Great Scott

I hope that if you enjoy and indulge in Halloween and Bonfire Night, that you had a good time. I have never really been a fan of Halloween even as a child. I never went trick or treating. Also I have never liked horror films or anything scary. That is possibly why it never really did it for me or to be honest why it still does not. That said I would like to go to Jonathan Ross’s big Halloween Party one year, it does look like brilliant fun. And I quite fancy dressing up in a ridiculous outfit. Plus the guest list for that event is usually very impressive.

I am a little more on board with Fireworks night. I was taken to lots of displays as a kid. I do remember we had some family ones at my Nan and Granddad’s. Where the men would take all the shop bought fireworks up the garden in a biscuit tin. Then take turns to set them off. I am pretty sure health and safety had not been invented then, as I do seem to remember having to run for cover on more than one occasion, as they misjudged the direction of a rocket. Let us call it character building entertainment. I did not go to any displays this year. I think decades of working at them as a radio presenter has made me feel that may be I have earned a break from them.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley point’s the way on stage at the Mix 96 Fireworks.

A big horse racing fan, I now have a very small amount of shares in two race horses. A couple of Sunday’s ago I went down to see one of them at the trainer’s stables in Somerset. Which was quite apt, as I went to my first course when I was living in Yeovil, while working at Ivel fm. Wincanton Races used to advertise with us and as a result of that, we occasionally got some tickets to go and watch. In fact we did a live broadcast from there one afternoon. Channel Four Racing had to ask us to turn our radio mic off, as it was affecting their sound. It was also at Wincanton Races that I saw the Somerset legends the Wurzels perform for the first time. It is a decent little track.

Driving down to Somerset that Sunday morning via the A303 gave me a very nostalgic feeling. Having done that journey many times during the five years I lived there. It was actually quite nice to once again pass Stonehenge and drive through some of the small villages round there. My horses’ are both trained by the current Champion Trainer Paul Nicholls out of his stables in Ditcheat, which is only about ten minutes away from Wincanton. It was an open day at the stables organised by the Owners Group. A lovely crisp but sunny autumn day as we arrived at the former dairy farm, which is now home to over sixty horses.

Neil Quigley and Paul Nicholls

They had bacon sandwiches and hot drinks waiting for us. Which were very welcome after the two and an half hour drive. Then we went to the courtyard at the front of the house to wait for the proceedings to begin. Out walks Paul Nicholls himself to greet us and say hello, then a selection of horses are paraded in front of us including mine who is called “Force Ten”. The trainer then tells us a bit about each of them. While we take as many pictures as we like. There is then a question and answer session. Before we are then allowed to have a good look around the stables.

At this point all I wanted to do was go and see my horse “Force Ten” in his home. He is a lovely horse, only four years old. But he is doing well in training and everybody is very happy with him. I managed to find his stable and get even more pictures of him. Then before I left I got to have a quick chat with Paul Nicholls and have my photo taken with him to.

Force Ten

I am hoping for many years of enjoyment from watching and supporting this horse. As I am a bit more involved in the sport. I am starting to discover and learn much more about it, which is great. The Jockey colours are purple with black stripes on the sleeves and a black hat. Keep an eye out for “Force Ten” and if you see him at a race course, could you cheer him on for me please?

The visit was brilliant. Everybody was so helpful and friendly. It was wonderful of Paul and all his staff to give up their time to let us see the horse and also the quality facilities that he has at his disposal. I hope to visit the place again at some point in the future. I was at the races at Newbury last Thursday to see “Force Ten” make his debut. He ran well and led for most of the way round but found the last few furlongs tough going. It was brilliant to see him in action. This is very much just the start of things, I hope.

Force Ten

I went to the world famous jazz bar Ronnie Scott’s for the first time earlier this year. I absolutely loved it, such an amazing place to have a drink and listen to great musicians play. Tickets are quite hard to come by as the place is pretty much sold out all of the time. It has been a cool place to be seen at for many years now. Many familiar faces have been regular patrons virtually since it was launched.

On the thirtieth of October 1959 the club opened its doors for the first time. Sixty years later to the day there was a huge celebration to mark this achievement at the Royal Albert Hall. I was fortunate enough to be able to get a ticket to attend this event. I went with a few mates of mine. We grabbed some food from the nearest pub to the venue. Then made our way to what is arguably one of the best places to enjoy live music in the country. The line-up as you would expect was very impressive. The place was sold out.

Royal Albert Hall

It was a musical celebration alongside a history of the club itself. It was hosted by singer and actor Clarke Peters. He took us through the trials and tribulations of the place assisted by photographs all displayed on the big screen. This was broken up with the excellent musical performances. I was delighted to see Curtis Stigers appear and do a couple of songs. He really does have such a lovely and also distinctive voice. He was a bonus as he was not listed as appearing.

Next up it was the well-known violinist Nigel Kennedy who played a couple of Jimmi Hendrix numbers. The reason being the guitar god actually played his last ever gig in Ronnie’s before he tragically died. That was quite an experience seeing Nigel in action. He does really put on quite a show. I was looking forward to seeing Georgie Fame play. But unfortunately he recently had a fall and was unable to perform. His band the Blue Flames were there and singer Kurt Elling stepped in to do a couple of Georgie’s songs with them.

Now the next man I was looking forward to seeing can be a bit of an enigma. If he has not been in the mood or not happy with how things are going, he has been known to walk off at his own gigs, after a few numbers. Happily Van Morrison seemed to be on good form on this night. He came on with his trusty saxophone and did a couple of jazz standards. He was absolutely brilliant, whatever opinions you may have of the man himself, you cannot argue with the fact that he is a fantastic musician. Who does have a certain sound and an instantly recognisable voice! I thought he was superb. I am so pleased I have now managed to see him live.

I have for many years now been a fan of Imelda May. I think that she has an amazing voice. She produces great songs. And she has a really good energy about her. That is something I really like in people in general, as well as my singers. I was even more excited when she replied to a tweet I sent her before the event. She was outstanding, she had the whole place hanging on her every word. It was a full on powerhouse of a performance from start to finish. I will have to go and see one of her gigs next time she is out on tour. Top quality.

A special mention has to go to the fabulous Madeline Bell. She was the penultimate act on the evening. She is seventy-seven years old and was bouncing around the stage like a teenager. I do not think I have seen anybody put so much in to a performance. Add to that the fact her voice sounded sensational. She was brilliant and is now my new role model. I honestly want to be more like her. She even had her mobile phone on stage taking pictures of the audience. What a lady!

Ronnie Scott the man himself who opened the bar with his business partner Pete King was a Saxophone player of some note. Who of course regularly used to play and run the band at his club. For the finale at the Albert Hall to mark his preference for this instrument and to celebrate the years since the place launched. They had sixty tenor saxophonists on stage. That was quite a spectacle. It was a top night out with high class musicians and entertainers. I will I am sure find myself in Ronnie Scott’s again before the year is out. It is a really cool place.

