Happy New year 2019

Hi there, how are you doing? I hope you had a fantastic Christmas period. You ate, drank and were merry. And found joy in the giving and the receiving of presents. I had a lovely and quiet Christmas. It was the first one for a couple of years. That I had not been working.

I will never admit to getting older but in previous years I have been desperate to go out on Christmas Eve and to party. This year I just stayed in listening to music and having a few glasses of red wine. And you know what. I really enjoyed it. It is the simple pleasures in life. That are often the best.

On Christmas Day itself. I went round to my parents first thing in the morning. It is a family tradition to start the day with a nice big fry up. And there was no way I was missing out on that. Once the kitchen is tidied up and a cup of tea has been enjoyed. It is then time to move in to the living room for the exchanging of presents. This year with the added bonus of a nice glass of champagne each. To help us with the proceedings.

Neil Quigley

We are pretty clinical in our present buying. We each make a list of what we would like in November. This then gets passed around to the other three. We then liaise to get each other things from the list. The plus side of this is you generally get what you want. The down side is there are rarely any surprises. I was delighted with my gifts. Which included a new alarm clock, thermal socks, a tie with horses on it and some leather gloves.

After the presents have been given out. I then get ready to head to the pub. This has been a sacred family tradition for as long as I can remember. As a child I remember all the adults going there and then coming back slightly merrier. I have been every year since I was old enough. The venue has changed over the years. So now me, a couple of my uncle’s and a few of my cousin’s all meet up at The Red Lion in Whiteleaf at Midday. We have a few drinks. Then we return home to our own homes ready for dinner.

We always have a full traditional Christmas lunch with turkey and all of the trimmings. I love a Christmas meal with the stuffing, pigs in blankets and brussel sprouts. Things I do not normally have at any other time of the year. This is washed down with some nice red wine. The meal is then topped off with a delicious pudding. That must be accompanied by cream. We then have a little bit of a brief rest and a chat. To let the food go down.

Once we are all ready the afternoon of fun and games begins. This year we started off with some Karaoke. This is my annual apology to my parent’s neighbours. Or anybody walking past the house at the wrong time. Who may have heard me trying to sing. Sorry.

Dog joining in with the Karaoke

I then hosted a Pop Quiz. Which I have to say the rest of the family were rubbish at. Lastly we played a game of Charades. Although this was not your usual version. It was a risque variation on the normal theme. That my dad had found. Which did make for a few awkward moments in front of the parents. But it was all good fun!

We finished the day by watching Michael McIntyre. While enjoying some cheese and biscuits with a nice glass of port. It was another fun family Christmas. Which I thoroughly enjoyed. Just as I was sitting at home reflecting on the day. Before I went to bed. I had a small bottle of Baileys. That a very good mate and his wife had very generously got me. Well it was the birthday of our lord and saviour. The only day of the year. When it is acceptable to drink as many different drinks, as you possibly can.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Before Christmas Stoke Mandeville Hospital Radio celebrated its 40th Birthday. They had a small party. Which was attended by the station’s Patron Ken Bruce, singer Tony Hadley and the voice of the X Factor Peter Dickson. I would like to say huge congratulations to the station for what it has achieved during the last forty years. And for the hours and hours of entertainment that it has provided to the hospital’s patients and staff.

I was a member there for around seven years. I had a fantastic time there. And met some lovely and amazing people. It was lots of fun. I am happy to say that I am still really good friends with many of the people I met during my time there. I did my first proper radio show on the station. It was in their studios that I got to practice, grow and improve. It definitely helped me to launch my radio career.

Neil Quigley back at Stoke Mandeville Hospital Radio
Neil Quigley back at Stoke Mandeville Hospital Radio with Martin Kinch

It was volunteering at the Hospital Radio. That enabled me to get my first paid radio work at my local commercial station Mix 96. Based in the town I was born, Aylesbury. I started off reading the local sports results on the Sports Show. Ringing around all the grounds and then delivering the scores on air.

I then got to present the sports show. I did some weekend shows. I then covered the evening show. Before eventually getting to present both the Drive and Morning shows on the station. None of which I would have achieved without Stoke Mandeville Hospital Radio. I wish them all the best for their next forty years of broadcasting.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I managed to get a ticket to see Sir Paul McCartney play the O2 Arena in December. I had seen him in concert three years ago in Birmingham. And as you would expect he was fantastic. I was a bit undecided about if I should go and see his latest tour. But I did like his latest album Egypt Station. And he only really tours the United Kingdom every three years. So in the end I made sure that I was there.

I met up with a mate of mine and his girlfriend. Who were also going. We had a few drinks around the Greenwich area. Before we made our way to the venue. We had a quick drink at the Arena. Then it was time to make our way to our seats. There were however, still a few people filtering in. When there was suddenly a light in the crowd and some scrambling in the floor seat area. As it was the last night of the UK leg of the tour. Paul had lots of family and friends in. And he had popped out quickly to see them before the show.

The stage erupted when his band started to make their way out on to the stage. Then the place went totally ballistic. As the main man walked out and put on his guitar. Before launching into the Beatles classic “A Hard Days Night”. Which is a sensational way to kick off any performance. He then spends nearly three hours effortlessly playing Beatles, Wings and his own solo stuff. Seamlessly moving between several different guitars and pianos.

Sir Paul McCartney

The pyrotechnics they were letting off during Live and Let Die were astonishing. I thought they were actually trying to blow the place up. It was an amazing spectacle. He then follows that with the immortal Hey Jude. During which he has the whole audience in his hands. And has us singing along to every note. As he stands there conducting us. What a moment! At that point you thought this gig could not get any better. But it could.

Not only does he come back on for an eight song encore. But before the third song in this section. He brings on two special guests. Firstly the Rolling Stones guitar legend Ronnie Wood. And then much to everyone’s surprise his Beatles band mate Ringo Starr. At which point the whole place goes crazy. Ringo takes his place behind the drums. And the three of them perform Get Back. I could not believe it!

