Ken Bruce

Ken Bruce

Bruce presenting BBC Proms in the Park in 2006
Birth name Kenneth Robertson Bruce
Born (1951-02-02) 2 February 1951
Glasgow, Scotland
Show The Ken Bruce Show
Station(s) BBC Radio 2
Time slot 9:30 am – 12:00 pm weekdays
Show Friday Night Is Music Night
Time slot 8.00 pm Fridays
Style Live music
Country United Kingdom
Website The Ken Bruce Show

Kenneth Robertson "Ken" Bruce (born 2 February 1951)[1] is a Scottish broadcaster who hosts The Ken Bruce Show on BBC Radio 2.[2]

Early life and career

Bruce was born in Glasgow, Scotland. He attended Hutchesons' Grammar School, Glasgow, before training as a chartered accountant. He began his broadcasting career with the Hospital Broadcasting Service in Glasgow.[3]

Bruce became a staff announcer for BBC Radio 4 Scotland and then BBC Radio Scotland before it went on the air in 1978. He also presented a Saturday morning show.

In 1980, he took on the mid-morning slot and then, in 1983, he presented a daily afternoon current affairs show.[4] He hosted the Ken Bruce Show on the BBC World Service in the late 1980s.

Radio 2


Bruce has presented multiple shows on BBC Radio 2. His first broadcasts for Radio 2 were from Scotland when he took over the presentation of Radio 2 Ballroom from Scotland after the death of Radio Scotland announcer/presenter of Scottish Dance Music programmes, David Findlay. He presented Radio 2 Ballroom programmes regularly from November 1980 until 1982 featuring Jim MacLeod and His Band mainly from their resident base of Dunblane Hydro Hotel. The Radio 2 Ballroom broadcasts are not mentioned by Ken Bruce much if at all and don't feature in his autobiography either. He joined Radio 2 more regularly in 1982 as a stand-in presenter, mainly covering for Ray Moore on the Early show. Bruce also presented shows for BBC Radio Scotland from London. Bruce became a regular presenter for Radio 2 in 1984 when he assumed hosting duties for the Saturday late night show in addition to his continuing show on BBC Radio Scotland.

In January 1985, Bruce replaced Terry Wogan on the breakfast programme, being replaced by Derek Jameson in March 1986. Since early 1992 he has hosted the mid-morning slot. As of 11 January 2010, Bruce follows Chris Evans at 9:30 am and is followed by Jeremy Vine at 12 noon.[5]

Programme format and features

Bruce's show emphasises music, including regular live performances. Competitions are usually music-based, with a love song and dedications feature at 10:15 am. A music news slot with (usually) Matt Everitt appears at about 11:10 am on Thursdays. Other regular features include the Record of the Week and the Album of the Week[6] and the Tracks of My Years, where a celebrity picks two songs each day for their particular meaning. The Love Song is played at 10:15 am each day, preceded by dedications, although a number of songs in the rotation are not romantic love songs (e.g. "At Seventeen" by Janis Ian, "The Greatest Love Of All" by George Benson).

The show also includes the daily quiz, PopMaster. It previously included other competitions, such as Spin It to Win It and Words Don't Come Easily, although these were dropped in 2007 over possible abuse of phone-ins (despite no allegation of impropriety against Radio 2). PopMaster quiz returned to Bruce's show in January 2008 with new jingles and a modified selection procedure where listeners had to register first and if successful the production team would call back.

Bruce maintains a bantering relationship with the traffic presenter, typically Lynn Bowles, whereby the two tease each other and respond to listeners' comments. Such comments are read throughout the programme, generally on a theme of the day, such as a news story. Recurring themes include the appearance of Bruce on the studio webcam, Lynn Bowles' involvement with Land Rover and the information from his English Wikipedia profile, with contributors highlighting alterations that have been made; on occasions according to this page, he has become a Knight of the Realm, had many children, is of limited stature, receives an inflated salary and loves caravanning. This cycle of spurious edits being discussed on air has caused the page to be locked due to vandalism on numerous occasions.

Although the programme's playlist is almost exclusively rock, pop and soul from the 1970s onwards, until early 2008 its Radio Data System flag identified it as programme type 12, "M.O.R." It is now identified as programme type 10, "Pop music."

Stand-in presenters have included Richard Allinson, Simon Mayo, Aled Jones, Zoë Ball, Michael Ball and Claudia Winkleman.

