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Time Commanders

Time Commanders was a series of programmes made by Lion TV and PlayGen for BBC Two that ran for two series from 2003 to 2005. The programmes, originally hosted by Eddie Mair and more recently by Richard Hammond, featured a specially made game engine to reenact historical battles. A team of four contestants would direct the forces on one side. The teams were unfamiliar with computer games, to make sure their gaming skills do not influence their success.

After a brief introduction of the battle, including an overview of military units, terrain and available forces, the players had to develop a strategy and then deploy their forces. Two of the players were selected as generals, who will direct the battle and have access to a strategic map. The other two players were designated lieutenants in the first series, and captains in the second. The units were indirectly controlled by the lieutenants, who issued commands to programme assistants, who in turn used the game interface to control the units. Troop deployment and battle followed, although in the second series there was a small skirmish conducted as a separate event, to acquaint the players with the game mechanics and their units. In the second series the team also got strategic pauses where they could refine their strategies.

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