Weakest link

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 Fausto Silva (Brazil), Eamon Dunphy (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, Indonesia, 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 Weakest Link franchise is the second most popular international franchise, behind only the Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? franchise, which also originated in the United Kingdom.[1]


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%.[2]

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.[3]

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 in the round.
  • 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 in the round.
  • questions answered that are of low values.
  • least money banked for the team.
  • most money lost for the team by 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.

International versions

Legend:      Currently airing        No longer airing        Future version  

Country Name Host TV station Top prize Premiere Finale
Arab League 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
Solmaz Süleymanlı 2012 present
 Belgium (Dutch) De Zwakste Schakel Goedele Liekens VTM 2,000,000BEF 2001
 Brazil Ponto Fraco Fausto Silva TV Globo R$1,000,000 2001 (Pilots rejected by BBC)
 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
智者为王 Shen Bing
Xia Qing
 Czech Republic Nejslabší! Máte padáka! Zuzana Slaviková TV Nova 1,000,000 2002 2004
 Croatia Najslabija karika Nina Violić HRT1 kn 90,000 2004 2010
Daniela Trbović
 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 10,000 2005 2007
 Germany Der Schwächste fliegt! Sonja Zietlow RTL Television DM50,000 19 March 2001 March 2002
 Greece Ο Πιο Αδύναμος Κρίκος
Elena Akrita MEGA 5,000,000 2001 2003
 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
Hana Laszlo 90,000
 Italy 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 Azteca Trece MX$200,000 2003 2008
Lolita Cortés 27 July 2013 7 September 2013
 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
Allan K.
 Poland Najsłabsze Ogniwo Kazimiera Szczuka TVN 27,000 2004 2006
 Portugal O Elo Mais Fraco Julia Pinheiro RTP1 10,000 2002 2003
Luisa Castel-Branco
Pedro Granger 2011 2012
 Romania Lanţul Slăbiciunilor Andrei Gheorghe Pro TV lei50,000 2001
 Russia Слабое Звено Mariya Kiselyova ORT RUB300,000
RUB1,000,000(celebrity editions)
2001 2005
Nikolai Fomenko Channel 5 RUB350,000 2007 2008
 Serbia Najslabija Karika Sandra Lalatovic BKTV RSD5,000,000 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 SLO 1 2,400,000 SIT (10,000) 2003 2005
 South Africa Weakest Link Fiona Coyne SABC3 R50,000 2003 2008
 Spain El Rival Más Débil Nuria González TVE1 7,200 2002 2004
Karmele Aranburu TVE2
 Sweden Svagaste Länken Kajsa Ingemarsson TV4 100,000 kr 2011 2013
 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
TBA Kanal D TBA 2013
 United Kingdom Weakest Link Anne Robinson BBC £10,000 (Daytime) 14 August 2000 31 March 2012
£50,000 (Primetime)
 United States Weakest Link Anne Robinson NBC US$1,000,000 2001 2002
George Gray Syndicated US$75,000 2002 2003

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 The League of Gentlemen. 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. 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.


External links

  • UK Gameshows Page: The Weakest Link
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