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.

Edinburgh Fringe 2019

It is no secret that I am a massive fan of comedy in all of its many forms. I have in the past done a little bit of stand up myself. This is something I still hope to do more of at some point in the future. It is great fun to do, if not a little bit terrifying. Having tried it I have huge admiration for anybody who gets up on stage and tells jokes. It is not as easy as many of the world’s comics make it look. But the buzz you get when it goes well is possibly unbeatable.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Last year I made my first ever visit to the famous Edinburgh Fringe Festival. I had such a brilliant time, that I headed up to the Scottish capital for a few days once again this August. The whole thing runs for around three weeks. I went for a long weekend, around the half way point. The city is totally rammed with people. As not only is it a great tourist attraction in its own right. But the Edinburgh Military Tattoo is also on. Not to mention the World’s biggest Arts event that I was in town for.

Therefore it does pay to have a great deal of patience and a decent sense of humour. Which I think is also a useful thing to possess when attending a comedy festival. The plan for my trip was to try to see as many shows as I possibly could. I decided to take the train this time, having flown previously. On the journey up there this did not quite go completely as I intended. I got the train from my home into Kings Cross in London, which went fine.

Somehow when at Kings Cross however I managed to get on the late running 10.30am train. Instead of the 11am departure that I had pre booked my seat on. In my defence there was nothing on the board at the platform but people said the train was going to Edinburgh. I had no idea previous train was late. I thought I was just getting on a little bit early. When I got to the seat printed on my ticket it did not match my journey. I thought at this point the train company had made the mistake, not me. It was not until we pulled away ten minutes before we were due to leave, that I realised I was on the wrong train.

Neil Quigley standing on the train to Edinburgh

The guard kindly let me stay on and complete my journey. But it did mean that I had no guaranteed seat now. I ended up standing by the toilets until we reached Darlington and a place became free. Not the ideal start to my Fringe experience. But in a way it was fitting that as I was going to a comedy festival, my travel plans were turning into a scene from a sitcom. That was the sort of thing that Mr Bean would probably do, as it happened the train I was now on was running late. So I arrived in Edinburgh about an hour later than I was supposed to anyway, despite accidentally catching an earlier train.

On arrival I walked straight to my accommodation. I never went to University so never got the chance to stay in student digs. Edinburgh is a massive place for study now. Therefore is full of such buildings. I figured I only needed somewhere basic to sleep, as I would be at gigs most of the time. I booked a room in some student flats. It was pretty simplistic but did have a bed, shower and a toilet. That was all I really needed. As I checked in at the front desk the member of staff I spoke to was also from Buckinghamshire, small world.

Before I went exploring I quickly nipped out to the local shop to get some emergency supplies for the room, two big bottles of water and a packet of Jaffa Cakes. Which I believe is what Bear Grylls packs in his survival back pack. The Edinburgh Fringe has a great website on which you can book tickets to all the shows. Pay for them on line and then pick them up from various box offices around the city. I had two shows organised for that evening. Which I grabbed the tickets for at a ticket outlet on the Royal Mile.

I just had time to have a quick Lasagne and chips at Pizza Express. Then I made my way to my first gig of the weekend. That was Paul McCaffrey and his current show “Lemon”. I had seen him do some new material at the Old Rope Comedy Club in London and had really enjoyed it. Therefore I was looking forward to seeing his full show. It was excellent. He is a very personable and likeable performer, who is very funny. Hilarious jokes and spot on observations. He was at one of the many Underbelly venues. It was the perfect start to this year’s Fringe fun!

Neil Quigley

There are lots of very different venues all over Edinburgh. A lot of the bigger ones have several rooms in the same place, different bar areas and food outlets. My favourite one of these is the Pleasance Courtyard. They always have amazing acts on and I like the feel and atmosphere of the place. It is somewhere that I would tend to hang out at if I had some time between the shows that I was seeing.

