Weakest Link is a television game show which first appeared in the United Kingdom on BBC Two on 14 August 2000 and ended on 31 March 2012 when its host Anne Robinson ended her contract. The original British version of the show still airs around the world on BBC Entertainment.
The format was devised by Fintan Coyle and Cathy Dunning, and developed for television by the BBC Entertainment department. It 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 Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, 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, Nigeria, Norway, Panama, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Udmurtia and the United States.
In Croatia, in May 2010 the quiz reached its 1008th episode, and with the British original, is the only version to have reached as many episodes.
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 pot within a specific 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 loses all the money accumulated up to that point; however, a contestant can say "bank" prior to their question being asked, the accumulated money is stored, and the chain resets to zero.
Money not banked is lost at the end of a round. The round ends if time expires, or if the team successfully banks the maximum amount for the round before time runs out (if the team already has one chain banked and then banks the target in the next chain, the bank is augmented to the target amount). 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 incorrectly answered a question about Europe.
As contestants get eliminated, each round gets shorter (anywhere from 10 to 15 seconds shorter than the previous round), and unlike the first round, where the person whose name is first alphabetically starts (in the United States, it was the person positioned in the leftmost podium), the previous round's strongest link is first to answer a question. If the strongest link was voted off, then the second strongest link starts.
Strategy for banking money 
In a New Scientist blog article, Erica Klarreich argues that there are only two sensible strategies in The Weakest Link (the U.S. edition) when it comes to banking money. Either players should choose to bank after every correct answer, or after six straight correct answers to maximize the pot. The correct strategy to take will depend upon the skill at answering questions of the members of the team. For all but the weakest teams, the optimal 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. The common practice of banking after just three questions would only outperform the strategy of banking after every question if a team maintained a success rate of over 67%.
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 as they vote (though the host may occasionally reveal this after voting). The votes are revealed one at a time, after which the host customarily interrogates some or all of the contestants about their votes as well as their progress during the round. 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 changes as the game progresses: eliminate weak players in the early rounds, but strong players in the final rounds. In the first 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.
The statistical strongest link can be determined by:
- number of correct answers.
- questions answered that are of high values.
- most 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.
- least money banked for the team.
- most 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 as in the United States syndicated version) in a penalty shootout format, with the strongest link from the previous round 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.
In 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.
Notable versions 
United Kingdom 
The United Kingdom was the country where the show originated, and found a large audience. It originally aired on BBC Two, but moved to BBC One in 2008 in the place of soap opera Neighbours, which moved to Channel 5; Weakest Link moved back to BBC Two for the last eight months of its broadcast. 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 primetime BBC One. In 2011, Robinson announced that she would be ending her role as host of Weakest Link in 2012; the final episode aired on 31 March 2012, when it was then replaced by Pointless. The highest amount won on the standard day time version of The Weakest Link was £7,750 (which occurred in the penultimate edition), and the least won was £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.
Hong Kong 
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 on 20 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 finale aired on 18 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."
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (May 2012)|
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[when?] 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 31 October 2011. Svagaste Länken airs four times a week. The host is Kajsa Ingemarsson.
