The Weakest Link (partially found pilot episode of British game show; 2000)

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The Weakest Link logo.

Status: Partially Found

The Weakest Link is a BBC game show. Presented by Anne Robinson, it was originally broadcast on BBC channels from 2000 to 2012. The premise involved nine contestants answering general knowledge questions within a knockout format, with a contestant voted off each round after being declared the "Weakest Link". In early-2000, a pilot episode was filmed, which not only helped confirm the show's promise, but also established Robinson's "Queen of Mean" persona for the show.


The Weakest Link features nine contestants, who initially compete in seven rounds of general knowledge.[1][2] The goal is to build a chain of nine consecutive correct answers within a short time limit, with each right response provisionally adding money into the prize bank.[1][2] If a player answers incorrectly, the provisional money is lost.[1][2] However, saying "Bank" just before one receives their question will safely store the cash.[1][2] At the end of each round, the contestants will vote to eliminate a player as the "Weakest Link", who is often the one that answer the most questions incorrectly in a round.[1][2] The game continues until there are two players left; here, the two contestants will play a final round where banked money is tripled.[1] After completing that round, they will then participate in a penalty shootout head-to-head.[1] Whoever correctly answers the more of their five questions wins the accumulated prize money, with Sudden Death occurring in the event of a tie.[1]

The original version of The Weakest Link aired from 2000 to 2012 on BBC One and BBC Two.[3][1] It garnered a reputation for being one of the most ruthless game shows of its era, with contestants often forming alliances to eliminate other players, including the strongest link in some cases.[1] Compounding this was Robinson, whose critical and unforgiving comments to the contestants for their performance, and for their appearance and background, led to her being dubbed "The Queen of Mean".[4][3] Whenever a contestant was eliminated, Robinson would coldly utter the phrase "You are the Weakest Link. Goodbye.", with the player forced to walk off stage as part of the "Walk of Shame".[5][6][1] The show ended in 2012 after Robinson fulfilled her contract, opting to leave after expressing that she had stayed on a year more than intended.[7] The Weakest Link was revived in 2021 under Romesh Ranganathan.[2] Robinson stated in interviews that she declined to host the reboot on two separate occasions, claiming it would not be as fun in modern times where potentially derogative comments would provoke outrage.[3]

Pilot Episode

Robinson discussed filming the pilot in her autobiography Memoirs of An Unfit Mother.[5] On 28th January 2000, Robinson's agent John Penrose received an email from series producer Ruth Davis discussing the show's concept and inviting Robinson to appear as the host.[5] Davis stated she wanted the show to be beyond a quiz show, including by examining its psychology and mechanics, and interviewing the guests before and after the show to gage their reactions.[5] She deemed Robinson ideal as a firm host when it came to the voting off phase, with the latter accepting the proposal.[5] Viewing a rehearsal of the show, Robinson initially deemed the concept as overly complicated, but did express the enthusiasm provided by the young production, concluding the show had potential.[5]

The pilot was filmed a month later. Among the contestants included a man called Ray, a game show veteran who displayed a ruthless side throughout the game.[5] For instance, he nominated a woman called Caroline as the Weakest Link because she failed to answer any questions correctly.[5] This included a question about The Teletubbies, Ray being adamant that nobody should appear on game shows if they lack knowledge of The Teletubbies' names.[5] Robinson observed most game show contestants displayed a competitive, arrogant side where they hate losing and despise others who clearly display signs of nervousness.[5] It was here that she developed her Queen of Mean persona, where instead of providing support or sympathy for an eliminated contestant, she would be insultive, cold, and had no objections to pointing out their mistakes.[5] It also marked the first time she uttered her infamous catchphrase, to the delight of Davis.[5]

Senior executives were sceptical of a show where guests are insulted within a studio, with one also hating both the concept and the name The Weakest Link.[5] Alternative names like "The Missing Link" and "Money Chain" were proposed, but ultimately the show was greenlit under its original name by BBC Daytime Controller Jane Lush, who was impressed by the chain concept and contestant psychology it promoted.[5][1] 68 episodes were ordered, with the first broadcast on 14th August 2000.[5][1] The episodes would reduce the number of contestants from 11 to nine, with the money builder incorporated into the game, ditching the original concept of awarding up to ten days of a holiday abroad.[1][5]


The pilot was briefly showcased in the documentary Weakest Link - The Story So Far, with Lush and Davis discussing how the pilot unveiled the show's potential. The footage consists of Ray explaining why he voted off Caroline, and Robinson delivering her catchphrase to the latter. Aside from this, the pilot episode remains inaccessible to the public.



Footage of the pilot.

See Also