Beat That, Einstein



Richard Vranch


Tiny Epic for Channel 4, 3 November to 22 December 1994 (8 episodes)


The most curious thing about this show was that it was presented by the bloke who was "at the piano" for endless series of Whose Line is it Anyway? and yet his voice had never been heard before now. And what's he got to do with science?

Scientifically literate genii and ignoramuses are lumped together into a group. The aim was to solve a problem such as building the turntable for a car using nothing more than water and a kiddie's swimming pool, or play a tune on a piano whilst standing on the other side of the lake.

The intention was that the scientific people would explain to the ignorant people what to do, and by eavesdropping on this communication the viewer would understand the scientific principles at work. In practice, the scientific people just got on with whatever they thought would work, so it was left to Vranch to explain what was going on with improvised props such as polystyrene cups.

You could tell when the format was in trouble when some shows featured one long challenge and others changed into something different half-way through. The show also had a high failure rate, and watching something that just doesn't work wasn't that interesting.

Key moments

In one episode, the team were challenged to drop a piano (Vranch's involvement seemed to necessitate the involvement of pianos all the time) from a plane and it still had to be playable. They were given some cardboard stuff and fabric and created a honeycomb-type support and parachute from it. They succeeded. As they were using an army plane, the army had a go and their piano broke.


Credited to McAsso.


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