Virtual pub quiz wins Guinness World Record and raises thousands for charity after going viral in lockdown

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Ben Chapman

Ten years ago, Jay Flynn was sleeping rough.

Now he's the quiz master of Britain's most popular virtual pub quiz who has raised more than £160,000 for NHS charities and gained a Guinness World Record.

The former pub landlord from Darwen in Lancashire said the response to something that started out as "a laugh between friends" as the country went into lockdown has been "overwhelming".

The quiz quickly went viral when he accidentally made a Facebook event publicising it as public. Now it attracts over 180,000 quizzers and it has even won him celebrity friends.

Stephen Fry was a special guest and co-host on Thursday night's quiz that raised money for the Alzheimer's Society.

Last week, Gary Barlow was the half time entertainment.

And he has received a community award from prime minister Boris Johnson.

Jay Flynn - Guinness World Record holding quiz master. Credit: ITV News

"To be achieving what I’m achieving now is not something I ever, ever expected," Mr Flynn told ITV News.

“I’m rubbing shoulders with A-list quality, national treasures if you like.”

"People are trying to put me in the same bracket. I’m just an idiot who sits in front of a camera and asks questions on a Thursday night.”

Mr Flynn, 38, has previously run pub quizzes and now writes a new set of questions every Thursday for his YouTube audience.

After pubs were forced to close ahead of the UK-wide coronavirus lockdown, Mr Flynn decided to try to raise money after his first quiz won him 400,000 friends on Facebook overnight.

"Thursday night was quiz night, whether I was running them or participating," Mr Flynn said.

Mr Flynn said he has started to get used to it the large audience.

"It's just surreal. I don't feel like i'm broadcasting to 182,000 people, I'm just talking to myself, which I do quite often!"

Those taking part submit their scores to social media, then make an optional donation to the NHS or another chosen charity.

During each week's quiz, there is a brief pause to observe the Clap for our Carers tribute with his wife.

"It's the biggest thing I've ever done," Mr Flynn said.

"It's quite overwhelming. Knowing I'm making a difference feels really, really good."

You can follow the The Virtual Pub Quiz here and donate here.