Ronnie Scott’s

I guess in many ways I am just a big kid at heart, which is probably why I was so excited when I got my hands on some tickets to see the latest London production of Mary Poppins. I used to love the film as a child. And like most people in the county I already know all the big songs from it. It is on at the Prince Edward theatre in Soho. I went to see it the other Thursday. I had seen the actor playing Bert, Charlie Stemp star in Half a Sixpence a few years ago, then in the last two pantomimes at the London Palladium. I already knew he was ace. I thought he would be perfect for this role, as I know he can sing, dance and act brilliantly.

I was way more excited than a man of my age really should be, as my sister and I took our seats in row 3 of the stalls ready for the start of the show. What can I say? The show was absolutely amazing. The staging and the choreography were out of this world. It was so clever how they made all the magical and spectacular things from the film work on stage. Zizi Strallen as Mary Poppins was practically perfect in every way. Joking aside she was just stunning in the role. A lot for her to do and she did it all fantastically with authority and grace. You could not take your eyes off her whenever she was on stage. It felt like she was totally in control of things. Just like Mary Poppins is.

Mary Poppins

I also felt I was totally right about Charlie Stemp. He was brilliant as the chirpy Bert. Just like Zizi whenever he was on stage he fully held your attention. The transitions between scenes were so slick and so very clever. The dance routine for Step In Time is almost worth the ticket price itself. It is just a stunning piece of theatre. You also get a cameo appearance from the wonderful Petula Clark to. In fact the whole of the cast are amazing. There is so much going on at any one time it is actually quite hard to take it all in. It has it all, great songs, amazing dance routines, comedy, tragedy and of course a huge slice of moral dilemmas.

I defy anyone not to see that show and leave in a upbeat and happy mood. It received a massive well deserved standing ovation at the end. There are many surprises that occur that I am obviously not going to spoil for you here. This show is only on for a very short time but it is definitely worth seeing, if you have the chance. If I was to try to some up this version of Mary Poppins in say just one word. Then I think I would call it supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.

Mary Poppins

I was up in Liverpool for a few days last weekend. Normally I go up there and stay with a mate of mine. And if we can we always try to see the Everton against Tottenham game together. However this time due to a piece of very unfortunate timing. The match was moved from the Saturday to the Sunday for television. This meant my friend was not going to be able to make it, as he was going away. He did however offer me his ticket, so I could still go and see the game at Goodison Park.

For the first time in years I now had to find a hotel to stay in. Many years ago I remember seeing possibly one of the first ever fly on the wall documentaries about the Adelphi Hotel in Liverpool. It was a grand place with a large ballroom and suited smart guests, as I was looking for somewhere to stay. The option to stay there arose. It is not the same level of hotel it once was it is fair to say. It looks great from the outside but the inside is looking a bit tired and old. It could do with a little bit of a makeover to be honest. But it is in a great part of the city and I only really needed somewhere to sleep. Therefore I booked it for my stay.

Neil Quigley and Jeff Nolan
Neil Quigley and Jeff Nolan

I arrived about six o’clock on the Saturday evening. Checked in and made my way up in the lift to my room. I think they were still the original lifts from the nineteen fifties. It was certainly the slowest lift that I had been in for a while. The room was fine and it fulfilled my needs for the weekend. I just had time to get changed and grab half a Pizza on the way to meet my friend’s cousin, who was meeting up for a few drinks with me.

He took me on a tour of about six or seven different pubs and bars that I had not been in before. They were all decent establishments with a nice selection of beers and good music, which is what you want from a night out. I had not seen him for a while so it was good to have a chat and a laugh. We finished the night in a bar just round the corner from the hotel. It had a couple of old school singers doing all the classic hits from the sixties to the eighties. It was the perfect way to end the evening.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

The next morning it was game day. I got up and treated myself to a large breakfast at a Wetherspoons before getting the train to see my mate’s dad, who I was going to the match with. We had a few drinks at some classic pubs on the way to Goodison Park, which was good fun. Once in the ground I had a beef pie to soak up a bit of the beer. Then I took my place in my friend’s seat to watch the game.

Both teams are not having particularly good seasons. This was reflected in the game as both teams were poor. It ended in a one all draw. It was an awful match. That sadly did feature a terrible injury to the Everton player Andre Gomes. I wish him a speedy recovery. Nobody likes to see these things happen on a pitch. I really do like Everton’s ground. It is a proper traditional football stadium. And their supporters are great.

Goodison Park
Goodison Park

Straight after the game I met up with the bloke I was with the night before and gate crashed a family night out he was having at The Hot Water Comedy Club. Unfortunately due to the game over running we actually missed the first part of the comedy night, as we arrived too late. We had a drink in the bar while waiting for the next break, so we could then go in.

We got in for the second and third sections of it. I thought it was a really nicely run little comedy club. The stage, sound and seating was spot on. The compere for the night was good interacting and talking with the audience. The rest of the acts were a bit more hit and miss to be honest. But in their defence it was a new material night, so they were trying out some new stuff.

When the comedy was over I had a final quick drink with them in a Karaoke bar. While I was there I got to “enjoy” versions of Bryan Adams and Cher songs. I then left them there stopping on my way back to the hotel for a cheeky late night McDonalds. Well I was on holiday, sort of. I got the train home on the Monday morning after another great couple of days in a City that I am very fond of.

Neil Quigley in Liverpool
Neil Quigley in Liverpool

My Granddad grew up there after moving over from Ireland. I had a bit of an odd experience in one of the pubs on the Saturday night. I was standing by the bar, when I noticed a man by the entrance. Who seemed to be looking at me. I looked back at him and noticed that he was a spitting image of my dad!

This was totally confirmed as I walked past him on my way out. We did not say anything to each other. When I got home I checked with my dad. He told me that he does still have some cousins in Liverpool. I am guessing this bloke must of been one of them. Either that or my Granddad may have had a son up there, who we did not know about.

Albert Docks
Albert Docks

I had my annual Asthma check-up recently. During which I received my yearly telling off about using my inhaler incorrectly. I have been using them since I was seven. But have never been able to do it the right way. Anyway I am all fine and it appears to be under control. I did also take the opportunity to have the flu jab. As I am very much of the thinking, if I am entitled to it, I will have it. If you can have it, do have it. I think it makes sense.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

The less said about Tottenham at the moment the better. But this afternoon I am going to watch them play against the team who I own shares in. About twenty years ago a mate said it would be good to buy shares in Sheffield United. He convinced me and another mate and we put one hundred pounds in each and bought three hundred pounds worth of shares.

The plan was to make some money. We still have those shares. They are now almost worth what we paid for them originally. Needless to say I have not taken any financial advice from this particular friend since, although I am looking forward to the match. And just to be clear I want Spurs to win it.

Neil Quigley

Have fun and we will catch up again in a couple of weeks. Cheers Neil.

