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
DH RM

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.

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