A small pub in the New Forest has built an unlikely worldwide following through its weekly lockdown quizzes broadcast over Facebook.
Entrants from as far north as the Shetland Islands and as far south as Australia log on to watch the landlord of the London Tavern host the competition.
Phil Hoyle, who runs the hostelry in Poulner, Ringwood, in Hampshire, moved his pub quiz online during the first lockdown – and has continued ever since.
Hundreds tune in each week not only to answer questions but to be entertained by the antics of the host.
Phil drinks enthusiastically through the quizzes, commenting on the various ales and offering insights into the bar snacks that he consumes, especially pork scratchings.
During the lockdowns he has presented himself with the ‘employee of the month’ award with great ceremony.
He entertains viewers with updates about the pub and tales of nights out drinking.
Often he is rebuked by his mother who sends him text messages telling him off if his language becomes too fruity.
The quiz questions are set by a pub regular identified only as ‘Spudders’ who always includes words he knows Phil will find difficult to pronounce.
Teams – names of which include No Direction and The Wuhan Clan – send in answer sheets to the local Round Table website, but everything is done on trust.
Spudders’ answers are always final – even if they’re wrong.
Phil, who has spent the lockdown helping his community and providing free meals to key workers, uses the platform to promote his take-away meals and beers.
He said: “It’s been a really hard year, but the quizzes have helped us stay in touch with regulars, and people are tuning in from around the world.
“We’ve had people from all over the UK as well as America, Europe and even the southern hemisphere, which means they have to get up really early.
“It’s been a huge surprise that people who don’t know anything about the pub and have never been are joining us every Thursday at 8pm.
“The quiz is meant as a bit of fun and many people say it has helped them through the lockdowns.
“We’ve also hosted some live music over Facebook and we’ll keep doing it until we can open properly and have people back in.
“We’re only a small pub, a bit out of the way, but we’ve received huge support from the community and we’ve been doing our bit.
“All being well we’ll reopen on April 12 and we’ll probably still do the quizzes on Facebook as well as ‘live’ in the pub.”
Phil and fiancée Sarah Williams have run the London Tavern for three years.