The Trouble with Women: Anne Robinson is the weakest link

Review: Robinson’s tabloid-style arguments are shallow, contradictory and self-oriented

In her wealthy later years, Anne Robinson is surrounded by disappointing feminists

In her wealthy later years, Anne Robinson is surrounded by disappointing feminists


Anne Robinson is surrounded by idiots. This appears to have been her major issue throughout her professional career, railing against society as a columnist on Fleet Street, railing against shoddy merchandise on TV, and latterly railing against contestants as the dominatrix presenter of a daytime quiz show where she perfected her whiplash disdain: “You are the weakest link, goodbye.”


Now, in her wealthy later years, Robinson is surrounded by disappointing feminists; the kind of snowflakettes who can’t even overthrow the patriarchy properly.

“A fragility has crept into women’s attitudes,” says the host of The Trouble with Women with Anne Robinson (BBC One, Thursday, 9pm), with tabloid columnist omniscience, “they are very easily thwarted.”

Instead, Robinson hopes to reshape contemporary British womanhood in her own image, batting away systemic gender inequality with a stiff leather glove, humiliating their oppressors with a metallic Margaret Thatcher impersonation, and turning a reliably Tory fascination with light S&M into very lucrative careers.

Robinson’s main gripe is that women today are not the “warriors” of the 1970s, so incensed by this that she gives no consideration to the past 40 years. Instead she admonishes a group of five-year-olds and their parents for gender prejudice in the classroom; admonishes a group of children’s toys for being pink and stifling imagination (“I can’t think of a duller ambition than to be a princess,” says Bec Lackston, which is true, but I can’t think of a weirder toy than a plastic gameshow host columnist in a PVC trenchcoat) and admonishes female beauty standards that exhale make-up but shame women for having surgery. (Robinson reminds us she had a facelift in 2008, to the outraged rapture of the press.)

The arguments here are so daftly self-oriented it can be hard to follow Robinson’s leaps of logic. But when director Clare Richards asks Robinson about her own annual cosmetic spend, the answer is revealing. “Thousands and thousands of pounds – which I earned!” Robinson says. She is the Marie Antoinette of unchecked privilege. Let them have facelifts! 

That makes it noticeable when, upbraiding a panel of millennials for taking offence at wolf-whistles (“I think they’re making a fuss about nothing!”), Robinson is genuinely shocked to hear details of modern harassment, such as frotteurs and public masturbators on the Tube. “Well, I had underestimated how bad they have it,” she concedes.

Her radicalisation does not last long. Robinson is “not convinced” by meeting a stay-at-home dad and a working mother, later halting mid- street protest with a similar thunderbolt insight: “I’m beginning to feel this is a very feeble women’s march.”

Sure, Anne: Why can’t the oppressed just end their oppression without making a public nuisance?

But progress is built like a chain, each piece interlinking with the advances before it or else the whole thing breaks. And Anne Robinson, you are the weakest link. Goodbye.