Marc Fennell to host Mastermind

Mastermind is returning soon to SBS  -with new host Marc Fennell replacing Jennifer Byrne.

“After two years, SBS is looking to evolve the program for future series. We’re grateful for the instrumental role Jennifer has played in the show’s success to date,” an SBS spokesperson said.

But Byrne will be seen in the long-awaited semi finals and Grand Final for Season 2, which were delayed almost a year due to COVID-19.

Marc Fennell (The Feed, Download This Show) has previously undertaken quizmaster duties in 2019.

“I think Mastermind is a genuine insight into Australia’s psyche,” he said. “Every one of us has that one obsession, that one thing we know and love above all things. The best part of being the quizmaster is seeing the wild diversity of obsessions and topics that the contenders bring with them. But make no mistake, it is the toughest quiz show on Australian television. I’ve been both a fill-in host and celebrity contender on Mastermind Australia, I know first-hand how intimidating it can be. While I may be the one holding the questions, I truly marvel at the gumption of the contenders. It’s going to be intense.”

SBS Commissioning Editor, Josh Martin, said: “It’s been a long wait, but we’re thrilled to finally be presenting the 2020 Mastermind winner. Jennifer has expertly quizzed contenders since we re-launched Mastermind to Australian audiences in 2019. She leant the show her considerable intellect, warmth and authority and we thank her for the instrumental role she has played in the show’s success. We’re excited that the quizmaster baton will be passed on to SBS’s own Marc Fennell, no stranger himself to the Mastermind hosting role, who will bring his own unique style and energy to this one-of-a-kind quiz show.”

After a season of speciality subjects such as Lady Gaga, the Nimitz UFO Sighting, Sydney architecture, the Stolen Generation, Donald Glover, Aussie slang, the history of European beers, the comedies of Shakespeare and nuts (just to name a few), it is down to 16 contenders competing in the Season 2 finals.

Specialist subjects for finals week will include the Kokoda Track Campaign, The Wombat, Monty Python’s Life of Brian, The Kingkiller Chronicle, Casablanca, Ozzy Osborne, Joan of Arc and the Spike Milligan War Memoirs.

Mastermind is produced for SBS by BBC Studios.

Season 2 semi-finals weeknights from Monday 15 February at 6pm on SBS.
Grand finale Friday 19 February at 7.30pm.
Season 3 begins Monday 22 February at 6pm.


  1. Wow SBS the doyen of inclusion and diversity have removed a female and put a male in. So a woman couldn’t take the program forward??
    She was very good.

  2. When Fennell stepped in at short notice in 2019, he was excellent. He maintained a fast, steady pace, didn’t trip over any words, was quick and decisive with adjudicating and is highlly knowledgable about popular culture. It was more like the original.

  3. Shocked to hear this. I was a contestant on Season 2 (Lady Gaga was my second chance topic) and Jennifer was so warm and lovely to all of us. My filming dates were just as we were going into lockdown and the crew handled everything fantastically keeping us safe.

  4. sorry to see they let Jennifer Byrne go. I thought she was good in this role. I suppose it’s a cost cutting measure having Marc multi-task with his other roles. One less person on the payroll, that kinda thing?

  5. Admittedly Jennifer broke her wrist and was missing on-air for a good deal of 2019. But that’s always a danger in television. The understudy gets the bigger gig! Mark is good though and, although young, is nerdy enough to make the special subjects enjoyable.

  6. I was shocked to hear Jennifer Byrne will no longer host the show. I wish they were transparent and explained whether Jennifer or the network made the choice, although it sounds like a network decision. I really enjoyed her in the role. All the best to Mark though, I hope he’ll make it his own.

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