Music · On my radio · Trivia

600 Rounds of Pop Master

Just over a year ago, in this piece, I wrote about Pop Master, the mid-morning quiz on the Ken Bruce Show on BBC Radio 2. That earlier piece explains the format of the quiz, and notes that this is the most listened-to slot on UK radio, outside of Breakfast Shows. Every Monday to Friday, at 10.30am, around 7.5 million people tune in, a greater audience than any other radio station, or indeed any TV station, attracts at that time of day.

Last year’s piece was prompted by hearing 100 consecutive rounds of Pop Master (either live or on the iPlayer), and making a note of my scores. I have continued to do this, and have been planning to draft a follow-up for a while. It didn’t happen for “200 Rounds of Pop Master” or for “400 Rounds of Pop Master”, but I now have a record of my scores for over 600 rounds of the quiz, 602 to be exact. They cover the 301 episodes between Easter Monday 2017 (17 April 2017) and 22 June 2018. The rest of this piece summarizes the findings from that spreadsheet, for my benefit if for nobody else’s. The raw data is in a table at the end of this post.

The figure that interests me most is how many times I have achieved the maximum score of 39. It turns out to be 208, or 34.6% of the time. It is my Mode score, the one that I have achieved more than any other. This has happened most often during the first round on Fridays (28 times out of 60) and least often during the second round on Fridays (only 13 times out of 60). This suggests that if I wanted to go on the show (and I don’t) the first round on Friday would be the one to aim for.

My average for each round ranges from a low of 33.90 (second round on Fridays) to a high of 35.50 (first round on Fridays). The average overall, for all 602 rounds, is 34.57.

The answer to each question is worth either 6 points (for a Bonus) or 3 points (for a regular question), so scores are usually in multiples of 3, but not always. Ken will sometimes give 2 points for a Bonus answer that is part-right, or 1 point for an answer to a regular question that is part-right. This might happen if a question requires the name of an artist and the title of a song, but the contestant only gets one part of it right. The following table shows how many different scores I have achieved, and how often, from a high of 39 to a low of 21:

Score How many times
39 208
36 119
35 1
33 142
32 3
30 65
29 1
27 39
24 17
21 7

The highest average score over the course of a single week was 37.2 (week ending Friday 26 January 2018) and the lowest average was 30.6 (week ending Friday 28 April 2017).

At some point (and it may take some time) I hope to draft a separate piece about the kind of questions that have given me most problems. Usually the questions regarding years are okay for me, especially if they involve the Top 3 from a given year, or a selection of #1s. I am rarely “One Year Out” on those questions, but the ones about New Entries, or the songs at 30, 20 and 10 in a specific year, are often much harder. I know that during the last year or so songs by Kim Wilde and by Wayne Fontana have caught me out on at least two occasions for each artist. When I have posted something more detailed I’ll link to it here. In the meantime, here is the table of raw data, showing week by week all scores from 17 April 2017 to 22 June 2018.

[Note: there is a follow-up to this piece, from April 2019: “One Thousand Rounds of Pop Master”.]

[M1 = Monday Round 1, M2 = Monday Round 2, Tu1 = Tuesday Round 1, and so on]
[CL = Champions League Pop Master, different scoring system to regular Pop Master]
[X = Christmas Day]

