Sunday 30 May 2021

Popping the Questions

Question: What's the name of the first Radio 2 pop quiz presented by Ken Bruce? If you answered Pop Master then you could be said to be "one quiz out!" The answer is Pop Score, the quiz that ran from 1972 to 1992 which Ken chaired for the last five series.

Devised by Light Entertainment producer Richard Willcox is was initially seen as a Radio 1 versus Radio 2 contest (early series were carried on both stations) with Tony Blackburn captaining the Radio 1 side and Terry Wogan representing Radio 2. Popping the questions was Pete Murray. Willcox continued to produce and write all the questions, and indeed do the audience warm-up, for the first fifteen series until Mark Robson took over production. By this time Willcox  had already brought in a certain Phil 'The Collector' Swern to help set the questions. Phil had previously attended some of the show's recordings to 'help' Tony with some of his answers until he was thrown out of the Paris studio a few shows later.    

Early guest stars were a  little eclectic to say the least. You can hardly say it was on trend, more like a decade behind. Many of the musicians had been sixties hitmakers with virtually no current chart performers taking part in the early series with perhaps the exception of Lynsey de Paul, Dana, Neil Sedaka, Long John Baldry and Mike Batt. But Deryck Guyler and Reg Varney?

In time under Willcox's tenure a smaller pool of contributors was called upon, often appearing on a other radio panel games. For instance we have actor Patrick Mower (also on The Law Game), singing impressionist Johnny More and Ray Alan (both on The Impressionists), Lance Percival (also on Wit's End and Just a Minute) and Duggie Brown (also on The Name's the Game and Dealing with Daniels). Some folk such as Tim Rice (also on Just a Minute and Trivia Test Match) really knew their stuff but generally it was a chance to muck about and the quiz side was never taken that seriously.    

Later series, produced by Robson, Dirk Maggs and Phil Clarke took things a little more seriously, but only just, with people from the music business and DJs. Typically a show might include rounds such as continuing to sing a song after its faded (think of Clue's Pick Up Song), correcting song titles, identifying song covers or  records played backwards, and a final quick-fire round. Throughout the quiz the chairman would, depending on how many points they'd scored in the round, read out so many letters of a song title that team's could guess at any time for bonus points.   

The old Blackburn/Wogan rivalary ended in 1977, though they returned for the 200th edition in 1987. Coming in as team captain for Terry was David Hamilton and a couple of series later Ray Moore replaced Tony. Ray in turn would become chairman when Pete left the BBC and after a series of different captains - Joe Brown, Duggie Brown and Helen Shapiro, who eventually became a show regular - new boy Ken Bruce was drafted in.

Following Ray's untimely death Ken took over as quizmaster (Ken was also hosting the Radio 2 general knowledge show The ABC Quiz) and with David off to commercial radio the team captains settled down to be Helen Shapiro and Alan Freeman.       

It all came to an end in April 1992 by which time panel games were virtually a thing of the past  on Radio 2.

Six years later Ken Bruce and Phil Swern, who had both worked together on Pop Score,  put their heads together (together with Ken's then producer Colin Martin) and came up with the format for Pop Master. The daily music quiz which stops the country is celebrated tonight in the Radio 2 programme One Year Out-The PopMasterStory and tomorrow sees the second All Day quiz.

Series Details

Question masters:

Pete Murray series 1 to 10.

Ray Moore series 11 to 13

Ken Bruce series 14 to 18 

The theme tune used for the majority of Pop Score's run was Chicken Feathers by film and TV composer Pat Williams from his 1968 album Think. In the last 80s Birdland was used for a while, possibly the Manhatten Transfer version.  

