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Title: PopMaster  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Ken Bruce, Jon Holmes, Paddy O'Connell, John Kennedy O'Connor
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


PopMaster is a popular music quiz on the Ken Bruce Show on BBC Radio 2. It usually takes place at around 10:30 a.m. on weekday mornings.


Two contestants play against each other for the chance to win a DAB Digital radio. Each contestant is given 10 questions based on popular music from the 1950s right through to the present day. All the questions are worth 3 points excepting the three "bonus questions" (questions 3, 6 and 9) on a topic chosen (from two choices) by the contestant. These bonus questions involve listening to a snippet of music, and if answered correctly are worth 6 points. There is therefore a maximum total of 39 points on offer.

The winning contestant then goes on to play "3 in 10". In this part, they have ten seconds to name three UK Singles Chart hits for a particular artist or group named by Ken. If they successfully manage this they win the DAB Digital Radio, if they fail they win an mp4 player. However, if a contestant scores 39 points in the main round, they win the Digital Radio anyway, and the other contestant would play "3 in 10" instead. Should both contestants score the same number of points (and the score is less than the maximum), a tie-break is used to decide which will play "3 in 10". The losing contestant wins a Radio 2 "One Year Out" T-Shirt. The T-Shirt is so designed because when answering "Name the Year" type questions, contestants are very often one year out, causing Ken to exclaim "One year out!". Previously the losing contestant would receive a consolation prize of a Radio 2 CD wallet.

At the end of the year, the best contestants (those who score 36 or 39 and also get the "three-in-ten") return for a "Champions League PopMaster".

When Ken Bruce is on holiday PopMaster continues with the stand-in presenter; these include Alex Lester, Stuart Maconie, Claudia Winkleman, Richard Allinson, Aled Jones and Zoë Ball.

2007 suspension and Celebrity version

PopMaster was suspended for one day on 19 July 2007 in line with the BBC's blanket ban on television and radio competitions following several phone-in scandals (although Popmaster or other competitions on Radio 2 were never implicated).[1] The day after, PopMaster was brought back but without prizes or public entry; the contestants selected from celebrities and BBC staff.

Between 20 July 2007 and 18 January 2008, when the quiz was played with celebrity contestants, the prizes were not given away, and the final "3 in 10" round was not played by the winner.

It was rumoured that members of the public would be able to play again before Christmas 2007, though this did not happen.[2][3][4] On 30 December 2007 it was announced that the quiz would be one of the first BBC phone-in competitions to return in January 2008.[5] The quiz returned on Monday, 21 January 2008. New background music and dramatic, orchestral and guitar based jingles for the quiz were introduced on the same day. The contestant application procedure reverted to the original write-in method, but now prospective contestants are invited on the day.[6]

On 28 May 2010, Bruce hosted a special Eurovision celebrity edition of the quiz, live from Oslo, Norway. Eurovision Song Contest commentator for BBC Three, Paddy O'Connell, took on the author of The Eurovision Song Contest - The Official History, John Kennedy O'Connor, to answer questions on the contest, with O'Connor winning. On 25 May 2012, a second Eurovision celebrity edition of the quiz was hosted live from Baku, Azerbaijan. The BBC's Moscow Correspondent, Steve Rosenberg, narrowly lost to O'Connor.

A third "Eurovision Popmaster" will be held live on May 17, 2013, from Malmo, Sweden, on the eve of the Eurovision Song Contest 2013 during Bruce's regular Radio 2 morning show. John Kennedy O'Connor will host the quiz, with Ken Bruce and Paddy O'Connell as the two contestants. It's the first time that Bruce has not sat in the chair and taken part as a contestant.


An interactive version of PopMaster was launched on Monday 1 March 2010. The game can now be played on the BBC Radio 2 web and mobile sites, or in a Facebook application.[7] The game features text, image, sound and video questions, and scores are determined by how quickly the player answers correctly. A voiceover from Ken Bruce features throughout the game. Players can also challenge friends to beat their High Scores. The maximum score possible is 390.


PopMaster was parodied by comedian and BBC 6 Music presenter Jon Holmes on his weekend show in the game Ken Bruce Master. The game is described thus: "On Popmaster listeners have to answer questions about pop stars. On Ken Bruce Master pop stars have to answer questions about Ken Bruce." Very surreal questions then follow, in the style of Chuck Norris facts. Many pop and rock stars have played the game for "no prizes whatsover due to current compliance guidelines." At Christmas 2007 Ken Bruce himself played, and lost.


External links

  • BBC Online
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