Paul, Ringo and Ronnie

That is the closest I am ever going to get to seeing the Beatles play live together. For obvious reasons. This was a huge deal. This has not happened in this country since the band split up. Even Paul as Ringo was walking off said “let’s just take a minute to soak up what has just happened”. My mate who is a massive McCartney and Beatles fan was literally in tears when Ringo appeared. It meant that much to him. The three of them sounded great together.

Paul then goes on to play another five songs. Brilliant as they were. It could not top that version of Get Back featuring half of the members of arguably the best band we have ever produced. He finished the show with The Beatles song “The End”. I am hoping this does not mean that it may be his last UK arena gig. It is just a sensible song to end any performance with if you have it in your repertoire. Although in the unlikely event that is his final gig on home soil. I am so pleased that I was there to witness it. Sir Paul McCartney you are a legend!

Sir Paul McCartney

During that really odd period between Christmas and New Year. Where you eat what you like for Breakfast and have no idea what day it actually is. My sister and I went to see the pantomime at The Swan Theatre in High Wycombe. It was Snow White. Which was the same story that I saw at the London Palladium just before Christmas.

The Buckinghamshire version starred former Strictly Come Dancing dancer Brendan Cole, Mandy Muden who was on BGT, Jason Sutton and the ventriloquist Kieran Powell. It did share some of the script and skits with its London sister production. So I did know what was coming a lot of the time. But that is my fault for seeing the other one and not theirs.

It was fun and entertaining. Everyone got time and a bit of space to showcase their talents. Mandy did a few magic tricks. Keiran got to do some stuff with his “friend”. And Brendan had the opportunity to display his amazing dancing prowess. Plus a bit of his singing to. Fair play to him. They worked him hard on the dancing front. They had him doing pretty much every kind of dance move you can imagine.

It was a good and proper family pantomime with nothing missing. I am glad I went and saw it. The cast were great. Nice as ever to see the children getting involved and shouting at the characters, when required. Pantos will be a lot of kids first experience of the theatre. Therefore I like to see them have a great time. As they are then more likely to support live shows and go to the theatre more often when they are older.

Panto

It was generally quite a good Christmas period for my team Spurs. We had good wins in the game before Christmas away at Everton. Then on Boxing Day at home to Bournemouth. But then things did go a little wrong last Saturday at Wembley. When we lost to Wolves. But then we beat Cardiff away in the next match. This week we have the first leg of the League Cup Semi-final against Chelsea. And play Manchester United in the league next Sunday. A win in both would be very nice.

Tottenham Hotspur
Tottenham Hotspur

A friend of mine is a big train enthusiast. For the last six months from my local station. They have been running weekly Steam Train rides. I despite this attraction being so close. May never have got round to it. But the mate in question said he was coming down from London to take the trip. And he asked me if I fancied joining him on New Years Eve afternoon for a ride on the Steam train. So I did.

As it happened they had a special offer running . Which meant if you lived in a certain postcode area. Which I did, that you could get the ticket for half price. And this deal also included a cup of tea and a mince pie. You cannot argue with that kind of value. The train runs between Princes Risborough and Chinnor. It uses an old route, That has not been in operation for many years. But that the society who run the steam train managed to get restored.

The journey there takes about twenty five minutes. It is a lovely experience. As you can hear the engine and see the steam pushing you along the countryside. It is actually quite serene and relaxing. When we got to Chinnor we walked to the nearest pub and had a quick pint. Before catching the next train home. But this part is of course purely optional.

The journey back is actually by Diesel train. At the moment they have no way of turning the train around. So the Steam Engine pulls all the carriages to Chinnor and then the Diesel Engine on the other end returns you to Princes Risborough. It was a fun experience. I would say give it a try, if you get the chance. It is a nice flavour of how train travel used to be.

This New Years Eve my good friend and I, Andy Holmes went to my local wine bar in Princes Risborough called Dukes. I have been in there a number of times, since it opened. And always found it to be a wonderful place to enjoy a drink. It was an all ticket event. It started at 7.30pm. And as it happened Andy and I were the first to arrive. I had no idea how busy it would be. So I thought the best plan was to get there early and secure a table. Which we did.

It was a great night. Everyone there was lovely and friendly. And of course rightly in good spirits. They kept bringing around nibbles. I must admit I had a few every time they did. I find it impossible to turn down food. They also had live music. Just a bloke with a mic and a guitar. But he was fantastic. He had a great voice and played all the right songs. He had us all dancing and singing along by the end.

The whole night was washed down with several glasses of a very nice Rioja. The perfect way to see out the old year and welcome in the new one. Here’s to a healthy, happy, positive and fun 2019. A very Happy New Year to you. I hope it brings you everything that you want it to.

Have fun. I will be taking a mini-break from the blog. And it will be back in a month. If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram you will find out why in the next week or so. Cheers Neil

Happy Christmas 2018

Hi there, how are you doing? I hope you have had a really good couple of weeks. Mine have been pretty busy but lots of fun. I am a massive fan of comedy. And I must admit I do like going to see work in progress style shows. To see top comedians putting together new routines and trying out new jokes. I am also aiming to see as many of them live as I can. 

Handily a couple of weeks ago these two goals collided nicely. As I managed to get a ticket for an Eddie Izzard Work in Progress gig. He had been someone that I had wanted to see for a while. He was on at the famous comedy pub in Islington The Bill Murray. It is a place that I had been aware of for a while. But never been to. The main bar area is quite small. But there is a really cool and creative vibe to the place. Which I liked. 

I was standing at the bar having a drink. Waiting for the comedy room to open. When Eddie Izzard suddenly walked right past me on his way to the dressing room area. The venue there holds about fifty people. I found a seat in the second row. So I had a great view of the action.

He was amazing. Even though he was trying out completely new bits. Plus also trying to add ad-libs and extra jokes to existing stories. He is so captivating. His story telling ability is great. He is super intelligent. My mouth was hurting from laughing. It was that funny.

He of course does have a great stage presence. And total control of the room. He started off as a Street Entertainer in Covent Garden. He was dressed as ever in a suit with high heels, bright red lipstick and painted nails. But that is all irrelevant really. He could be telling those jokes wearing a Panda suit. And would still be hilarious.