Series 1 Team captains Tony Blackburn (TB) and Terry Wogan (TW)

24 Oct 1972-6 Feb 1973

Guests: Ken Goodwin, Alan Price, Lynsey de Paul, Kenny Lynch, Roger Greenaway, Rolf Harris, Peter Noone, Vince Hill, Dana, Roy Castle, Anita Harris, Georgie Fame, Tim Rice, Lance Percival andTony Brandon

Series 2 TB TW

20 June 1973-20 Mar 1974

Roger Whittaker, Peter Noone, Tony Brandon, Lance Percival, Wally Whyton, Leslie Crowther, Bob Monkhouse, Mitch Murray, Roy Castle, Dana, Chris Barber, Joe Brown, Jimmy Tarbuck, Adrienne Posta, David Jacobs, George Chisholm, Kenneth Williams, Tim Rice, Gerry Marsden, Peter Jones, Deryck Guyler, June Whitfield, Bernard Cribbins, Johnny Pearson, Matt Monro, Lonnie Donegan, Rolf Harris, Ron Goodwin, Reg Varney, Eric Idle, Ray Fell, Frankie Vaughan, Michael Aspel, Diana Dors, Jon Pertwee, Kenny Ball, Neil Sedaka, Dickie Henderson, Peter Goodwright and Henry Cooper.  

Series 3 TB TW (Paul Burnett covered for TB on two shows and Tim Rice covered for TW on two shows)

2 Oct 1974-26 Mar 1975 Leslie Crowther, Henry Cooper, Cathy McGowan, Bob Monkhouse, Joe Brown, Kenny Ball, Ray Alan, Long John Baldry, Michael Parkinson, Marian Montgomery, Ray Fell, Vince Hill, Clive lea, Tim Rice, Ronnie Carroll, Matt Monro, Mike Batt, Mitch Murray, Cindy Kent, Roy Castle, Diana Dors, Norman, Newell, Roger Whittaker, Ray Barrett and Roger Kitter 

Series 4 TB TW

30 Oct 1975-22 Jan 1976

Bernard Cribbins, Tim Rice, Diana Dors, Kenny Ball, Roy Hudd, Ray Alan, George Chisholm, Long John Baldry, Lonnie Donegan, Rolf Harris, Clive Lea and Johnny Moore

Series 5 TB TW

13 Sept-29 Nov 1976

Leslie Crowther, Diana Dors, Bernard Cribbins, Tim Rice, Rolf Harris, Charlie Williams, Johnny More, Duggie Brown, Bobby Knutt, Jack Douglas, Patrick Mower

Series 6 TB TW

1 Sept-17 Nov 1977

Bobby Knutt, Bernard Cribbins, Faith Brown, Derek Griffiths, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Vince Hill, Duggie Brown, Ray Alan, Johnny More, Patrick Mower, Dave Evans and Tim Rice (also captain on a couple of shows) 

Series 7 TB David Hamilton (DH)

11 Sept-27 Nov 1978

Lance Percival, Joe Brown, Mike Batt, Clive Lea, Patrick Mower, Johnny More, Tony Brandon, Bill Oddie, Rolf Harris, Bobby Knutt, Dave Evans and Tim Rice

Series 8 TB DH

19 May-4 Aug 1980

Dave Dee, Lance Percival, Mike Batt, Vince Hill, Joe Brown, Tim Rice, Duggie Brown, Bernard Cribbins, Bobby Knutt and Johnny More

An edition of Pop Score from this series is on Mixcloud here though sadly the last couple of minutes are missing.

Series 9 DH Ray Moore (RM)

24 Aug -9 Nov 1981

Faith brown, Johnny More, Duggie Brown, Lance Percival, Rolf Harris, Tim Rice, Joe Longthorne, Dave Evans, Vince Hill, Acker Bilk and Joe Brown

Series 10

20 June-5 Sep 1983

Helen Shapiro, Acker Bilk, Joe Brown, Vince Hill, Duggie Brown (also captain on two shows), Patrick Mower, Susan Maughan, Freddie Garrity and Mike Berry

I've unearthed the 7th programme from this series.