It was there I headed for my next gig. That was Alun Cochrane with his “Brave New Alun” show in the Cabaret Bar. I have been listening to a lot of the Frank Skinner podcasts recently. Alun is on with Frank, which is one of the reasons that I went and saw him. I was aware of him prior to his new association with Absolute Radio. His show was fantastic. The content was properly funny. And as it happens I agree with the way he views comedy and also the intricacy of the current climate. When you are telling jokes with no other thoughts or angle other than just simply trying to make people laugh.

After a pint and a Crepe filled with Lemon and Sugar I called an end to night one and returned to my student flat to get some sleep. Not sure I missed out not going to University. I was disappointed to see that there were not any parties to attend when I got back to where I was staying. I got a decent night’s sleep. In the morning my first job was to work out what shows I was going to see that day and to book all the tickets for them online.

Neil Quigley

The intention for my two full days there were to witness five shows a day. Before I left the flat on Friday morning I had all of that day’s gigs sorted. The first one started at midday. I had to grab breakfast on the way there, so I let the golden arches and Ronald the Clown take care of that for me. My first gig of day two was Michael Legge and his new show “The Idiot” on at the Stand Comedy Club. He was drawn to my attention by other comedians mentioning him on Twitter. Reading a few of his observations online convinced me to see him.

He was brilliant. He does have quite an angry and aggressive style of delivery but it’s all carefully constructed and very funny. At first I did not share his radical views on the many silent disco groups around. However as the weekend went on and I kept getting trapped in the middle of them. I quickly came round to his way of thinking. This one is possibly not for the faint hearted with some of the subjects that he mentions but I loved it.

Next it was a bit of a gear change as I headed off to The Pleasance Dome to see “Late Lunch with Biggins” I met and interviewed the legend that is Christopher Biggins, when I was working at Ivel fm in Somerset. Not long after he won I’m A Celebrity. He is such a nice and lovely person. His show at the Fringe this year is a kind of chat show. He is introduced on stage and starts off by telling a few jokes and a few stories from his long and varied career.

Then one by one he brings on his three guests. At the performance I was at these were the super talented impressionist Ronni Ancona, who was ace. Then we had one of the stars of The Tap Pack dance show. And finally a Scottish Chemistry teacher who is also a LGBT activist. Whose school does a lot of great work in that area. It was a really enjoyable and very funny show. Biggins knows and is friends with the whole of show business. He has some great anecdotes. I mean anyone who can name drop Frank Sinatra, gets my vote.

Biggins

In between shows I was just grabbing quick drinks and some food. If you want to maximise the amount of things you see, it is advisable to stick to a tight schedule. The next comedian I saw was the wonderful Hayley Ellis. The reason I went to see her is that she recently was the support act for Sarah Millican. And I spotted her recommendation. I was really pleased I caught her. She was fantastic. I thought she had a lovely manner and style about her, very likeable. Her show is called “Nobody Puts Hayley in the corner”

I would definitely recommend you go and see it if you can. It is real, honest and expertly put together. She is certainly somebody to keep an eye out for. I suspect and hope that you may hear about her more over the next couple of years. I thoroughly enjoyed her performance. I even got to slightly join in at one point, which I like. Plus there was a chance of sustaining an injury at the end. Which I suspect would of been a unique incident even for one of these no blame, no claim sort of places.

Show number four was to see a lovely comedian whose work I have been aware of for many years. We follow each other on Twitter. And have had occasional interaction on there. But up until this point I had not seen him perform live. He is Tony Cowards and his show is called “Stepdad Jokes”. He is a classic one liner comic and possibly the king of the puns. Add to that the fact that he is such a friendly and totally inclusive performer. It was a joyful experience.

I thoroughly enjoyed the show. It contains lots of not only very funny but very clever jokes. One of the other comedians mentioned this at a later date but there does seem to be a high number of Doctors in the Fringe Audiences. There were two at this gig for starters. They must love their comedy. I managed to have a very quick chat with him after the show, which was great. He gigs all over the country. If you get the chance do try and catch him.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

The final show on day two of my Fringe was one I did not think that I would get to see as her normal daily shows had sold out. Luckily for me she was doing a couple of extra weekend only performances. And I managed to get a ticket for one of those. I had seen this lady host a night at the Old Rope Comedy in London a few years ago. Her show in Edinburgh last year got excellent reviews. And this latest one was possibly going down even better. Maybe helped a bit by her winning appearance on the last series of the Dave TV Show Task Master.