Phantom Fun

During my years working in radio I have met and worked with many fantastic people. I am delighted that I am still in contact with lots of my former colleague’s. And also some super talented people, who I have met, when they were guests on my show. I enjoy following their careers and catching up with them from time to time. One of them is the amazing Mike Sterling.

I first met him when I was working at Ivel fm in Somerset. He was also then living in the area. One day he came to the studios while I was on air to get some publicity for a show that he was involved with at the excellent Octagon Theatre in the town. My boss pretty much brought him straight in to me and I interviewed him about his career and the upcoming performance.

He made his name singing in the pubs and clubs of his native Wales. There he was spotted by a producer of the television talent show New Faces. He made it to the final in 1987 being narrowly beaten by a comedian called Joe Pasquale. I wonder what happened to him. He impressed a few certain well known musical theatre producers with his performances. This led to him ultimately playing The Phantom of The Opera in the West End and also a stint as Jan Valjean in Les Mis once again in the capital.

He has appeared in countless other musicals and plays all over the country since. Including the last UK and International Tour of Evita in which he played Juan Peron. He has also regularly performed as a vocalist all over the world. My favourite fact is that he did appear in Allo Allo as one of the Italian Soldiers. Anyway he came in told me about the show in Yeovil. I went along to see it and his voice blew me away.

Mike Sterling and Neil Quigley

We stayed in touch from that moment. He ended up helping us judge lots of local talent competitions at The Chicago Rock Cafe. Plus he once very kindly performed at the Christmas Lights Switch on in the town for me. In fact he sang at my Fortieth Birthday party, a couple of years ago. As part of the mini variety show I put on. I did actually kind of sing with him that night, as we did a version of the classic Morecambe and Wise song “Bring Me Sunshine” to end the show.

He has his own show at the minute that he takes all over the world called “Stars of West End”. In which he and fellow West End stars perform hit songs from lots of different musicals. I went to see this show last Sunday at The Kenton Theatre in Henley on Thames. It was the first time I had been there. It is a lovely, cosy and friendly place. It has a comforting feel to it. The Staff there were all great.

As well as Mike Sterling of course, the cast included the legend that is Shona Lindsay. She has played Christine in The Phantom of the Opera and Sandy in Grease to mention but two of the huge roles that she has portrayed. She was actually Christine when Mike was The Phantom, so they know each other so well. This shows when they perform together. She has an amazing voice, just so talented.

Next there was the ridiculously sublime Jenny Fitzpatrick. She has been in The Lion King and most recently played Tina Turner in “Tina Turner – The Musical” I was lucky enough to see her in that role and she was sensational, such a powerful voice and a fantastic actor. Add to that the fact she is one of the nicest people that you could wish to meet. She will be playing big roles in big shows for years to come, in my opinion.

The final singer was the amazingly versatile Ross William Wild. He has been in We Will Rock You, Grease, The Million Dollar Quartet and up until recently was the lead singer with Spandau Ballet after replacing Tony Hadley. He is now fronting his own Rock band called Mercutio. He has a fantastic voice as you would expect from a young man with all of that already on his CV.

Jenny Fitzpatrick

They were backed by an all-star band made up of current West End musicians under the musical directorship of Duncan Waugh. Who is Sir Tim Rice’s MD. The show was totally brilliant from start to finish. It kicked off with the whole cast performing One Night Only. It was then a mixture of duets, group numbers and of course solo songs from each of the four cast members. They all performed some of the huge numbers from the shows that they had starred in. Everyone was on fire. It looked and sounded great.

The whole audience were on their feet singing, clapping and dancing by the end. They received a very well deserved standing ovation. I totally loved it. There was a small after show party at a restaurant in Henley called Hoff’s. That I was lucky enough to have been invited to. I got to hang out and celebrate with Mike, which was great. I did also manage to have a chat to the talented Jenny Fitzpatrick and wonderful Ross William Wild.

Do keep an eye out for any shows featuring these stars individually, you will not be disappointed. They are all top quality. Also it is hoped that they will be able to do more of these “Stars of The West End” performances. If you like songs from the musicals in West End quality at your local theatre, then go and see this show, if you get chance to. I had a brilliant night. It always makes me very proud seeing a mate kill it on stage.

Mike Sterling

Previously you may remember me mentioning a quiz show that I am helping to develop. Well we had another run through of it to try to sell it to a television channel, to get it on screen. I am still waiting to hear how this went and if it will be commissioned.

It was once again a lot of fun to step in as a contestant to show off some of my general knowledge skills. It was hosted by the lovely Gabby Roslin, who is a top presenter. If it gets on television, I will at that point be able to say that I helped to get it there, well at least a little bit.

Gaby Roslin and Neil Quigley

I spent around three fun years working as a Tour Guide at Wembley Stadium. For somebody like me who loves music and football it was a great place to be. I got to visit every important part of the place and take thousands of fans from all over the word around to experience the home of English Football.

I have walked out of that tunnel more times than David Beckham. Although unlike him I only got to play on the hallowed turf once, while I was there. But that was an amazing experience.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

The other great thing about my time there was the other people that I worked with, a fantastic bunch. We worked hard but we had a lot of fun in the process. It was great being involved when the NFL came to town. I met the England manager a few times. And had to help out when we had to sneak David Beckham and his children through on a private tour hiding him from the public one weekend.

Sadly one of my former colleagues has recently passed away after a short illness. And another was leaving. To mark both of these events a friend of mine organised some drinks. Last Friday we met up in a pub just round the corner from Marylebone Station. He had hired their function room. It was really nice to see so many people who I knew there. It was brilliant to catch up with everyone, reminisce and have a good old laugh. I am very proud to have worked for both the Football Association and the BBC in my career so far.

NFL Dolphins v Raiders
NFL Dolphins v Raiders The Team

I am still watching Strictly Come Dancing this year. I have not really got a favourite couple as yet. But there are quite a few of them who I do like. He is not the best dancer but he is trying hard and he is very funny. Chris Ramsey is doing great, I met him a few years ago after a gig in Aylesbury. He is a top bloke. I also like Karen Hauer his partner for her dancing and the fact I think she is a little bit crazy. I did have a small bit of Twitter banter with them both the other week about him teaching her how to speak “Geordie”.

It is nice to see Anton Du Beke doing well this year with his partner Emma Barton. She seems lovely and can clearly dance a bit. I do like Mike Bushell and Katya Jones. I fear his time could be up soon but I hope not, as he lives not far from me, so I feel it is right to support the local person. It does seem pretty even at the moment with the top of the leader board changing every week. It will be a good one this week as it is the Halloween Special. The costumes and make up are always unbelievable for it.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I was back at White Hart Lane after the International break to see us rescue a draw against bottom of the Premier League Watford last Saturday. We once again were not very good in this game and were lucky to get a point from it.