Series 11 DH (Other captain was either Duggie Brown, Joe Brown or Helen Shapiro)

19 Feb-14 May 1985

Rolf Harris, Mike Berry, Acker Bilk, Helen Shapiro, Clodagh Rodgers, Susan Maughan, Frank Ifield, and Russ Conway

I've previously posted the 11th programme in this series before but only recently uploaded it to YouTube

Series 12 DH Ken Bruce (KB)

15 Mar-24 May 1986

Frank Ifield, Acker Bilk, Duggie Brown, Helen Shapiro, Lonnie Donegan, Vince Hill, Helen Shapiro, Tim Rice, Des Cluskey, Con Cluskey, Noddy Holder and Paul Nicholas

Series 13 DH KB

14 Mar-20 June 1987 (includes 200th edition with Pete Murray, Terry Wogan and Tony Blackburn)

Alvin Stardust, Helen Shapiro, Lynn Sheppard, Denny Laine, Rick Wakeman, Noddy Holder, Steve Marriott, Acker Bilk, Tim Rice and Frank Ifield 

Series 14 Helen Shapiro (HS) + either Joe Brown, TB, Adrian Love or Paul Jones (First to be compiled by Phil Swern)

12 Mar-28 May 1988

Cathy McGowan, Adrian Love, Tony Blackburn, Duggie Brown, Dave Dee, Gloria Hunniford, Rick Wakeman, Tommy Vance, Noddy Holder, Robbie Vincent, Tom McGuinness

Series 15 HS + either Adrian Love or Alan Freeman (AF)

25 Mar-10 June 1989

Duggie Brown, Rick Wakeman, Rolf Harris, Peter Dickson, Noddy Holder, John Craven, Tim Rice, Alvin Stardust, Paul Jones and Vince Hill

Series 16 HS AF (Producer Dirk Maggs)

21 Apr-7 July 1990

Janice Long, Adrian Love, Sheila Ferguson, Paul Jones, Duggie Brown, Stephanie de Sykes, Joe Brown, Rose-Marie, Don Powell, Lyn Paul and Colin Berry

The first edition of this series is available on Mixcloud here. 

Series 17 HS AF

27 April-15 June 1991

Cheryl Baker, Adrian Love, Wendy Richard, Noddy Holder, Alvin Stardust, Janice Long, Rose-Marie and Colin Berry

Series 18 HS AF (Prod Phil Clarke)

28 Feb-17 April 1992

Terry Wogan, Pete Murray, Adrian Love, Lyn Paul, Lynsey de Paul, Alvin Stardust, Noddy Holder and Rose-Marie

As is typical with virtually all Radio 2 panel shows from this era they've never been repeated since they ended so if you've got any recordings of Pop Score please let me know.

Saturday 22 May 2021

Cons and Laws


"How well do you know the law? Find out by joining us for The Law Game. Along with our celebrity panel you can hear details of law cases and judge which side you think won. And on the bench as usual presiding over the programme is your chairman Shaw Taylor."

Back in the day when panel games had a regular place in BBC Radio 2's schedule The Law Game was one of the best known and longest-running - 17 series over 16 years. The premise was straightforward enough: three playlets were acted out by three members of the BBC's Drama Repertory Company in which matters of the law are played out in various settings or in court. After chairman Shaw Taylor dings his bell to end the sketch the celebrity panel have to identify what laws have been broken and by whom. Team members then bet points, from their starting pot of 50 points, on the outcome of the case. "It's quite educational, not just an excuse for three celebrities to fool about", said Shaw Taylor to the Radio Times in 1985. 

The Law Game was devised by comedy writer Brad Ashton and he wrote all the mini-dramas, offering injecting the odd comedy line. Ashton had been writing since the mid-1950s on radio shows such as Show Band Show, London Lights and later series of Life with the Lyons. On TV he wrote for Tommy Cooper, Dick Emery, Mike and Bernie Winters, Lennie Bennett and Jerry Stevens and for Little and Large. The format of The Law Game was perhaps inspired by the guess who committed the crime programme Guilty Party (1954-62). See John Arlott blog post.

