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The Weakest Link (often simply called Weakest Link) is a television quiz show which first appeared in the United Kingdommarker on BBC Two on 14 August 2000. The original British version of the show airs around the world on BBC Entertainment and used to air on BBC America. 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.

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 Azerbaijanmarker, Belgiummarker, Chilemarker, Chinamarker, Croatiamarker, Czech Republicmarker, Denmarkmarker, Estoniamarker, Finlandmarker, Francemarker, Georgiamarker, Germanymarker, Greecemarker, Hong Kongmarker, Hungarymarker, Indiamarker, Irelandmarker, Israelmarker, Italymarker, Japanmarker, Lebanonmarker, Mexicomarker, The Netherlandsmarker, Norwaymarker, Panamamarker, The Philippinesmarker, Polandmarker, Portugalmarker, Romaniamarker, Russiamarker, Serbiamarker, Singaporemarker, Sloveniamarker, South Africa, Thailandmarker, Turkeymarker, and The United States of Americamarker.

The 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 Kingdommarker.

Format

The original format features a team of nine contestants who take turns answering general knowledge questions. The object of each round is to answer a chain of consecutive correct answers to earn an increasing amount for a single communal pot within a certain time limit. However, just one incorrect answer, one I don't know (or phrase similar to I don't know, e.g. I have no idea) or one pass breaks the chain and wipes out any money earned in that chain. However, before their question is asked, a contestant can say "BANK" and the money earned thus far is safely stored and a new chain is initiated from scratch.

Banking money

Banking money is the safe option, however, not banking, in anticipation that one will be able to correctly answer the upcoming question, allows the money to grow as each successive correct answer earns proportionally more money.

When the allotted time for each round ends, any money not banked is lost, and if the host is in the middle of asking a question, or has asked a question but the contestant has yet to answer, the question is abandoned and (on certain versions) gives the correct answer whether or not the contestant is able to answer the question correctly. The round automatically ends if the team successfully reaches the maximum amount for the round before the allotted time expires, and the next person says, "Bank".

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 (in some cases, the weakest link is also announced), but the players themselves are not given this information until the beginning of the next round. 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

In their celebrated economics tome Freakonomics, Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner observe that 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."

End of the Game

When two contestants remain, they work together in one final round, identical to previous rounds in all but two details: first, all money banked at the end of the round is doubled or tripled, depending on which edition of the show, before being added to the current money pool to make the final total for the game. Also, there is no elimination; the game moves to the Head to Head round instead.

For the Head to Head round, the remaining two players will each be required to answer five questions each in a penalty shootout format. The strongest link from the previous round chooses who goes first. Whoever has the most correct answers at the end of the Head to Head wins the game. In the event of a tie, the game goes to Sudden Death. Each player is continued to be asked questions as usual, until one person gets a question right and the other wrong. This can go on for as long as it takes, though in some countries, the Sudden Death is edited to only one round for airtime reasons. The winner of the game takes home all of the money accumulated in the prize pool for the game; the loser, like all the other eliminated players, goes home with nothing.

Versions

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom is the country where the show originated, and found a large audience. It was aired on BBC Two, but moved to BBC One on 11 February 2008 in the place of Australian soap opera Neighbours, which moved to Five. 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, 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 soon a version made for prime-time BBC One.

The highest amount won so far (as of March 2009) on the standard day time version of The Weakest Link is £5,420 and the least won is £750.

Australia

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. The show attracted a lot of criticism from viewers complaining that Cornelia was too rude. After Seven toned down the show, it continued to receive modest ratings until its cancellation in April 2002.

The show also featured several special versions. One included a show that linked with another reality TV show The Mole where the Mole contestants were part of the show. In this episode, Bob Young won the playoff over Thao Nguyen and became the winner of this episode, where the prize was a free pass to the next episode on The Mole (aka exemption) and all money won went to the kitty. According to Cornelia Frances, they won $14,100, the lowest amount won in any Australian episode of The Weakest Link. However, Grant Bowler, the host of the Mole rounded up to $15,000 since all kitties of the Mole have been rounded by $1,000.

Another special show was the "Worst Loser Special" where eliminated contestants from previous shows came back to play the game again. Also, there were two shows, one in mid-2001 and one in late-2001 where winners of previous shows played again for a chance to win more money. In the latter show, known as "The Best of the Best", a record $72,900 prize money was earned.