As you can imagine this did not fill me with confidence going into our big Champions League game at home to Red Star Belgrade last Tuesday. I had managed to get my dad a ticket for the seat next to mine, so he could come and watch his first ever match in the new stadium.

Dad and Me at Spurs

We got to the ground nice and early to avoid the queues. We then grabbed a bite to eat and a drink. It was fun to show him the place for the first time on a match day. We took our seats in time to see the teams walk out and hear the Champions League Anthem. We then happily went on to produce our best performance so far this season and ended up winning five-nil. It really could have been more. But if you had offered me this result before kick off, I would have taken it.

I mean it did help us not conceding a goal in the first ten minutes and then us scoring early ourselves. It was nice to get a decent win. Plus it was good to see a few players returning from injury. Tomorrow we have the small matter of trying to tame the league leaders as we go to Liverpool. They remain unbeaten in the league this year and we really need the points. I do have a bit more hope after the last game than I did before it. Fingers crossed we put on a really good display.

Neil Quigley

Tomorrow I am hoping to visit the stables of top horse racing trainer Paul Nicholls’. To see one of the horses that I have a small share in called “Force Ten”. It all depends on the weather. If it does happen I will tell you about it next time we speak.

Force Ten

Have fun and we will catch up again in a couple of weeks. Cheers Neil.

The Game of Life

The end of the summer and the transition to the autumn can be a difficult time. The days are getting shorter and the weather colder. Not to mention a lot wetter at the moment. What you need at this time of the year is a day out with your mates. Which is handy as this is when the now annual boys’ day out at the Ascot Beer Festival and Racing Weekend occurs.

Now in its third year, it is very much an established event. The first time we went we just got normal admission tickets before we found out that for an extra five pounds we could get into the King Edward VII Enclosure, if we wore a suit. As this is the only racing event that we can get anywhere near these facilities, we now do this. It gives us all an excuse to dress up for the occasion.

It is always something I look forward to, as there are not many times during the year nowadays that we all get to spend the day together having a laugh and of course a couple of drinks. I was staying at one of their houses, so we arrived together and met the rest of them at the entrance. There had been a slight issue the previous year when one of the group had not got a tie, happily there were no such issues this time.

Ascot 2019

Apart from the six horse races, there is as the name suggests a Beer Festival to. They do have an impressive selection of Ales and Ciders there. Fortunately for me they had my favourite IPA there from the Marlow Brewery Rebellion. I did manage to have a couple of glasses of that while I was there, which was a nice bonus. I also managed to introduce it to my friends, which was good.

We all had a pretty successful day. All of us won some money back at some point during the afternoon. I must admit it did not seem quite as busy as previous years but that just made it easier for us to get around the place and get served. After the racing was over we went to one of the pubs on Ascot High Street for a bit before all calling it a day and heading home.

Ascot is a wonderful course and it was another fantastic day out. It is always great to properly catch up with good friends, which generally means you spend the entire day laughing, as we did. Unfortunately a few people could not make it this year, which was a real shame. But I hope they will be able to next year, when we do it all over again. As rest assured this staple in the calendar will be back in 2020.

Ascot 2019

Talking of catching up with people my cousin and I had been trying to meet up for months. We both work in London a lot so the plan was to see each other there. However every time he was in town I was not and vice versa. After four months of missing each other we ended up having a quick drink in my local Wine Bar.

It does seem so hard to try to make appointments to see people currently. It did seem easier to do so before mobile phones and now social media, possibly because if you wanted to talk privately to someone the only way was to see them in person.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I had not done this for a while but the other week I got invited once again to help a Production Company with the development of a new quiz show. It is always a fun thing to do. I go to their offices and act as a contestant, so they can see how a new idea works and so they can I guess give it a robust test with an “outsider” playing the game. I am quite a decent general knowledge quizzer, if I do say so myself. I have a lot of useless information stored in my brain, which does seem to be handy in these situations.

As this idea is still in development and they are trying to sell it to TV companies to get it made and on our screens. Obviously I cannot say too much about it. The show does involve teams. It is a clever idea in which the audience and people watching at home can all play along. Gaby Roslin hosted it and is actually involved in the development of it. It was fantastic to meet her, she was lovely, a total professional. I have been a big fan since Motormouth and The Big Breakfast. I may be going back to see them again soon. But I cannot say anymore at this point. If anything comes of it, I will let you know.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

We are well and truly into the latest series of Newsjack on BBC 4 Extra. It is the topical comedy radio show that anybody can write for. I have had material on it myself in the past. I would recommend that you give it a go if you enjoy writing comedy.

They are very good at using it to help new and upcoming talent to progress. It is currently presented by Kiri Pritchard- Mclean who is doing an excellent job. If you have never heard of it give it a listen.

BBC Radio Theatre
BBC Radio Theatre

I did not watch the whole thing but I did see quite a bit of Britain’s Got Talent “The Champions”. Which featured seemingly random acts from the UK versions past, as well as its sister shows from all over the world. There were no public votes towards it. The winners of each heat and the final were chosen by a specially selected group among the audience, which in equal measure seemed sensible and odd. There were a lot of people I had completely forgotten about on it, who re-appeared. One of which became the eventual winners.

It did just highlight how certain types of acts seem to fair better in that environment than others. It proved once again how hard it is for comedians to stand out and be successful in these kinds of variety shows. I am not sure why this is, but singers, dancers and even the novelty acts seem to fair better and stand more chance of winning over the audience.

One thing that it did prove for me is that when they next do the normal BGT. They can just put the best performers through to the semi-finals and not worry about the out there and strange acts. I know why they do it, to mix the shows up and give everybody who is thinking of auditioning the following year some hope. But what “The Champions” version proved is that people will accept more of the same type of acts in the same line up, as long as they are the best of the best.

I like Twist and Pulse a lot and feel they were of course deserving winners but if you look at the quality acts that did not even make the final including Paul Zerdin, Paul Potts and Jack Carroll. All of whom have carved out very steady careers. You have to question how good this process is for finding and promoting the best acts. It does seem that statistically the BGT audience does favour a certain type of act or is it the previously held suspicion that an interesting back story can help an act to go sometimes may be a little bit further than they should.

BGT London
BGT London

I am once again enjoying a bit of Strictly Come Dancing this year. It is a very well produced programme. Visually there is possibly not much that compares to it from a live perspective. The bond the celebrities build with their dancer is a beautiful thing to witness in itself.

The first two celebrities have left and to be honest so far it has been spot on. They were clearly the two worst dancers on the nights they went out. Last week was a shame as I really like Anneka Rice but her performance sadly was not very good. It is a real shame to lose Kevin Clifton so early, as I think he is a terrific dancer and choreographer.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I went to see The Man in the White Suit at the Wyndam’s Theatre in London last week. A new version of a classic comedy play. It is very fast paced and there is a lot going on to enjoy and digest. This new take includes original songs written by Charlie Fink from the band Noah and the Whale.

