Neil O’Brien, the “grandfather of quiz game in India”, as described by well known quizmaster Siddhartha Basu died in the city on Friday. He was 82 years old and left behind three sons, Derek,
Trinamool Congress Rajya Sabha MP, Andy and Barry and thousands of admirers. Neil O’Brien, a former Rajya Sabha MP was suffering from various ailments for quite some time.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee tweeted the death of the quizmaster and remarked,” He will be missed by lakh of quiz fans across the country. He was the pioneer of quiz and much more. India and Bengal will miss him.” She extended her condolence to all members of the O’Brien family.
Neil O’Brien was an early pioneer of quizzing in India. He was the first person to hold a well organised formal quizzing in 1967 at Christ the King Church parish Hall in the city. He had just returned from England was exposed to pub quizzing culture there. He first brought quizzing to the Anglo Indian community before it became popular among a larger audience.
Neil O’Brien will be remembered for his initiative to introduce Bournvita Quiz Contest for high school students on April 12, 1972. It was the first quiz show to be broadcast on radio in India. It became immensely popular among the students across the country and had opened a new chapter of quizzing in the country.
Neil O’Brien was intimately connected with the city’s cultural life and most of the intellectuals from
different arena were his personal friend. Tapan Roy, a high profile executive who got the chance with working with Neil O’Brien in the Dalhousie Institute said “He was a thorough gentleman and it was a real pleasure working with him.”
As an administrator he was highly disciplined with unique administrative qualities. He was always humble and maintained a very low profile but knew how to run an institution smoothly. “His paper work was remarkable he took the Dalhousie Institute to such a great height,” Roy recollected.
“Saddest tweet I’ve ever written. Dad Neil O’Brien gone. Passed at home Kolkata, quiz pioneer, ex ICSE chief, AI community icon, educationist,” Derek O’Brien said in a tweet.