He has already performed warm up gigs for this Wunderbar tour in French. And was off to do the same in German. After the show I was at. This means every time he adds something in whichever language. He will then have to translate it into the other two. He really does not seem to like making things easy for himself. If you can, go and see the finished Wunderbar Tour. As I can already tell from what I have seen. That it is going to be sensational.  

Neil Quigley Stand Up Comedy
Neil Quigley Stand Up Comedy

I went along to have a look behind the scenes at Build TV a couple of weeks ago. They are a Social Media company who broadcast regular interviews with lots of different people. They do this via Facebook and by You Tube. Therefore you can either watch them live or you can catch up with them at a later date. When the live feed ends the recording is instantly available to watch online. 

They have a fairly small studio. It is pretty basic. But is well lit and the set they have looks good on screen. I was impressed with how many cameras they had. It was in total a five camera shoot. Which for a twenty minute online show is impressive. They have room for a small audience of around fifty people. The brand is quite big in the United States. This is the London version of it. 

I watched two of these live to the internet interviews. The first one was with comedians Judi Love and Aurie Styla. They have recently each been given a radio show on BBC London. When the station revamped its weekday evening line up. They were talking about their careers.

Both of which were enhanced by their use of social media. In particular the use of videos on You Tube and Instagram. This got them more coverage and created an interest in what they did. To a broader audience. They also told us what we could expect from the new radio programmes they were hosting. 

Build TV

The next one featured the two men behind The Revolution Will Be Televised. Comedians Jolyon Rubinstein and Heydon Prowse. They spoke a little bit about how that came about. And some of the things that they experienced while filming it. But they were mainly there to plug their brand new Channel 4 show Ministry of Justice. Which has a similar format to their previous work. Except this time they are trying to expose crime rather than politics. 

They are two very interesting characters. They are clearly intelligent and clever guys. And they do talk a lot of sense about the state of the world at the moment. And maybe how we could all try to improve it. But that said they are comics, so do want to make you laugh as often as possible. The set up is such with in the studio. That they can play in clips while they are in conversation with their guests. So I got to see a bit of the latest show and it looked good. 

It is a nice little set up they have there. They are quite a small team. There are a selection of different presenters. Who come and host these webcasts for them. They do from time to time get some huge names on. As it is not television and just online. You do have a little bit more time to let things breathe. Plus there are no adverts during the broadcast itself. This visit has given me some food for thought for 2019. 

Build TV

 It was my birthday on 10th December. Historically I go over the top and really celebrate my special day. This year was by previous years quite low key. It was not a big or landmark birthday. I just had a very nice and relaxing day at home. Then in the evening treated myself to a tasty steak, some red wine and a chocolate cake. Living the dream! You know when you are getting older. When you ask for practical gifts rather than fun and crazy things. 

Build TV

These items included some thermal underwear. I seem to feel the cold more than I used to. And a Fit Bit. I go running three times a week. And I thought it might actually be fun to find out how far I travel every time that I do it. I had a lovely day. Thanks for all your birthday wishes. It was much appreciated. Once my birthday has been and gone. Then and only then do I allow myself to actually start thinking about and getting organised for Christmas. 

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

The day after my birthday. I went to my first Christmas Party of the year. It was at a lovely venue on Great Portland Street in London. It was with my former BBC colleagues. They are a talented bunch. For this Do every year. A group of them form a band for the night. This was the first time that I was able to go to it. They played for about one hour and twenty minutes. And I have to say, they sounded great. I was impressed with the wide and varied repertoire of songs that they performed. Including of course a couple of Christmas classics. 

Once the band had finished. A couple of other work mates. Then did a disco for the final ninety minutes. They were ace. Although at one point it did feel like they were doing the set that I used to play back in 2006. When I used to DJ at The Chicago Rock Cafe in Yeovil. A brilliant night! Great to catch up with everyone. It was a nice way the kick start my own personal festive celebrations. 

Happily I have managed to make a trip to Winter Wonderland an annual event. Over the last couple of years. It is held in Hyde Park. I went there last Tuesday. They have a massive funfair. Which I will be honest does not interest me at all. I hate rides. Just being me, gives me a big enough adrenaline rush. I do not need any extra help. That and I find the big ones scary. There are also lots of great food stands, bar areas and entertainment. 

The Band

The main reason I go is to visit the Bavarian Village. That they also have. I love it there. I have been to the actual Oktoberfest in Munich twice. It is brilliant fun. And this event in London reminds me of the time I spent there. The atmosphere is great. They do serve the beer in pint steins. Not the two and half pint steins they have in Germany. But you cannot have it all. They also have lots of live music. 

Winter Wonderland

This year they had a crooner style Sinatra and Dean Martin singer in one area. He has been there the last couple of times I have been. And I think he is great. Funny, as well as a decent singer. In another beer hall. They had a four piece German band. They were playing all the party hits. In the style that you would hear in all the massive Beer Kellers in Munich. During the festival. Where you would literally be dancing and singing on the tables by the end of the night. 

Neil Quigley at Winter Wonderland

In another bar they had a traditional Oompah Band. As the evening progresses, as you look round. All you can see is people swaying in time with the music. And singing along with the songs. I always have a good time when I go there. The day I went it was a bit wet. But the rain could not dampen my enjoyment of it. I will definitely be back once again next year. 

Singer Winter Wonderland
Winter Wonderland Band

A few weeks ago I spent a lovely Sunday afternoon at my Uncle and Aunties’s house. They held some pre-Christmas drinks. It was nice to catch up with some family members. Who I had not seen for while. These things are always a good laugh. Sadly not everyone could make it to this one. And then I was not available to go to one the following week. Where I could of caught up with the rest of the family. The festive period is always manic with lots going on. I am looking forward to a relaxing Christmas Day, though.