It stars the wonderful Stephen Mangan in the title role. He is excellent in it and works very hard for his cash. There is a fair bit of physical comedy and running around from him as the story unfolds.

The Man in the White Suit

It also features the fantastic Kara Tointon. She is brilliant and puts in a top performance. Plus she gets to display some of her dance skills that served her so well on Strictly. She is a great dancer. Then you also have the legend that is Sue Johnston. She plays her role expertly and gives a masterclass in comedy timing. The whole of the cast are quality and bring this very silly, yet very clever comedy to life getting plenty of big laughs.

The songs in it fit perfectly with the time it was set plus are really catchy, which works well. There are lots of classic” scene” set ups that are executed with such precision. It is not quite a farce. It is probably just a step up from that. But it is lots of fun, if you fancy a giggle and I guess a more old fashioned type of comedy show with an excellent cast. Then go and see it. It is a joyous experience.

The Man in the White Suit

I am a season ticket holder at Tottenham Hotspur. We are not having a brilliant time at the moment. I was at the Stadium in my normal seat when we were beaten seven-two by Bayern Munich in the Champions League. Needless to say that is the worst defeat I have ever seen in person. In general our results and performances this season have been very up and down. I was hoping the next league game after the European disaster would see us bounce right back. However we produced the worse display that I have seen for years and deservedly lost that game to.

It is a tough time for the team at the minute. I am a hoping that when the going gets tough, the tough get going. And we can show the fight and character we need to get out of this situation to improve our current position. I have supported this team all my life, through the good times and the bad, the highs and the lows. I would not have it any other way or change anything. It is all just part of following your team. Enjoy the successes and manage the disappointments. Just like in real life. That said I am going to enjoy the current break for the Internationals more than usual this time.

Neil Quigley

A week tomorrow on Sunday 20th October my friend Mike Sterling is performing in the ace Stars of The West End show at the Kenton Theatre in Henley On Thames. He has an amazing voice and is a top quality performer.

As well as singing at my fortieth birthday party he has also played the Phantom of The Opera in the West End and the iconic Jean Valjean in Les Miserables.

Mike Sterling and Neil Quigley
Mike Sterling and Neil Quigley

The rest of the cast have all performed in some huge productions in London to. There are four of them in total. They will be doing the big numbers from shows such as Phantom, Les Miserables, Evita, Chess, Grease, Cats, We Will Rock You and many more. There are actually two performances on the day. I have seen this show several times before and it is sensational.

There are also VIP Tickets on offer which include front row seats, a drink, a two course meal and a meet and greet with the cast. I will be there and I am really looking forward to it. The live West End band is conducted by Douglas Waugh, who is only Sir Tim Rice’s Musical Director. For more information and ticket details just follow the link here. https://kentontheatre.co.uk/event/stars-of-the-west-end/

Stars of The West End

Have fun and we will catch up again in a couple of weeks. Cheers Neil.

Radio

The last couple of weeks have been pretty radio orientated with the events that I have been attending, which is always good with me. It is a medium I have a huge appetite for. To misquote John Miles “Radio is my first love and it will be my last”. From having my first taste of it when I was just seventeen right to the current day I have thoroughly enjoyed every second I have spent in a studio. Although to be honest these recent occasions were much more social.

Grand Olde Opry
Grand Olde Opry

For the second year running I went to Radio 2’s Festival in a Day at Hyde Park in London. It works perfectly for me as I am a massive fan of festivals but I absolutely hate camping. At this one I can spend the whole day in a field enjoying live performances and still sleep in my own bed. The organisation and overall staging of this event is always fantastic. It is so well managed. Hardly any queues when you arrive to get in plus a huge selection of bars and food outlets. What more could you want?

I went along to it with two very good friends of mine. We met up and got the train in to the capital together grabbing tea and croissants on the way. It was all very civilised but what do you expect it was all put on by Radio 2 of course. We got in to the venue just before midday. The first job was to check where all the important amenities were, namely the bar and the toilets. Then it was just a case of getting a beer and finding a good spot to see the stage, while still being able to visit the two aforementioned facilities.

Radio 2 in Hyde Park

Simply Red kicked things off on stage. I had seen them perform a few years ago at the London Palladium. They are a brilliant group with an excellent back catalogue of well-known songs. Mick Hucknall is such a perfect front man with a very distinctive voice. I thought they were great. They did all the big hits you would expect them to. I think it is a good sign a band are doing well, when you are surprised as I was that their set ended, what felt like too soon. It is true that time flies when you are having fun. They were a top choice to get the party in a field underway.

Simply Red

The next act during the afternoon was the American Country singer Kelsea Ballerini from Tennessee. She was fantastic really looking and sounding the part. I am a big fan of Country and Western music and I really like her stuff. Bearing in mind she is only twenty-six, she will be around for a long time yet. She has also assembled a top quality band. That always enhances live performances. She is the youngest current member of the Grand Ole Opry, which is some achievement itself. Add to that the deep south American accent that she has, that I love. I will be keeping an eye on her stuff for years to come.

Kelsea Ballerini

Sadly Emeli Sande was unable to perform at the event as scheduled due to her losing her voice. Craig Charles who was already on the bill to do a Soul and Funk Disco did a bit extra to fill the gap. He did seem to be enjoying himself up there. The sound system for the event was great. It is so clever nowadays at these huge gigs. How they factor in delays with the speakers and big TV screens, so wherever you are, it all seems to be in sync giving the illusion of hearing and seeing it at exactly the same time.

We got back to the live music performances with the now two piece Bananarama. They were sensational doing all their big hits from the eighties and some of the great news songs from their latest album. I must admit they were both sounding and looking amazing. They still had all the dance moves and way more energy than I did for a warm and sunny Sunday afternoon. They looked to be having a fab time up there. They admitted they were looking forward to seeing the rest of the concert themselves when their slot was over. And the thing you do sometimes forget about this band is that they did have a lot of huge hits.


Bananarama

Next up it was a band I was looking forward to seeing. As not only do they seem like lovely down to earth people. But they are a group of very talented musicians to. Any modern band that is just basically fronted by a Cello and Violin player with guest vocalists is alright by me. Clean Bandit have produced so many massive hit anthems with their blend of electric and classical music. On this evidence they are a fantastic live band. Who really do put on a brilliant show. Nobody is really doing what they are doing, as well as they do it. I thought they were ace. They were one of my highlights of the day.

Clean Bandit

When I was about fourteen, I got myself the double cassette of Status Quo’s Greatest Hits, which I listened to a lot at that time. I had been a fan of theirs for many years prior to that. They have a new single out at the moment which is unmistakably them in the way it sounds. They were the next band to perform for Radio 2 at this celebration of music. There had been a couple of occasions in the past where I nearly got to see them but for whatever reason it did not work out. And let us not forget this was the act that launched the Live Aid concert at Wembley stadium. These guys are rock gods.

