Q&A with Ken Bruce

Programme Name: n/a - TX: 20100101 - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: - (C) BBC - Photographer: Lorenzo Agius

We sat down with BBC Radio 2’s Pop Master legend Ken Bruce and asked him a few questions….

Q: PopMaster is probably the most popular quiz show in the UK with over 8 million listeners every weekday morning at 10:30, what’s the story behind it?

Ken: In 1996, yes that long ago, my daily mid-morning show on BBC Radio 2 was given a refresh and I wanted to include a daily pop quiz.  I invited my producer at the time Colin Martin and quiz setter and colleague Phil Swern out to lunch to exchange ideas. After two bottles of rather expensive red wine, we had pretty much worked out a format and after a few dry runs, we had PopMaster sorted. The rest, as they say, is history.  

Q: So the PopMaster quiz has been running for coming on for 20 years, any ‘special’ moments you can remember?

Ken:  We’ve had quite a few what you might call ‘special’ memories one I recall gave most trouble for myself was an April Fool’s prank when  DJ’s Richard Allinson and Lynn Parsons tricked me by posing as genuine contestants, they were given the answers and when one of them got a question wrong, so did the other and made ridiculous “guesses.”  It ended up locked in a never-ending tie-break until Richard gave the answer before the question was asked. The mastermind behind this set up was the one and only Phil ‘The Collector’ Swern I’ve never really forgiven him for that one.

Q: In the time of PopMaster there must have been some celebs who’ve played the quiz, are there any of particular note?

Ken: We had quite a few celebs playing the quiz from July 2007 to Jan 2008 when all BBC phone in quizzes were suspended.  Musicians are normally terrible at PopMaster, they tend to be very knowledgeable about their own narrow area of music, but struggle with anything outside it. The first, and only to date, celeb to score maximum points was Richard Drummie from Go West – Richard was remarkable, if you had Phil and him in your team for the music round you’d be doing extremely well!

Q: In your time there must have been a few dodgy answers, any particularly memorable?

Ken: We get lots of funny answers but one that stands out for me, we asked “The brothers Derek and Alan Longmuir were members of which 70s boy band?” the answer from the contestant ….. “The Osmonds?”  

Q: So Phil Swern and yourself are taking PopMaster on the road with Warner Hotels how does this work?

Ken: We’ve run several live events supporting Children in Need and the natural evolution was to let many people across the country play the quiz in some fantastic settings and Warner Hotels are a great place to play. The event is interactive and we use screens as well as the audio system to play the quiz. You’ll play as part of a team and use a small handset to answer questions. At the end we’ll hand out an exclusive framed PopMaster disc to the winning table. It’s a fun evening and the great thing is everyone can take part, no matter how excellent your music knowledge.

Q: You’re also the voice of Eurovision for the BBC are there any stories about this you can share?
Ken: Ah yes, due to the unique way the BBC is funded, I once broadcast from my hotel at Eurovision standing in a corridor with a microphone placed on an ironing board.  I’m told it sounded fine but I felt it was a little flat!

Fancy joining  Radio 2’s Ken Bruce and Phil ‘The Collector’ Swern for a live version of the most popular quiz show in the UK, ‘PopMaster’? You can! The duo will be at Littlecote House Hotel 27th May 2017, Thoresby Hall 2nd September 2017 and Bembridge Coast 11th November 2017.

Don’t worry too much if you’re not a music genius, its as simple as working with your team and pressing A, B, C or D so how hard can it be? Join us for an interactive evening of pop quiz entertainment featuring a range of music questions from the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s and music played live by an amazing band The Human Jukebox.


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