- The Weakest Link
The Weakest Link (often simply called Weakest Link) is a television game show which first appeared in the United Kingdom on BBC Two on 14 August 2000 and will end its run in 2012 when its host Anne Robinson ends her contract. The original British version of the show airs around the world on BBC Entertainment. The format has been licensed across the world, with many countries producing their own series of The Weakest Link. As with the original British version, all of the hosts wear black clothing (or sometimes dark colours with black). Most versions also have disciplinarian female hosts, again similar to the British original (with notable exceptions of Eamon Dumphy (Ireland), Edu Manzano, Allan K. (both Philippines), Shiro Ito (Japan), Tseng Yang Qing (Taiwan) and George Gray (United States)). Recordings of the show commenced from BBC's Elstree facility, but were switched in 2009 to Glasgow and the BBC Pacific Quay studio centre.
Not all the international versions share the title The Weakest Link. The format is distributed by BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the BBC. Australia was the first country to adapt the BBC show, and versions have also been produced in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Canada, Chile, China, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Macedonia, Malaysia, Mexico, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, The Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovenia, South Africa, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, and the United States.
- 1 Format
- 2 Versions
- 3 All versions
- 4 In popular culture
- 5 Notable contestants
- 6 References
- 7 External links
The original format features a team of contestants who take turns answering general knowledge questions. The object of each round is to create a chain of consecutive correct answers to earn an increasing amount of money for a communal kitty, within a time limit. The number of "links" in a chain are equal to the number of the contestants at the start of the show. An incorrect answer breaks the chain and deletes the accumulated money; however, a contestant can say "bank" prior to being asked a question, and the accumulated money is stored and a new accumulation is initiated from zero. In most versions, the first round lasts for three minutes (in the Australian, German, French, Hong Kong, Philippine, Japanese, and United States network versions the first round lasted for two-and-a-half minutes whilst in the United States syndicated version the first round lasted for 1:45; the shortest such first round in the franchise. In New Zealand this is 2:40). Each round begins with the words "Let's play The Weakest Link!" in each country's native tongues.
Unbanked money is lost at the end of a round. The round ends if the team successfully banks the maximum amount for the round before the allotted time expires. If a host is in the middle of asking a question when time runs out, the question is left uncompleted; however, if the host completes the question when time runs out, whether the contestant is able to answer correctly or not, the host gives the correct answer.
In some versions, as a contestant gets eliminated, they are sometimes interrogated about their job or in reference to a wrong answer the contestant had given in the round; such as: "The team has found you guilty and I hereby sentence you to the walk of shame." (in reference to a contestant who is a lawyer) or "The team is Hungary for money but you've slipped on Greece." (in reference to a contestant who answered a question about Europe wrongly).
As contestants get eliminated, each round gets shorter. In most versions, each round is reduced by 10 seconds, however in the United States syndicated version each round was reduced by 15 seconds, meaning the final round in their version lasted for just one minute (in the first season, the double stakes round lasted for just 45 seconds, the shortest such round in the franchise). In the British version, there is 1:30 on the clock for the triple stakes round, whilst in the Australian, German and French versions there was 1:20. The next round starts with the strongest link (or second strongest, if that player had been voted off) from the preceding round.
Strategy for banking money
In a New Scientist blog article, Erica Klarreich argues that there are only two sensible strategies in The Weakest Link when it comes to banking money. Either players should choose to bank after every correct answer, or after six straight correct answers maximize the pot. The correct strategy to take will depend upon the skill at answering questions of the members of the team. If a particular team gets more than two-thirds of its questions correct, the dominant strategy is to raise the pot six straight times without banking. But since this happens so seldom on the show, Klarreich argues, the dominant strategy will usually be instead to bank after every question.
Voting and elimination
At the end of each round, contestants must vote one player out of the game. An announcer reveals to the television audience which player is statistically the strongest link and who statistically is the weakest link. The players themselves, however, are not given this information. The votes are revealed one at a time, after which the host customarily interrogates some or all of the contestants about their votes. The player who receives the most votes, regardless of statistical data, is declared the weakest link and is dismissed from the show. (In the event of a tie, the statistical strongest link gets to cast the deciding vote.) The dismissed player leaves the stage in what is called "The Walk of Shame", and a short interview with this contestant is shown before the next round begins.
Strategy for voting and elimination
The strategy for eliminating players in the voting rounds is to eliminate weak players in the early round, but strong players in the final rounds: The voting strategy changes as the game progresses. In the first several rounds, it makes sense to eliminate bad players since the jackpot grows only when correct answers are given. In later rounds, the strategic incentives are flipped. The value of building the jackpot is now outweighed by each contestant's desire to win the jackpot. It's easier to do that if you eliminate the other good players. So, roughly speaking, the typical contestant will vote to eliminate the worse players in the early rounds and the better players in the later rounds. In the British version, the presenter, Anne Robinson, declares "You are the Weakest Link, goodbye!", to the player who has been voted out; this is also used on international versions in the country's native tongues. In Australia specifically, their host, Cornelia Frances, declares this in a more significant way.