I am taking about the hilarious Lou Sanders. Her latest show is called “Say Hello to Your New Step Mummy”. I got a front row seat to enjoy the action. It was totally brilliant. She is extremely funny and unique in her style and her material. I can guarantee you there are no other comedians doing jokes on some of the topics she covers. Personally I love the way she portrays herself on stage. The jokes and writing are very clever. It all just works. She is on the up and up at the minute. It comes to London at the Soho Theatre in a couple of months. Go and see it and have a bloody good laugh.

Neil Quigley

I rounded off the night in a bar listening to some live music. I caught the end of a band and then the first couple of songs of a guitar based trio. Both were ace and made a nice accompaniment to the final pint of Peroni that I was enjoying. After which it was then time to head off home to get some sleep. To be ready for another five show day on the Saturday. I was still a man on a mission.

As previously, I booked all my shows online and then collected the tickets when I reached the City Centre. The first thing I was going to see did not start until 12.30pm. Therefore I had slightly more time for brunch. So I found a really nice cafe near the Gilded Balloon area. Where I had scrambled egg on toast with bacon and a big pot of tea. This set me up nicely for the adventures ahead.

I decided to take a brief break from comedy and see a musical show. Being a fan of country music and a huge admirer of this lady. I went to see “The Dolly Parton Story”. It featured a guitarist and a female singer, unsurprisingly. There were pictures and a narration of her life story up on a big screen on the stage with the duo performing Dolly Parton songs, as the narrative progressed. It was nicely put together and very informative. I honestly learnt quite a lot of things that I did not know about her life and career.

The stars of the show were of course the two performers. They did a fantastic job doing those hugely well-known songs. I was a little bit concerned before it started as her songs are tough to sing. But the twenty-one year old singer nailed them brilliantly. I will let you in to a little secret “Coat of Many Colours” always makes me cry, it always has and I suspect it always will, every time I ever hear it. There was a nice feel to the show. It ended with us all up on our feet singing and dancing along to “9 to 5”. A perfectly performed show. It was a very enjoyable start to my final full day in Edinburgh.

The Dolly Parton Story

I have mentioned this before but I did a Stand Up Comedy course in Tring with Logan Murray, seven years ago now. One year before I did it, the man I went to see next did the same. He was a compere on the night I made my Tringe debut. Plus I have actually gigged with him on a couple of occasions. He always went down a storm. I went and saw him do his show last year. And I was really looking forward to seeing his latest offering this time around.

His name is Olaf Falafel. If you think that sounds familiar that might be because he won the Dave TV Channel Joke of the Fringe with his “I keep randomly shouting out Broccoli and Cauliflower, – I think I might have Florets” Which is from his show “Knitting with Maracas” He has featured in the top ten list for the last three years now, so you have to say he is consistent.

I ended up sitting on the front row for what was a sold out show. It is fair to say his comedy is very surreal and involves a large amount of audience interaction. I got asked a few questions, which I replied to admirably. Then I finished up being one of five people on stage with him near the end. Fame at last!

I am claiming that moment as my Edinburgh Fringe debut. Although it basically just involved me firing a cork gun. If you want to know why, you will just have to go and see the show for yourself. He is of course extremely funny and weirdly amusing. He writes clever and ridiculous jokes in equal measure. Bizarre and unexpected things happen. There is a loose narrative. But none of that really matters just submerge yourself in the madness and have a damn good old laugh. On top of all that he is a really nice bloke. Well done on your award mate, bravo!