Neil Quigley Happy Christmas
Neil Quigley Happy Christmas

For the second year running I went to see the spectacular Panto at the London Palladium. This theatre has a huge history of putting on these festive shows. And always with a stunning cast. This one was no different. The pantomime just looks visually incredible. As unlike the ones around the country. This is a big old West End Theatre. So they can drop people in from the ceiling. And fly a massive Dragon out over the audience. Which is excellent. What an experience for the children. It is magical, just like Christmas itself.

The show this year is the classic Snow White. But as ever with these Pantomimes at the Palladium. It is performed in a slightly different way. When you have such an all star talented cast. You need to give them space and time to have their own bits. To show off their skills. So the plot is fairly straight forward. But what happens around it, is what makes it so special. The staging is a joy. The dance routines are truly a thing of wonder.

Talking of which it features former Strictly Come Dancing stars. The brilliant Vincent and Flavia. Who come on to perform two absolutely spellbinding dances. The Dame is the legend that is Gary Wilmot. He is ace. He can sing, dance and do comedy all equally effortlessly. He holds the whole show together. Paul Zerdin is totally hilarious. Both with and without his comedy partner the very fluffy Sam. You can see how this man deserved to win America’s Got Talent a few years ago. He really knows his craft. And like all the cast. He is given space to do his stuff and his own routines.

Snow White is played by Danielle Hope. Who won Andrew Lloyd Webber’s last television audition show “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”. Meaning she got to play Dorothy in a new production of “The Wizard of Oz”. She can sing and dance obviously. But she was fully involved with the fun and the devil fellow cast members have in trying to put each other off. She was fantastic.

The Prince was played by the wonderful Charlie Stemp. He is I think the best West End performer of the moment. He can sing, dance and act brilliantly. I have seen him in “Half a Sixpence” and he was great in that. He has spent the most of this year appearing on Broadway in Hello Dolly. Next year he is going to be playing Bert in a new version of Mary Poppins in London. I will tell you this now. He is going to be sensational in that show, no question.

Dawn French is appearing in what I believe to be her first ever panto. As the wicked Queen. She is as you would expect amazing. She is just a naturally funny person. The only slight problem with that, is that it does at first make it a bit difficult to boo her. But she is a top quality actress. Therefore the boos do start to echo around the auditorium pretty soon. She plays it brilliantly. There are lots of in jokes and digs between the stars. As regards to their careers and lives. All of course for comedy purposes only.

Julian Clary as ever, virtually steals the show. He plays the Man in the Mirror. He has a different costume every time he appears. And they get more ridiculous each time. Pantomime was made for him. It has always been a medium that works on two levels. The story and fun for the kids. And jokes for the grown ups aimed to sail over the children’s heads. Because of who he is and what we know about him from his career. It seems easy for him to do this. He really is the King or should I say Queen of Innuendo. It is joyously funny.

And finally Nigel Havers is back. Once again principally playing himself, sending himself up, joining in, having fun and just messing about. He is also Julian’s “understudy” which leads to some very entertaining moments. The show is Christmassy, laugh out loud funny and brilliantly entertaining. You will not find a bigger and I suspect better pantomime anywhere in the country. The whole cast are a joy to watch. I hope they are having a ball doing it.

Snow White at the London Palladium

It has been a good couple of weeks for Tottenham Hotspur. We have had a few good wins in the Premier League. Plus we have made it to the Semi Finals of the League Cup. After beating the Arsenal at their place. We still have not had a fully fit squad to pick from this season yet. We look unlikely to make any new signings in January. But I am still excited for the second half of the season. I think it will be fun and interesting!

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Have fun and we will catch up again in a couple of weeks. Happy Christmas, eat, drink and be merry. Cheers Neil

Stand Up And Dance

Hi there, how are you doing? I hope you have had a really good couple of weeks. Mine have been very busy and good fun. I did take at least one day away from a theatre or a stadium to go Horse Racing with my dad. We went to Warwick Races for an afternoon of jump racing. It was my first time there. It is a lovely and friendly track with a really nice feel to the place.

I did actually randomly bump in to someone else I knew. While I was there. It was his birthday. He is a massive racing fan. And although he lives in Liverpool. He had travelled down for the day. I did have a few celebratory drinks with him. It would have been rude not to. Mind you that was the only thing that we had to toast all day. Neither of us picked any winners. Fun day out in the fresh air, though, so all good.

Warwick Races
Warwick Races

After I got home from the races. I then made a random last minute decision to go and see Jason Manford at The Swan Theatre in High Wycombe. I interviewed him probably about twelve years ago now. He was brilliant, very easy and fun to talk to. I actually spoke to him the day before he was going to be on Jonathan Ross’s chat show for the first time. I hope, I proved a useful warm up for that.

Anyway somehow I had never actually managed to see him perform live. I had been hearing really good things about his current Muddle Class tour. So I decided to go along and take a look. He had a warm up act on called The Raymond and Mr Timpkins Revue. I was aware of this duo but had not seen them before. They were brilliant. Their whole act is set to music and is very clever and very funny. They did their thing. Then there was a short interval before Jason came on.

The main show was fantastic. I like his style. How chilled and relaxed he generally is with the audience. That said though, he will deal with any hecklers in a robust way, if required. His first job was as a glass collector at a comedy club. When he was only sixteen. Therefore he is very experienced. And has seen it all before. It is a very relatable subject for most of the audience. Well it was for me certainly. I am pretty sure that I am Muddle Class.

It is a very funny show. Mostly story telling from things that he has come across in his life. Focusing on relationships with family, friends and the people that we all randomly encounter in life. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I can see why it has been getting such great reviews. I also think Jason Manford is a top bloke, nice fella.  Who does not like to spend an evening laughing?

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Which is why I was delighted that I managed to get a ticket for the Absolute Radio Comedy Night in aid of Stand Up To Cancer. Which was at the London Palladium. It was a couple of Sundays ago. That theatre has so much history and nostalgia. I love going there. And as referenced by the performers. The ashes of Sir Bruce Forsyth are now interned in the building.

