The Weakest Link

An Australian adaptation of the UK game show which Seven picked up to (possibly) go head to head with Nine’s Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?.

The top prize was $100,000 and in the standard rounds, a maximum of $10,000 could be won. The highest prize won was $72,900 in the Champions special aired in December 2001; the lowest was $14,100 in the Mole special that aired in March 2002.

I also recall an episode where, at the end of one of the rounds, Cornelia would say something among the lines of “Every morning at 10:00, there is a game show on Seven called Concentration (another short-lived game show that aired on the network).”

Blue Heelers special

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I don’t think either program actually went head to head in the same timeslot though.

From what I remember, The Weakest Link was always at 7.30pm (and two nights a week for most if not all its time on-air, I’m pretty sure) while Millionaire was on at 8.30pm.

The game show Concentration (which in the Early 2000s, would’ve been repeats) originally aired at 5pm in 1997? Think it was launched around that time in response to Burgo’s Catch Phrase on Nine.

As for The Weakest Link, surely most would agree that Seven did really good by getting Cornelia Francis (RIP) to be Australia’s equivalent to Anne Robinson?!

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Or more like for Seven to get a one hour’s head start by putting TWL on at 7:30pm before Millionaire on Nine an hour later, so that viewers could watch both shows uninterrupted without having to switch channels in between.

I remember I was in year 7 or 8 when this aired and the catchphrase “You are the weakest link… goodbye” was one of the most common things people used to mutter at school. So the whole phrase really caught on. I’m not sure how the show actually rated for Seven but my perception was that it was a pretty big hit and iconic show for it’s time. Cornelia was perfect for it.

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I think you will find that Seven’s offering against Millionaire on Nine was “The $1,000,000 Chance of a Lifetime” hosted by Frank Warrick

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It was killed by Friends on Nine. Can’t remember what Ten had on at the time.

I also remember hearing that line a lot at school.

Big Brother would have been on Ten on the mainly Monday nights (and some Thursday nights) it screened especially in the first few months. Big Brother started in April 2001 and The Weakest Link in February 2001.

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the day Australian TV started to dumb down.

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I think that line caught on more because of Scary Movie. The phrase was also used in that movie - obviously because of the US version. I know people in my school were saying the same phrase but we didn’t even have access to channel 7 in the area we lived.

As much as I hate to say this, I also think this show caused many cases of bullying at schools because of Cornelia’s presenting style and her ruthlessness towards contestants.

I also did hear complaints about how rude she was, but then Seven toned down the show until its cancellation in April 2002.

I recall reading a few years back that 9/11 had an effect on the show as well…

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Speaking of 9/11, many networks suspended regular programming to deliver viewers up-to-date news on the developments in New York.

I flew overseas at the end of that week and hence didn’t know when regular programming resumed. One of the Weakest Link specials that aired that month featured many NRL/AFL players; in the final round Rodney Howe (Melbourne Storm player) defeated David King and donated $46,300 to the Cancer Council of Victoria.

Max Hudghton and Justin Leppitsch (who was to play in the Brisbane Lions’ 2001-03 flags) were also contestants.

The Weakest Link made Family Double Dare look like University Challenge.

It was genius casting. She was perfect for it.

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At my school it was definitely a reference to The Weakest Link. People used to put on her voice and tone as well.

Yeah but that is what Scary Movie did as well. The little parrot did it when another died in the movie. But you could be right maybe they just watched the gameshow. But I do think it had a lot to do with Scary Movie as well.

While we all know that The Weakest Link was filmed in Melbourne, I have a feeling that the space that show used is now currently used by The Chase Australia.

Anyway - in 2001 there was a contestant, Graham, who appeared on the show and was voted out in the third round. Eighteen years later, he would appear on The Chase Australia and wouldn’t fare any better, losing his head-to-head with The Shark (also himself a former contestant on TWL).


(skip to 21:56 for a brief overview of the Australian version, also note a very young Brydon Coverdale (in the orange shirt).)
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Worst Losers special from May 2001. Note that at the start of the program, the PG rating was shown, yet for the rest of the show, returning from the ad breaks it showed G. Also note that most of rounds two and three were omitted.

On that note, you may recall The Weakest Link: The Mole special had a G rating, although the show which the contestants were from had a PG rating.

Credit: For the Love of Broadcast

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Ah this was such a brilliant show. Cornelia Frances was impeccable. Would love to buy the tapes of old episodes from Seven if they still have it.

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There’s a couple of old Aussie episodes that you can watch on YouTube. There are two episodes where the full $10,000 is banked (not in one piece, though).

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