Olaf Falafel
Olaf Falafel

I then took a couple of hours break from seeing shows, as I had a very important matter to attend to. I had to find a pub that was showing the Manchester City against Tottenham Hotspur game on television. Handily I managed to find one nearby that fulfilled this need. Blimey what a game! City were all over us, we sneaked a few goals to level it up. And thanks to VAR we somehow got a point from that match. I did not have time to analyse it much as I had to go and grab a quick bite to eat before going to see my next gig.

It was back to the Pleasance Dome for this one to see Seann Walsh. If you are not familiar with his comedy you may well know him from his appearance on the last series of Strictly Come Dancing. This does feature heavily in this new show which is called “After This One I am Going Home. It focuses on a weekend last Autumn where a silly and stupid mistake caused his world to pretty much fall apart. Granted it sounds pretty bleak but it is a very funny and honest show. Detailing how things in his life lead him to that moment and more shockingly in many ways what has happened to him since.

It is quite a raw and emotional show featuring some insights into his career and life, his love and clear passion for comedy and also some very good impressions. His time on Strictly does appear to have may be subtly altered some of the usual demographic at his gigs. This act is a work of theatre as much as a straight forward stand up show. As with lots comics he makes very good points about the world and life in a funny and amusing way. It is an extremely entertaining show. That will totally make you laugh, as you would expect from a man of his calibre.

Pleasance
Pleasance Courtyard

Next it was a brisk ten minute walk back to my favourite venue the Pleasance Courtyard to see someone who has become a bit of a cult figure in Edinburgh. His show this year is celebrating his tenth year at the festival. I had seen him take part in a comedy shorts show the previous year. But this was the first time I was to see one of his full shows in person. He is Marcel Lucont and his show is called “No Dix”

He is a very suave and sophisticated “Frenchman”. Who appears on stage drinking Red Wine and this time backed by a three piece Jazz Band. He sings a few parody songs, does some monologues over the music and talks to the audience quite a bit. Plus at this particular gig he expertly dealt with a latecomer creating a delightfully funny chat with him very much having the upper hand.

As it was an anniversary show at the end he was taking requests for previous routines that he had done in his time appearing here. I very much enjoyed his show. It was not the kind of thing I would normally go and see. But he had me laughing all the way through it. He maybe reminded me of how I act after a few glasses of a decent Red Wine.

Edinburgh Fringe
Edinburgh Fringe

The final show of my Edinburgh Fringe for this year took me back to my childhood. From a very early age I had been a big fan of this star. I have fond memories watching them on television as a kid. I am now of course an adult, which is why a show at quarter to midnight called “Basil Brush Unleashed” seemed far to good to miss. It was on at one of the Underbelly Venue’s. I was actually quite excited as I made my way in. I managed to get a seat four rows from the front with a great view of the stage.

Like the Biggin’s show it was set up as a kind of variety chat show. It features some fun and spoof videos. Which were played on the huge screen on stage. Basil appeared to a massive roar at the start. He then introduced his new “Mr”, who happens to be former Britain’s Got Talent finalist Martin Cable -Reid. He appeared on that show as Kevin Cruise. But now is back being a version at least, of himself as Basil’s partner in crime.

Somebody I used to work with is very good friends with him. In fact I believe he is a godparent to her children. He was brilliant and played his role perfectly. As it was the late night show there was lots of silly messing about. And of course some things and words that you would not normally expect Basil to say. That just made them even funnier. The guest was the wonderful musical comedian Vikki Stone. There are a few parts involving audience participation. The last of which predictably does not end well for “Mr Martin”.

I thought it was hilarious and amazing to finally see Basil live. Boom Boom! He gives us his own tribute to a well-known singer for the finale. There is no way that you cannot leave this show in anything other than a good mood. It was then time to head back for my final night as a student. And to finish off those Jaffa Cakes.

Basil Brush

The next morning I got up, packed and then headed for a full English breakfast at the cafe I went to the day before. I am very much your if it ain’t broke don’t fix it kind of guy. I then had a nice walk around the grounds of Edinburgh Castle followed by a quick visit to a few gift shops. Before it was time to get on the correct train and sit in my reserved seat for the journey back to London.