The charity event was hosted by possibly my favourite comedian Frank Skinner. He was brilliant. As he always is. He came out first and did about fifteen minutes. Before he introduced the opening act Chris Ramsey. I had seen him once before about six years ago at the Limelight Theatre in Aylesbury. That was right before his sitcom was  launched. After which he became a more regular face on television.

Absolute Radio Comedy Night
Absolute Radio Comedy Night

Both the times, I have seen him now, he has been excellent. And very funny. As comedians get older, like us all, our life experiences change. Therefore their material alters to fit in more with what is happening in their life. That is particularly noticeable when you have a long gap in seeing a comics live show. A quality set from the cheeky Geordie. Who always makes me feel like I want to be his friend. When I watch him live.

After a bit more from Frank Skinner. Next up it was Nish Kumar. I have seen him record an episode of Newsjack and also at the Old Rope Comedy in London previously. He was as with every time I have seen him, very good.  Clever with topical gags. These sort of gigs, they only do a small part of what would be an hour or so show. Nish’s set was quite ranty at the start. Which I liked and was fine with because it was funny. I fear a few people were missing the joke. And possibly oblivious to the fact that he was doing it a bit for effect.

The next comic on was Glenn Moore. He is part of the Absolute Radio Breakfast Show team. But is an established comedian in his own right. After previously working as a newsreader in commercial radio. He was really good on the night. He does have his own unique style to telling his jokes. I expect to see and hear more from him over the next few years. I do not just mean on the radio reading the sports news.

Closing the first half was the brilliant Rob Beckett. I have been a fan of his for a while. But this was my first chance to get a look at him in the flesh. And he did not disappoint. Really amusing and yet again someone who just feels like a mate telling you a few stories. Which I like in my comedians. He is getting ready for a new tour. Which on this evidence is going to be fantastic.

Absolute Radio Comedy Night
Absolute Radio Comedy Night

We then had a short interval. Before Frank Skinner came back on and got things moving again. By bringing on Matt Forde. Who I really like.  I saw him do a small warm up gig in Berkhampsted once. And I did enjoy his latest full show at the Edinburgh Festival this year. He is best described as a Political comedian. Which means there is lots of material around for him. But because everything keeps changing all the time at the moment. He is constantly re-writing his show.

He was hilarious on the night. What I liked as well. Is that you could tell he was loving it. Having the chance to play to a full house at the London Palladium. Who would not want that opportunity. His jokes were right on the money. And his impressions of Boris Johnson and Donald Trump are scarily good. It is like they are the in the room. The only worrying thing is that his Trump says more sensible things that the actual one.

Then it was Jo Caulfield’s turn to take to the stage. She was totally amazing. It was such a wonderfully funny set. I think she had me laughing more regularly than any of the other acts on the night. I would now like to see her full show. Therefore I will be keeping an eye out for when she is next playing in London. Top quality stuff.

The penultimate act was actually the first show I saw when I got to the Edinburgh Festival this year. It was Gary Delaney. He is the master of the one liner. He is just a huge gag machine. There are no stories or anecdotes. Just quick fire jokes. He is great. Clever to, because sometimes the shortest jokes are the toughest to write. I enjoyed his set immensely. There are always a few groaners in there. But I do like the odd one of those.

Closing the show it was Jon Richardson. I like him and think he is really funny. He did an excellent job finishing off the night. With as always, some wonderful stories and observations. It was a lovely evening spent laughing in a beautiful theatre. While raising money for a marvellous cause. What is not to like? Great fun from start to finish.

Absolute Radio Comedy Night
Absolute Radio Comedy Night

The night after that I found myself in another historic London theatre. I was at the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane. It is such a nice experience there. It is beautifully designed.

The spiral staircases look stunning. Plus there is lots of space. Which is something that cannot be said for all theatres. I was there for the sensational 42nd Street. Which was a show that somehow I had not managed to catch before. I mean, it has only been around since the early eighties.

This version starred the exquisite Bonnie Langford. She was brilliant. As were the whole cast. It is such an all singing and all dancing show. The dance routines are truly a thing of wonder. It is a proper old school big production musical extravaganza.

The story line itself is pretty straight forward and basic. But that does not matter at all. It is more than super seeded by the energy, the colour and the whole spectacle of that many performers dancing around the stage. It of course does contain some classic and well known songs as well.

I am so glad I have now seen it. The choreography for those big group dance numbers was insane. Plus I do admire tap dancing greatly. It looks and sounds amazing. When done properly.

It has several sub plot stories running through it. But I think the main message is to dream big, work hard and be nice to people. Which seems like quite a good motto to have towards life in general to me. Another top night out at the theatre. And finally for the record the Rioja there was very nice.

42nd Street
42nd Street

I was probably one of the last people in the country to see it. But I have made for me what is a rare trip to the cinema to see The Queen biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” I believed that I loosely knew the story of the band and its legendary front man Freddie Mercury. However having seen the film. I now realise that there was quite a bit that I was not aware of.

I thought the casting was perfect. All the main characters looked and as far as I could tell acted exactly like the people there were being. I also liked how the story was told in an intelligent and sympathetic way. An insight was given into what was happening with the viewer left to make the leap and fill in the gaps in their own head. Without it being graphically explained to us.

I felt it showed that like a lot of outstanding performers. He clearly had some issues with being at ease with himself and who he really was. Not helped by some of the people he trusted and invested in. But he was the ultimate showman. If not a little troubled at times during his career.

While watching I developed a new appreciation for John Deakin. He may be my new favourite member of Queen. Even if at one point when having a pop at Roger Taylor, Freddie uses the line “If you were anymore boring you would be Deakin”.

I thoroughly enjoyed the film. I liked how they pitched it and told the story. You could tell the band, despite their differences clearly all cared for each other. All in all, it just worked out for them.

Add in of course that sensational sound track. Queen did produce a plethora of top quality songs over the years. And they sounded good on the cinema surround sound. Finally I must of course mention the way they recreated the Live Aid scenes. That was all very clever. Looked and sounded excellent. And felt very real. I am glad I went to see it in the end.

School of Rock
School of Rock

Over the last two weeks I have experienced the classic highs and lows of being a football fan. Tottenham beat Chelsea three-one at Wembley. We played brilliantly from the start and honestly could of had six or seven.

