GW junior Josh Hiscock took the news that he had become the “Weakest Link” with a smile last month, after he survived five rounds of NBC’s latest game show last month.
Answering questions such as “what item does the Oscar statuette hold?” (a wreath) and “what composer wrote scores to Jurassic Park and Raiders of the Lost Ark?” (John Williams) Hiscock advanced to the second-to-last round before he was voted off by the other two remaining contestants on national television June 18.
The game show, which has gained popularity in the United States and abroad, is described as a mix between the CBS reality show “Survivor” and the ABC game show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” A panel of eight contestants must answer questions correctly to increase the group’s prize money. Every question answered wrong brings the pot down to zero.
The panel decides which contestant should be “voted off” the stage after each round. Only one player ultimately wins the pot of money.
A junior majoring in American Studies, Hiscock tried out for the game show in April during a nationwide search for contestants. The show, which debuted April 16, had not yet debuted in America. With a long-time interest in trivia shows, Hiscock said he thought it would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
“I didn’t even think about making it onto television,” he said. “I thought (trying out) would be fun in the moment.”
Auditions were held at the Washington Hilton hotel on April 1. Hiscock, who went with a friend, said the four-hour audition involved an initial roll call to see how contestants interacted with the coordinators, a written test and a trial round of the game to test personality.
“I didn’t realize how tired I would be,” said Hiscock. “It takes a lot out of you.”
After discovering he had been chosen to be on the show, Hiscock and 12 other potential contestants flew to Los Angeles and filmed the show May 16. Only eight of the 12 contestants made it on television, after undergoing another round of tests and an interview with the show’s producers. Hiscock said this was to prevent alliances among contestants, so they would have as little strategy as possible on the show.
During the show, stern, inquisitive host Anne Robinson fires off questions to each contestant. Robinson, the host of England’s original “Weakest Link,” is known for berating contestants with such lines as “some village has lost its idiot” and the show’s catch phrase, “you are the weakest link. Goodbye.”
On camera, Robinson questioned his internship at the White House during his freshman year.
He assured the host the job “wasn’t quite what it sounded like,” and that he rarely saw the president.
Robinson replied, “I hear all you need is a few small occasions.”
When Hiscock did not know the answer to a question, Robinson quipped, “Your answer of `I don’t know’ will come in handy some day at the White House.”
Robinson earned the informal title of the rudest woman on television in England, according to a BBC report before the “Weakest Link” came to America.
“I can believe that . she’s a reality check,” Hiscock said.
Hiscock said he had just completed the school year before appearing on the show.
“Taking a final exam is nothing compared to being on national TV with a million dollars at stake,” he said.
Hiscock said he was surprised by how nervous he was, how tough the game questions were and the amount of pressure he felt in front of the camera. He said he did not anticipate how far he would go and expected to be voted off in almost every round.
It is easy for people watching from home to be critical of contestants who give wrong answers, Hiscock said, but it felt a lot different when he was actually doing it.
“I think the experience was unique and once in a lifetime,” Hiscock said. He said he still watches the show and has now been drawn into an unofficial society of former “Weakest Link” contestants.
D.C. radio station Hot 99.5 is organizing a reunion for former contestants, who have also held informal gatherings, Hiscock said.
“Being on this show once has opened up a world of opportunities for me,” Hiscock said, adding he was interviewed by USA Today.
“Weakest Link” airs Sundays at 8 p.m. and Mondays at 9 p.m. Reruns run on the PAX network Friday at 8 p.m.
Hiscock received no consolation prize.