Shaw Taylor, best known on TV for Police 5, seemed a natural choice as series chairman with a mix of light-hearted authority. He was not unfamiliar in this type of role having presented a number of ATV game shows in the late 1950s/early 1960s when commercial television was devouring as many US formats as it could get through. On Radio 2 in the 1970s he also chaired The 78 Show and Pros and Cons, more of which later.

The Law Game
first aired on Radio 2 in September 1976. The celebrity panel usually featured at least one actor together with journalists, broadcasters and comics, though not as many as today's panel games are stuffed with. Favoured panellists were Claire Rayner, Denise Coffey and Nerys Hughes. Produced by the Light Entertainment department initially under the guidance of Richard Willcox, though over the years several young producers who went on to bigger things got a chance to work on the show including the late Danny Greenstone, Paul Mayhew-Archer, Richard Edis, Jan Ravens, Andy Aliffe, Dan Patterson, Lissa Evans, Sioned William, Sarah Smith and Caroline Leddy.

The Law Game hasn't been repeated since it ended nearly 30 years ago so here's an opportunity to hear a couple more (in addition to the two I've already uploaded to YouTube in 2015 and 2020.

From 23 November 1981 this edition has a panel of Diane Keen, John Junkin and Lance Percival. Acting out the scenes are Miranda Forbes, Nicholas Courtney (so one for Doctor Who fans)and Ronald Herdman.

From the following year, 19 July 1982, we have Sandra Dickinson, Matthew Kelly and Fred Housego sitting in judgement. The actors are Steve Hodson, Miranda Forbes and Vincent Brimble.   

The other Brad Ashton creation was Pros and Cons. In fact it started the year before The Law Game but had a shorter run, just seven series over eight years. A number of the cons were experienced by Brad himself, including one in the 1982 edition below. Many others came from contacts he'd made at Scotland Yard. Writing in the Radio Times in 1980 he admitted that "I get strange looks when I tell people that my hobby is collecting confidence tricks. So far I've got 340 and used 144 of them in the sketches aimed as fooling the panel." His interest began on a trip to new York in 1956. "I was a prototype for all innocents abroad. The airport cab driver circled the whole of New York State to get me to my hotel just two miles away. He was about to do a lap of honour when I recognised a store we'd passed three times."

The format of Pros and Cons was the same as The Law Game, three short sketches played out with enough clues to help or mislead the three celebrities on the panel to identify the con, the person(s) doing the conning and the person(s) being conned. The panellists were a pretty mixed bunch (see series details below) but included a fair number of personalities from the sister show. The series  producers included some very experienced BBC hands such as Alistair Scott-Johnson of The Navy Lark fame, Ian Fenner and Trafford Whitelock, as well as Ros Bartlett, Jamie Rix and Richard Edis.    

In this edition from 17 November 1980 the sleuths are Claire Rayner, David Jason and Roy Hudd. The repertory company are Rowena Roberts, John Church and Trevor Cooper. 

The second recording comes from 24 February 1982. The panellists here are Kenny Everett (that week's Radio Times cover star), Stephanie Turner (at the time known for her lead role in cop drama Juliet Bravo) and Derek Nimmo. Acting out the scenes are Adrian Egan, Miranda Forbes and George Parsons.

