BBC reveals its strongest link

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The successful quiz show The Weakest Link will earn the BBC £50m over the next five years. The corporation has already earned £15m in sales to 75 countries.

Those figures have helped boost programme exports by 16 per cent – up from £148m last year to £172m, Rupert Gavin, the chief executive of BBC Worldwide, said yesterday.

The other most successful BBC exports were Teletubbies, Top of the Pops, Silent Witness and The Lost World.

New shows lined up for overseas viewers this year include Sahara, the latest travel epic from Michael Palin, an MI5 drama series, Spooks, and two live concerts from Buckingham Palace to mark the Queen's Golden Jubilee.

An exhibition, which begins in Brighton today, will offer 1,500 hours of new programmes to a record 460 international buyers. Deals struck at BBC Showcase generate about £40m annually.

Mr Gavin knocked the ITV rival Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? as he praised The Weakest Link for its staying power. He said: "People are interested in the contestants, how they interact with each other and with the host."