Robot Wars Wiki
This article is about the Series 2 competitor. For other uses, see Spin Doctor.

"What Spin Doctor excelled in was spinning round very fast so that if anything hit it, they would be deflected off."
— Oliver Steeples [1]

Spin Doctor was a competitor in Series 2 of Robot Wars. Spin Doctor's main claim to fame was in its Trial, where it managed to break off and destroy one of Matilda's titanium tusks through use of its spinning attack.

After Series 2, the team built a second robot, Agent Orange, which fought in Series 3 and failed to qualify for Series 4 and 5, before the team retired.


"We really hate Wedges, their {sic} dead BORING (we are very happy that they are virtually banned!) so we did not want to build one of then. At first we came up with a spinning robot with blades attached. This came about as we saw that most of the Robot seemed to suffer from a lack of all round attack or defence. By spinning the Robot has no undefended sides, but, we found out that this had already been done (Blendo!) and banned :("
— Spin Doctor website[2]

Spin Doctor from the rear, displaying the chainsaw

Spin Doctor was an octagonal box-wedge robot. It was designed to spin on the spot, and was also armed with a 20 inch chainsaw on the rear. The chainsaw could be removed, and was only seen in the Gauntlet. The team added two maces to the top for the Arena stage. Spin Doctor was the first thwackbot seen in the UK. It also had a stainless steel panel at the front, referred to a snowplough, which could be used for ramming. Spin Doctor had a high top speed of 17mph, powered by a 12 Volt battery, with Yamaha 550CC starter motors. The speed controllers were home made[3].

Spin Doctor in the arena with the maces

At 66.6kg, Spin Doctor was one of the lightest heavyweights in Robot Wars, and took 4 months to build. Originally, the team had intended to make Spin Doctor round, but chose to make it octagonal as it was easier to work on. The chassis was made from 30mm steel box section, and the armour was made from polypropylene. The stainless steel panel was used to reinforce the armour to withstand the impact of ramming. Spin Doctor was intended to have two spinning discs on the front, but despite having two discs provided by Huddersfield Saw and Tool Co, the same company who provided the chainsaw, the team chose not to add them.

"We lost the nice round body work due to it being a lot easier to us flat panels instead of molding and shaping rounded ones. We now have two discs which spin in opposite directions, left one spinning clockwise and the right one anti-clockwise. We hope that with will pull the opposition in and hold them on the discs. The chainsaw has now been turned on its side. this removes the need to have it move, which we where having trouble sorting out, and now means that we can spin around and hit people with it. We're currently working on a way of flipping our selves over if we get tipped over by a wedge. We'll tell you more when we know more!"
— Spin Doctor website

The insides of Spin Doctor with the chainsaw

Spin Doctor’s spinning tactic was able to break Matilda’s tusk, but it was the widest competitor in the competition, and struggled in the Gauntlet as a result.

"Once they had been selected for the Second Wars, the team discovered that Spin Doctor was the largest robot in the competition. Spin Doctor then proceeded to get stuck in various places on various occasions. The reason for the oversized shell was that the original motors were not powerful enough, and had to be replaced with the much smaller and more powerful starter motors. This left a great deal of empty space inside the shell, and Peter explained ruefully that the team could have put a lot more equipment in there (such as weapons systems), or the could have made the body much smaller, and not got stuck so much. As is so often the case, however, time was against them."
— The Robot Wars Technical Manual

Ultimately, the team chose to build a new robot for the next series, so retired Spin Doctor and build Agent Orange.

"The Doc although sturdy could do nothing offensively. Spinning on the spot is fine but it means I can't go after my opponent, it's a very defensive move. ... I still have a soft spot for the Doc and had plans to bring her back for series 4 but the huge number of Hypno-Disc clones (or should that be Spin Doc clones?) put me off the idea, it would have kicked ass though!"
— Pete Duncanson on retiring Spin Doctor, interviewed in 2001[4]


The robot's name was a pun on spin doctors, advisors to politicians who suggest ways to present information in a way to modify and/or influence the publics perception. In the robots case, the "spin" referred to the robot's spinning attack.

The Team[]

The Spin Doctor team

"The robots then where little more then toasters on wheels so I used to shout at the tv "I could do better then that!". After 2 shows the missus (now my lovely wife!) turned to me and said "If you think you can then enter, but shut up about it!". Needless to say she regretted those words as I'm now entering my 4 year of doing it."
— Pete Duncanson on entering Robot Wars, interviewed in 2001 [5]

Spin Doctor was entered by a team from Huddersfield. The Team Captain was Peter Duncanson, who designed the robot, acquired the parts and did the welding, and was the driver. Also on the team were Martin Griffin, the team's electrician, and Peter's cousin Phillip[6].

All three of the team members were students at Huddersfield University, which sponsored the robot.

