The Series 4 Robot Wars Set was the fourth incarnation of the Robot Wars Arena, designed by Julian Fullalove, who replaced Steve Clark as the lead designer. The Fourth Wars as well as the unaired MTV Pilot were filmed at Park Street Studios, less than ten minutes away from Elstree Studios where the previous and next series were to be filmed. The arena had been once again totally overhauled and looked nothing like the previous years build, probably a result of the new designer. At the end of this series, filming was moved back to Elstree Studios and not long after, Park Street Studios was sold off, before going bankrupt in 2003.
The arena remained a large plywood square, surrounded by a wall made from bulletproof glass, to improve the safety of the spectators. The scrap metal sculptures were not present in this series, replaced instead by large spotlights. The set up of the balcony remained much the same from the previous series, but the design was quite different, making the entire wall resemble the interior of a military submarine. The cherry pickers had been replaced by static booths that the competitors worked their robots from. The large Robot Wars sign, that had been a feature since the very beginning, remained disused as in the previous series, the door was only opened to allow winning competitors to come onto the arena floor to collect their awards. The circular chop saws that lined the arena used in the Third Wars were also phased out, but would be replaced with angle grinders later on in the show's run.
The fourth incarnation of the Robot Wars Arena featured few totally new hazards, instead the existing hazards were adapted or updated. Noticeably, the arena spikes which had been so controversial in the previous series were not included, and disappeared from use. Fire hazards were the most common from within the arena- the established flame pit was supplemented by flame jets from the arena floor, and flamethrowers that lined the side wall. As with the previous series, little trouble was posed by these flame jets, as most robots were non-flammable.
The Pit of Oblivion returned for The Fourth Wars, now far more visible on the arena floor, painted yellow and black and lined with red tape. In every battle, the pit would begin closed, and then descend after a period of time, that varied as the producers saw fit (the video game Robot Wars: Arenas of Destruction, based on this series, has the time set at a fixed 1:40).
The Corner Patrol Zones remained in each corner of the arena, each guarded by one of the House Robots. The introduction of Refbot for this series marked a change in how the House Robots could attack other robots, and as a result the CPZs were not as deadly as they had been in previous wars.
Perhaps the most distinct change was the improvements made to the floor flipper. The flipper was now much larger, and much more noticeable, lined with the same yellow and black markings as the pit. Aside from cosmetics, the flipper was far more powerful, now capable of easily throwing robots across the arena. During the Christmas Specials, the flipper was referred to as the Evil Ejector, but this name didn't stick outside of these episodes.
The arena perimeter had also been heavily changed, but hints of the old Series 3 set are visible. Mostly, the changes were made to improve the safety of the spectators, after the appearance of robots such as Hypno Disc in the previous series.
The balcony itself remained the same as the previous series, but the backdrop had been changed to give the arena a more military feel. More noticeably, booths had been introduced to replace the old cherry pickers. These booths were easily capable of fitting the three team members, unlike the old, cramped cherrypickers. The new booths also provided better protection, as the window was made out of the same material used to line the arena.
At the end of fights, Craig Charles would interview competitors on the balcony, as he had done in Series 2. This caused problems due to the lack of space, and potentially having to fit three team members from each team plus Charles onto the balcony. It is quite easy to see in certain interviews quite how cramped the competitors seem.
Much improved for Series 4 was the safety provisions, after numerous incidents in the previous years filming that ultimately led to the departure of Rex Garrod. The crowd were now placed behind a large plexiglass sheet that encased the entire arena, as well as a crowd control barrier preventing them from getting too close to the fight.
Changes from the Previous Series
- The pit and floor flipper were covered in yellow and black markings.
- The pit again fired a smoke screen instead of sparks.
- Booths replaced cherry pickers.
- Flame jets were placed on the arena floor.
- Flamethrowers lined the arena wall.
- The entire arena was now surrounded in plexiglass for safety reasons.
- The scrap metal sculptures were discontinued.