The annual Radio Academy Festival kicked off in the UK overnight for a week of discussion, debate and celebration.
Taking to the virtual stage, the host of the UK’s biggest daily radio moment, Ken Bruce, talked about how the iconic PopMaster started up, and some of his favourite contestant stories, all done through a special game of PopMaster with a special guest…Ken Bruce.
Key lines from Ken Bruce’s session:
On the origins of PopMaster:
“Red red wine had quite a big part to play on the origins of PopMaster. We wanted to do a quiz on the show back in ’96, we went out for lunch, my producer and I. We wanted to do a pop quiz. We sat down and bashed out at lunch this fantastic format for a quiz.
“We had a bottle of red wine, maybe another one came along. We had a really good format, went away very happy. Came back the following morning and not 1 of us out of the 3 of us could remember what the format was.
“So we had to have another lunch. Those were the days at the BBC. We sat down, took a paper and pen, wrote the idea and there we had the format for PopMaster.”
On why the PopMaster team has always been the same:
“We thought [PopMaster] was going to be a three month thing. There was a quiz on Radio 2 at the time in the afternoon. But the thing with that was that somebody would get in touch and say ‘the answer you gave yesterday was completely wrong, it was so and so’ and I thought I don’t want that to happen on our quiz.
“That’s why Phil Swern stayed with the quiz all the way through. At one point the BBC said ‘he’s very expensive that Phil, even though we’re paying him peanuts. Can we not get somebody in the office just to do it.’
“And I said no. You have to have somebody that knows the subject inside out. I don’t want people saying ‘you’ve got that wrong’. And that’s why to this day, Phil and his team are still working on it.”
On PopMaster cheaters:
“Several things have happened in PopMaster that I wasn’t expecting. People taking hints from somewhere. I think ‘why?’, it’s not Who Wants to Be A Millionaire’. We always know when somebodies cheating, and people take to Twitter in droves to denounce the cheater.”
On three things that annoy him most about PopMaster:
People who say ‘it’s before my time Ken’
People who talk to 15 minutes when they’re asked to read out the names of their friends.
People who talk when I’m talking.