The Law Game Series Guide

Series 1: 22 September-27 October 1976

Diana Dors, Pete Murray, Leslie Randall, Rachel Heyhoe-Flint, Patrick Mower and Bob Wilson 

Series 2: 30 March-27 April 1977

Margaret Howard, Francis Matthews, Pete Murray, Rachel Heyhoe-Flint, Barry Norman, Claire Rayner, James Burke and Patrick Mower

Series 3: 30 November 1977-4 January 1978

Claire Rayner, Francis Matthews, Dr Magnus Pyke, Rachel Heyhoe -Flint, Patrick Mower, Leslie Randall, Henry Cooper, William Franklyn and Anoushka Hempel

Series 4: 4 December 1978-15 January 1979  (no tx 25 December 1978)

Claire Rayner, Francis Matthews, Peter Purves, Shirley Anne Field, James Burke, Dr Magnus Pyke, Diana Dors, Russell Davies and Patrick Mower

Series 5: 7 January-18 February 1980 (no tx 4 February)

John Junkin, Aimi Macdonald, James Burke, Peter Purves, Diane Keen, William Franklyn, Lance Percival, Shirley Anne Field and Francis Matthews  

Series 6: 20 January-24 March 1981

Julia McKenzie, David Jason, Andrew Sachs, Liza Goddard, John Junkin, Lance Percival, Judy Carne, Graeme Garden, Don Maclean, Patricia Hayes, Tim Brooke-Taylor, Frank Windsor, Nyree Dawn Porter, Ray Alan and Duggie Brown

Series 7: 16 November 1981-11 January 1982 (no tx 28 December)

Diane Keen, John Junkin, Lance Percival, Stephanie Turner, William Franklyn, Alfred Marks, Joyce Blair, Patrick Mower, Matthew Kelly, Diana Dors, Lionel Blair and Glyn Worsnip

Series 8: 19 July-6 September 1982

Sandra Dickinson, Matthew Kelly, Fred Housego, Janet Street Porter, Nigel Dempster, Wendy Richard, Patrick Moore, Denise Coffey, Christopher Biggins, Rob Buckman, John Peel and Paddy O'Byrne

Programmes listed on BBC Genome in 1983 are repeats of series 7 and 8

Series 9: 12 March-30 April 1985

Christopher Biggins, Denise Coffey, Patrick Moore, Bill Oddie, Aimi Macdonald, Ian Lavender, Stubby Kaye, Bettine Le Beau, Andrew Sachs, Gyles Brandreth, Katie Boyle and Dr Magnus Pyke

Series 10: 4 March-6 May 1986

Barry Took, Patricia Hodge, Steve Jones, William Franklyn, Jean Rook, Nigel Rees, David Hamilton, Anna Carteret, Martin Jarvis, Mark Curry, Toni Arthur, Chris Serle, Iain Johnstone, June Whitfield and Christopher Biggins

Series 11: 28 April-7 July 1987 (no tx 26 May)

Ian McCaskill, Pat Coombs, Peter Jones, Jimmy Perry, Claire Rayner, Steve Jones, Denise Coffey, Colin Baker, Brian Johnston, Stephen Fry, Anna Raeburn, Morwenna Banks, Neil Mullarkey, John Junkin, Patrick Moore and Su Pollard

Series 12: 5 January-23 February 1988

Nerys Hughes, Kenneth Williams, Ian McCaskill, Brian Johnston, Denise Coffey, Derek Nimmo, Stephen Fry, Patricia Hodge, John Gordon Sinclair, Alfred Marks, June Whitfield and Alan Titchmarsh

Series 13: 21 November 1988-23 January 1989

Barry Cryer, Ian Hislop, Nerys Hughes, Denise Coffey, Alan Titchmarsh, Susan Rae, Sally Burton, Graeme Garden, Trevor McDonald, Martin Jarvis, Ian McCaskill, Claire Rayner, John Gordon Sinclair and Alfred Marks 

Series 14: 3 October-21 November 1989

Lynda Bellingham, Duggie Brown, Bob Holness, Joe Brown, Barry Cryer, Claire Rayner, Sue Cook, Chris Emmett, Nerys Hughes, Polly James, Wendy Richard and Tim Brooke-Taylor  

