Courtney Act, Marc Fennell, Adam Liaw and Sam Simmons among the celebrities taking part in SBS’s Celebrity Mastermind

SBS has announced the lineup for Celebrity Mastermind, which premieres Saturday February 15.

The announcement:

SBS reveals the first eight celebrities to compete for the title of Australia’s Celebrity Mastermind

Australian premiere 7:30pm Saturday 15 February

SBS is excited to announce that in an Australian first, Celebrity Mastermind will premiere next month at 7:30pm on Saturday 15 February.

Sixteen well-loved Australian celebrities will battle it out for the winning title across five weeks. The first eight celebrities to face the pressure as they answer questions based on their speciality subjects are legendary drag queen Courtney Act, journalist and author Jessica Rowe, cook and television host Adam Liaw, author and comedian Adam Spencer, journalist and personality Marc Fennell, comedian and writer Alex Lee, and comedians Sam Simmons and Nazeem Hussain.

Specialty topics include The Nanny, domestic cat breeds, Asian cuisine, great mathematicians of the 20th century, Star Trek: The Next Generation, rats, the slow loris and mangoes.

Each episode of Celebrity Mastermind will see one celebrity advance to the Grand Final. All winners will then compete at 7:30pm on Saturday 21 March for the prestigious title of Celebrity Mastermind.

Audiences can brush up on even more general and not-so-general knowledge when the original, much-loved tournament quiz show Mastermind returns for its second season on SBS, premiering 6pm on Monday 24 February.

TV host, journalist and self-confessed quiz junkie Jennifer Byrne (ABC’s First Tuesday Book Club, 60 Minutes, Foreign Correspondent) will return to SBS as quizmaster for both series, questioning contenders for two tense minutes on their chosen specialist subject.

Jessica Rowe said: “I’m a crazy cat lady. No, I’m not a cat fancier, cat enthusiast or a cat lover. I’ve heard some cat fans shy away from the term ‘crazy cat lady’ but I’m proud to wear to the tag! And that is why I’m beyond excited to be quizzed on my cat knowledge as a part of Celebrity Mastermind (I also have a serious girl crush on Jennifer Byrne). But I digress – what is it that I love about cats? They’re elegant, stylist, wild, feral, independent, clean, aloof and, like my daughters, they don’t always come when you call them.”

Adam Liaw said: “I’m inherently extremely lazy so choosing Asian cuisine as my specialty topic means I don’t actually have to go and study anything beyond going out and eating lunch. Plus, I know I’ll never match Jess Rowe’s encyclopaedic knowledge of cats so I’ve really got to try and take every advantage I can.”

Courtney Act said: “In the 90’s I had such a crush on Fran Drescher, I’m still not sure if I wanted her, or wanted to be her…or maybe it was both. She was this fish out of water and I thought she was the epitome of glamour, I loved how she didn’t try and assimilate but rather leaned into her difference and made it a strength. It’s that quintessential 90’s sitcom that keeps you laughing and smiling and feels like an old friend.”

Marc Fennell said: “Having filled-in behind the quizmaster’s chair, I plan to use my completely unfair advantage to crush the competition. I think we can all agree that 2020 can’t possibly hold any competition of greater global significance than Celebrity Mastermind and I will be approaching it with the brutal, humourless intellectual rigor it surely demands.”

Alex Lee said: “I’d love to say that I’m delighted to be on Celebrity Mastermind but I am genuinely terrified, because I have chosen one of my phobias as my speciality topic: Rats. I’ve figured I have to know absolutely everything about them in order to defeat them in hand-to-paw combat. Also, the producers wouldn’t let me have the specialty topic ‘Jennifer Byrne’. As for general knowledge, my local pub trivia team have described me as “deadweight” “consistently wrong” and “just in it for the half price schnitty” so I’m really looking forward to showing the other contestants, and Jennifer Byrne, what I’ve got.”

Sam Simmons said: “I’m an animal tragic, studying zoology before being distracted by the circus (comedy). By far the most fascinating creature I came across was the slow loris, my spirit animal. I can’t wait to astound you with my nerdiness.”

SBS Commissioning Editor for Entertainment Josh Martin said: “We’re thrilled to have Mastermind returning for a second season, and we can’t wait to premiere Celebrity Mastermind in an Australian first. One of the joys of the format is the diversity of participants and their choice of speciality topic – from ‘Frogs Found in NSW’ to ‘Aquatic Ape Theory’. There is no end to the passion and inquisitiveness of Australians, and Mastermind celebrates and welcomes all contenders.”

Quizmaster Jennifer Byrne said: “I grew up watching Mastermind and being obsessed with trivia. One of my earliest memories as a child is sitting down with my father and solving crosswords together. Playing games – quizzes, crosswords, board games, trivia – is still one of my favourite pastimes. Last year, being quizmaster for Mastermind was a dream and I’m thrilled to be hosting Celebrity Mastermind in 2020. I can’t wait to meet some of Australia’s well-loved celebrities and discover just how well they know their fabulous specialist topic.”

Mastermind will introduce a new batch of contestants when it returns weeknights from 24 February. The contenders will advance to a general knowledge round, and the person with the highest combined score for both rounds is declared the winner. Each Friday the weekly finals will see one person advance to the semi-finals and eventually compete against other winners at the end of the season for the prestigious title of Australia’s Mastermind.

Running for nearly 50 years in the UK, Mastermind is an addictive global phenomenon, originally inspired by creator Bill Wright’s experiences of being interrogated by the Gestapo during World War II, and captured on screen by the use of a spotlight, black chair and rapid-fire questioning.

Which Australian celebrity will be declared the winner? Find out when Celebrity Mastermind premieres 7:30pm Saturday 15 February on SBS.

Which Australian contender will beat the rest to become Australia’s 2020 Mastermind? Find out when Mastermind returns 6pm Monday 24 February. The series will air weeknights on SBS.

Both series will be available after broadcast on SBS On Demand. Mastermind is a BBC UK format and is produced for SBS by BBC Studios.

Source: SBS media release


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