The statistical strongest link can be determined by:
- number of correct answers.
- questions answered that are of high values (e.g. £1,000).
- money banked for the team.
Conversely, the statistical weakest link can be determined by:
- number of incorrect answers.
- questions answered that are of low values (e.g. £20 or £50).
- money lost for the team answering questions of high values incorrectly.
- time spent/wasted on answering a particular question.
Final two rounds
When only two contestants remain, they work together in one final round, identical to previous rounds except that all money banked at the end of the round is doubled, tripled or quadrupled (depending on the country), and there is no elimination: the game moves to the head-to-head round instead.
For the head-to-head round the remaining two players must each answer five questions (or three, in such versions such as the United States syndicated version) in a penalty shootout format, with the strongest link from the previous round (or in the United States syndicated version, the second-strongest link in case that player gets voted off) choosing who goes first. Whoever has the most correct answers at the end of this round wins the game unless there is a tie; in which case the game goes to sudden death. Each player is asked a question in turn indefinitely, until one gets a question right and the other wrong (in some countries this round is edited down to only one question each for airtime reasons). The winner of the game takes home all the money accumulated in the prize pool; the loser, like all the other eliminated players, goes home with nothing. In Australia, the winnings from The Mole special was added to the prize kitty for that show (the contestants only achieved $14,100, the lowest amount ever on that country's version, but this figure was rounded up to $15,000).
In most countries, the show ends with the host smiling and saying, "Join us again for The Weakest Link. Goodbye!". The latter word is said in the same tone as the elimination process, preceded by a wink.
The United Kingdom is the country where the show originated, and found a large audience. It was originally aired on BBC Two, but moved to BBC One in 2008 in the place of soap opera Neighbours, which moved to Channel 5. It was devised by Fintan Coyle and Cathy Dunning, and developed for television by the BBC Entertainment department. The UK version, hosted by Anne Robinson and voiced by Jon Briggs, reached its 1,000th episode on 18 December 2006. With the huge success of the show in its early evening BBC Two slot, there was a version made for prime-time BBC One. In 2011, Robinson announced that she would be ending her role as host of Weakest Link in 2012 when the UK version is due to end its run. The highest amount won so far (as of 25 November 2010) on the standard day time version of The Weakest Link is £5,420 and the least won is £750, which has occurred three times.
In Australia, the game show aired on the Seven Network and was produced from February 2001 until its cancellation in April 2002. Presented by Cornelia Frances, it featured 9 contestants competing for the $100,000 grand prize. It aired twice weekly in a primetime slot.
A special episode aired in March 2002 featured contestants from reality TV show The Mole, where all their winnings went into the team's kitty on that show. Against expectations, however, they only achieved $14,100, which stood as the lowest score ever on the Australian version of The Weakest Link. On The Mole, this was rounded up to $15,000, and the money was only won after it was shown that the contestants didn't cheat.
The highest score ever achieved was $72,900 won on The Best of the Best special aired in December 2001.
Der Schwächste fliegt! is the German version of the game show. In German The Weakest Link translates as Das schwächste Glied, but this could also be read as The Weakest Penis, and the show was called Der Schwächste fliegt!, meaning literally the weakest one flies (out of the game). It was first broadcast on 19 March 2001, on RTL. The show premiered weekdays at 3pm and was hosted by Sonja Zietlow (known for her tough-talking styles on her self-titled talk show from previous years). Like the British version, the show pitted nine contestants against each other for a pot of DM 50,000, and Sonja bullied the contestants with insults such as "Da wollen wir doch mal sehen, wer unsere kostbare Studioluft lang genug weggeatmet hat!" (Let's take a look, who has breathed our valuable studio air for long enough). By September the show's ratings were dropping fast so, in order to improve the rating, Sonja treated the contestants with more respect. However, the ratings did not improve as hoped with Sonja's change in behaviour, and the show was cancelled in December. In February 2002 the show was given another chance late on Saturday night, this time in a newly revamped studio before an audience, and a higher prize of € 50,000 (DM 100,000). There were rumours that, after the first few episodes, actors were paid to be contestants in order to attract more viewers. The show's ratings were not good enough, and it was finally cancelled in March.