United States 
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 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 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, and was 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 2013[update].
All versions 
Legend:Currently airing No longer airing
|Country||Name||Host||TV station||Top prize||Airdate|
|Arab World||الحلقة الأضعف||Rita Khoury||Future Television||US$16,000||2002–2003|
|Australia||Weakest Link||Cornelia Frances||Seven Network||A$100,000||February 2001 – April 2002|
|Azerbaijan||Zəif Bənd||Kamila Babayeva||Lider TV||AZN9,000 (Formerly AZM 45,000,000)||2004–2006|
|Belgium (Dutch)||De Zwakste Schakel||Goedele Liekens||VTM||2,000,000BEF||2001|
|Brazil||Ponto Fraco||Fausto Silva||TV Globo||R$1,000,000||2005–2010|
|Chile||El Rival Más Débil||Catalina Pulido||Canal 13||CL$40,000,000||2004|
|China||汰弱留强·智者为王||Chen Lu Yu||Nanjing TV||CN¥200,000||2002–2004|
|Czech Republic||Nejslabší! Máte padáka!||Zuzana Slaviková||TV Nova||Kč1,000,000||2002–2004|
|Colombia||El Rival Más Débil||Mabel Lara||Canal Caracol||CP5,000,000||2002–2004|
|Croatia||Najslabija karika||Nina Violić||HRT1||kn 90,000||2004–2010|
|Denmark||Det Svageste Led||Trine Gregorius||DR1||KR200,000||2001–2002|
|Estonia||Nõrgim lüli||Tuuli Roosma||Kanal 2||500,000 kr||2004|
|Finland||Heikoin Lenkki||Kirsi Salo||MTV3||€15,000||2002–2005|
|France||Le Maillon Faible||Laurence Boccolini||TF1||150,000F||2001–2007|
|Georgia||სუსტი რგოლი||Nino Burduli||Rustavi 2||ლ10,000||2005–2007|
|Germany||Der Schwächste fliegt!||Sonja Zietlow||RTL Television||DM50,000||19 March 2001 – March 2002|
|Greece||Ο Πιο Αδύναμος Κρίκος
|Hong Kong||一筆OUT消||Carol Cheng||TVB Jade||HK$3,000,000||20 August 2001 – 18 January 2002|
|Hungary||A Leggyengébb Láncszem||Krisztina Máté||TV2||3,000,000 Ft||2001–2004|
|Nincs Kegyelem||6,000,000 Ft|
|India||Kamzor Kadii Kaun||Neena Gupta||Star Plus||Rs.2,500,000||2002–2003|
|Ireland||Weakest Link||Eamon Dunphy||TV3||€10,000||2001–2002|
|Israel||החוליה החלשה||Pnina Dvorin||Channel 10||₪100,000||2002–2004|
|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||Shiro Ito||Fuji Television||JP¥16,000,000||2002|
|Macedonia||Најслаба алка||Zivkica Gjurcinovska||Alfa TV||420,000 MKD||2010–2011|
|Malaysia||Weakest Link||Sekilara Kiramila||RTM||RM80,000||200?–2009|
|Mexico||El Rival Más Debil||Montserrat Ontiveros||TV Azteca||MX$200,000||2003–2010|
|Moldova||Veriga Slaba||Andrei Gheorghe||Kanal 1||10,000,000 MKI||200?–2009|
|Netherlands||De Zwakste Schakel||Chazia Mourali||RTL 4||€10,000||2001–2004|
|New Zealand||The Weakest Link||Louise Wallace||TV One||NZ$20,000||July 2001 – March 2002|
|Norway||Det Svakeste Ledd||Anne Grosvold||NRK||KR200,000||2004|
|Philippines||Weakest Link||Edu Manzano||IBC||PHP1,000,000||2001–2002|
|Poland||Najsłabsze Ogniwo||Kazimiera Szczuka||TVN||27,000 zł||2004–2006|
|Portugal||O Elo Mais Fraco||Julia Pinheiro||RTP1||€10,000||2002–2003|
|Romania||Lanţul Slăbiciunilor||Andrei Gheorghe||Pro TV||lei50,000||2001|
|Russia||Слабое Звено||Mariya Kiselyova||ORT||300,000 ₹
1,000,000 ₹ (celebrity editions)
|Nikolai Fomenko||Channel 5||350,000 ₹||2007–2008|
|Serbia||Najslabija Karika||Sandra Lalatovic||BKTV||RSD3,000,000||2002|
|Singapore||智者生存||Cui Lixin||MediaCorp TV Channel 8||S$100,000||2002–2003|
|Weakest Link||Asha Gill||MediaCorp TV Channel 5||S$1,000,000|
|Slovenia||Najšibkejši Člen||Violeta Tomič||RTVSLO||2,400,000 SIT (€10,000)||2005|
|South Africa||Weakest Link||Fiona Coyne||SABC3||R50,000||2003–2008|
|Spain||El Rival Más Débil||Nuria González||TVE1||€7,200||2002–2004|
|Sweden||Svagaste Länken||Kajsa Ingemarsson||TV4||100,000 kr||2011–present|
|Taiwan||Weakest Link 智者生存||Belle Yu||STAR Chinese Channel||NT$400,000||2001–2003|
|Tseng Yang Qing|
|Thailand||Weakest Link กำจัดจุดอ่อน||Krittika Kongsompong||ThaiTV 3||฿1,000,000||2002–2003|
|Turkey||En Zayıf Halka||Hülya Uğur Tanrıöver||Show TV||TL100 billion||2001–2002|
|United Kingdom||Weakest Link||Anne Robinson||BBC||£10,000 (Daytime)||14 August 2000 – 31 March 2012|
|United States||Weakest Link||Anne Robinson||NBC||US$1,000,000||2001–2002|
In popular culture 
Anne Robinson's catchphrase "You are the weakest link. Goodbye!" has made several appearances in pop culture, including a reference from Family Guy, Scary Movie 2 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, where eliminated contestants were supposedly disintegrated, but in fact 'teleported' elsewhere. The "Anne droid" began a special Doctor Who themed version of the real show, with actors from the series playing for charity; the real Anne Robinson, however, unplugged her droid counterpart and continued the show herself.
- "Millionaire dominates global TV". BBC News. 12 April 2005.
- Erica Klarreich. "Strongest strategy for The Weakest Link revealed". New Scientist.
- BBC | 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 ]