Listeners accused Radio 2 of launching a “carbon copy” of Ken Bruce’s hit Popmaster quiz in the morning slot vacated by the Scottish DJ.
Bruce, who left Radio 2 last week, owns the rights to PopMaster, which he will relaunch next month on his new morning show at commercial rival Greatest Hits Radio.
The BBC moved quickly to create an alternative to PopMaster, which delivered the peak audience for Bruce at 10.30am, as listeners played along at home.
Unveiled by Gary Davies on Monday morning, with Radio 2 stars Zoe Ball and Richie Anderson the first players, Ten To The Top featured similar elements to PopMaster.
Like its predecessor, the daily game asks two contestants ten questions based around popular music.
In the new quiz, contestants accumulate more points when they answer the questions correctly in order.
In PopMaster questions are worth three points, with selected “bonus” questions worth six points. Ten to the Top allows contestants to win double points for a question by playing their joker.
Listeners called the quiz a “copy” on social media. One tweeted: “What is this garbage on Radio 2? Don’t mind Gary Davies but absolutely no point in having a quiz which is like a Poundland Popmaster.”
Another wrote: “It’s a #popmaster Champions League carbon copy! Anyway, back to GHR.”
Others said the accumulative scoring system was “confusing” making it harder to play along with.
But the quiz, which will continue when Vernon Kay takes over the mid-morning slot in May, found favour with some of Bruce’s regular audience. “I loved the old Popmaster but it was getting a bit tired and that’s given it a bit of a boost,” one said.
Asked about similarities between the two quizzes, a Radio 2 spokesperson said: “Radio 2 listeners have enjoyed a weekday music quiz at 10.30am for decades and this will continue with our brand new quiz, Ten To The Top, for our new mid-morning show.”
Bruce was contacted for comment.
PopMaster was conceived by Bruce, quiz expert Phil Swern and Vanessa Brady, a doctor of design, over a lunch. First aired in 1998, it became an instant hit with listeners, helping Bruce’s Radio 2 show become the most popular in Britain.
With the BBC having no legal claim to PopMaster, it urgently needed to bed in a new quiz before Bruce welcomes listeners to GHR, insiders said.
“PopMaster is a weapon GHR has to steal Ken’s audience. The BBC has a month to establish a new quiz and they clearly want to reassure listeners missing Ken with a familiar format.”
It is unlikely that Bruce’s team could bring a legal challenge against the BBC since the basic elements of a pop quiz would be not be copyrightable and the creators of Ten to the Top can probably point to sufficient difference in its rules.
A BBC veteran of four decades, Bruce, 72, broadcast his final show on Friday morning after being placed on gardening leave by Radio 2 bosses.
The Scot accepted a three-year deal at the Bauer-owned GHR, saying the BBC had yet to offer him a contract extension.
Bruce will not be able to match his weekly audience of eight million at GHR but his presence, alongside another ex-BBC star, Simon Mayo, will prove a powerful attraction for advertisers.