一筆OUT消 or "The Weakest Disappears" was the Hong Kong edition of The Weakest Link, presented by Hong Kong actress Carol Cheng in the Cantonese language. 一筆OUT消 was licensed and started quickly by TVB to air on TVB Jade, after rival ATV took the lion's share of ratings with the Cantonese language version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?. The top prize was HK$3,000,000. It premiered in August 2001. As per the licensing agreement, hostess Carol Cheng initially had to act just like Anne Robinson, complete with the same "cold" style of voice and facial expressions. Chinese culture does not value this kind of attitude, and TVB received many complaints. The broadcaster changed the style of the show, softening Carol Cheng's "character," after five episodes of being "mean"; ratings increased and eventually beat Millionaire. TVB ordered only 108 daily weekday shows, and the series finished in January 2002.
The Norwegian version was aired in 2004 with the Norwegian journalist and TV host Anne Grosvold as the host of the program. The program aired for only one season. The host was later criticised for encouraging children to tease and harass others, "giving them ideas of how to do such."
BBC Worldwide has licensed local production rights of The Weakest Link to a Nigerian production company, Rapid Blue, which will produce 26 episodes. No broadcaster has yet taken the series, but Rapid Blue's executive producer and CEO says he is confident.
A Swedish version of the game (Svagaste länken) was announced in July 2011 by TV4 and a set of adverts was run to search for contestants. The first episode aired on October 31st, 2011. Svagaste Länken airs four times a week. The host is Kajsa Ingemarsson. "
The American version of the game show was shown on NBC from 16 April 2001 to 14 July 2002, with several episodes not transmitted until some appeared on PAX in 2002, with the remainder eventually airing on GSN. The show was also syndicated from January 2002 through September 2003. Reruns of both versions were shown on PAX for a short time, and later on GSN. Like the British version, Anne Robinson was host for the NBC The Weakest Link. George Gray, former host of Extreme Gong and future announcer for The Price Is Right, hosted the syndicated version as one of the rare male hosts of The Weakest Link. The format was essentially the same as the European format. In the NBC version the team had eight members and prize money of up to $1,000,000. In syndication there were six players, and the prize was initially up to $75,000, increased to $100,000 in the second season.
The second season of The Weakest Link was considered a failure, partly due to the clearance issues many stations had with the show[clarification needed]. At the start of the 2002-2003 TV season a syndicated version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire was shown on many of the same stations that had shown Weakest Link, in some cases in the time slot that Link had occupied. The ratings dropped enough for Link to be canceled; Millionaire continues to air in syndication as of 2010[update].
Country Name Host TV station Top prize Date premiered Arab World الحلقة الأضعف
Rita Khoury Future Television US$16,000 2001 Australia The Weakest Link Cornelia Frances Seven Network A$100,000 February 2001 Armenia Ամենաթույլ ՈՒղեցույց
Hay TV Program scheduled to air in September 2010, but Hay TV decided not to air. Azerbaijan Zəif Bənd Kamila Babayeva Lider TV AZM100,000,000 September 2004 Belgium (Dutch) De Zwakste Schakel Goedele Liekens VTM 2,000,000 BEF September 2001 Brazil Ponto Fraco Fausto Silva TV Globo R$ 1,000,000 BBC rejected the pilot episodes - never aired Chile El Rival Más Débil Catalina Pulido Canal 13 CL$40,000,000 2004 China 汰弱留强·智者为王
Tài ruò liú qiáng·zhìzhě wéi wáng
Chen Lu Yu Nanjing TV CN¥200,000 智者为王
Zhìzhě wéi wáng
Shen Bing Xia Qing Croatia Najslabija karika Nina Violić HRT1 kn 90,000 26 April 2004 Daniela Trbović Colombia El Rival Más Débil David De Los Rios Canal Capital $30,000,000 2011 Czech Nejslabší! Máte Padáka! Zuzana Slavíková TV Nova Kc.1,000,000 Denmark Det Svageste Led Trine Gregorius DR1 KR200,000 December 2001 Estonia Nõrgim Lüli Tuuli Roosma Kanal 2 KR500,000 2004 Finland Heikoin Lenkki Kirsi Salo MTV3 €15,000 September 2002 €18,000 France Le Maillon Faible Laurence Boccolini TF1 150,000F July 2001 €20,000 €50,000 Georgia სუსტი რგოლი
