Hammond is helming Richard Hammond’s Crazy Contraptions from All3Media-backed UK indie Optomen, in which engineering enthusiasts from around the UK must battle to create the most ingenious contraptions using everyday objects.
While adding a Robot Wars-style competitive element, the commission represents something of a comeback for the popular science format. Shows such as Sky’s Brainiac: Science Abuse, which Hammond presented, have been few and far between of late.
Teams of contestants will go head-to-head to build their own Chain Reaction Machines – mechanisms that are made from everyday materials that complete basic domestic tasks in the most complicated way possible. With contestants having access to a workshop and purpose-built home environment to test their invention, they will be given the challenge each week of designing, creating and showcasing a new construction. At the end of each episode, contestants will be judged based on their ingenuity, design and build-quality, with one team eliminated from the competition every week, before a champion is crowned in the seventh and final episode.
Hammond, known worldwide for presenting the BBC’s Top Gear and Amazon’s The Grand Tour with Jeremy Clarkson and James May, will be joined by Zach Umperovitch, who was described as “the world’s leading authority on Chain Reaction Machines” by Channel 4.
Hammond, who has never worked for Channel 4 before, said he had tried to build a Chain Reaction Machine during lockdown and his “failed attempt made me appreciate the talent, creativity and determination shown by our teams.”
“I’m convinced the series will be a great watch for all the family, not only providing totally left field entertainment, but also presenting science and engineering in a fun and accessible manner,” he added.
Sarah Eglin and Dominic Bowles are exec producing and Graham Smiles is series director. Shaminder Nahal and Jonah Weston commissioned for Channel 4. All3Media International is distributing.
Nahal called Crazy Contraptions “a popular science program like no other, emphasizing real ingenuity and ‘outside the box’ thinking.”
Optomen Co-CEO Nick Hornby added: “There is something truly magical about watching Chain Reaction Machines in action, but to get to that point requires ingenious design, first-class building skills, and a bit of luck.”