Robot Wars: Dream comes true for Telford's Ellis who will appear on show
As a three-year-old, Ellis Ware would sit mesmerised by the hit TV series Robot Wars. Seventeen years on, he will this weekend achieve his lifetime ambition of appearing on the new-look show.
Robot Wars, which was originally presented by Jeremy Clarkson in the 1990s, was relaunched last month after a 12-year absence.
And Ellis, from Telford, did not need to be asked twice when the programme makers inquired whether he would be able to produce a robot for the show.
"We had just nine weeks to turn the whole thing around, and we had to start completely from scratch," said Ellis, who appears on the show with his parents Tara, 54, and Peter, 58.
"It was surreal, that is the only word to describe it," he said.
"It is one of the most amazing things I have ever experienced, to be on television with some of the people I have grown up with, like Professor Sharkey who has been with the show since the very beginning."
Ellis, who left school at 15, has been taking part in robot combat events for the past four years, and runs a business selling robotics parts from his home in High Street, Madeley.
"I was living in Spain at the time, and I would travel back to the UK to take part in many of the events," he said. "One of them was at the NEC in Birmingham, the machines were eight times lighter and smaller than they are for Robot Wars, but I became quite well-known on the scene, and got to know a lot of the people.
"Somebody asked me just before Christmas if I would be able to design and build a robot in time for the deadline, and once I was asked, for me it wasn't an option not to try.
"It was very full-on, I had no design and no components to start with.
"In the 72 hours before the show I slept for nine hours, and on the day of filming I had not slept for 16 hours.
"Because it was the first series, they approached people who were already on the scene, who would be able to produce a machine in a very short-time frame. I think for the next series it will be more open to people coming forward."
Ellis, a self-taught engineer, said he was disillusioned with mainstream education, and educated over the internet for 12 months after leaving school at 15. He used online tutorials to teach himself engineering skills, and is now an expert in aerospace technology.
His robot, which he calls Pulsar, is so dangerous that it was one of the reasons why the show's producers had to encase the battle arena in bulletproof glass to protect the studio audience.
"I've always had an interest in mechanical things," he said.
"I used to take apart remote control cars and didn't necessarily put them back the same way again. My dad has always been practical and I've got a great uncle who I think worked on radar, so you could say it's in the blood."
Weighing nearly 17 stone, Pulsar is a formidable machine, and can travel at speeds of up to 15mph.
Its weapon is a flywheel with a tooth on it, which itself weights more than two stone, and rotates at speeds of up to 9,000rpm – or 220mph – making it the fastest in the series.
Its armour is made from high-grade steel nearly a third of an inch thick, while it uses the latest lithium battery technology and brushless motors. Its one weakness is that its back wheels are only lightly armoured.
Ellis said it was an expensive hobby. Pulsar cost about £6,000 to build, more than half of which he funded himself, the rest coming from local sponsors.