The comedian and impressionist Rob Brydon, who is noted for his mimicry of Bruce, sat in for him on 25 August 2008 and again on 1 April 2011 when Brydon impersonated Bruce throughout.[7] Bruce took his first day off sick in 23 years on 10 September 2008. On that occasion, the show was presented by Richard Allinson.

In 2013, the audience for the Ken Bruce Show reached a record 8.17 million.[8] It was announced in May that year that Bruce had signed a new three-year contract with Radio 2, running until 2016.[9]


Main article: PopMaster

Normally, the daily PopMaster quiz, with questions set by music expert Phil Swern, offers a DAB radio for successfully completing the 3 in 10 bonus round. If the listener fails, they are awarded a Bluetooth speaker (replacing the previous consolation prize of an mp3 player). An earlier consolation prize, a 'Space' radio, has been known to appear on eBay, to Bruce's amusement. The losing contestant is given a T-shirt with 'One Year Out' printed across the front (a catchphrase Ken uses in the quiz when a contestant trying to place the year a song was in the charts is out by one year). This 'prize' replaced a CD wallet as of 27 February 2012.

The public phone-in PopMaster quiz was suspended after airing on 18 July 2007. A celebrity version was introduced on 20 July 2007, and continued until 18 January 2008. "3 in 10" was not played in the celebrity version and there was no tie-breaker in the event of a draw. It was rumoured that members of the public would be able to play again before Christmas 2007, however this did not happen.[10][11] Following an announcement by Bruce on 7 January 2008, the normal format returned on 21 January 2008.[12] The game returned with new dramatic, orchestral and guitar based jingles.

Bruce himself was a Popmaster contestant during his show on 17 May 2013, when he took part in a special Eurovision edition of the quiz, live from Malmo, Sweden. Bruce competed against Paddy O'Connell with John Kennedy O'Connor chairing the quiz.

Notable events

While Bruce was on holiday in August 2007, he was briefly replaced by Davina McCall. This attracted more than 150 complaints from listeners.[13]

During his show on 21 April 2008, theatre producer Bill Kenwright told Bruce that Elvis Presley once visited London in 1958 and was taken on a tour of the city by Tommy Steele.[14][15][16] It was believed that Presley had never visited England and the claim caused considerable controversy.[17]

In December 2008, a crew of fishermen listeners were inadvertently relaying the show to every ship and coastguard station for miles around. It was not possible to contact the vessel, so a request was made to Bruce who duly said: "If you are on a ship near the Small rocks, please turn me off."[18]

Soon after, while duetting with Steve Wright's 'Ask Elvis' (a.k.a. Mitch Benn), Bruce recorded a version of the Andy Stewart song “Donald, Where’s yer Troosers?” for the Bandaged CD to raise money for the charity BBC Children in Need. This has now been released as a download.[19]

In December 2008, Bruce was officially inducted into the Radio Academy Hall of Fame.[20]

On April Fools' Day 2011, Bruce's radio show was presented by comedian Rob Brydon impersonating Bruce throughout. Brydon interviewed "Sir Terry Wogan" (impersonated by Peter Serafinowicz), and Bruce himself appeared at the end of the show as his "brother Kenn with two Ns".[21][22]

Other appearances

Bruce has presented BBC Proms in the Park for numerous years.[23] He is Radio 2's regular commentator for the Eurovision Song Contest,[24] and presented the Eurovision Song Contest Previews from 1989–1991 on BBC1. He is a regular presenter of the long-running Friday Night is Music Night.[25]

He occasionally makes appearances in the "Dictionary Corner" on Channel 4's Countdown, the latest during the week of 11 April 2011.[26] When the original presenter Richard Whiteley died in 2005, Bruce said: "[he was] such a nice man – that was the defining quality of him, a genuinely nice man. And he had no real ego."[27]

In November 2007, he appeared on a Never Mind the Buzzcocks special for Children in Need.[28]

Bruce holds a Passenger Carrying Vehicle (PCV) driving licence and is the co-owner of a number of Routemaster buses with Charles Nove, Alan Dedicoat and Steve Madden. He has referred to the buses as "a fantastic piece of engineering and such fun to have".[29]

On 3 March 2008, Bruce took part in Ready, Steady, Cook, broadcast on BBC Two with Lynn Bowles.[30]

Bruce and Bowles recorded Bring Me Sunshine for charity.