A few days later we managed to nick a one nil home win against Inter Milan. To just about keep our hopes alive of going through to the knock out stages of the Champions League. At that point everything was looking rosy. We were all smiling. Confidence was high!

Then last Sunday we were fairly beaten by the better team on the day in the North London Derby against Arsenal. Which is never a game you want to lose. But specially when it means your biggest enemies leapfrog above you in the league. So that was a little bit disappointing to, say the least.

It was frustrating as we played so differently to how we performed only the week before. Then just a few days later we beat Southampton. Climb back up to third in the Premier League ahead of the Gunners. And all is good again. You have got to love football.

Tottenham Hotspur
Tottenham Hotspur

It is my birthday on Monday. Which of course I am very much looking forward to.

I think I am just going to have a quiet day at home and catch up with my family. But these things are always subject to change, so we will see what happens.

General Lee
General Lee

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

Entertainment Connoisseur

Hi there, how are you doing? I hope you have had a really good couple of weeks. Mine have been predictably very busy but lots of fun. Two weeks ago today. My dad and I attended a Wine Tasting in London. It was a gift that I had bought him for Fathers Day. That just happened to be an experience for two. So therefore I joined him for it. Solely to aid his fun and enjoyment, of course.

It was run by the company Wine Cottage. Who supply a lot of the big London hotels and restaurants with all their exclusive wines. It was held at the luxurious Number 8 Northumberland Avenue. Which is a pretty classy venue, to say the least. We got there a little early, so we treated ourselves to a little drink in the bar. To get us warmed up for the main event. Like the total professionals that we are.

When it is time to get things underway. You are shown in to a stylish function room. Where you are welcomed at the door by the person hosting things. Who then shows you to your seat’s. There are several round tables of eight laid out. Already set at each place is a selection of glasses, cheeses and chocolates. Ready for the tasting. We were sat with two lovely married couples and two friends. We all had a nice chat before and after the event and also during any gaps in the proceedings.

Red Red Wine
Red Red Wine

It is all presented by Kam Zadeh. Who is the Managing Director and Wine Adviser of Wine Cottage. He was fantastic.  And gave basically a beginners guide to all the things you need to know about wine. And the wine making process in general. I found it really interesting. Plus I actually learnt quite a lot. His assistant then goes around and pours the drinks. While he is talking to the group. You get to try six drinks. A champagne, two white wines and three red wines. Each one has either an accompanying cheese or a chocolate to enjoy with it.

My dad and I both thoroughly enjoyed the couple of hours. That it lasted. All the wines and food were great. We met some top people. And I know a lot more about wine, than I did when I walked into that room. They even present you with a little certificate. To prove that you have attended. Sadly I am not quite a wine  connoisseur but I can assure you I only drink the right amount of red wine for a gentlemen.

Wine Certificate
Wine Certificate

I went along to see The Simon and Garfunkel Story at the Vaudeville Theatre in London. I am like pretty much the rest of the planet. A big fan of their music. The red wine there was perfectly acceptable by the way. And I did have to have two glasses of it. Just to make sure. The show was exactly as you would expect from the title. There was a full band on stage. Then the  two main performers. Sam O’ Hanlon who is Paul Simon and Charles Blyth who is Art Garfunkel then take centre stage.

It is more of a music tribute show than anything else. The cast take you through all of the duos classic back catalogue of songs. While using the video screens on stage and narration in between to tell their musical story. So unlike for example Buddy (The Buddy Holly Musical) it is not a play about their lives. It is just a fitting tribute to their music with a nod to both their personal and their professional relationship.

The cast are great. The two leads look and when they are singing sound like who they are supposed to be. It is all nicely presented. In a chronological order. Which leads you through all the aspects of their career.  Therefore if you are a fan of Simon and Garfunkel and their music. Then this show is definitely worth seeing.

The Simon & Garfunkel Story
The Simon & Garfunkel Story

I recently paid my first visit to the Waterloo East Theatre in London. To see a former colleague of mine from Wembley Stadium appear in the play called The Greater Game.

It is a true story about a group of footballers from Leyton Orient. Who all went and fought in the First World War together. And all ended up being involved in the Battle of the Somme.

Waterloo East Theatre
Waterloo East Theatre

It focuses on the then League club’s first team. Who all signed up together to help the country’s war effort. As you can imagine the whole thing is an emotional roller coaster. We follow them from the dressing room banter at home to their experiences on the front line at one of the bloodiest battles on record.

It really does bring home to you the helplessness and huge cost of wars. Both to the people who were doing the fighting and those who were left at home. It is I suppose quite laddish in many ways due to the football element. But so poignant and thought provoking at the same time. Especially when you remember all the characters in this piece are real people.

The cast are all excellent. As well as my mate Jack Harding, who I thought was fantastic. It also features Michael Greco, probably still best known for playing Beppe Di Marco in Eastenders. And James Phelps, who was in the Harry Potter films. The entire recent run of this play sold out, so I was very lucky to get a ticket. If it does return to the stage. I would certainly recommend that you do go and see it.

Jack Harding and Neil Quigley
Jack Harding and Neil Quigley

I am hoping this does not shatter too many illusions. But sometimes even during live television shows. Some sections will be recorded in advance. This can be for a number of different reasons. If you were watching Children In Need this year. You might have seen Sheridan Smith singing her latest single on it.

That performance was actually recorded the day before the event. In the Children In Need studio at Elstree. And I was lucky enough to be there, when it was. I have been a fan of her work for quite a while. In fact I did try to see her when she was starring in the musical Funny Girl in the West End. But she was not performing on the night. That I managed to get a ticket.

Funny Girl
Funny Girl

Seeing her live has been on my to do list for a while. It was great to finally see her in person. A group of us filled the front of the studio by the stage. She came on with her band. And then performed the song twice. Accompanied by the audience clapping and dancing around each time. When the director and producer were happy with what they had. She then left the studio, as did we.

