Much-loved comedian and actress Magda Szubanski is reveling in her new role as the deliverer of the sentence feared by quiz show contestants: "You are the weakest link - Goodbye!".
The 60-year-old says she plays around with that sentence a bit.
"I like to surprise the contestants. Having been born in England I've got the school ma'am thing down. I went to a convent school. We had some hilariously strict teachers. Mrs Faye was my English teacher - she was pretty tough, but I adored her. She had that tweedy thing going on and she didn't tolerate fools."
"I've had plenty of mean roles," she says. "Chenille [from the Institute de Beauté on Fast Forward] was pretty mean, and Lynne Postlethwaite [The D-Generation] had her moments. I like being a bit bossy."
Szubanski reveals she agreed to be the host of Channel 9's The Weakest Link after seeing Jane Lynch host the US version of the show.
"Anne Robinson [host of the original British version] was pretty brutal. I couldn't do it like that. I liked the idea there could be some comedy injected into it."
Szubanski says she watched Jeopardy as a child and loves watching Numbers and Letters, The Eggheads and Hard Quiz.
"A lot of people love quiz shows. You always end up being a couch contestant. Sometimes you are incredulous people don't know the answers. Often they do know it but can't bring it to the front of mind."
She says she isn't secretly hiding a huge intelligence - more a mind full of trivia.
"My general knowledge isn't bad but I'm not strong in maths. I'm not too bad with history and geography and I'm reasonably up-to-date with current affairs. But anything to do with '90s boy bands, forget it. I'm out of sync with NSYNC. But the advantage is I know all the answers in advance."
She's not sure what motivates people go on quiz shows.
"Some people enter contests all the time in the newspaper and magazines, others have said they wanted to have the experience of me being mean to them. It's been fun chatting with them in between set-ups and rounds."
Szubanski is certainly looking more glamorous in her latest role wearing coats designed by Victoria's Sonia Cappellazzo, tailor made especially for her.
"It's nice to look a bit glamorous. I wish I could keep them. My Scottish mum would say to me 'why don't you play someone glamorous for a change', but sadly she didn't live to see me do this."
Luckily producers were able to get 10 episodes in the can before the latest COVID lockdowns.
"We finished a couple of weeks before this lockdown started. It's been particularly hard in my industry. Everyone has been saying how great it is to be back at work.
Szubanski lost four film gigs because of the pandemic and says that's why she was very happy to reprise her character of Sharon Strezelecki for the Victorian government's controversial public service commercials about obeying the rules of the stage four lockdown, in August 2020 - "... to cheer people up".
She says it is "really fun" to be back in a studio filming.
"I'm working with heaps of people I have worked with for years, and it's nice to do something a bit different."
According to Szubanski there is a good combination of people as contestants.
"It's not as mean as in the US [version] but they do strategise against one another. I think ours is a bit more of a p**s-taker. No one was clinically mean.
"But there are some really big characters revealed and I think some find it hard to know who to vote off."
She says it's funny when someone gets 90 per cent of the questions right, then gets a question they don't know the answer to.
"There are some hilarious fumbles. But good on them for having a crack. You could know the question before and after yours and not know your own, so you have to think when to bank and when to eliminate the biggest threat.
And how does she describe the strategy of banking and voting contestants off on The Weakest Link?
"It's a cross between pub trivia and survivor."