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The future is bright, the future is?

The Spin Doctor team provided one of the most memorable installments of series 2 when their first born, Spin Doctor (named after a certain Mr Mandleson) took Matilda's tusks clean off during the King Of the Castle round. It was first class entertainment and one of the first occasions that the house robots actually started to appear more defeatable. For those of us behind the scenes this was a great triumph for the team, Pete and Phil Duncanson and Martin Griffin, who had been battling against broken speed controllers and size problems throughout the whole period.

Spin Doctor begat Agent Orange and this time the team were really rocking. The Agent, with its huge hydraulic jaws, was feared by many and deserved much more of the limelight than it really got. So, when Pete announced that following the Agents failure to qualify for series 4, he was retiring from the heady world of Robot Wars, just had to find out what was going on......

RW101) What made you get involved with RW in the first place?
PD) Watching the first series on tv. 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.

Spin Doctor RW101) I watched the Doctor that Spins on UK Horizions the other night. What are your favorite memories of series 2 and Spin Doc in particular?
PD) The rush. The spin doc only got finished the night before filming and at around 2am I blew up the speed controller! From then on it was just a constant panic to keep the thing moving and to try to stay in. Addrenalin keeps you pushing on and working for far longer then you ever normally would. As soon as we where out the pressure was off and the addrenalin switched off, and so did the rest of me. 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.

RW101) Why did you swap to something so different as the Agent?
PD) The Doc although sturdy could do nothing offencively. Spinning on the spot is fine but it means I can't go after my opponent, its a very defensive move. Plus seeing the carnage that Sir K was doing I thought to myself "I want to get me one of those cutters". I set my self a challenge to get one and at least £200 sponsorship or I would not be taking part again, under the idea that if you can do it right don't do it at all. The result was the Agent with its cutter and axe and "bomb proof" speed controller. 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!

RW101) Tell us something about the Agent that isn't widely known.
PD) To save weight the hydraulic tank is filled with empty pop bottles so we don't need as much fluid to run upside-down. This saves us about 2kg!

RW101) Were you given a reason for not being included in RW 4?
PD) No. We had a great fight, many of the crew came up afterwards and said it was a real good one (one even said it was the best so far). We did fry our speed controller though which in turn took all our wiring with it sending huge clouds of white smoke out the top. Looked great. And all because the producers asked us to get our fur covered opponent on to the flame pit. We tried pushing them (some thing the Agent is not really designed for) and bang! I assume that although it was a great fight (our best yet) we showed a weakness and that was all the excuse they needed to strike us off the list. Worst bit was we got her home, changed 2 wires and she ran straight away.

Agent Orange RW101) What do you think of the state of RW in the UK now?
PD) The robots are very quickly becoming very well built and very expensive (some thing I've always been against). Its getting to the point where I will no longer be able to keep up with my rivals. I don't have a CNC machine, workshop, bottomless pockets nor work for a company that will donate lots of expensive parts. As a result many of us bodgers and blaggers are being push out as our machines are simply not as good or as flashy as some of the others. There is a counter argument to that though; money does not buy you success (look at Mortis) and a good machine is a good machine. Its true there are excellent cheap bots out there but they are getting thinner on the ground. As for the show itself, its been greatly improved from series 3 with all its problems. I love the new format and who ever came up with the ideas for getting the crowd to chant for the pit, the siren and generating sparks from the grinders deserves a bonus. Wonderful ideas, just make sure they don't let it slip into WWF's turf. The judging needs some work as always. ;)

RW101) Do you have any unsettled business with other robots?
PD) Not the robots, more like some of there drivers ;-) I do like taking on the robots that people fear. When we were in the same heat as Razer, it was 50/50 if we where to fight them, I was really keen for it but other people in our heat where worried. I'd have liked to take on Hypno-Disc too - I'm not scared!

RW101) Why do you want to quit?
PD) As I mentioned its getting harder and harder to stay competitive. Plus, I have other things in my life now. A new wife, new house, new job all of which takes up more and more of my time and money. I'd also lost some of that zest after the shambles that was Series 3. I was just not enjoying the tv part of it anymore.

RW101) Will the team continue without you?
PD) I was going to back down after Series 4, hopefully having gone out with a bang, but we did not make it on. Then Dave (my team mate) said he really wanted to give it another go but would not unless I went with him. So Series 5 here we come!

Agent Orange Inside RW101) Excellent news!! If you could re-run all your battles again, what would you change?
PD) Spin Doc Vs Technophobic (Won, Judges) : I'd have removed those naff maces and stuck the chainsaw on the back. As I said its all about agression and slowly spinning on the spot can't be called aggressive!

Agent Orange (Won) Vs Max Damage : I've have sorted out the petrol engine that runs our cutter system so we could have cut their chainsaw up, not have got our axe stuck in him and played with him a bit more before putting him in the pit.

Agent Orange Vs Blade : Again had the cutter working (we've since switched to electric for the cutter, much better) not pushed then towards Matilda when they where on their side and then I'd hopefully still be running at the end and have won (lousy judges).

Agent Orange Vs Fur covered thing at the Series 4 auditions. : Not tried pushing them. Got that 1/2" closer with the cutter so we could have cut there CO2 tank, I was sooo close!

RW101) Thanks Pete. Look forward to seeing you at Series 5 filming :-)

Related links

Robot Wars UKAgent OrangeSpin Doctor