Then on the night that was inserted in to the programme. If you did not know, you would not realise that she was not there on the night. Well unless you spotted me on camera dancing. As I was no where near the place on the actual night. It was lovely to see her looking and sounding so good. After her recent and well documented issues. But she is back with a new album. In a good place in her personal life now. And I suspect ready to come back and win more awards.

Children in Need itself was another huge success this year. Since it started it has now raised over one billion pounds for charity. Which is an amazing achievement. As ever there were some excellent and unusual collaborations. The team behind it have done another top job once again. Yet they still do not appear to have raised enough to get Pudsey’s eye fixed.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I managed to get myself along to a small and exclusive gig recently. Russell Brand this week has been performing a three show run of a new theatre show at The Old Vic in Bristol called “Russell Brand My Life by William Shakespeare”. The Friday before that very first show. The comedian decided to do a full rehearsal of the “play” at a secret venue in High Wycombe.

The day before this was due to happen I got hold of a ticket for it. There were about forty of us in this relatively small room. When the unmistakable figure of the actor and presenter walked in. It was a pretty informal affair. He had a chat to us all. Before explaining what he was doing. And a little bit about the show we were going to see.

He is naturally very funny, extremely cheeky and to be honest very self deprecating. The show is simply him telling his life story. Then linking each major part to a speech from a Shakespeare play. It is all very honest and upfront about the problems he has faced. And how he has dealt with them. The explanations he gives are of course very funny. Then he pauses to perform each one of these classic pieces of English literature, perfectly, with such poise and meaning.

It is worth seeing just for the way he performs these segments. He totally immerses himself in them and that really shows. He is such a good orator. And When he speaks he is mesmerising and some what hypnotic. You just cannot take your eyes off him. He does have a real presence about him. The whole show just works perfectly. And for me because he is such a great wordsmith the Shakespeare parts do fit in so naturally.

It went down a storm with forty odd people on a Friday afternoon in High Wycombe, so I suspect when he performed this in that theatre in Bristol. He probably took the roof off the place. At the end I did manage to grab a quick chat and a picture with him. He was great, such a nice friendly and welcoming person. I suspect this show may be back for more performances at some point in the not to distant future.

Neil Quigley & Russell Brand
Neil Quigley & Russell Brand

I was at Wembley for the last two England games. Therefore I got to say farewell and thank you to our record goal scorer Wayne Rooney during the game against USA. I was also at the game when he passed Bobby Charlton’s goals tally.

I was sitting behind the goal in to which he scored the penalty. To claim the title. He came on as sub against America and did not look out of place at all. That said it was good on the night to see a few new young England players making their debuts. We scored three good goals. It was a decent win.

Wayne Rooney
Wayne Rooney

This was actually my first time sampling an International game in the Club Wembley area. I really liked it. Before and after the game there are a couple of nice bars. Where you can get some drinks and food. While also enjoying some live music. Plus you do get a padded seat to sit on while watching the match. The bars are open for an hour after the final whistle. Which means you can relax in comfort as the crowds and queues to get home disappear.

I was back at the National Stadium again in Club Wembley, just a few days later. To watch England progress to the semi-finals of the UEFA  Nations League. After an exciting two-one victory over Croatia with a certain Harry Kane getting the winner with five minutes to go. It was a good afternoon. The atmosphere at the end of the match with Three Lions blasting out was brilliant.

England V Croatia
England V Croatia

I had a nice day out and catch up with my good friend Andy Holmes in London last weekend. In almost a very elaborate remake of the West Wing. We went on a sight seeing walk. While having a good old chat about everything and anything. We walked from Westminster to Marylebone via Buckingham Palace, Downing Street, The Globe theatre, Fleet Street and Leicester Square.

On our travels we managed to clock up a rather impressive fourteen kilometres. Powered only by a Subway and a cuppa. Until just before catching the train home. We had a nice meal in Zizzi’s, just off Baker Street. It was a relaxing afternoon. I like strolling around the capital because there is so much to look at. You do not realise how far it is that you are actually travelling.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

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

Simply The Best

Hi there, how are you doing? I hope you have had a really good couple of weeks. Mine have been busy and fun. I have to admit I have never really been in to Halloween. Even as a child I never dressed up or went trick or treating. It does not interest me in the slightest. And it never has. May be because I do not believe in ghosts or have never watched any horror films.

Every year I try to avoid it completely. By always going out for a meal at a local pub with the family. I am happy for others to enjoy it. But it is just not for me. It was a nice evening. It is good to actually sit down and eat together round a table. And talk to each other. Which you do not really do, if you meet up in a house. In the same way.

We went along to the Red Lion in Longwick. As it happened my dad’s cousin was doing the cooking. So it was nice to see him to. We went for a main and a pudding. As all of us have a very sweet tooth. I had a pint of the local Chiltern Brewery Ale. Which went down very well with my meal. By the time I arrived home all signs of Halloween had  disappeared. Therefore as far as I was concerned. It was yet another very successful night.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I did not end up going to any firework nights this year either. In the past working in radio. I have ended up attending, working and also organising a lot of them.

I have had some great times doing that. It was always hard work but lots of fun on the actual night. Plus there is something pleasing about leading the countdown to the start of the display. Which were mostly set to music and always spectacular.

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

Personally I prefer going to a big organised event, if I can. Although I think the really big displays seem to be in decline nowadays. When I was younger. I remember going to a few little family displays at my Nan and Gramps. With lots of my cousins there. The ladies would be in the kitchen making soup and Jacket Potatoes. And the men would be up the garden. Helping my Gramp set off the cheap rockets and traffic lights. That we had clubbed together to buy. And stored in a old biscuit tin.

I would normally just watch through the window or if I was feeling slightly braver from the door way. When I was a child. I was a bit scared of fireworks. I liked the pretty colours, just not the big bangs. I do remember once a rocket slightly misfired and a spark from it somehow managed to find its way into my Mum’s trainer. Which gave her a little burn. And did not help to ease my concerns about these multicoloured explosives.

