After years of success on the radio, the nation’s favourite radio music quiz is making its way onto the small screen. 

Music lovers up and down the country have been obsessed with PopMaster for some 25 years. 

The music trivia quiz, which was – until recently – part of the weekday morning Ken Bruce Show on BBC Radio 2, has long seen listeners pausing their days to play along as two fans compete in their knowledge of music. 

Now, veteran DJ Bruce, 72, who left his post at the BBC to join Greatest Hits Radio this spring, is bringing the much-loved format to TV for the first time in a new six-part series for More4. 

“After all these years we are finally bring PopMaster to the telly,” said the Scottish broadcaster, when the move was announced. 

“We’ll be challenging music lovers from around the country to not only recall a range of facts and stats about chart toppers and beyond over the decades, but to do so under the glare of studio lights and with the added pressure of television cameras. 

“I can’t wait to get started – and find out whether I might have a face for TV after all.” 

For those unfamiliar with the format, PopMaster sees two contestants asked a series of 10 questions based on popular music from the 1950s to the present day. 

After both players have answered 10 questions, the winning contestant goes on to play ‘Three-in-Ten’, in which they have 10 seconds to name three UK Singles Chart hits for one particular artist or group. 

The new televised PopMaster – which will air across a week – will honour the beloved quiz with a few surprises thrown in. In short, five players will compete against each other in six rounds, including ‘Video Gaga’ and ‘Intros, Middles, and Ends’, before progressing to play ‘Original PopMaster’. 

From there, top players will progress to the grand final, where only one can be crowned overall champion and receive the coveted gold PopMaster disc. 

It’s all to play for. But what else can Bruce tell us ahead of its launch? 

Great British Life: Ken Bruce on the new PopMaster TV showKen Bruce on the new PopMaster TV show (Image: Jamie Simpson/Channel 4)

Did you think you’d ever see the day PopMaster made it to TV? 

Absolutely not, I never really even considered the prospect. Occasionally [radio producer] Phil Swern and I would have a little chat and say, ‘Do you think there might be a television programme?’ But we generally just tended to say ‘No, it will never happen!’ So it’s a pleasant surprise and a nice thing to be able to do. 

How has the transition been from radio to TV? 

I don’t think there’s much transition, really. The quiz is basically the same, it’s expanded from the basic radio quiz. There are a few more rounds but still within the spirit of PopMaster, they feel like PopMaster. As far as I’m concerned, I’m doing exactly the same job, but I’m better dressed. 

How does it feel to be making your TV presenting debut? 

I’ve done the odd bit of TV, but I’ve never had my own show. So it’s a bit strange, people normally make their debuts at 25 or 30, even 40, so I’m coming to it quite late. Maybe I’m a later developer. We’ll have to see if it works out nicely. 

What do you think popmaster fans will make of the new rounds? 

I’m hoping they’ll feel they fit with what we expect of PopMaster. I hope we haven’t done anything that people will think isn’t in the spirit or keeping of what we’ve been doing on the radio. My feeling is that it’s absolutely right and I’m sure anybody who knows PopMaster on the radio will feel very comfortable with this. And it’s something of a bonus, you get an hour rather than 20 minutes. 

Have you enjoyed seeing the contestants, as opposed to just hearing their voices? 

It brings a different element to it. I enjoy meeting them and finding out a little bit more about them as people. The radio tends to be a bit more one-dimensional. You have a nice conversation, but you don’t see people. Some of [the contestants] I’ve met on the radio before, they’ve been on the radio quiz. So it’s really nice to meet them in person and see them do very in the television edition, as a lot of them have done. 

How do you think you’d fare as a contestant on the show? 

I’ve done a couple of TV quiz programmes as a contestant, like The Chase and Celebrity Mastermind. The pressure can be quite intense so on a pop quiz, I certainly wouldn’t win. I wouldn’t be able to do the video round, Video Gaga, that would completely throw me. My pop knowledge is okay but it’s not encyclopaedic and I wouldn’t win any of the rounds, so hats off to those who got in the grand final. I think they’ve done brilliantly and a lot better than I would. 

What was your specialist subject on Mastermind? 

I deliberately avoided music. I thought I was on a hiding to nothing if I didn’t get it right. They’d all be saying, ‘Calls himself a pop master!’ A couple of music questions came up in the general knowledge round that I was able to get through, but I was on Pointless once and completely failed to get any Duran Duran songs. So I didn’t take music, I chose the books of PG Wodehouse, which I did quite a lot of swotting for. 

Do people ever shout ‘one year out’ at you in the street? 

That has happened a couple of times, but not that often. For someone who’s not used to a massive amount of recognition, it can be quite disconcerting when people come up to speak to you. 

You’re also voicing sounds like the 80s on More4. What made the 80s such a great era for music? 

It’s strange because at the time it didn’t feel as if it were ground-breaking but, from this vantage point now, you look back and while the 60s were a real time of change, the 70s were fine, people look back to the 80s and just love the music. I’m not sure why. It’s music that has stood the test of time and still sounds very fresh today. The 90s weren’t quite as good but somehow the 80s has triumphed. People of all ages seem to like 80s music. It seems to have been a magical time, but we don’t know why. 

PopMaster TV starts on More4 on Monday, June 26.