Bruce presenting BBC Proms in the Park in 2006
Kenneth Robertson Bruce
2 February 1951
Kerith Bruce (m. 2000)
|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|
Bruce was born and raised 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.
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 BBC 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 himself by Derek Jameson in March 1986. Since Monday 6 January 1992 he has hosted the mid-morning slot, which was originally 2 hours long until it was extended by 30 minutes from 25 May 1998. As of 14 January 2019, Bruce follows Zoë Ball at 9:30 am and is followed by Jeremy Vine at 12 noon. On Thursday 1 August 2019 it was announced that his show had become the most popular radio programme in the UK, with 8.49m daily listeners, following a fall in the popularity of Zoë Ball's breakfast show.
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 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 a 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 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 (Richie Anderson since May 2018, previously 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.
Although the programme's playlist is almost exclusively rock, pop and soul from the 1960s 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".
The comedian and impressionist Rob Brydon, who is noted for his mimicry of Bruce, sat in for him on 25 August 2008 and again as an April fool prank in 2011 when Brydon impersonated Bruce throughout. Bruce took his first day off sick in 23 years on 10 September 2008. On that occasion, the show was presented by Richard Allinson.
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 Bruce 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. Following an announcement by Bruce on 7 January 2008, the normal format returned on 21 January 2008. 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.
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. It was believed that Presley had never visited England and the claim caused considerable controversy.
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."
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 was released as a download.
In December 2008, Bruce was officially inducted into the Radio Academy Hall of Fame.
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".
Bruce has presented BBC Proms in the Park for many years. Since 1988, he has been Radio 2's commentator for the Eurovision Song Contest, having taken over from Ray Moore. 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.
He occasionally makes appearances in the "Dictionary Corner" on Channel 4's Countdown, the latest during the week of 11 April 2011. 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."
Bruce holds a PCV (Passenger Carrying Vehicle) driving licence and is the co-owner of a number of AEC 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".
In 2014, Bruce narrated the BBC One game show Reflex. On 4 October 2014, he took part in a celebrity episode of The Chase. Bruce featured with his son Charlie on the fifth series of Big Star's Little Star and in October 2018, he appeared as a cameo on Hollyoaks.
Bruce has four sons and two daughters. His youngest son was born in February 2008. He lives with his wife Kerith in Oxfordshire. One of his sons is autistic and Bruce is an active charity campaigner for autism.
His autobiography was published on 4 September 2009, entitled The Tracks of My Years: The Autobiography.
In September 2018, Bruce became the patron of Stoke Mandeville Hospital Radio, replacing former mayor of Aylesbury and long-standing patron and co-founder of the station, Freda Roberts MBE JP. Ken said "Hospital Radio continues to thrive and I am delighted to take on the role of patron."
| BBC Radio 2
Breakfast Show Presenter