Ken Bruce talks PopMaster at The Radio Academy Festival 2020

The annual Radio Academy Festival kicked off today 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 spoke of some of his favourite contestant stories, all done through a special game of PopMaster with a special guest…himself.

“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.

“[However we] 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.” – Ken Bruce

He added “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.”

Bruce further noted that cheating is usually apparent and called out on Twitter and cited people who say ‘it’s before my time Ken’ and people who talk over him as gripes with the format.

For more information on The Radio Academy Festival 2020, visit

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