I do enjoy going to displays and watching the fireworks. But then again if I do not go to any, like this year. I am perfectly fine with that to. The best display now seems to be in London on New Years Eve anyway. A couple of years ago I got to witness the whole thing. While I was standing on the roof of Broadcasting House. Which I must say was a brilliant and yet slightly surreal moment.

New Years Eve
New Years Eve

Last Thursday I took my mum, dad and sister to see the Tina Turner Musical. I had heard brilliant things about it. Since it had opened. So I was really looking forward to seeing it for myself. It is playing at the Aldwych Theatre in London. Which is a lovely venue situated just off The Strand. And for the record I can confirm that they do a perfectly adequate Merlot there. Which I sampled before the show and during the interval. Well that is all part of the theatre experience, right?

The show itself is amazing. We already know all the huge songs from her career. Therefore before it starts. You know the music is going to be great. It is a very fast moving production. A lot seems to happen to her in a very short space of time. And most of it is horrendous. I guess that in real life and real time. What she had to live through and deal with was even worse. When you consider how much they may have had to leave out.

Her life story is as amazing, as it is inspiring. It just shows what an incredible and strong women she is. Both parts of the show tug on all of your emotions. It really is a bit of a roller coaster ride. I must be honest I did not realise how much she was actually struggling before she properly launched her amazing solo career. It was a real fight to get to where she did. At times sadly, literally.

Tina The Musical
Tina The Musical

The cast were sensational and all brilliant. But special praise has to go to Jenny Fiztpatrick. Who was sublime as Tina. As I am sure you can imagine with it being her life story. She is always involved in the action. And by default has to carry the whole thing. Including belting out all of those huge classic hits. Which of course she does brilliantly. She has a truly sensational voice.  Plus she has all of the recognisable Turner mannerisms down to a tee.

I can totally see why it has been getting so many five star reviews. It is an excellent show. It is endorsed and supported by Tina herself. It is very dark and deals with a lot of issues and situations. But happily it is ultimately a success story. It finishes with a party style sing-a-long with the cast. Which is a fantastic way to end any theatre trip. If you can, I would say go and see it.

Tina The Musical
Tina The Musical

After the show we went for dinner at the wonderful Ivy Market Grill in Covent Garden. The staff and service are always top class. And the food is delicious. I personally think the place has a really nice atmosphere to.

While I was there I sampled a bottle of their 2011 Reserva Rioja. Which was very nice. My dad and I then finished the meal by having a Champagne Cocktail each. Which was a top way to round off a lovely afternoon/evening.

Cocktails
Cocktails

Tottenham Hotspur will be playing all their home games a Wembley until at least the end of December now. So I am going to have to wait till next year to see and sit in my season ticket seat for the first time. I am still getting to all the games at the national stadium. I was there to see us lose to Manchester City. We played well. But unfortunately one mistake and then one missed golden opportunity cost us a draw. Which I think we would have just about deserved. But alas it was not to be.

The pitch was not quite at its best having had three weeks worth of American Football games played on it. Including one the day before. After a very wet weekend. It was very bare and odd seeing the NFL pitch markings so clearly. I was lucky enough to play a charity match on the Wembley pitch a few years ago. At the end of the season. Just before the pitch was about to be relayed. I think it may have been in better condition for my match, than it was for the game against City.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I also went to the must win Champions League game against PSV Eindhoven. Which happily for Spurs we did. But for a long time it looked like it we would not. And it would just be one of those nights. It did not help much going one down in the second minute. Then we had lots of chances but they were not going in.  Finally Harry Kane managed to inspire us to two late goals and the three points.

That win keeps us in with a chance of making the next stage of the competition. If we basically win our last two games. One of which is an away trip to Barcelona. Fair play to the PSV fans. They were brill. They never stopped singing, bouncy and clapping all night. Mind you I did bump in to a few outside before the game. And I think that they were making the most of the London hospitality. The Dutch know how to enjoy themselves.

Tottenham Hotspur
Tottenham Hotspur

Last Saturday night I went to my cousin’s wife’s 40th Birthday Party. It was held at a pub in Towersey. Well it was in their function room. Which was a lovely little barn. It was a brilliant night. Great to catch up with some family members. Who I had not seen for a while. I do come from a pretty big family. And we do not get the chance to all meet up. That often nowadays. So it is always nice, when we do.

I was also pleased to discover that the pub served Rebellion IPA. Which is one of my favourite beers. That was a bit of a result. The disco was really good. Top music all night. Played at just the right volume for the size of the room. Which I know does not sound like a massive compliment. But that is an easy thing to get wrong. And this guy did not. He was spot on with it.

The birthday girl seemed to enjoy herself. She took lots of photos. And using one of the many apps you can get nowadays. She made a montage of them all. Which was set to music. She posted it on her Facebook page. For us all to see. Which I think is a brilliant idea. I might have to steal that idea for my next party. Which will not be for at least another eight years, I think.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

The other week I had my final day working for the BBC. There were a few of us leaving on the same day. So we went out for a few drinks and some food.

We actually found a pretty new and fairly cool bar. It is just along the road from the BT Tower. It describes itself as an US Dive Bar.

BBC
BBC

It serves American beer and Philadelphia style food. We had booked a table in there. And I must say the food and service was really good. I would certainly go back there again. It is not a very big place. So it can get quite cosy in there, quite quickly. Buy I really liked it. It is called Passyunk Avenue. I think it has only been open for about a month. But it is worth checking out. Specially if you like traditional style greasy American cuisine.

From there we moved on to a more traditional English Pub. Which was one of our normal go to “work” pubs. It was ace to see everyone who managed to pop along for a drink. I have had a great couple of years working there. It was fun, interesting and exciting. But now it is time to move on to my next big adventure.

BBC
BBC

For Father’s Day this year. I bought my dad a Red Wine tasting experience for two people. Today me and him are heading up to a posh hotel in London to partake in this. I am really looking forward to it.

As well as sampling the wines. We also get to enjoy some accompanying cheese and chocolate. It sounds like a perfect couple of hours to me. I will tell you what it was like next time we speak.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

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

Neil Quigley Presenter