I’ve been a fairly passive fan of Ken Bruce and his PopMaster music quiz on BBC Radio 2 for several years now. I find my knowledge is very hit and miss; I tend to know really random things, and then forget something that should be obvious.
In a moment of inspiration whilst listening one morning, I suggested to some friends that a good challenge might be for me to take part in PopMaster, assuming I could get on the show. Frances Houseman was quick to make a donation and set me the challenge.
It’s super easy to apply by sending a quick email to the show, but there’s no guarantee you’ll be picked. The first round of sifting is done over the phone – they call you up, have a quick chat about you, confirm you’re able to be on the next day’s show and then ask you five qualifying music questions.
I must confess, I tried almost as soon as the challenge was set and I got the call whilst having a coffee with a mate. At the time, it came from ‘No caller ID’ and I was so used to that being the NHS phoning about Mum that I was all discombobulated when the voice on the other end of the phone said ‘Hi I’m phoning from BBC Radio 2 PopMaster.’ Unsurprisingly, I didn’t do very well; I only got one of the five questions right, and that obviously wasn’t enough because I didn’t hear anymore.
You’re allowed to apply again after 28 days, so I did. Didn’t hear anything this time, so I figured I’d just keep trying every month until I finished my challenges. At least I’d tried!
Third time lucky
The old saying goes ‘third time lucky’ and that’s exactly what I was. They generally line up the contestants each day for the following day and I wasn’t available for the first slot they offered me, but they called again and we went through the process again.
This time, I managed a respectable three out of five in the qualifying questions, which was obviously enough to make me a suitable candidate. They called back later to confirm I’d been shortlisted for the show on Tuesday 2nd August and to be ready to accept a call that morning to confirm my place.
I was so excited/nervous that I really didn’t sleep well. It suddenly became vitally important to remember who had a hit with Jive Talking at 4.03am. Gawd only knows why, but I was so stressed by the fact I couldn’t remember that I had to wake up and check! It’s The Bee Gees, by the way.
So, the morning arrived and I carried my phone EVERYWHERE with me in anticipation of THE CALL, and in it came.
I was the first contestant that day and, with Ken Bruce away on holiday, Ooh Gary Davies was hosting the show. I remember listening to him on Radio 1 as a teenager, so I was a bit giddy!
We had a lovely chat and I was able to explain all about my 50 challenges, as well as my motivation for fundraising. I went on to score a healthy 15 out of 39. I know that doesn’t sound much, but PopMaster is for those with really good musical knowledge. I was just delighted to have got into double figures! And, of course, for me, it was just about taking part.
You can listen back here: Shelle on PopMaster
My opponent scored a very impressive 27 so she went on to win, and deservedly so. I was chuffed to take part and have a few moments to tell my story. I was even more chuffed when my PopMaster ‘One Year Out’ t-shirt arrived a few days later, along with a signed photo of Gary Davies, don’t ya know!
The legacy from appearing on the show is way more than just ticking a challenge off my list. I received over £1,000 in donations from people who don’t know me from Adam but happened to hear me on the show, including a whopping £500 from one person! I’m still receiving lovely emails and messages ten days on. Amazing!
Challenge 37 was definitely memorable 🙂