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Rise of the machines The female cast Actress; Androids are taking over in dramas like Humans and Westworld. MARION MCMULLEN looks at the rise of the robots on film and television.

ROBOTS and androids have smashed up buildings and cars, headed into outer space and threatened "I'll be back".

In 1995 The Loebner Prize was launched to assess artificial intelligence. It uses the Turing Test, named after Second World War codebreaker Alan Turing, and the challenge is to convince people they are talking to a real human not a robot. The prize money has so far gone unclaimed.

The movie world's love affair with robots began far earlier. Director Fritz Lang's vision of the future in black and white film Metropolis in 1927 saw German actress Brigitte Helm come to life as humanoid robot Maria. The design is said to have later inspired the look of protocol droid C3PO in the Star Wars movies.

Hollywood's early robots did have a tendency to be programmed to be bad and go on the rampage.

Forbidden Planet's Robby the Robot in 1956 turned into one of the mechanical menaces. He had a glass head, flashing lights and rotating antenna and also featured on the poster for the movie.

Robby was said to speak 188 languages and Marvin Miller provided his voice. The robot stood 7ft 6ins tall and cost around $125,000 to construct. It proved so popular that he appeared the following year in the movie The Invisible Boy.

Tobor The Great in 1954 saw a robot attracting the attention of foreign spies with the film's publicity declaring: "Man-Made monster with every human emotion."

Meanwhile, The Colossus Of New York in 1958 saw a scientist put the brain of his Nobel Prize-winning dead son into a robot body ... with some destructive side effects.

Rutger Hauer as Roy Batty in Blade But not every robot was filled with bad circuitry.

Gort, in the 1951 movie The Day The Earth Stood Still, was a silent galactic peacekeeper who arrived in a spacecraft with his alien partner Klaatu to keep humankind from going off the rails.

Lock Martin, the doorman from Grauman's Chinese Theater, played Gort, but could only wear the costume for 30 minutes at a time because it was so heavy.

Oscar winner Spencer Tracy apparently turned down the role of Klaatu saying he "didn't want to play second fiddle to a damn robot."

Robots began looking more human in later movies, but still had a habit of malfunctioning and killing any poor human who crossed their path.

Yul Bryner was the robotic gunslinger at an adult theme park in 1973 movie Westworld and he even sported the same costume he wore in his 1960 Western, The Magnicient Seven. A computer glitch led to his robot turning rogue and stalking holiday makers.

Arnold Schwarzenegger also came out with all guns blazing in The Terminator in 1984 as a relentless cyborg sent back from the future to kill the mother of his enemy. The "I'll be back" line was originally written in the script as "I'll come back," while 1974's The Stepford Wives saw a whole town of women replaced by robot replicas designed purely to please their husbands.

Sci-fi classic Blade Runner from 1982 saw Harrison Ford dealing with human-looking replicants who had returned to Earth to see if they could extend their sell-by-date. Rutger Hauer played their leader and improvised the famous line: "All those moments will be lost in time... like tears in rain."

TV added to the robot nightmare with a new enemy for Doctor Who - the Cybermen. The sinister figures had children hiding behind sofas and have returned to cause problems for the Time Lord over the decades. But in 2006 a Cyberman mask which made the wearer sound like Doctor Who's arch enemy was one of the top 10 Christmas gifts for children.

Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation was one of the good robots, although even he went off the rails at times.

AI: Artificial Intelligence in 2001 saw mankind living side-byside with robot helpers with Haley Joel Osment as young David and Jude Law as Gigolo Joe.

But it was back to killer 'bots in 2004 with Will Smith trying to find a rogue machine among a factory of identical models in I, Robot.

The Alien movies have also had a whole series of troublesome androids from Ian Holm's Ash in the original 1979 film to Michael Fassbender as David in the most recent movie Prometheus.

But the stranger behaviour of humans provided a big laugh for the Martian robots in the Smash adverts in the 1970s and 1980s, left. The top advertising campaign saw the robots observing people preparing mashed potato the non-Smash way and laughing helplessly that: "Earth people peeled their own potatoes with their metal knives, boiled them for twenty of their minutes, then smashed them all to bits."


A scene from Metropolis (1926)

The eponymous robot wrecks a car in Tobor the Great

The female cast members of 1975 film The Stepford Wives

Actress Mala Powers with the robot monster from the film The Colossus of New York

Anne Francis with Robby the robot in Forbidden Planet

Data from Star Trek TNG was one of the good ones - most of

Doctor Who (played by Tom Baker) with one of his arch enemies, the Cybermen in 1974
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Nov 12, 2016
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