Brainstorm, 1988

Kenny Everett is perhaps best remembered for his hugely popular TV and Radio shows that made him a household name.  However towards the later part of his career he hosted a couple of quiz shows.

Brainstorm was a short lived  comedy quiz programme about science.  First shown in 1988, it lasted just seven episodes.

On the very last show in true Kenny Everett style, Kenny got down on his hands and knees and begged for another series.  There is a train of thought that suggests the show was rather good, but a few months after the last show went out Everett was diagnosed with HIV and perhaps the BBC felt that was good enough reason to call it a day.


Four contestants compete for ‘watts’ of brainpower, the score being displayed via fluorescent tubes either side of them.

In the opening round, quickfire questions loosely based on science and discoveries were asked for 100 watts each.  Long-time Everett friend Cleo Rocos hosts a ‘What Happens Next?’-type experiment.

Each week there would be a special guest.  After a quick chat there would be a few questions about that guest’s topic. All throughout the show, Kenny does his best to keep the energy going, sometimes literally due to visual gags he’d do with the plasma ball on the front of his question desk.

The final round was called the Brain Drain. If a contestant got a quickfire science question right, all the other contestants lost 100 watts of brainpower (or they did, if they buzzed wrongly). Because this might go on for quite a long time, in the latter stages a sound effect would be cued in and the drain would be increased to 200 and possibly 300 watts so that you get to a winner.

Once a contestant reaches the stage they have no brain power left at all, they are ‘evaporated.’  Effectively this was a clever special effect where a jet of dry ice shooting out of the contestant’s desk gave the illusion of the contestant seeming to disappear (evaporated).  In true BBC style this would sometimes go wrong when the camera shot the wrong angle showing the contestant’s chair being moved backwards into the rear of the set and a door suspiciously closed in the background.

The winner (the last one with any brain power left) would return the next week as champion. The prizes were always classic invention models such as a Stevenson’s Rocket, Wright Brothers’ Flyer plane, Edison’s Telephone, a Magic Lantern etc.
Hosted By: Kenny Everett and Cleo Rocos
Channel: BBC1
Original Transmission Dates: 16th June – 28th July 1988

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