Brentford Pub's Virtual Happy Hours Gain International Notice

Magpie and Crown streaming quizzes to brighten up lockdown

Scott Illman, who runs the Magpie and Crown pub
Scott Illman, who runs the Magpie and Crown pub

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A pub landlord and “family champion” of trivia has been live streaming quirky quizzes in the hope of putting a smile on people’s faces during the lockdown.

Scott Illman, who runs the Magpie and Crown pub in Brentford, has attracted an international audience to his ‘virtual happy hours’ on Facebook, from the likes of South Africa, Canada, Scottish isles and the United States.

Dressing up in wacky shirts, comic face masks and using his children’s toy box for props, the 45-year-old said the evening entertainments are not about making money.

“There are a lot of people out there that are quite lonely and a lot of people that aren’t getting their weekly fix at the pub…I wanted to do something a bit fun,” Scott said.

“People have told me I should do a YouTube channel, I’m not about trying to become a celebrity, I just want to put a smile on people’s faces.”

On Thursdays, Scott hosts a games night with punters from their living rooms such as darts and blackjack – with live interaction from viewers telling him what to do.

And on Wednesdays and Fridays the dad-of-two runs pub quizzes with rounds such as ‘say what you can see’ using his son’s toys and music questions.

Saturdays also showcase musicians’ talents performing to viewers over video.

The pub boss also said his friend’s mum living in Scotland tunes in with the family via WhatAapp to join in the evenings’ fun.

“It’s her highlight of the week as she’s on her own, that is just lovely if I’m doing that for a few people,” he added.

The pub is also encouraging NHS thank yous and drawings to be sent to the premises in order to brighten up the high street. So far around 14 colourful rainbows and pictures have been showcased on its windows.

However Scott – who also owns a restaurant in Clapham and a small home rental business, has said he is lucky not to solely rely on his pub business during the crisis but admits his income is “coming to a halt”.

“It is a scary time for a small business owner,” he said.

So far, the Ealing resident has been able to receive government support through furloughing staff, a business rate break and a grant to allow the business to tide over through the lockdown.

And he believes the government is doing as good a job as it can through the unprecedented period.

“They won’t have all the information yet, this is a new pandemic,” he said.

“As long as the government keeps my landlords at bay I’m fine, but that is because I don’t have to rely fully on that income.”

While uncertainty remains over future help and when the ban will be lifted on pub and restaurants, Scott is keeping busy through volunteering in the community and home schooling his two sons, four and six years old, each morning.

“I’m loving it. As long as nobody in my family or friends comes out of this in a dire way then I will look back at this time fondly, because of the time I’ve got to spend with my two boys,” he aid.

To find out more about the pub and its ‘virtual happy hours’, search ‘The Magpie and Crown Brentford’ on Facebook or email

Anahita Hossein-Pour - Local Democracy Reporter

April 23, 2020

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