Yet another show was the 'The Best of the Worst.' This was aired in mid 2002 and wasn't a very big hit with the public.

Germany

Der Schwächste fliegt! is the Germanmarker version of the game show. In German, The Weakest Link would translate to Das schwächste Glied, but this could also be read as The Weakest Penis. Consequently, this may be the reason why the show was called Der Schwächste fliegt!, meaning The Weakest Gets Booted (literally the weakest one flies). It was first broadcast on 19 March 2001, on RTL. The show premiered weekdays at 3pm and was hosted by Sonja Zietlow (who was already known for her tough-talking styles on her self-titled talk show from previous years). Just like the British version, the show pitted nine contestants against each other for a pot of DM 50,000. But by September of that year, the show was sinking fast in ratings, so in order to gain ratings, Sonja treated the contestants with more respect. Previously, 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 breathed our valuable studio air too long!). However the change in Sonja's behaviour did not sufficiently revive the show, and it was cancelled in December. However, in February 2002, the show was given another chance in the late-night Saturday slot, this time with a newly revamped studio, that now featured an audience, and a higher prize of 50,000 (DM 100,000). But there have been rumours that after the first few episodes, actors were paid to be contestants on the show in order to attract more viewers. These changes were unsuccessful in boosting the show's ratings and was cancelled for good 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 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. Since Chinese culture typically does not value this kind of attitude toward people, TVB received many complaints about the show. Bowing to public pressure, the broadcaster changed the style of the show, softening Carol Cheng's "character," after five episodes of being "mean." As a result, the show became more acceptable to the viewers and the ratings went up, and beat Millionaire eventually. Since TVB ordered only 108 daily weekday shows, the series finale aired sometime in January 2002.

Norway

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 crticised for encouraging children to teasing and harassing, 'giving them ideas of how to do such.'

Nigeria

BBC Worldwide has licensed local production rights of The Weakest Link to a Nigerian production company, Rapid Blue.

Rapid Blue is to take the format and will produce 26 episodes. No broadcaster has been attached to the series, but Rapid Blue's executive producer and CEO says he is confident.http://www.ngex.com/news/public/newsinfo.php?nid=7967

United States

The American version of the game show aired on NBC from 16 April 2001 to 14 July 2002 (with several episodes left unaired until some appeared on PAX in 2002, with the remainder eventually airing on GSN). The show also aired in syndication from January 2002 through September 2003. Reruns of both versions aired on PAX for a short period of time, but can currently be found on GSN. Like the British version, Anne Robinson served as host for the NBC The Weakest Link. George Gray, whose most notable hosting experience to that point had been on Extreme Gong, 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. On the NBC version, the team size was eight, with the potential top prize being $1,000,000. In syndication, the top prize was $75,000, but in its second season that was raised to $100,000. Both syndicated seasons saw six players playing for the prize.

Part of the reason that the second season of The Weakest Link failed was due to the clearance issues many stations had with the show. At the start of the 2002-2003 TV season, a syndicated version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire began airing on many of the same stations that Weakest Link had been airing on, in some cases in the same time slot that Link had previously occupied. The drop in ratings was enough to get Link canceled. (Millionaire continues to air in syndication.)