I had a brilliant time at the Festival. I managed to see twelve shows in total in the three days that I was there. Which I was pretty pleased with. It is a wonderful City. That always has lots of things going on. I am already looking forward to returning once again for next year’s Fringe.

Neil Quigley

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

Relative Superstar

As a man who likes to keep busy and do lots of fun things. I try not to underestimate the simple and joyful things in life. Like for example a lunch time catch up with a good friend, where you have some great food and a good old fashioned conversation. To get fully up to speed with each others lives.

I managed to do this a few weeks ago now with the wonderful Danny Cox. Not an easy thing to achieve, as it turns out. We had been trying to sort something out for ages. But we had struggled to find a date that we could both do. Danny is one of the hardest working people in radio. And I keep myself pretty busy to. Therefore it was a meeting I had been looking forward to for a while.

We went for a lovely three course pub lunch at The Chequers at Weston On The Green. The food was fantastic. It is a decent, what I would call proper country pub. We had a good couple of hours there just chatting and eating. There are some people in life that you trust. They are the ones who can give you a bit of a nudge to do the things you know you should really be doing anyway, regarding projects and general things that you are working on. He is very much one of those people for me.

Not only did I have an entertaining time in the company of possibly one of the nicest people you could meet. I also came away feeling a lot more motivated to get things I may have been putting off done. May be he should devise a short “TED Talk” to take on the road, to fully harness his powers. Danny was just about to do four days of hosting the main arena at BBC Countryfile Live, when I saw him. I am honesty not sure where he finds the energy from for all the different things that he does.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Despite my love of musical theatre I am slightly ashamed to say that there are still some well-known shows. That have been running for a long time. That I have not seen yet. One of these was Jesus Christ Superstar. There is currently a new version of it on in London. So on the assistance of my sister I booked tickets to go and watch it.

It is playing at the Barbican Theatre. I had not been there before. I went to see the show with my sister. We got front row seats. When we sat down the whole stage was hidden by a cover. So we could not judge where the stage was. At this point I was a bit concerned that I would be staring up and not getting a good view. As it happens when the plastic safety curtain went up and down, we had a perfect view of all the action.

I really enjoyed it. Obviously I was aware of the story, so I knew the ending already. It was a very slick and busy performance with a great cast. There was plenty of action at all times on the stage. I must say it was a very impressive spectacle. Ricardo Afonso was exceptional as Judas, as was Robert Tripolino as Jesus. We were so close we could see all the expressions, nuances and special effects perfectly. There was absolutely nothing missing from it.

The performance received a well deserved standing ovation at the end. It is a quite a brutal and raw version but well worth seeing. The venue itself was really good. I would happily go back there and see something else in the future. It was yet another successful night out at the theatre. Just in case you were wondering the Rioja they serve there is also totally acceptable.

Jesus Christ Superstore

Last weekend I went to visit my oldest friend from school. We met on the first day of primary school and have been mates ever since. He and his wife live right on the English and Welsh border around the Shropshire area. They have a beautiful house right in the heart of the countryside with stunning views. I always enjoy going up there to see them.

I got the train up there on the Friday afternoon and my mate picked me up from their local station. We then went for a walk across the fields, by the river, under a viaduct to one of their local pubs. As the weather was nice we sat outside for a few drinks and a bite to eat. We were joined by their neighbours. We then all returned to the house for a few more drinks. Not too bad for what was meant to be a quiet night.

The reason we were planning an easy Friday was that the main point of my visit was to attend my friend’s wife’s father’s birthday party on the Saturday. That said when we woke up, we all felt fine. My mate is great with his hands. He has built himself a Summer House. That he has recently furnished with a new inflatable Hot Tub. He had said I could try it out when I was up. So I took my swim shorts. And we had a cheeky pre-breakfast soak. I must say it was fantastic, so relaxing.