"All the members of the team attend Huddersfield University, School of Computing and Maths. The Spin Doctor project was going to be done as a laugh over the summer break, but, then we realised that the University might give us some sponsorship if we do the kind of thing you're reading right now! They gave a fair amount which helped a great deal by allowing us to buy the expensive stuff!"
— Spin Doctor Website on their Sponsors


Spin Doctor at the Series 2 rehearsals

Spin Doctor appeared for the Series 2 rehearsals without any armour. Despite being completely exposed and having only just fitted the motor in time for the rehearsals[7] it still qualified for the main series.

Spin Doctor was only finished the night before filming, and the speed controller burnt out at 2am on the morning of filming, but the team managed to get it working to compete in its Heat, with help from some other teams.

"From then on it was just a constant panic to keep the thing moving and to try to stay in. ... I've never been so tired as I was in that long drive back home (don't worry I was not driving). Highlights had to be all the time in the arena (all 7 minutes of it), doing "That spin", being amazed at the amount of work complete strangers where putting in to keep the Doc moving. Meeting most of the other competitors. I think the second series had such a great atmosphere which has not been matched since."
— Pete Duncanson on their experience of filming Series 2[8]

Robot History[]

Series 2[]

"Named by the university student team because it can spin on the spot. It took 4 months to build, the second-lightest in the Heat at 66.6 kilos. The main danger will come from the 20 inch rear chainsaw and snowplough."
Jonathan Pearce introduces Spin Doctor

Spin Doctor was the fifth to run in the Gauntlet stage

Philippa Forrester: "Could you fit through half the paths in there?"
Phil Duncanson: "We're a bit limited on which way we can go, we think we're gonna have to take on the big boy at the end!"
— Discussing the width of Spin Doctor prior to the Gauntlet

Spin Doctor is pressured by Sir Killalot

It started by driving to the right hand route, but as it turned, it drove into the fence at the top of the arena. After a pause, it reversed, turning away from the fence, then turned around and drove at the ramrig.

"...immediate steering problems. "Which way should we go lads? I'll tell you what, lets go back into the starting grid, let's go home! No, let's go left! Let's take on the ramrig!""
— Jonathan Pearce as Spin Doctor drives into the top arena fence, turns around and changes targets

However, it turned too early and drove into the ramrig, instead of driving down the middle. Spin Doctor reversed to try again, but the ramrig was closing, meaning Spin Doctor was too wide to get through. Sir Killalot, driving inot the side of Spin Doctor and pushing it against the side of the ramrig. Spin Doctor was pushed against the wedges on the bottom of the ram rig, beaching it off the ground, unable to move.

"This is called Sir Killalot, he's a nice chap! He'll rip you apart, shred you, spit you out, and whatever's left goes to the circular saws!"
— Jonathan Pearce as Sir Killalot pins Spin Doctor against the ramrig

As time ran out, Sir Killalot drove into it again a couple of times, pushing it against the side of the ramrig. However, this pushed Spin Doctor off the wedges, and as Sir Killalot reversed, it was able to turn off the side, but time ran out. Spin Doctor had only covered 3.8m, leaving it last on the leaderboard.

Craig Charles: "Have your been drinking?!"
Peter Duncanson: "Yeah actually!"
Craig Charles: "It was like drink driving, that was! You seemed to get a big confused, you didn't seem to know quite..."
Peter Duncanson: "It was really dodgy on the controls and we're just too wide, we just can't fit down there and we were very limited in what we could do, really."
Craig Charles: "All right guys, well I don't know enough to qualify, but give them a round of applause!"
Jonathan Pearce: "Peter Duncanson says he likes walking his dog - stick to it Peter! Only 3.8 meters, the worst so far, you'll have to rely on Pain not making it."
— Post-Gauntlet interview.

Fortunately for the team, Pain had failed to start and despite being given time for repairs, the problems proved to irreparable, and they were forced to retired from the competition, allowing Spin Doctor to pass through to the Trial, King of the Castle.

Shunt falls off the ring as Matilda approaches Spin Doctor

Immediately, Spin Doctor began spinning on the spot. Matilda drove up the ramp, but stopped, not wanting to charge straight at Spin Doctor when it was spinning.

"Spin Doctor - ooh, spinning, quite literally...Matilda doesn't know what to do"
— Jonathan Pearce

Spin Doctor snaps off Matilda's tusk

After some steering difficulties, Shunt drove up the ramp, but in trying to avoid Spin Doctor's spinning, he turned along the edge of the platform, and when he turned, he fell off the edge. Spin Doctor kept spinning, and Matilda attempted to charge at it, but she was merely deflected aside, with one of her tusks being ripped loose. Matilda drove past, turned around and drove back at Spin Doctor, trying to get her tusks underneath, but missed as she tried to turn under Spin Doctor. Matilda turned back for another attack, but stopped just before it hit Spin Doctor and reversed as Spin Doctor was still spinning. Matilda charged at Spin Doctor, only to be knocked aside, with her loose tusk being knocked off.

"In for another battering, and Matilda's lost a tusk! She's toothless. History is made! The Titanium tusk is battered and broken and off!"
— Jonathan Pearce as Spin Doctor breaks Matilda's tusk

Matilda turned around and reversed into Spin Doctor, hitting the side and managing to stop the spinning, but Spin Doctor turned around Matilda and ran out. Spin Doctor had convincingly held on to qualify for the Arena stage.

