"You are the weakest link... goodbye."
British Game Show
(2000-12) with multiple local versions, often with red haired female hosts who insult the contestants. At times, these have been controversial insults.
The show works as follows:
- A "team" of 6-9 (depending on the version) contestants are each asked trivia questions in turn.
- For each question answered correctly, the amount of money they stand to collect is increased exponentially.
- At any time a contestant may "bank" the money they've earned so far to add it to the team's collective chitty (the pot then returns to zero).
- If anyone gets a question wrong, all the team's unbanked money is lost.
- For the UK version, the round ends after between 90 and 180 seconds (ten seconds are taken off the round time after each of the first six rounds and half a minute after the seventh) and any unbanked money is discarded. On some versions, the round ends after 5 minutes and the pot is "banked" automatically.
- The team then votes off whomever they feel is "the weakest link" (or whoever might be cleverer than them). The next round begins with the "strongest link" from the previous round, or the second-strongest if the strongest had been voted off.
- When there are only two contestants left, they compete to win the banked money in an elimination round. They are asked questions alternately and if no winner is decided after the sets of questions, a "sudden death" round is played, and the first player to correctly answer a question when their opponent does not is declared the victor.
Made Anne Robinson very famous and gave her a reputation for nastiness
as she took her tough, no-nonsense style (previously seen on consumer-affairs show Watchdog}
) to new levels
. Her popularity made it so that she ended up hosting the American version as well (which, however, lasted only a year). George Gray later helmed a syndicated version in the U.S. with its top prize and run time cut in half and the contestant pool reduced, but it didn't last more than a season either and wound up in reruns on low-rated Pax
There have been numerous celebrity versions, where contestants compete to win money for charity.
The "Hole in the Ring" sketches on That Mitchell and Webb Look
are a parody of Link
, with a Robinson expy who stumbles over her words and dishes out open and unwarranted abuse to contestants.
The show ended in 2012 as Anne Robinson decided to step down and was not replaced; the final new episodes were quietly demoted to an early afternoon slot on BBC2
, with Pointless
taking over the prime teatime BBC1 slot.
This show provides examples of:
- April Fools' Plot: One episode had Anne don a pink blazer and adopting a kind demeanor, actually being nice to the contestants. Ultimately subverted in that she dropped the act because the contestants were "just so stupid."
- Catch Phrase/Title Drop: "You are the weakest link. Goodbye!"
- Deadpan Snarker: Anne and George alike.
- Elimination Houdini: A non-subjective example. The Weakest Link may be the one constantly advancing. However, Statistically Speaking, they may only be the weakest link due to some other circumstances. (See Statistically Speaking)
- Flanderization: At the time the series made its debut in the UK, Anne Robinson had been a long-time presenter on Watchdog, the BBC's consumer affairs programme. After this series became established however, the BBC took her off Watchdog because they wanted her to be known solely for her Weakest Link personality (rather than the much more caring persona she displayed on Watchdog). This was eventually reversed in 2009, when Robinson returned to Watchdog and displayed the same personality she had always done on that show.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: The Australian version used Cornelia Frances, known for her role on Home and Away. The resemblance between her and Anne is striking, to the point where Cornelia displayed a similar abrasive personality to Anne.
- The Mean Brit: Anne.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: This is to be expected with a Mean Brit on board. Unless the team got every question right, Anne would find some reason to berate the players. If they did all give right answers, she'd point out they could have taken the top prize if they'd only had the guts to let it ride.
- Subverted in the case of an episode of the US version where the team got a perfect round. Her response: "A reasonable start, team."
- Pop-Cultural Osmosis: People who have never watched the show are familiar with the catchphrase.
- Running Gag: People seem to like trying to make Anne Robinson laugh by cracking jokes or doing something weird.
- Statistically Speaking: During the voting, the announcer says that Statistically Speaking, so and so is the weakest link and so-and-so is the strongest link and asks if the voting will reflect that. It's interesting to note that a few things alter whether or not someone is the strongest or weakest link, such as a round where everyone got their questions right, but the person who banked was the strongest link. Or where the weakest link actually got all their questions correctly but was merely only asked two questions when everyone else was asked three. (For example)
- Unwinnable by Design: The time limit that shrinks with every round, the unpredictability of the question material, and the strategy to not appear too threatening to keep in later rounds makes it essentially impossible that any team would ever reach the maximum prize offered on the show. It's generally considered an impressive accomplishment just to reach the target once. The highest prize awarded on any version of the show was $189,500 of the possible $1,000,000, on a "Tournament of Losers" special edition of the US series.
- Writing Lines: Anne Robinson orders a teacher to do this in one episode after the other contestants vote him off.
- You Say Tomato: Anne Robinson often poked fun at contestants from Northern England (unless that contestant is from her home city, Liverpool).