On my radio · Trivia

Pop Master: 1,000 maximum scores

The BBC Radio 2 mid-morning quiz Pop Master has been mentioned many times on this Blog. There are pieces that list all the questions for an entire week (such as this one from 2021) and pieces that summarize my scores and only list the Bonus questions and the ones that I got wrong (such as this one from last year).

The quiz currently gets more listeners than anything else broadcast on British radio. That will probably change next month. As announced here on the BBC website in January, Ken Bruce will be leaving Radio 2 at the end of next month (March 2023) and moving to Greatest Hits Radio. Pop Master will be moving with him. Maybe it will continue to attract 8.6 million listeners a day, but it seems unlikely. I usually catch the quiz on BBC Sounds or on the Podcast, so I probably don’t count as one of the 8.6 million people for whom “Everything stops for Pop Master” at 10.30am on weekdays. And if I continue to hear the questions after the event (rather than on live radio) when Ken starts on his new station in April, I will not be adding to his audience figures either.

I started recording my daily scores back in April 2017, as originally noted in this piece (100 Rounds of Pop Master), the first one that contains a summary of my scores. In the 70 months since then I have missed just one round (Round 2 on Thursday 23 April 2020) and earlier this week reached a new milestone: I have achieved the maximum score of 39 over 1,000 times. Based on nearly 3000 rounds of the quiz, I have achieved it 33.9% of the time.

In recent weeks we have learnt that one of the longstanding features of the quiz will not be the same this year. The people who have achieved scores of 39 so far will not be taking part in Champions League Pop Master in the run-up to Christmas. Last year only four contestants qualified for it, and only one of them had scored the maximum of 39. The others had all scored 36 and got the “3 in 10” right (by naming at least 3 Top 75 hits by a specific artist, in 10 seconds or less).

A good friend has been urging me to apply for the quiz for many months. He even tried to apply on my behalf, but we have learnt that this is not allowed. Maybe, as the clock ticks down to the final Pop Master on Radio 2, I will belatedly send in an email to take part. I suspect that many thousands of people will be doing the same, so my chances of getting on air will be 1,000-1 or worse. But if I do, and past form is any guide, my chances of getting a maximum score will a little over 1 in 3.


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