Problematic and unpleasant clips of The Weakest Link‘s Anne Robinson berating contestants have resurfaced after it was announced she would take over as the host of Countdown.
It was revealed on Monday (15 February) that Robinson would become the first female host of Countdown, taking over from long-serving host Nick Hewer.
The news prompted Twitter users to dig out clips from when Robinson’s famous putdowns on The Weakest Link were more problematic and unpleasant than funny.
In one clip, which has been viewed over 2.5m times, Robinson asks a single mother “how many ASBOS” (antisocial behaviour orders) her three sons have. She follows it up with questions about “how many of your three boys have got tags on their ankles”, if the woman is “doing benefits” and asking “what happened to the husband”.
Robinson then asked the woman: “You didn’t go gay, did you?”
A warm welcome back to daytime TV to Anne Robinson, one of life’s good guys pic.twitter.com/QWDrsH6ZOS
— Alex Hess (@A_Hess) February 15, 2021
In another video, Robinson described a contestant as being “lesbian chic”. She asked the contestant if she was a lesbian, and the woman in question says she’s not. Then, Robinson said: “Why are you dressed like a lesbian?”
At the end of the clip, Robinson said: “Let me get this straight. You do lesbian chic, you’ve left England and you’re in Cardiff delivering milk. Are you on medication?”
Imagine if Anne Robinson was flinging out insults like this today people would lose their heads 😂😂😂😂 pic.twitter.com/niXCV0YDZm
— The Cheek Clapping Connoisseur (@mikeviceo) February 16, 2021
Anne Robinson worked on the show for 12 years
Robinson is an English TV presenter and journalist best known for her acerbic style. She presented on Points of View (1987-1997) and was one of the presenters on Watchdog (1993-2001, 2009-2015). But she arguably is most famous for her time on the BBC’s The Weakest Link from 2000-2012, even reprising her role on the American version of the show from 2001 to 2002.
Robson said she was “beyond thrilled” to be joining Channel 4’s Countdown. She joked: “The show is almost as old as I am and just as historic.”
Robinson told Steph’s Packed Lunch that she plans to “tone down my nastiness”, which she was famous for on The Weakest Link, in her new show.
However, people on the internet have called her put-downs “beyond disgusting and nasty”.
Beyond disgusting and nasty, cant believe this was even allowed pic.twitter.com/Im06MzobgW
— Its all a bit mad really (@chibiandchill) February 15, 2021
Another person wrote that, even though she didn’t know what the programme was, it is “vindictive and reinforces stereotypes”. She added: “Bad taste doesn’t begin to cover it.”
I don't know what this programme is, nor which channel, but I would like the chance to write to whoever to complain. Bad taste doesn't begin to cover it. It's vindictive and reinforces stereotypes. As far as I'm concerned it contains 'hate' speech. Disgusting.
— Beverley S S (@TalktoBeverley) February 16, 2021
Others defended the presenter, saying her ‘cruel’ persona was an aspect of the show
Some people on Twitter were quick to defend Robinson, stating the show was presented in such a way to lend credence to Robinson’s “cruel” persona. One person wrote they were in the audience for the show, and Robinson was “absolutely lovely to the contestants when not filming and apologised for giving them a hard time”.
She added: “It seemed to all be part of the ‘nasty’ act, and the contestants seemed to know that.”
I was in the audience for this once and, to be fair, Anne Robinson was absolutely lovely to the contestants when not filming and apologised for giving them a hard time, etc. It seemed to all be part of the ‘nasty’ act and the contestants seemed to know that.
— Emma O (@squashed_pea) February 16, 2021
Another person rushed to defend Robinson. They said: “It was set up to be like that from the outfits she wore etc.
“It was pantomime stuff really, need to put that context in, otherwise it wouldn’t be shown.
“The public that watched knew that.”
It was set up to be like that. From outfits she wore etc. It was pantomime stuff really. Need to put that context in. Otherwise it wouldn't be shown. The public that watched knew that .
— peter-maurice (@petermauriceuk) February 16, 2021