The Weakest Link: 20 Things You Never Knew About The Iconic BBC Quiz Show

It's been two decades since Anne Robinson first uttered the immortal phrase: "You are the weakest link. Goodbye!"
HuffPost UK

It’s been twenty years since Anne Robinson first introduced us to her school matron alter-ego on the BBC’s daytime quiz show, The Weakest Link.

Dressed all in black, with trademark spectacles and a look of utter disdain for the poor souls who – entirely voluntarily – had put themselves in her war path in a bid to win some cash, Anne’s snarky quips and putdowns were an instant hit with viewers.

The Weakest Link quickly became one of the most watched shows both here in the UK and across the pond in America, where Anne became a household name after fronting the US version of the show.

Since its debut, The Weakest Link has become a global phenomenon and is still going strong in certain corners of the world.

Here are 20 things you never knew about the iconic quiz show...

1. The Weakest Link is the world’s second most successful television game show franchise of all time

The first is another British export, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?.

2. Presenter Anne Robinson’s frosty presenting style saw her branded ‘The Queen of Mean’

Anne’s hosting style was so successful that many of the show’s international presenters visited the BBC studios to meet her, and receive training to replicate her mannerisms.

Anne Robinson on The Weakest Link
Anne Robinson on The Weakest Link

3. And that wasn’t all they replicated…

Hosts of The Weakest Link from around the world (clockwise) Finland, China, France and Spain.
Hosts of The Weakest Link from around the world (clockwise) Finland, China, France and Spain.

4. The show made Anne a household name around the world

Including in America, where she also hosted the US version.

A poster for The Weakest Link in Los Angeles
A poster for The Weakest Link in Los Angeles
Peter Brooker/Shutterstock

5. Anne became well known for her put downs

But sometimes she’d meet her match, like this chap...

6. The show aired in 45 countries around the world

Including Australia, India, China, Mexico, Chile, Israel, South Africa and Azerbaijan.

7. Not every international version of the show features a “mean” host

After the BBC changed the rules on presenting style (yes, this was actually a requirement), some countries took a softer approach, including France, Turkey, Finland, Cyprus, Netherlands and Greece.

8. The Dutch version’s host was also the first in the world to not wear an all-black outfit

Which was another of Anne’s distinctive characteristics.

9. And Anne’s famous catchphrase “You are the weakest link. Goodbye!” was also adopted by every international version

So in France it’s “Vous êtes le maillon faible, au revoir!”, whilst in Spanish speaking countries it’s “Eres el rival más debil, ¡adios!”. So now you know.

10. The phrase has also popped up in many other well-known TV shows and films

Family Guy, Scary Movie 2, How I Met Your Mother, and The League of Gentlemen have all featured the line.

11. The Brazilian version of the show was due to launch in 2001 but never actually aired

The pilot episode was rejected by the BBC. It must have been baaaaaad.

12. Both Doctor Who and My Family have depicted their own versions of The Weakest Link

The Doctor Who edition, broadcast in 2005, showed a futuristic version of the show in the year 200,100, with only six contestants, and was presented by an “Anne Droid”, which was voiced by Anne Robinson, who disintegrates the weakest link in each round.

A 2007 episode of the the sitcom My Family saw the main characters Ben, Susan, Janey, Michael, Abi, Roger, and Alfie, along with Susan’s mother and her husband, appear on a special family edition, after Michael forged all of their signatures to get on it. The real Anne Robinson was the host.

13. The show is still as popular as ever in Cyprus, Greece and The Netherlands where new episodes still air

And in Russia it has just been recommissioned following a period off air.

14. There were many specials of the show over the years

These included drag queens, stars of West End musicals, news and weather presenters, soap stars and errrrm, strong women.

15. But nothing could quite top the episode when 12 puppets took part…

Which started with Anne in puppet form, before returning to her (almost) human self.

16. Many, many celebs faced Anne over the years

Including such showbiz luminaries as Rylan Clark-Neal, Christopher Biggins, Sue Pollard and Basil Brush. What is it with this show and puppets?

17. An April Fools’ Day show featured Anne being uncharacteristically nice to the contestants

The 2003 episode also saw her abandoning her trademark black wardrobe in favour of a metallic pink overcoat.

18. In July this year, it was announced that a reboot of US version would be returning to American screens

It will be hosted by actor Jane Lynch who is best known for playing mean cheerleader coach Sue Sylvester in Glee, so it shouldn’t be too much of a stretch.

Jane Lynch as Sue Sylvester in Glee
Jane Lynch as Sue Sylvester in Glee

19. An American writer penned an article for New Scientist magazine about the best banking strategy

Erica Klarreich came up with two: bank after every correct answer or after six straight correct answers. So now you know.

20. There were 1,693 episodes of the British version of the show

It made its final appearance on 31 March 2012. A one-off Children In Need Special aired on 17 November 2017, taking the tally to 1,694 shows.


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