W/E M1 M2 Tu1 Tu2 W1 W2 Th1 Th2 F1 F2 Total Ave
21/04/17 33 39 21 33 24 39 33 30 39 33 324 32.40
28/04/17 30 33 30 24 21 39 36 33 27 33 306 30.60
05/05/17 32 39 27 39 39 39 33 27 39 33 347 34.70
12/05/17 36 21 39 24 39 33 30 36 39 27 324 32.40
19/05/17 33 32 39 39 36 33 39 33 36 30 350 35.00
26/05/17 39 36 21 39 33 27 36 39 39 30 339 33.90
02/06/17 39 36 30 39 36 36 36 27 33 36 348 34.80
09/06/17 27 24 24 27 39 33 27 39 39 36 315 31.50
16/06/17 33 21 36 30 33 39 33 36 36 33 330 33.00
23/06/17 36 36 30 39 33 39 33 24 33 39 342 34.20
30/06/17 39 33 39 39 33 39 39 33 33 36 363 36.30
07/07/17 39 33 39 30 39 39 39 36 39 30 363 36.30
14/07/17 36 39 33 30 39 36 39 30 39 36 357 35.70
21/07/17 39 30 39 39 33 30 33 33 36 33 345 34.50
28/07/17 36 35 39 33 33 27 36 33 36 36 344 34.40
04/08/17 33 36 39 33 39 33 39 39 39 33 363 36.30
11/08/17 33 39 27 39 39 39 39 36 36 39 366 36.60
18/08/17 39 39 33 39 39 33 24 36 39 33 354 35.40
25/08/17 30 30 36 33 24 36 39 39 36 36 339 33.90
01/09/17 33 27 33 39 39 30 33 33 24 33 324 32.40
08/09/17 33 39 36 33 27 33 33 36 39 30 339 33.90
15/09/17 30 39 33 36 33 36 39 36 39 33 354 35.40
22/09/17 30 39 39 30 33 39 27 33 39 33 342 34.20
29/09/17 39 27 36 30 39 39 33 36 33 39 351 35.10
06/10/17 27 39 39 33 39 33 39 36 39 39 363 36.30
13/10/17 39 36 36 27 27 39 36 39 24 36 339 33.90
20/10/17 33 27 36 33 36 39 39 33 30 33 339 33.90
27/10/17 39 39 39 36 36 33 30 30 39 30 351 35.10
03/11/17 39 30 30 36 33 39 33 39 36 33 348 34.80
10/11/17 39 33 33 39 39 39 39 39 33 36 369 36.90
17/11/17 33 39 39 33 30 33 36 33 36 33 345 34.50
24/11/17 36 36 39 24 30 33 36 33 39 30 336 33.60
01/12/17 39 39 33 27 33 36 30 36 33 27 333 33.30
08/12/17 33 39 39 30 39 39 33 30 39 39 360 36.00
15/12/17 39 36 39 30 CL CL CL CL CL CL 144 36.00
22/12/17 CL CL CL CL CL CL CL CL CL CL n/a n/a
29/12/17 X X 36 30 36 27 39 36 33 39 276 34.50
05/01/18 33 39 33 33 36 39 39 33 27 30 342 34.20
12/01/18 27 33 39 39 36 39 39 33 39 33 357 35.70
19/01/18 39 39 39 30 36 24 39 36 30 36 348 34.80
26/01/18 39 36 33 39 39 36 39 39 39 33 372 37.20
02/02/18 39 33 33 36 39 33 33 36 36 39 357 35.70
09/02/18 33 39 32 30 30 39 36 36 39 30 344 34.40
16/02/18 36 33 36 36 36 33 36 36 39 36 357 35.70
23/02/18 39 30 33 33 33 30 30 36 36 36 336 33.60
02/03/18 33 27 39 33 33 33 33 39 30 33 333 33.30
09/03/18 39 36 30 36 39 36 39 39 27 33 354 35.40
16/03/18 33 33 39 39 36 33 39 27 39 39 357 35.70
23/03/18 36 27 30 33 24 36 39 39 27 27 318 31.80
30/03/18 39 36 39 36 39 29 39 30 36 36 359 35.90
06/04/18 30 33 33 39 30 36 36 36 39 27 339 33.90
13/04/18 33 39 39 39 33 30 33 36 39 36 357 35.70
20/04/18 36 27 39 36 33 39 36 36 33 33 348 34.80
27/04/18 30 39 33 39 24 36 30 36 39 21 327 32.70
04/05/18 30 27 39 36 39 39 36 39 39 30 354 35.40
11/05/18 39 30 27 33 39 33 39 33 39 39 351 35.10
18/05/18 39 39 24 33 39 30 39 39 36 39 357 35.70
25/05/18 39 33 30 36 33 27 33 36 33 39 339 33.90
01/06/18 24 39 33 36 21 39 39 39 39 33 342 34.20
08/06/18 39 39 30 24 27 36 27 30 33 39 324 32.40
15/06/18 30 36 27 39 39 36 30 39 30 39 345 34.50
22/06/18 27 33 39 36 39 39 33 33 39 33 351 35.10

[M1 = Monday Round 1, M2 = Monday Round 2, Tu1 = Tuesday Round 1, and so on]
[CL = Champions League Pop Master, different scoring system to regular Pop Master]
[X = Christmas Day]

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