Popmaster Stand-Ins

On the Ken Bruce Society Facebook page, everyone likes a moan when someone is standing in for Ken.

It’s just not as good.

But it’s easy to criticize.

Ken makes it sound easy. Off the top of my head, here’s some of the things he’s got to do in the fifteen minutes between 1030 and 1045:

  • Make each contestant feel at ease and react appropriately to their faintly dull celebrity encounter; excruciatingly normal job or recent bereavement in a way that doesn’t sound too derisory despite the pressing need to get on with the quiz.
  • Ask the right questions.
  • Pronounce everything properly.
  • Immediately know whether a given answer is right or wrong.
  • React appropriately (i.e. giving extra praise for a very good answer – this is one of the things that makes him better than all the stand-ins).
  • Know when a half answer merits a point (this is a subtle skill and again Ken does it better than all the stand-ins – his own massive pop knowledge helps him make the call)
  • Listen to the producer in his ear for corrections or borderline decisions. (without breaking the flow).
  • Give people a fraction more of a moment to get an answer out if they’re not doing well (he is GREAT at this).
  • Play the right clips.
  • Remember to give the correct answer for listeners EVERY TIME after a contestant gets it wrong.
  • Rephrase a not-so-well-written question in a better way.
  • Be alert to cheating – and speed up accordingly.
  • Remember the contestants’ names (and where they’re from).
  • Sell the BBC tie-in with whatever question demands it.
  • Convince the listener he’s enjoying this. I mean, he obviously does, but there must be some days where he can’t love it quite as much and still he projects total positive sincerity about the quiz EVERY SINGLE TIME.
  • Keep the pace just right so the quiz finishes at 1045, not 1043 or 1048

And probably loads more.

Anyone can push buttons but fewer can present Popmaster properly.

Ken rules.

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