Craig Charles: "Well, well, well, well, well! I mean, such an unusual design, it just spins around!"
Martin Griffin: "It does other stuff as well, but that's just the most effective way of dealing with this particular configuration!"
Craig Charles: "I mean, very effective! Matilda's had some serious damage done to her, well done, you're through to the next round!"
— Post-Trial interview

Spin Doctor went up against Technophobic. For the arena, the team added two maces to the top of the robot.

Spin Doctor crashes against Technophobic

The two competitors drove at each other, but as Spin Doctor got close to Technophobic, it turned away from its opponent. Technophobic kept going, getting its wedge under Spin Doctor's ground clearance, but Spin Doctor slid off and began spinning. It landed a glancing blow, but Technophobic drove past, then reversed past Spin Doctor. Spin Doctor slowed down, and Technophobic drove at it, getting the wedge under the ground clearance again, but Spin Doctor slid off again and tried pushing against Technophobic. Technophobic turned away, and Spin Doctor started spinning again.

"Again, Spin Doctor rotates, on that zero turning circle. Can get up to speeds of 17 miles-per-hour. In comes Technophobic, by far the heavier of the two."
— Jonathan Pearce

Spin Doctor stops moving, shortly before Technophobic stops moving

Technophobic reversed into Spin Doctor, resisting a couple of hits as Spin Doctor span, and pushed against it, causing it to stop spinning. Technophobic drove away and turned around for another attack, then drove at straight at Spin Doctor. Spin Doctor drove at Technophobic as it closed in, and Technophobic managed to push Spin Doctor back a little. Spin Doctor drove away and turned around, then drove at Technophobic's side, pushing it back, but suddenly stopped moving, its speed controller having blown[9]. Technophobic reversed, drove past Spin Doctor, then reversed up the arena. However, Technophobic suddenly caught fire and stopped moving as well. With both competitors immobilised, the battle went to the Judges.

"The key moments; Technophobic, getting under Spin Doctor. There goes the flail, this is the most dangerous weapon it [Spin Doctor] has, but very, very even at the end of course!"
— Jonathan Pearce reviews the highlights

The Judges chose Technophobic to go through, based on damage and agression.

"I'd have removed those naff maces and stuck the chainsaw on the back. As I said its all about agression {sic} and slowly spinning on the spot can't be called aggressive!"
— Peter Duncanson reflects on the battle with Technophobic in an interview on Robot Wars 101 in 2001[10]


Series 2
The Second Wars - UK Championship
Heat, Arena Semi Final
Heat E, Gauntlet 3.8m (5th) Qualified
Heat E, Trial Survived (2nd) Qualified
Heat E, Arena Semi-Final vs. Technophobic Lost


  • Wins: 0
  • Losses: 1

NOTE: Spin Doctor's successful Gauntlet and Trial runs are not included

Series Record[]

Series Spin Doctor Series Record
The First Wars Did not enter
The Second Wars Heat, Arena Semi-Final
The Third Wars Entered with Agent Orange
The Fourth Wars Failed to qualify with Agent Orange
The Fifth Wars Failed to qualify with Agent Orange
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



Spin Doctor with Milly-Ann Bug

  • Spin Doctor was originally supposed to have a rounded design, but availability of materials dictated a much more angular, octagonal shaped robot.
  • The original concept for Spin Doctor was a full body spinner like american robot Blendo, but the team found out that American robot Blendo had used this idea and been forced to withdraw from two competitions due to safety concerns, so decided against it.
    • The second concept had a large spinning disc around the outside, also armed with a chainsaw[11].
"we came up with design number two. This working along the idea of having a huge cutting disc, as these seem quite effective, set horizontally in the center of the body and a chainsaw on the back for a bit of fun. The chainsaw will be able to move up and down, like Matilda's, if we can work out how! The body work is angled so other Robots are pushed up the body into the Disc. The idea seemed fine until we sobered up. Firstly it was a bit wedged shaped :( and the disc may deflect the opposition and not do as much damage as we would like."
— Spin Doctor Website
  • Spin Doctor had four sponsors; the University of Huddersfield, which all the team members attended, Huddersfield Mowers, Saw and Tool Co., who also helped with the construction of the robot and supplied some parts, including all the weapons, IRIDEX Engineering, who provided 14 inch cutting discs for Spin Doctor, and The Online Gaming Company[12].
  • The weekend the team welded the chassis, they had to work through the night, outside in the rain, because Martin Griffin did not want to get his car wet, leaving no space in the garage[13].
  • During the filming of Series 2, Martin Griffin put his foot on Spin Doctor and asked for full power, to see how powerful the robot was. Unfortunately, the speed controller burned out, but two other teams stepped in and donated replacements, saving Spin Doctor from having to withdraw.
  • Spin Doctor was erroneously referred to as a finalist by Jonathan Pearce whilst introducing successor Agent Orange, despite not even reaching its Heat Final.


External Links[]