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 1Edit

This round simply involved Berner asking up to 15 questions to each contestant on their special subjects. The round ended when the contestants 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, Doctor Who, Icelandic songstress Bjork, Michel Collins and World War II aircraft. This would be followed by banter between contestants and brains trust. Each correct response earned the contestant 100 points. A "bonus question" was introduced in the second series which the contestant could either answer correctly themselves for 100 points or place their faith in the Brains Trust to answer the question, in which the correct answer yielded 200 points.

Round 2Edit

In this round, contestants were given nine "subject headings" which generally had only an indirect and allusive relation to the topic underneath. For example, a question labeled "Rock and Roll" was as likely to be about geology as to be about music. However, in the first series, these categories were a lot clearly named. Contestants were 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 were asked. The question was then put to all contestants and the Brains Trust. The contestants were given five seconds to select their multiple choice answer, then the Brains Trust would discuss the question and agree on its selection. If the Brains Trust got the question right, all the players who also got the question right received 50 points; if the Brains Trust were wrong, players who answered correctly received 100 points. In the final 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 3Edit

In this round, 15 questions were 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 buzzer" round as seen in many quiz shows, with the Brains Trust sharing a buzzer. Contestants who got a question right received 100 points while an incorrect answer meant 100 points were 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 FinalsEdit

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 series 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 Doctor 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 Behr, special subject of 1975 Australian constitutional crisis)
  • Series 6–22 November 2009 (Andrew Whatham, special subject of The Life and Times of Wilhelm Canaris)


Official Website