Australian Game Shows Wiki
Peter Berner
TheEinsteinFactor AUS 2004
ABC1: 8 February 2004 – 22 November 2009
Australian Broadcasting Corporation

The Einstein Factor was an Australian quiz show that followed the guise of intellectual quiz shows like Mastermind, but with a comedic twist.


The show's self-styled goal was to find the person who "knows everything about something and something about everything". To that end, contestants with specially nominated subjects appeared each week. The show was noted for Berner's offbeat manner and humorous approach to being a quizmaster. The program proved quite popular with wide audience, unusually so for a program broadcast for ABC.

The key to the programs uniqueness was the use of a Brains Trust, a panel of three "experts" (usually celebrities) who competed alongside the contestants. Regular Brains Trustees included Barry Jones, Berner's radio colleagues Tony Moclair and Matt Parkinson, comedians Tim Ferguson and Michael Veitch, musicians Red Symons and scientist Dr. Kari Kruszenlnicki, actor, historian and musician Alice Garner, who was an occasional member of the Brains Trust.


The game was played in three rounds.

Round 1[]

This round simply involved Berner asking up to 15 questions to each contestant on their special subjects. The round ended either when the contestant answered all 15 questions or when 90 seconds elapsed, whichever came first. The subjects were often quite specific and the questions difficult for outsiders to know. Special subjects included Stargate SG-1, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Ned Kelly, Harry Potter, Star Wars, Doctor Who, Icelandic songstress Björk, Michael Collins and World War II aircraft. This was followed by banter between the contestant and the brains trust. Each correct response earned the contestant 100 points. A "bonus" true or false question was introduced in the 2005 season, in which the contestant could either choose to answer themselves, in which a correct answer scored 100 points, or place their faith in the Brains Trust to answer the question, in which case a correct answer yielded 200 points, with no penalty for an incorrect answer.

Round 2[]

In this round, the contestants would be given nine 'subject headings' which generally had only an indirect and allusive relation to the topic underneath—for example, a question labelled "Rock and Roll" was as likely to be about geology as it was music. However, in the first season these categories were a lot more clearly named. Contestants would be asked to choose, in turn, one subject on which to receive a question. Each contestant made two picks, so only six out of the nine subjects would be asked. The question was then put to all contestants and the Brains Trust. The contestants would be given five seconds to select their multiple choice answer, then the Brains Trust would discusses the question and agree on its selection. If the Brains Trust were right, all the players who also got the question right would receive 50 points; if the Brains Trust were wrong, players who answered correctly would receive 100 points. In the sixth season, this round was changed so each player would select one category per round instead of two, and the Brains Trust also selected one category.

Round 3[]

In this round, 15 questions would be put to the contestants and the brains trust. Two questions came from each of the contestants' special subjects, which were mixed in with nine other general knowledge questions. The round was a "hands on buzzers" round as seen in many quiz shows, with the brains trust sharing a buzzer. Contestants who answered a question right scored 100 points; an incorrect answer, however, meant 100 points would be deducted from their score. The Brains Trust received no points for correct answers, but their intervention could deprive the contestants of points, which is presumably why their buzzer made a different sound.

The contestant with the most points at the end of the game won the match.

Play-Offs and Finals[]

A season of The Einstein Factor was divided into three parts plus the series grand final, bringing the total number of episode in a season to 40. The winners of each programme's heats competed at the end of the series in a series of "Play-Offs", the winners of which competed in a "Series Final". The three winners of the "Series Final" competed in The Einstein Factor Grand Final to determine the season's overall winner. Specialist subjects remained the same throughout. The following list is the typical structure of the last third of every season, which usually commenced in early to mid-August:

  • 3 heats
  • 1 Play-Off
  • 3 heats
  • 1 Play-Off
  • 3 heats
  • 1 Play-Off
  • 1 Series Final
  • 1 Grand Final

These are the winners of the grand finals.

  • Series 1—7 November 2004: Diana Burleigh, special subject of Gilbert and Sullivan
  • Series 2—13 November 2005: David Campbell, special subject of Dr. Who: 1963–1989
  • Series 3—12 November 2006: Virginia Noel, special subject of Classical Greek Mythology
  • Series 4—25 November 2007: Andrew McDonald, special subject of The Luftwaffe and its Aircraft 1936–1945
  • Series 5—23 November 2008: Paul Bahr, special subject of 1975 Australian constitutional crisis
  • Series 6—22 November 2009: Andrew Whatham, special subject of The Life and Times of Wilhelm Canaris


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