The great Cornelia Frances was the original host of the Weakest Link, who won the hearts of viewers with her blunt delivery and firecracker personality.
So when comedian Magda Szubanski was announced as the quizmaster of the latest reboot, many weren’t convinced.
You see, Frances fit the bill as she’s mainly played villains throughout her career, but Magda was the complete opposite.
Sydney Morning Herald’s Andrew Hornery said the decision to hire Magda was “surely a mix up”.
“For millions of Australians, myself included, Magda Szubanski is anything but a bitch,” he so succinctly put it.
Magda did give us some indication of what to expect when she told Nine that the show has “a larrikin Australian” vibe to it.
“You’ll see hints of my old characters, more banter with the contestants. It’s more fun.
“I believe in evolving traditions, and it’s not your mum and dad’s Weakest Link at all.
“There’s actually a lot at stake,” she said of the competition. But it seems there’s a lot at stake for this new iteration.
So after the show’s debut, how did Magda rate?
Well, 423,000 viewers tuned in across the five metro capitals – not a total disaster, but hardly a runaway hit.
As for the show, it felt like an odd mix of trying to be what it was and trying to move on.
Magda is no Cornelia.
She got some laughs. We scored a glimpse of a former character, the iconic Lynne (“I said pet”). She tried the nasty vibe. But did it work? You can’t help but love Magda but is it enough to sustain the show for such an iconic role?
As the Weakest Link trended across social overnight, critics weren’t so sure.
“She just shouldn’t have done the stern character. If she did it as herself it could have worked,” TV insider Rob McKnight said.
“I think I’m done.”
Speaking to Media Week, Magda said that she “has no desire to be another Cornelia” and deliberately didn’t watch the Australian version. She drew instead from Jane Lynch, host of the American version of the series.
“Jane Lynch did a very different thing and that was what encouraged me to do it,” she said.
“When the producers first approached me, they sent me an episode of Jane Lynch doing it and I went, ‘ah, now that I get.’
“So, it’s not brutal like some of the earlier iterations of the show, and it is its own beast, which is appropriate. It’s playful as well as stern, you know?
“And the contestants are up for it. It’s hilarious. They want me to roast them, and I’m like ‘alright!!!’.”
She told A Current Affair that “the world’s just a different place you know, so, it’s stern but it’s not quite as brutal as the English one.”