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April 25, 2011

The Weakest Link – An Invitation to Appear

by Val Reynolds

Anne Robinson publicity picture

When I was asked to appear on The Weakest Link my instant response was Thanks, but no thanks. Later I thought about that kneejerk reaction and tried to analyse my reasons.

I think it was all about not wanting to be humiliated. In public. With no way of retaliating because the reality of the programme is that anything that doesn’t fit into the humiliation scenario is edited out before the programme is aired. So there is no opportunity for clever irony or spontaneous wit in response to Anne Robinson the dominatrix persona.

It is a cruel programme. One that makes me cringe at its naked enjoyment of the humiliation. Embarrassment, indignation and toecurling makes me turn off, feeling ashamed for watching it.

Other cruelty on television can be seen when Alan Sugar brutally says You’re fired. When MasterChef contestants are told their food is inedible, or worse. When any contestant is laughed off the stage in some low level talent show. All this public brutality rubs off and trickles down through our society that sees it as OK to be a bully. We become inured to it. A bit like the brutality of boxing, after a while what we were at first disgusted by we see as the norm and gradually becomes acceptable.

So who will take over from Anne, a slightly built woman whose dysfunctional personality has brought her fame and fortune.  The answer is no one. The BBC programme will cease in Spring 2012. Not a minute too soon.

Val Reynolds Brown, Editor

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