I have always been a massive fun of guitar based music. Status Quo thump out those big songs with the strings on their guitars taking a huge pounding, that energy, that drive. I defy anyone to stand still when they are playing. As well as the new single they played a nice selection of their biggest hits. Francis Rossi seemed to be having a good time and despite his advancing years. He may still have been the biggest kid at the event with a glint in his eye and the urge to at least slightly worry the organisers with what he might say.

I thought they were brilliant and totally enjoyed seeing them play live. Many of their songs are timeless classics. I suppose the only slight regret is that I never got to see Francis and Rick Parfitt play together. As the both of them will always be Status Quo to me. But they still know how to put on a great show. They had the whole place rocking. I know it is the old joke about the Quo only using the same three cords but their music is a bit more intricate than that. A really tight and slick band!

Status Quo

Then as the sun started to set in Hyde Park. It was time for the final “warm up” act or to put it another way the next group, who were Westlife. They have been around for over twenty years now. I know right. Does anyone else feel old? I first saw them at a Smash Hit Poll Winners Party in London. When they had just won a regional band’s competition and were stilled called at that point Westside.

Two decades later I am watching them belt out hit after hit in a perfectly performed set. Like Bananrama they are all sounding and looking great. However their dance moves are not as good as the girls. They all seem like top blokes and can all sing and perform live. They sing great songs well and in their own style. This is of course why they have had such a long and distinguished career. I thought they were wonderfully entertaining, as ever.

Westlife

The headline act was The Pet Shop Boys. I was lucky enough to be at the Brits Awards when they won the lifetime achievement trophy there, so I knew how good they were live. Those two always put on a great visual display. Neil Tennant’s voice is possibly sounding better than ever. The staging and lighting was bright and lively. Add to that all those iconic hits. Then throw in Olly from Years and Years, who joined them to do their latest single together. And one of my all-time favourite singers Beverley Knight who came out on stage to perform “What Have I Done to Deserve This” with the lads.

Top class entertainment from one of the great British Pop bands of all time was a fitting way to end a brilliant afternoon and evening. I had a wonderful time with my two friends, having a few drinks while singing and dancing along with the music. It is a fun and uplifting day out. We already plan to do it all over again next year. And you know that Radio 2 will as ever book some amazing acts for it. If you have not been and enjoy live music in a fun and friendly atmosphere, you should definitely give it a try, if you can.

Pet Shop Boys

My local radio station Mix 96 celebrated its twenty fifth birthday this April. I did work experience there when I was at college. And it was the place where I started my professional radio career. I have so many happy and fond memories of the place. I have worked there at three different spells over the last twenty odd years. Richard Carr from Bucks TV, who also used to work at the radio station has made a documentary about Mix 96. It features many former and current employees of the station including yours truly.

Mix 96

It was loads of fun recording my bits. It was great catching up with Richard and reminiscing about old times. He has spent a lot of time and effort finding everybody and putting the whole thing together. Last Saturday night it was the World Premiere of the documentary at the Waterside Theatre in Aylesbury. It was also a bit of a Mix 96 reunion night to. I had been looking forward to it for quite a while. I was excited to see the film and hopefully catch up with a few people who I had not seen for years.

Mix 96

It was all very well organised. When I arrived at the theatre I was met with a Bucks Fizz on reception. At one point that was actually going to be the name of this new radio station. Then there was chance to chat to everyone there. It was wonderful to see many of my former colleagues all looking so well. We then watched the first part of the documentary on the big screen. This was followed by an interval to refresh our drinks and wait for Mr Mix 96 Nathan Cooper to arrive. He had been on commentary duty for BBC Radio Oxford at Lincoln.

When he did arrive, he did so fittingly to a huge round of applause. We then sat down to watch a slightly edited version of the actual film. It was ninety-six minutes in length. This stuff is not just thrown together it is all carefully planned. It was brilliant hearing all the old stories and seeing so many familiar faces up on the screen. There were lots of great stories and things that I had forgotten about over the years. It was a fascinating watch.

I have already ordered the full version, which I am very much looking forward to watching. It was nice to see everybody. Thanks and congratulations to Richard Carr for making such a lovely tribute to a truly fantastic local radio station. I look forward to receiving my full four hour copy of this piece of cinematic history.

Neil Quigley

I was lucky enough to be able to get away for three days of fun in the sun in Spain the other week. My friend’s parents own an apartment in Marbella that they very kindly rented to me for a few nights. On day one I did have to get up at 3am to get my 7am flight from Luton to Malaga but the thought of a few days relaxing by the pool more than made up for that inconvenience.

The place where I was staying was about forty-five minutes away from the airport. I got the bus into the centre of Marbella and then a taxi to the complex. That was to be my temporary home, which was in Puerto Banus. Not that I have honestly ever seen it but when “The Only Way Is Essex” lot head to Spain. This is the place where they go. They were there filming when I was out there. But I did not bump in to them.

I got there at around two in the afternoon and let myself in. It is a lovely place with two bedrooms (both ensuite), a big lounge, kitchen and a balcony. Firstly I went to the local Supermarket to get some supplies. Then it was time to kick back and spend the rest of the afternoon at the pool topping up my tan in the glorious sunshine. I stayed there until six and then came in to get ready for my first night out there.

Puerto Banus

Most of the bars and restaurants are along the port side, which was a fifteen minute walk from where I was. It is a pretty classy place as you can tell from all the amazing yachts that are moored there. And all the Ferraris, Porches and Lamborghinis that drive past. I found a really nice restaurant in which to enjoy a lovely three course meal. I then just checked out a couple of the bars before calling time on a fairly long day.

Puerto Banus

The next day was spent by the pool in the morning. Then on a sunbed at the beach, which was about ten minutes away, in the afternoon. I did then go back to the pool for a swim and more sun. Then quickly got ready to head out and find somewhere to watch Tottenham’s Champions League Game. I found a decent bar which fulfilled those needs, although we could only manage a draw away in Greece. Then it was food, followed by a few drinks and bed. Sitting around in the sun all day is very tiring you know.

Neil Quigley

During my final full day I just repeated the previous day’s plan. Well if it is not broken do not fix it. For my final night there I went out and had a wonderful steak meal washed down with a couple of glasses of Spanish Red Wine. I then visited a couple of bars along the port that I had come to like, the first of which is called Sinatra’s. It is a nice and busy bar with friendly staff and good music. It has a decent feel to it.

My final stop was Joy’s. It is a live music bar. Earlier in the week I saw a great female solo performer there. This time I was there a bit later and the place was packed. I managed to see two different acts. They both had the whole place rocking! There are pictures of some of the famous people who have visited the place on the wall. These include Cilla Black, Anthony Joshua and Vinnie Jones. Which I am sure you will agree is quite a combination.

The next day I just had time to grab a final few hours of sunshine by the pool. Before it was time to lock the place up and head back to England. I had a brilliant few days. The apartment was quality, the weather was great. Plus the actual place itself was friendly and lots of fun with plenty going on there. I would definitely go back again for a break ,if I ever get the chance. And finally it is always nice to return from somewhere with a bit of tan to.

