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Tuesday, 27 March, 2001, 11:45 GMT 12:45 UK
Robinson goes global
Anne Robinson
Robinson's stern manner is copied around the world
By BBC News Online's Keily Oakes

Described as the rudest person on television, Anne Robinson is about to launch herself on an unsuspecting American audience.

The rights to the Weakest Link quiz show in the US have been bought up lock, stock and barrel by the NBC network.

They were so impressed with the abrasive presenting style of Robinson they persuaded her to anchor the US version in a multi-million pound deal.

Not that it took too much arm-twisting, as she has since said she would be willing to move out there to make the show a success.

The Weakest Link is shown on BBC Two five nights a week.


It is being billed as Survivor meets Who Wants to be a Millionaire

Eight contestants start the quiz, answering questions to put money into a shared bank.

At the end of each round, they must vote for the person they feel has let the group down.

This is where Robinson is in her element, humiliating contestants with her sharp put downs and forcing them down the Walk of Shame, with her famous line - "You are the weakest link, goodbye" - ringing in their ears.

NBC has been aggressively promoting its version of the quiz show which will go out at a primetime 8pm (0100 GMT) slot on 16 April.

It is being billed as Survivor meets Who Wants to be a Millionaire - two of America's biggest shows.

NBC is responsible for giant shows such as Frasier and Friends.

A spokeswoman for the station confirmed there has been a lot of interest generated before the show has even aired.


NBC's head of entertainment Jeff Sucker has admitted he would be too scared to take part in the quiz himself

She said: "There is no other British presenter hosting a primetime quiz show in the States.

Clever

"There has been a great deal of promotion going out before the first transmission and word has got around."

Auditions for US contestants are being staged across the country from Las Vegas to Miami.

NBC's head of entertainment Jeff Sucker is full of praise for Robinson and her style, but has admitted he would be too scared to take part in the quiz himself.

He added: "The Weakest Link is a clever programme that combines the elements of general knowledge with ruthless competition."

Down under

Australia has also got in on the Weakest Link act but has installed its own presenter.

Known to many Australians as the feisty Morag from Home and Away, Cornelia Frances models herself on Robinson's bossy style, even down to the famous catchphrase. Frances is the first-ever female host of a game show in Australia.

Anne Robinson
Firm but fair: Her no nonsense approach on Watchdog got results
Coincidentally, both presenters were born in Liverpool.

Robinson started her media career as a Fleet Street journalist, first writing columns before becoming women's editor of The Mirror.

Proud

Although her professional life was a success, her personal life began to crumble.

A failed marriage and single motherhood drove her drink.

Alcoholism took over her life until she had the courage to put a stop to it. She has been teetotal for 20 years.

She said: "The one thing I've learnt from that episode is that you can always come back."

She became a television critic on Breakfast Time, before moving on to present Points of View for 11 years.

The Watchdog programme then established Robinson as a hard-nosed inquisitor, as she battled to defend the rights of consumers.

After six years on the show she is leaving to concentrate on other commitments.

But she is immensely proud of what Watchdog has achieved by taking on the big organisations.

She said: "We've shamed nearly every holiday tour operator.

"Watchdog made them change their attitude towards their customers, and I'm very proud of that."

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See also:

20 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Anne Robinson - Goodbye Britain?
08 Mar 01 | Entertainment
Robinson flies to LA after 'race row'
15 Mar 01 | Wales
Robinson receives death threat
02 Mar 01 | Entertainment
Campbell is new TV Watchdog
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