to compete. As fast as possible I shove in the 27 Mhz reciever [sic], a quick test on the bench and everything still works fine, into the arena we go, feeling confident that we might actually do something intresting [sic] this time. The contest begins and I have absolutly [sic] no control over Elvis at all. Oh B@@@@@ks. It's time to play with the friendly house robots."
— The Elvis website

At the end of Series 2, Elvis was nominated for the Best Design Award. However, it lost out to Razer.

Results[]

ELVIS - RESULTS
Series 1
The First Wars - UK Championship
Heat, Gauntlet
Heat F, Gauntlet 2.75m (6th) Eliminated
Series 2
The Second Wars - UK Championship
Heat, Arena Semi-Final
Heat D, Gauntlet 3.7m (5th) Qualified
Heat D, Trial (Football) Scored 4th Goal (4th) Qualified
Heat D, Arena Semi-Final vs. Behemoth Lost

Wins/Losses[]

  • Wins: 0
  • Losses: 1

NOTE: Elvis's Gauntlet and Trial runs are not included

Series Record[]

Series Elvis Series Record
The First Wars Heat, Gauntlet
The Second Wars Heat, Arena Semi-Final
The Third Wars Did not enter
The Fourth Wars Did not enter
The Fifth Wars Did not enter
The Sixth Wars Did not enter
The Seventh Wars Did not enter
Series 8 Did not enter
Series 9 Did not enter
Series 10 Did not enter

Trivia[]

Elvis (along with Matilda) makes a cameo in "The Sopranos"

  • Elvis was the first machine to redeem itself in the Gauntlet, succeeding in passing the stage in Series 2, having failed in Series 1. However, its run of 3.7m was one of the worst in Series 2 and it placed fifth.
  • During construction of Elvis, Applied Arts helped the team, supplied parts and allowed them to use their workshop.
"Many thanks to Bob Saunders and Applied Arts, who provided me with materials and components, gave me use of the workshop and helped out when I ran out of time. Without their help ELVIS would not have been possible."
— The Elvis website Sponsors page[6]
  • According to Oliver Steeples, Elvis was one of the robots that had to be pulled onto the stage for its preview at the start of the Heat[7].
  • Elvis is one of two competitor robots who appear in The Sopranos episode Mergers and Acquisitions; the other is ORAC, who appeared in the next heat of Series 2. The viewers can also catch a glimpse of Sergeant Bash and Matilda.

Honours[]

Nominations

References[]

External Links[]

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