Rustavi 2 15 March 2007 Germany Der Schwächste fliegt! Sonja Zietlow RTL Television DM50,000 March 2001 €50,000 Greece Ο Πιο Αδύναμος Κρίκος
O Pio Adynamos Krikos
Elena Akrita MEGA ₯5,000,000 October 2001 €15.000 Hong Kong 一筆OUT消
Yī bǐ OUT xiāo
Carol Cheng TVB Jade HK$3,000,000 August 2001 Hungary A Leggyengébb Láncszem Krisztina Máté TV2 3,000,000 ft 12 August 2001 Nincs Kegyelem 6,000,000 ft India Kamzor Kadii Kaun Neena Gupta Star Plus Rs.2,500,000 2001 Ireland The Weakest Link Eamon Dunphy TV3 €10,000 2001 Israel החוליה החלשה
Pnina Dvorin Channel 10 ₪100,000 2002 Hana Laszlo ₪90,000 Italy L 'Anello Debole Enrico Papi Italia 1 €15,000 2001 Japan ウィーケストリンク☆一人勝ちの法則
Uīkesutorinku☆Hitori Gara no Hōsoku)
Shiro Ito Fuji Television JP¥16,000,000 8 April 2002 Macedonia Најслаба алка
Zivkica Gjurcinovska Alfa TV 420.000 MKD September 2010 Malaysia Weakest Link RTM Program scheduled to air in late 2003, but RTM decided not to air. Mexico El Rival Más Debil Montserrat Ontiveros TV Azteca MX$200,000 2003 Netherlands De Zwakste Schakel Chazia Mourali RTL 4 €10,000 6 May 2001 New Zealand Weakest Link Louise Wallace TV ONE NZ$20,000 2001 Norway Det Svakeste Ledd Anne Grosvold NRK KR200,000 2003 Philippines Weakest Link Edu Manzano IBC PHP1,000,000 15 October 2001 Allan K. Poland Najsłabsze Ogniwo Kazimiera Szczuka TVN 27,000 zł March 2004 Portugal O Elo Mais Fraco Julia Pinheiro RTP1 €10,000 2002 Luisa Castel-Branco Pedro Granger 19 September 2011 Romania Lanţul Slăbiciunilor Andrei Gheorghe ProTV lei50,000 2001 Russia Слабое Звено
Maria Kiseleva ORT руб500,000
руб1,000,000 (celebrity editions)
25 September 2001 Nikolay Fomenko Channel 5 руб350,000 2 December 2007 Serbia Најслабија карика
Sandra Lalatović BKTV RSD3,000,000 2002 Singapore 智者生存
Cui Lixin MediaCorp TV Channel 8 S$100,000 2002 Weakest Link Asha Gill MediaCorp TV Channel 5 S$1,000,000 Slovenia Najšibkejši Člen Violeta Tomič RTVSLO 2,400,000 SIT (app. €10,000) South Africa Weakest Link Fiona Coyne SABC3 R50,000 2003 R100,000 Spain El Rival Más Débil Nuria González TVE1 €7,200 April 2002 Karmele Aranburu TVE2 Sweden Svagaste länken Kajsa Ingemarsson TV4 100,000 kr 31 October 2011 Taiwan Weakest Link 智者生存
Belle Yu STAR Chinese Channel NT$400,000 2002 Tseng Yang Qing Thailand The Weakest Link กำจัดจุดอ่อน Krittika Kongsompong ThaiTV 3 ฿1,000,000 February 2002 Turkey En Zayıf Halka Hülya Uğur Tanrıöver Show TV TL100 billion 2001 YTL100,000 United Kingdom The Weakest Link Anne Robinson BBC One £10,000 14 August 2000 BBC Two £50,000 United States Weakest Link Anne Robinson NBC US$1,000,000 (Primetime version)
US$500,000 (NBA Halftime Edition)
16 April 2001 George Gray Syndicated US$75,000 7 January 2002 US$100,000
In popular culture
Anne Robinson's catch phrase "You are the weakest link. Goodbye!" has made several appearances in pop culture, including a reference from Family Guy and How I Met Your Mother. In the first season of the 2005 revival of Doctor Who, character Rose Tyler appears on a futuristic version of The Weakest Link, hosted by an "Anne droid" voiced by Anne Robinson.
"Barry" in the show broadcast on 28 February 2011 won a UK show without answering any questions incorrectly. Anne Robinson congratulated him at the conclusion of the program.
- ^ BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Millionaire dominates global TV
- ^ Erica Klarreich. "Strongest strategy for The Weakest Link revealed". New Scientist. http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn1800-strongest-strategy-for-ithe-weakest-linki-revealed.html.
- ^ BBC | The Weakest Link
- ^ http://www.ukgameshows.com/ukgs/The_Weakest_Link
- ^ NRK.no | Author: Geir Evensen | Norwegian article about a net-meeting with Anne Grosvold about the program
- ^ Dagens media [permlink http://www.webcitation.org/61sBoexMy ]
Hosts/PresentersAnne Robinson (United Kingdom, United States network version) • Cornelia Frances (Australia) • Sonja Zietlow (Germany) • Carol Cheng (Hong Kong) • Eamon Dunphy (Ireland) • Kazimiera Szczuka (Poland) • Mariya Kiselyova (Russia, 2001-2005) • Nikolay Fomenko (Russia, 2007-2008) • George Gray (United States syndicated version) AnnouncersJon Briggs (United Kingdom) • John Cramer (United States network version)
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