The party was over towards Manchester way. Early afternoon we headed over there to help set up the hall. My mate was going to do the music himself. So he had bought a pair of speakers, an amp and a little mixer. He already had a laptop. I suggested a great programme he should get. On which you can set up a playlist and then it will auto mix all the songs for you. Therefore you can basically start it running and leave it to do its own thing. He had also purchased a few disco lights to.

I helped him get it all set up. He had done a good job assembling the kit, with just a few little tweaks from me. We had it all sounding and looking great. When it came to the party it all worked a treat. There were people up and dancing most of the night, which in a way is a bit depressing, if like me you are a DJ. I would argue a good one always adds something to a night. But the back to back music mix worked as expected at this party.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I had a brilliant night there seeing people I had not seen for a while including catching up with my mate’s son. The man whose “do” it was is known for his loud and sometimes Hawaiian shirts. So a few of us myself included tried to wear shirts to fit in with this theme, all in his honour. I think the birthday boy enjoyed himself. Which is always the main thing on these occasions.

We stayed at a local Premier Inn. That was only about five minutes away from the party venue. Annoyingly the taxi we had booked was nearly an hour late picking us up, which was not ideal. But what can you do? These things happen. The following morning we all met up for breakfast. To watch the birthday man open his cards, helped by his Granddaughter. I went for the pancakes, maple syrup and bacon.
Which were excellent and made a nice change to the obvious fry up option.

Then we went back to my friend’s house. We visited the cafe where his wife works. I had their tasty Banana and Toffee milkshake. That evening we had a quick Barbecue. That was washed down with some lovely red wine. That my mate had got given a few years ago for his fortieth birthday. He wanted to share it with me, which was really nice of him. We ended the day back in his hot tub just chilling and listening to music. Living the dream!

Neil Quigley

A wonderful weekend. Time spent talking to people close to you is always time well spent in life. I got the train home Monday feeling relaxed and refreshed. Frank Skinner has been one of my favourite comedians for many years. On the journey home I caught up with some of the podcasts from his Absolute Radio show. That kept me nicely entertained and made me smile quite a lot to.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

The Premier League Season is now well and truly underway, I have a season ticket for Tottenham Hotspur. Therefore I was there for our first game against Aston Villa. It was great to be back in the Stadium. I was excited and apprehensive, as I walked down the High Road to get to the game. The pre-match pint and food seemed to help a little with this. In the bar before the game I had a good chat to Tottenham legend Paul Allen. We both agreed it was a fixture we had to win.

I was in my seat nice and early ready for the kick off. It did not all go entirely to plan. We were one goal down inside the first ten minutes. The first half performance was the worst I have seen from the team in a very long time. Shaky at the back with no cutting edge in attack. For me the moment that changed the game in our favour was when Christian Eriksen came on as a sub.

Tottenham Hotspur

I have been a big supporter of his for many years. I think he is a really important player for us. For me he conducts everything and pulls all the strings. We look much more fluid when he plays. It does look like he might leave the club, which was probably why he was not in the starting line up. Personally I hope he stays with us. But if he wants to go, fine. I definitely do not want any players at White Hart Lane who do not want to be there or whose heart is not in it. As that is no good for anyone.

Aston Villa played well. I was delighted with the win though. We really needed all the points from this one. To be competitive in the league this year I do believe you cannot afford to lose many points at home. We are away at Manchester City this weekend, which will be tough to say the least. I am looking forward to the rest of the season, which will be full of ups and downs, jubilation and disappointment. But that is what football is all about. And I would not have that any other way.

White Hart Lane

It was great to have a catch up with Mix 96 legend Nathan Cooper earlier this week. He is a force of nature. He somehow manages to look a bit younger every time I see him.

I am really looking forward to working with him on a radio show later this month. It will be good fun. A nice way to mark twenty odd years since we first met. Neither of us of course look old enough.

Neil Quigley

I am up in Edinburgh at the Fringe Festival this weekend. Which I am really looking forward to. I had a great time there last year. I will tell you how it was and who I saw when we speak next.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

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

Neil Quigley Presenter