All versions

Country Name Host TV Station Top Prize in Local Currency Number of contestants
Weakest Link Cornelia Frances Seven AU$100,000 9
Arab World الحلقة الأضعف Rita Khoury Future Television US Dollar16.000 8
Zəif Bənd Kamila Babayeva Lider TV AZM100,000,000 9
De Zwakste Schakel Goedele Liekens VTM 2,000,000 BEF 8
El Rival Más Débil Catalina Pulido Canal 13 CH$40,000,000 8
汰弱留强·智者为王 Chen Lu Yu (Season 1) Nanjing TV CN¥200,000 8
智者为王 Shen Bing (Season 2)
Xia Qing (Season 3)
Najslabija karika Nina Violić (Season 1) HRTmarker1 kn 90,000 8
Daniela Trbović
Czech Republicmarker Nejslabší! Máte Padáka! Zuzana Slavíková TV Nova Kc.1,000,000 9
Det Svageste Led Trine Gregorius DR1 KR200,000 8
Nõrgim Lüli Tuuli Roosma Kanal 2 KR500,000
Heikoin Lenkki Kirsi Salo MTV3 15,000 (season 1) 9 (season 1)
18,000 (seasons 2, 3 and 4) 8 (seasons 2, 3 and 4)
Francemarker Le Maillon Faible Laurence Boccolini TF1marker 150,000F (2001) 9
20,000 (2002/2003)
50,000 (2003-2007)
Germanymarker Der Schwächste Fliegt! Sonja Zietlow RTL Television DM50,000 (2001) 9
50,000 (2002)
Greecemarker Ο Πιο Αδύναμος Κρίκος Elena Akrita MEGA 15.000 9
Hong Kongmarker 一筆OUT消 Carol Cheng TVB Jade HK$3.000.000 8
A Leggyengébb Láncszem Krisztina Máté TV2 3.000.000 ft 9
Nincs Kegyelem 6.000.000 ft 5
Kamzor Kadii Kaun Neena Gupta Star Plus Rs.2.000.000 9
Weakest Link Eamon Dunphy TV3 10.000 9
החוליה החלשה Pnina Dvorin (Season 1) Channel 10 NIS100.000 (Season 1) 9 (Season 1)
Hana Laszlo (Season 2) ILS90,000 (Season 2) 8 (Season 2)
Italymarker Anello Debole Enrico Papi Italia 1 15.000 9
Japanmarker ウィーケストリンク☆一人勝ちの法則 Shiro Ito Fuji Televisionmarker JP¥16.000.000 8
Weakest Link TBA TBA TBA TBA
El Rival Más Debil Montserrat Ontiveros Azteca Trece MX$200.000 8
Azteca Siete
De Zwakste Schakel Chazia Mourali RTL 4 10.000 9
Weakest Link Louise Wallace TV ONE NZ$20.000 9
Weakest Link TBA TBA TBA TBA
Det Svakeste Ledd Anne Grosvold NRKmarker KR200.000 8
Weakest Link Edu Manzano (Season 1) IBC PHP1,000,000 8
Allan K. (Season 2)
Najsłabsze Ogniwo Kazimiera Szczuka TVN 27.000 8
O Elo Mais Fraco Julia Pinheiro (Season 1) RTP1 10.000 9
Luisa Castel-Branco (Season 2)
Lanţul Slăbiciunilor Andrei Gheorghe ProTV RON500 9
Слабое звено Maria Kiseleva ORT руб400.000 9,8,7
Nikolay Fomenko Channel 5 руб350.000 7
Најслабија Карика Sandra Lalatović BKTV RSD3.000.000 9
智者生存 Cui Lixin MediaCorp TV Channel 8 S$100.000 8
Weakest Link Asha Gill MediaCorp TV Channel 5 S$1.000.000
Najšibkejši Člen Violeta Tomič
Weakest Link Fiona Coyne SABC3 R50.000 (seasons 1, 2 and 3) 9
R100.000 (season 4)
El Rival Más Débil Nuria González (Seasons 1 and 2) TVE1 (seasons 1, 2 and 3) 7.200 9
Karmele Aranburu (Seasons 3 and 4) TVE2 (season 4)
Weakest Link 智者生存 Belle Yu (Season 1) STAR Chinese Channel NT$360.000 8
Tseng Yang Qing (Season 2)
The Weakest Link กำจัดจุดอ่อน Krittika Kongsompong BEC TV 3 ฿1.000.000 8
En Zayif Halka Hülya Uğur Tanriöver Show TV TL100.000.000.000 (old Turkish lira) 9
TL100.000 (new Turkish lira)
The Weakest Link Anne Robinson BBC One (weekdays) £10.000 (Daytime Version) 9
BBC Two (weekends) £50.000 (Primetime Version)
Weakest Link Anne Robinson (Primetime Version) NBC (Primetime Version) US$1,000,000 (Primetime Version) 8
George Gray (Daytime Version) Syndicated (Daytime Version) US$75.000 (Daytime Version, Season 1) 6
US$100.000 (Daytime Version, Season 2)


Current/Upcoming versions



References

  1. BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Millionaire dominates global TV
  2. http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn1800-strongest-strategy-for-ithe-weakest-linki-revealed.html
  3. BBC | The Weakest Link
  4. Levitt, Steven and Dubner, Stephen. 2005. Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explains the Hidden Side of Everything. New York, NY, USA: William Morrow. Pages 77-78.
  5. http://www.ukgameshows.com/page/index.php?title=The_Weakest_Link
  6. NRK.no | Author: Geir Evensen | Norwegian article about a net-meeting with Anne Grosvold about the program


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