Discovery+ Series ‘Contraption Masters’ Shows Engineering At Its Most Extra

What’s the ‘Contraptions Masters’ prize? Learn more about this Discovery+ reality competition with amateur engineers creating elaborate machines.


Aug. 7 2022, Published 4:12 p.m. ET

UK viewers already saw Richard Hammond’s Crazy Contraptions on TV this spring, and now it’s time for U.S. viewers to get in on the fun. The show arrived stateside under a new title, Contraption Masters, and started streaming today, Sunday, August 7, on Discovery+.

The new reality competition has amateur engineers creating elaborate “Chain Reaction Machines” for a shot at the grand prize of… a museum display? Well, OK!

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“In this joyous, specialist factual series, amateurs compete to create spectacular chain reaction machines, with the ultimate winner going on display in a museum,” Discovery+ says in a press release. “The machines must complete a simple challenge — like boiling a kettle — in the most complicated way possible. Engineering enthusiasts go head-to-head in the ultimate test of ingenuity and technical ability. It’s a knockout competition that will leave us with just one winner.”

Richard Hammond of ‘Top Gear’ and ‘The Grand Tour’ hosts the show.

Richard Hammond, who previously presented BBC’s Top Gear and currently presents Amazon’s The Grand Tour, not only hosts Contraption Masters but also gives the teams their ridiculous assignments.

“I’m just a regular guy struggling to answer all of life’s big questions,” he says in a trailer for the show. “Like, Why can’t I feed the dog while relaxing in the garden? And why can’t I cook my sausages while writing my memoirs?”

(The trailer shows the winning team gets a trophy, too, so there’s that.)

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“As soon as the idea was explained to me, I was hooked. I actually tried to build my own chain reaction machine during lockdown — it didn’t end well!” Richard said, per TellyMix. “My failed attempt did, however, make me appreciate the talent, creativity, and determination shown by our teams. That said, in amongst the triumphs, there were also plenty of spectacular failures and catastrophes.”

He went on : “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.”

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The competition requires “ingenious design, first-class building skills, and a bit of luck.”

Shaminder Nahal, who commissioned the show for Channel 4, called it “a popular science program like no other, emphasizing real ingenuity and ‘outside the box’ thinking,” per Deadline.

And Nick Hornby, co-CEO of production company Optomen, said: “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.”

Episode descriptions on IMDb, meanwhile, tease the challenges to come: In the first episode, for examples, teams must create a machine that would let Richard make his bed without leaving the bathtub. In the second episode, teams must engineer a contraption to let Richard boil water while sitting on the toilet.

“It’s a knockout tournament where teams of amateur engineers compete to perform my ordinary chores in extraordinary ways,” Richard said, per What to Watch. “There’s some serious engineering afoot.”

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