Virtual pub quiz: How to run one that's actually good

By Calum Leslie
Newsbeat reporter

Jeremy Vine on a virtual pub quiz with two contributors (photoshopped)Image source, Getty Images

"We used Zoom for meetings anyway. So now I've got the flipchart out and we're doing Trivial Pursuit on it as well."

Jess Southworth works in sales for a hotel in Manchester. But lately, she says, "I've sort of turned into a virtual quizmaster."

It's the same old story - well, in 2020 anyway. End up on lockdown. Can't see your mates in person. And before you know it - you're doing Pointless in your living room.

"I'm at home at the moment but we've got about 200 people in our team and we try to stay in touch," says Jess.

They started with three quick-fire questions a day on WhatsApp to stay entertained. But after more than two weeks working from home they've been getting more creative.

"I began posting ten questions a day on the work Facebook with a different theme - yesterday it was the Tudors," she says. "On Friday I was doing three different quizzes."

Image source, Jess Southworth
Image caption,
Jess has been getting her flipchart out for quizzes pretty regularly

One quick search of Twitter and you'll find loads of online pub quizzes, whether it's on Zoom or House Party, with hundreds of people around the world taking part.

There's even the odd one hosted by a politician.

So how do you become a quizmaster?

Who better to ask than Eggheads host and Radio 2 presenter Jeremy Vine?

That's actually a question Jeremy wouldn't approve of - his first tip, which is "much harder than it sounds", is to make sure the question you're asking only has one answer.

"If you say 'Who is the son of Queen Elizabeth II?' That could be Prince Charles, Prince Andrew or Prince Edward," he tells Radio 1 Newsbeat. "So that's not a good question."

Tip number two: Jeremy says the "best questions are the really simple ones".

"On Eggheads we had 'What colour is Noddy's hat? A lot of people say red - but it's actually blue."

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

So far, so straightforward. But what if, as quizmaster, you don't know the answer to a question yourself? Jess relies on the internet for some of her answers and that can prove tricky.

"If everyone starts arguing with the answers - what do you do?" she asks.

Jeremy's advice on that? "The key thing with being a quiz setter is: never let anyone ask you a question, because then they'll realise how little you actually know."

The presenter suggests making sure you study up on a few vital subjects though - you can't be a great quizmaster without putting in a bit of work.

"You've got to know the presidents of the USA and the vice presidents, you've got to know oceans, geography, currencies, and kings and queens.

"And if you don't know kings and queens you can just know Henry VIII. If you know him or his wives, you've got a chance in any quiz."

For Nicol Martinez, a virtual pub quiz for her family of 15 has been a perfect activity - but it hasn't been without its controversy.

Image source, Jess Southworth/Nicol Martinez
Image caption,
Jess and Nicol have been big into the virtual quizzing since the coronavirus lockdown

"We wrote our answers on a piece of paper and sent our answers to the host. As far as we're aware no-one cheated, but there were obviously some accusations!" the 25-year-old says.

The biggest issue though was getting everyone on.

"We tried to get nan involved - she's in her late 80s - but she couldn't download the app so she couldn't get involved."

Jeremy says "Britain is the most fanatically quizzy country" - which is why he says Eggheads is "very popular in this country" but hasn't sold to that many countries abroad.

"In this country, knowledge and information is status. People love to know stuff."

So a final tip: if you're planning a quiz for lockdown, take it seriously - because your teams certainly will be.

Follow Newsbeat on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Listen to Newsbeat live at 12:45 and 17:45 weekdays - or listen back here.