On 30 December 2012, Bruce won an edition of Celebrity Mastermind with his specialist subject being the Jeeves novels of P.G. Wodehouse.

In 2014, Bruce narrated the BBC One game show Reflex.

On 4 October 2014, Bruce took part in a celebrity episode of The Chase.

Personal life

Bruce has four sons and two daughters. His youngest son was born in February 2008. He lives with his third wife[1][31] in Thame, Oxfordshire.[32] One of his sons is autistic [33] and Bruce is an active charity campaigner for autism.[34][35]

Bruce is a fan of Rangers F.C., and occasionally remarks on their misfortunes during his show.[36]

His autobiography was published on 4 September 2009, entitled The Tracks of My Years: The Autobiography.[37]


  1. 1 2 "BRUCE, Kenneth Robertson". Debrett's People of Today 2006. Retrieved 15 December 2007.
  2. Staff (1 June 2012). "Ken Bruce Home". BBC Radio. BBC. Retrieved 2 June 2012.
  3. "The Hospital Broadcasting Service Former Members". The Hospital Broadcasting Service. Archived from the original on 6 February 2009. Retrieved 4 January 2010.
  4. "BBC Biography". BBC. Retrieved 4 January 2010.
  5. Staff (1 June 2012). "BBC Radio 2 Schedule for Friday 1 June 2012". BBC Radio. BBC. Retrieved 2 June 2012.
  6. BBC Album of the Week "Latest Records of the Week" Check |url= value (help). BBC. Retrieved 4 January 2010.
  7. "Rob Brydon impersonates Radio 2's Ken Bruce". BBC News. 1 April 2011. Retrieved 23 December 2014.
  8. "How on earth did Radio 2 win 15 million fans, become Europe's top station and even make it big in Brazil?". Daily Mail. London.
  9. Methven, Nicola (2013-05-10). "Ken Bruce signs up to Radio 2 for another three years – Mirror Online". Retrieved 2014-05-08.
  10. Dowell, Ben (22 November 2007). "BBC phone-in contests return – with new rules". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 4 January 2010.
  11. "Phone-ins to resume after scandals". Petersfield Post. Archived from the original on 7 February 2009. Retrieved 4 January 2010.
  12. Mahoney, Elisabeth (22 January 2008). "Radio Review". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 4 January 2010.
  13. "Listeners turned off by DJ Davina". BBC News Online. 25 August 2007. Retrieved 4 January 2010.
  14. Schmidt, Veronica (22 April 2008). "Elvis Presley made a secret visit to England". London: Times Online.
  15. "Elvis's secret UK visit revealed". BBC News Online. 22 April 2008. Retrieved 7 May 2010.
  16. MacInnes, Paul (22 April 2008). "When Elvis came to London". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 January 2010.
  17. Youngs, Ian (1 May 2008). "Elvis friends dispute London trip". BBC News Online. Retrieved 4 January 2010.
  18. "Radio 2 presenter Ken Bruce saves fisherman". London: Daily Telegraph. 16 December 2008. Retrieved 4 January 2010.
  19. "Bandaged, Children In Need CD Released". The Storys. Retrieved 4 January 2010.
  20. "Hall of Fame". The Radio Academy. Retrieved 2014-05-08.
  21. "Rob Brydon impersonates Radio 2's Ken Bruce", BBC News, retrieved 1 April 2011
  22. "Rob Brydon fools Ken Bruce's Radio 2 fans", The Independent, retrieved 1 April 2011
  23. "Ken Bruce profile". Radio Rewind. Retrieved 4 January 2010.
  24. "Ask Ken Bruce transcript". BBC talk. Retrieved 4 January 2010.
  25. "Friday Night is Music Night". BBC. Retrieved 4 January 2010.
  26. "Countdown: Celebrities". Ask Oxford. Retrieved 4 January 2010.
  27. "Ken Bruce quotes". Retrieved 4 January 2010.
  28. "Never Mind the Buzzcocks appearance record". Retrieved 4 January 2010.
  29. "I Love Routemasters". BBC. Retrieved 4 January 2010.
  30. "Episode 16". BBC. Retrieved 4 January 2010.
  31. "Biography". IMDB. Retrieved 4 January 2010.
  33. "Famous Fans". Rangers Loyal. Retrieved 4 January 2010.
  34. "The Tracks of My Years: The Autobiography". Retrieved 4 January 2010.

External links

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