Series 15: 14 November 1990-9 January 1991

Mark Steel, Jenny Eclair, Barry Cryer, Rob Newman, Tony Slattery, Claire Rayner, Bob Downes, Nerys Hughes, Denise Coffey, Barbara Windsor, Wendy Richard and Graham Garden

Series 16: 24 September-12 November 1991

Michael Melia. Cynthia Payne, Craig Charles, Emlyn Hughes, Helen Atkinson-Wood, Geoffrey Durham, Lesley Joseph, Ken Livingstone, Neil Mullarkey, Susie Blake, Frances Edmonds and Craig Ferguson

Series 17: 9 September-4 November 1992 (no tx 14 October)

Anna Raeburn, Peter Jones, Paul Ross, Bill Pertwee, Denise Coffey, Bill Tidy, Fred Housego, Jan Leeming, Chris Dunkley, Miles Kington, Sandi Toksvig and Chris Stuart

Pros and Cons Series Guide

Series 1: 24 July-28 August 1975

Marj Proops, Pete Murray, Sydney Tafler, Bettine Le Beau, Leslie Randall, Fred Trueman, Eleanor Summerfield, Tony Brandon, Sheridan Morley, Norma Ronald, Brian Johnston, Leonard Sachs, Charmain Innes, Percy Edwards, Alfred Marks, Isobel Barnett, , George Layton and Barry Took

Series 2: 31 December 1975-24 March 1976

Kathleen J. Smith, Sheridan Morley, Ian Wallace, Jessie Matthews, Brian Johnston, Ned Sherrin, Miriam Karlin, Noel Edmonds, Barry Took, Eleanor Summerfield, Robert McKenzie, John Julius Norwich, Sheila Van Damm, Peter Bull, Patrick Moore, Bettine Le Beau, Deryck Guyler, Bill Jupe, Jonathan Miller, June Whitfield, Fred Trueman, Linda Blanford, George Layton, Wynford Vaughan-Thomas, Patricia Hayes, Milton Shulman, Michael Bentine, Thora Hird, Professor Eric Laithwaite, Sydney Tafler, Katie Boyle, Jonathan Aitken, Larry Adler, Beryl Reid, David Jacobs, Dan Maskell, Marj Proops, Pete Murray and Leslie Randall

Series 3: 7 July-25 August 1977

Patricia Hayes, Michael Robbins, Jean Rook, George Chisholm, Pat Coombs, Sheila Scott, Henry Cooper, Jenny Hanley, Yootha Joyce, Keith Fordyce, Liz Fraser, Claire Rayner, Lionel Blair, Sara Leighton, Aimi Macdonald, Joyce Blair, John Snagge, Bob Todd, Bettine Le Beau, Patrick Moore, Marj Proops, Bill Owen, Wendy Richard and Terry Wogan

Series 4: 16 April 1979-9 July 1979

Leslie Phillips, Thora Hird, Paul Jennings, Roy Hudd, Dora Bryan, Roy Plomley, Peter Jones, Sheila Van Damm, Barry Took, Jack de Manio, Mirima Karlin, Ian Wallace, Johnny Morris, Mollie Sugden, Barry Cryer, Leslie Randall, Sheila Hancock, Bill Oddie, Brian Rix, Janet Brown and Terry Wogan

Series 5: 10 November-29 December 1980 

Roy Hudd, Claire Rayner, David Jason, Nerys Hughes, Bernard Cribbins, Francis Matthews, Ray Alan, Lorraine Chase, John Craven, Liza Goddard, Don Maclean and Ian Lavender

Series 6: 27 January-3 March 1982

Honor Blackman, Terry Wogan, Tony Haygarth, Diana Dors, Martin Jarvis, Lennie Bennett, Kenny Everett, Stephanie Turner and Derek Nimmo

Series 7: 5 January-9 February 1983     

John Junkin, Stephanie Turner, Roger Cook, William Franklin, Liza Goddard, Garfield Morgan, Jeremy Beadle, Joanna Munro and Matthew Kelly

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