- "After watching an episode of The Sweeney and listening to Brian May’s latest album, the name is chosen to be The Guv’nor."
- — The Guv'nor website on the inspiration behind the robot's name
The Guv'nor was the name given to a pair of competitor robots that attempted to enter Series 3 and Series 4 of Robot Wars. The Guv'nor Mk 1 was not selected to compete in the main competition for Series 3, although it was selected to compete in the cancelled Sumo side competition. Meanwhile, The Guv'nor Mk 2 withdrew from the Series 4 qualifiers due to technical issues and a disagreement between the team and the show’s personnel.
The robot's name was inspired by the song of the same name by Brian May.
The team initially consisted of Chris Green and James Roberts, who were inspired to build the original Guv'nor after watching Series 2. Roberts chose not to take part in Series 4, so Green was joined by Phil Botting (formerly of the Pitbull team) and Sam Chappell for that series, the latter two becoming part of the team in May 2000.
Versions of The Guv'nor
The Guv'nor Mk 1
The Guv'nor Mk 1, which was built for Series 3, was a wedged box-shaped robot with four wheels, car-like steering and a petrol engine. It was painted white, black and red, and equipped with a set of front ramming spikes. Work on The Guv'nor Mk 1 began in January 1999, and the robot used various components from ride-on lawnmowers, including a 5hp Briggs and Stratton engine, a four-speed Tecumseh Peerless transaxle, and wheels from a Westwood Lawn Bug. Its armour and chassis were made out of welded steel box-section.
The Guv'nor Mk 2
After watching Series 3, the Guv'nor team decided to build a new version of the robot, after encountering problems with The Guv'nor Mk 1 and having seen the improved quality of the Series 3 competitors.
- "Series 3 is well under way and it is apparent that The Guv'nor has to have some serious modifications. A self-righting mechanism is a must have and might as well incorporate a flipper with it. The car type steering isn't manoeuvrable enough so skid steer will have to be used. The petrol engine and transaxle are to be replaced with electric motors and chains / belts. If the robot were turned over the engine would probably stop, and the current arrangement would not allow for skid steer."
- — The team's website on building a new version of The Guv'nor
The Guv'nor Mk 2 was based on the chassis of the original robot, but now wedge-shaped, powered by electric wheelchair motors and armed with a rear-hinged flipper powered by a bungee cord. The robot also adopted skid-steering for improved manoeuvrability, as well as 8mm polycarbonate armour and an adjustable ride height system. The Guv'nor Mk 2's main weapon was originally planned to be a CO2-powered flipper which could also act as a self-righting mechanism. However, this was changed to an electric lifter after the team discovered that its wheelchair-sourced batteries took up a quarter of the robot's weight during construction, then a bungee-powered flipper at the suggestion of Phil Botting.
Before the start of Series 3, the Guv'nor team expressed concerns that The Guv'nor Mk 1 would not be able to attend the auditions, after suffering from clutch problems during testing:
- "Two days before the auditions and all hell breaks loose. We try to operate the servos and realise that the gears on feedback pots are not up to the job. The robot will move but we have no control over it. The clutch system causes a major headache as no matter how slack the belt is, it still grips the pulleys and transmits drive. The electronics are mounted in biscuit tin. The robot is close to being ready but we have run out of time."
- — The team website on the clutch problems experienced before the Series 3 qualifiers
The Guv'nor Mk 1 was subsequently rejected from the main competition, but was later asked to compete in the Sumo side event, which was due to be filmed alongside the main UK championship. However, the Sumo competition was cancelled following a behind-the-scenes accident, and The Guv'nor Mk 1 ultimately never appeared in the Third Wars.
Like its original incarnation, The Guv'nor Mk 2 also suffered technical issues upon arriving at the Series 4 qualifiers, with the robot's speed controllers not working properly by the time the team arrived to participate. The Robot Wars technical crew refused to allow The Guv'nor Mk 2 entry, and following the team's dissatisfaction with their decision to put the robot into 'quarantine', it was withdrawn from the qualifiers.
- "The speed controller problems put us behind schedule and so all our spare time is put to work on the robot. We go to the live event with the robot not working but with hopes that we can get it to go. The technical guys have a real attitude problem and won't let the robot in. After a discussion they let us into a quarantine area with no facilities. Dismayed with technical guys attitude and complete lack of common sense we pull out of the event."
- — The team website on the Series 4 qualifiers
As a result, The Guv'nor Mk 2 failed to qualify for the Fourth Wars, although it continued to receive modifications, repairs and testing shortly afterwards.
|Series||The Guv'nor Series Record|
|The First Wars||Did not enter|
|The Second Wars||Did not enter|
|The Third Wars||Entered Sumo Event (event cancelled)|
|The Fourth Wars||Withdrew from qualifiers|
|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|
Outside Robot Wars
In between filming for Series 3, The Guv'nor team arranged a friendly match with 1 Law Associates and their Series 3 competitor Sting 2, which served as a test session for the completed Guv'nor Mk 1. The Guv'nor Mk 1 sustained damage to its body from Sting 2 and suffered from poor traction in damp conditions, but the session allowed the team to add disc brakes to the robot's transaxle before its planned Sumo appearance, helping it with its gearshifts.
In April 2003, The Guv'nor Mk 2 was sold online by the team.