Puerto Banus

I must confess to being a pretty regular listener to Radio 2 and in particular Ken Bruce. He lives near me and I have occasionally seen him at my local train station. I am a big quiz and music fan. Therefore I do obviously enjoy his daily competition Popmaster. Last Monday the Radio Academy put on a Popmaster live event hosted by the man himself at a bar in London. I managed to get myself a ticket to it.

Neil Quigley Presenter
Neil Quigley Presenter

On my way to the venue I bumped into the radio legend that is Tony Blackburn, who was also going. I heard him before I saw him as let us face it that voice is quite recognisable. Also at the event were Trevor Nelson, Stephanie Hirst and of course the Popmaster himself Ken Bruce. I saw lots of people I knew there including the fantastic Nigel Mitchell. Who has been on This Morning and Heart. He is such a nice fella it was great to catch up with him.

Popmaster Live

I met up with the rest of my team at our table, then after a chat over a drink. It was time to knuckle down and play part one of the game. It was pretty high tech. Each team had an I-pad on which to answer the questions. Well it was until round four when this system went down and we had to revert to good old fashioned pen and paper. We were doing alright and at the half way point. We were joint third. There was an interval for a comfort break and to get another drink before we returned to the serious pop related business in hand.

You only had fifteen seconds to answer each question. All of them related to a piece of music they played which in a busy bar with a limited amount of speakers made it quite hard to hear from time to time. But we felt we were doing pretty well. The penultimate round was really tough, but we thought we had done alright on the last set of questions. Then it was time to announce the top three. We did not honestly think we had a chance. Then they announced the winning team name and it was us, much to our surprise.

We had won Popmaster in a room full of radio people. So it was not like there was any fierce competition for this title. It felt great. We won tickets to a radio live event next month but even better than that the whole team had our picture taken with Ken Bruce. And I got to shake the great man’s hand. What scenes. It was a really fun night. I still cannot quite believe we won it, definitely a huge achievement, that I will be adding to my CV immediately.

Popmasters Winning Team

As I was at Marylebone station waiting for my train home at the end of the night I bumped in to Ken Bruce again and managed to have a quick chat to him. He is such a down to earth and lovely man. Which bearing in mind that he does the most listened to radio show in the country at the moment is a total credit to him. It was an honour to finally meet him. He is one of the finest broadcasters of all time.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I went to see the new Les Miserables Staged Concert at the Gielgud Theatre in London with my sister last Wednesday. Tickets were it is fair to say pretty hard to get hold of, as it is only running for a very limited time. But I managed it and was curious to see the show to see how it would work. The cast assembled for it was of course amazing. They have all been involved with the long running West End version of the show at some point or another.

Les Miserables

The night I was in John Owen-Jones was Jean Valjean, Michael Ball was Javert and Carrie Hope Fletcher was Fantine, which is not bad for starters. But then you also have Matt Lucas and Katy Secombe as Thenardier and Madame Thenardier respectively, so you really do have a stellar cast up on the stage. Add to that the closeness of the venue and the fact that most people there were die-hard fans of the show. And what you get is an electric and amazing atmosphere in the place.

The whole cast were sensational. There are of course so many big and powerful well known anthems in it. All of which were performed perfectly. We had brilliant seats in the fourth row of the stalls, so got totally involved in it all. Some of the applause breaks during it at the end of songs were longer than the applause that I have seen at the close of other shows. It was all expertly put together, a very slick and smooth production. At the end the company of course got a big well deserved standing ovation. I am so pleased that I got to witness it for myself.

Les Miserables

Have fun and we will catch up again in a couple of weeks. Cheers Neil.

I’ll Be There For You

I have always been a Tottenham Hotspur fan. The first game I ever saw was a Spurs side play Wycombe Wanderers at their old Loakes Park ground in a testimonial match. My team won comfortably with a hat-trick from Paul Walsh. Although I of course remained a Spurs fan, after this trip to see the “Chairboys”. I decided to go and watch them more often, as they were based nearer to where I lived at the time.

At this point they were still in the Vauxhall Conference. And had a light blue home kit which weirdly is similar to the brand new Spurs third kit. Anyway I ended up watching the Wanderers regularly in my teens. In fact I was a season ticket holder there for a couple of seasons. I have always kept an eye on their results and still go and see them occasionally.

As it happens as well as my Dad and Mum both being season ticket holders. A friend of mine who I used to work with at Wembley is also a Wycombe fan. We went along to see them play Southend United a couple of weeks ago. They have actually had quite a decent start to the season and came from behind to win the game three-two in the last minute. I cannot fault the excitement factor they provided.

We did predictably bump into my parents after the game. There are two drummers amongst the Blues singing fans who provide a beat all through the game, although it does add to the atmosphere. I am not particularly a lover of it. But on the plus side they serve my favourite beer Rebellion at the ground. Therefore I would not rule out another trip there before the season is over.

Wycombe Wanderers

It was brilliant to be back at Mix 96 for the day the other Thursday. I was helping them with their coverage from The Bucks County Show. I have been involved in many of these big productions over the years normally on air from the showground myself. But this time I was in the studio pressing all the buttons for the legend that is Mr Nathan Cooper.

I have presented countless programmes from that studio, so it was great to be back in there once again. I felt very much at home. It was fun as ever to work with Nathan and the rest of the team there. This year it is the radio station’s twenty fifth-birthday. Richard Carr, who I used to work with there has just produced a documentary, that I am delighted to feature in.

Neil Quigley

He has released part one. Which I have seen and which is absolutely brilliant. He has also put out a version of the first song played on the station when it launched ABBA’s Dancing Queen with some current and former employees me included grooving along to it. That is epic! Next Saturday there is a Mix 96 Reunion which will also include the premier of Part two of the documentary. I am looking forward to this event. It will be great fun, I am sure.

Neil Quigley

I paid my first ever visit to the Regents Park Open Air Theatre to see their production of Evita. Firstly you will not find a nicer walk to any venue. Than the greenery and scenery you get when strolling to this one. Secondly when you arrive you will find a quality restaurant and a couple of decent bar areas at your disposal. I did my classic thing of a glass of red wine before the show with the same beverage ordered ready for the interval.

Regents Park Open Air Theatre

I was not sure what to expect. I did correctly guess that they would have very limited scenery options and that they would have to be a bit creative with their story telling. The stage itself was pretty basic and made up of lots of steps. All it had on it was Evita in huge letters. There were normal outside event seats fitted but you can also pay to sit on the grass banks to watch. I had a proper seat on the forth row with a perfect view of the stage.

I really enjoyed the show and thought it was brilliant. It had quite a dark and rustic feel to it, which I liked. The cast were fantastic. The costumes were on the whole pretty low-key and basic compared to the normal versions of this musical that I have seen. The lack of sets does not affect the story or your ability to follow and keep up with the narrative. There were some unexpected and you could possibly argue slightly odd interpretations of some parts of the story. But I liked it. And it was performed expertly.

The sound system is faultless. The music and singing so clear. You really could not fault it at all for entertainment. With it being outside they can really raise the pyrotechnic stakes compared to in a normal theatre, which they do. I have just about recovered from the huge explosion right at the start of the performance. They also use a lot of smoke and flares to add to the drama of this classic tale. Along with a clever use of the lighting. I would certainly go and see another show there next summer.


Regents Park Open Air Theatre

My mum has recently celebrated her 70th Birthday. I spent the day with her, which was lovely. We visited a local church, as she wanted to see the grave of one set of her grandparents. We then went for a nice leisurely walk. Before a snack at a chocolate cafe, as a reward for the exercise we had just done and to mark this huge occasion with some cake.

Neil Quigley

In the evening we opened a bottle of bubbles to toast her special day and ordered a huge Chinese Takeaway. We then finished the night by watching the first episode of the new series of QI. Which is fittingly titled Q. This was actually one that I was at the filming of as well, so we spent half the time trying to spot me in the audience. I hope my mum thoroughly enjoyed herself. She does seem to do alright in life. She seems to be out almost as much as I am. That is a pretty decent achievement.

London River Cruise
Mum

I am a horse racing fan and try to get to a lot of the big meetings. It is something I first did when I was living and working in Somerset. You cannot beat a nice day out at the races. Recently I have bought a few shares in a fairly young horse called Stage Star through the Owners Group. They have lots of horses with different trainers offering the chance to buy shares in them for a year at a time.

Stage Star and Neil Quigley

As well as sending you regular updates and videos of the horse. They organise open days at the stables and also at a place they own called Equiprep. This is where mainly the horses go to rest and relax when they are not in training, kind of like a little holiday place. But it is also somewhere they are conditioned and built up so they are sent back to the trainers ready and raring to go and in excellent condition.

I went to one of the Open Days there last Sunday. I got to see Stage Star paraded in the arena and in his stable. It was the first time that I had seen him in the flesh and he looked great. He will be kept there for a few months before he is returned to his trainer Paul Nicholls. He is only three years old and is not expected to run in a race until next year, probably not until the autumn. But I am really looking forward to seeing him develop and to see what he can do.

Stage Star

While at Equiprep we also got to look around the Paddocks where the horses spend the days playing and grazing. Everybody was so friendly. It was great to meet some fellow owners there. I learnt a lot about how horses are looked after, selected and trained. Plus quite a few simple facts about them, like for instance they use their necks for balance. As well as my horse I got to see many other wonderful horses a few of which I remember seeing race. It was a lovely and an interesting couple of hours. It is going to be an exciting involvement. I think.

Stage Star

Like most of my generation I am a fan of the iconic American comedy Friends. Comedy Central is pretty much the home of the show now, as they show it seemingly not stop during the day. For the last few years they have been running an event called “FriendsFest”. Up until now only in London and Manchester. But this year they have added a venue in Milton Keynes. I went along to it with my sister last week to have a look around.

The location for it was Willem Lake. Happily one thing they already have there is plenty of car parking places, as we were driving this made finding a space pretty easy. The whole event is mostly one big photo opportunity with your chance to recreate classic moments from the show. As you walk in you can have your picture taken in a photo frame dressed in known outfits from the show while holding famous quotes from it.

FriendsFest

Next to that you can recreate the floating heads at Monica’s door. They do of course have a replica Central Perk with the till area, the famous sofa and Phoebe’s performance area. They also offer you the chance to stage your own Ross and Rachel Vegas Wedding pictures in the appropriate outfits.

Just along from this is your chance to be in the title sequence on the sofa by the waterfall. They give you this in a seven second video with the music. Which to be honest is pretty cool. In another part you also have the chance to have your photo taken with the Umbrella’s and the Sofa. Again like the titles.

FriendsFest

Next your chance to shout “Pivot” as you pretend to take the Sofa up the stairs recreating that classic scene with Ross. You can have a go in Phoebe’s taxi and witness someone performing all her classic songs in the coffee shop. They show clips from Friends on the big screen. Plus you are never very far away from hearing the strains of The Rembrandts title tune.

Finally they have three complete replica sets for you to get pictures in. These are Joey and Chandlers place, Monica’s apartment and of course Ross’s flat. They have done a good job everything you saw in the show is on this set. It really does feel like you are hanging out in these rooms. It was a good fun day out. I have not taken that many pictures anywhere for a very long time. I had a big smile on my face pretty much the whole time I was there. Great fun!

FriendsFest

I went to see the latest touring version of The Rocky Horror Picture Show recently. The last time I saw it must have been at least sixteen years ago. Jonathan Wilkes was starring as Frank n Furter. I went to see it with Richard Carr when I was working at Mix 96. I remember enjoying it, so I am not sure why it has taken me a decade and an half to see it again.

It was on at the Wycombe Swan, as it was the previous time. One of the reasons I like this theatre at the moment is that they now serve my favourite beer Rebellion IPA. On arrival I had a pint and instantly ordered the same again ready for the interval. It is certainly one of the stranger musicals and I think even Richard O’Brien would also accept this. Few others have the audience participation and also the outfits that this one does.

Wycombe Swan

The cast included Joanne Clifton, Stephen Webb and Philip Franks. Joanne of course is a former winner of Strictly Comes Dancing and now an established stage musical performer. I thought she was ace in the role of Janet. She can dance like no other, sing and act, she has it all. Stephen Webb was brilliant as the corset wearing Transvestite Scientist. I bet that role is lots of fun to play. And Phillip Franks who is probably still best known for The Darling Buds of May was a spot on Narrator bantering with audience and sounding the part. The rest of the cast were fabulous to.

I had a great time and really enjoyed it. Plus I can confirm that I can still remember and perform perfectly every single move of the Time Warp. You never lose it! It is a crazy show and fair play to the many people who come dressed up as the characters. I will try not to leave it quite so long until I see this one again. It was another quality night out at the theatre.

Rocky Horror Show

I am off to see Tottenham play Crystal Palace this afternoon. I will be honest our season has not started quite as well as I would have liked. But that is what supporting a team is all about the highs and the lows pleasure and pain. We have not really got going properly yet despite draws away at Manchester City and Arsenal. I am pleased with the Champions League draw. I look forward once again to watching us play in this competition. They are always great nights.

Neil Quigley

Tomorrow I am going to Radio 2’s Festival in a Day at Hyde Park. I went last year and it was brilliant, so I am really looking forward to doing it again. Fingers crossed the weather is kind to us. I will tell you how it went next time we speak.

Radio 2 Hyde Park
Radio 2 Hyde Park

Have fun and we will catch up again in a couple of weeks. Cheers Neil.

Neil Quigley Presenter