Ear We Go Again

Hi there, how are you doing? I hope you have had a really good couple of week’s. Mine have been quite busy with a few fun things going on. I did have to make a brief trip to Stoke Mandeville Hospital the other week. It was just for a check up appointment for my ears. I had some problems with them at the start of the year. And saw the same nurse back then.

Without getting to gory. They basically hoover out my ears with a special mini vacuum cleaner. Which is not painful but it does give you a pretty weird sensation. While they are doing it. So I am pleased to confirm that my ears are now nice and clean.

And my hearing is probably the best it has been for ages. While they are doing the procedure. You can see what they are doing in the ear itself. On a big screen, right in front of you.

Neil Quigley at Stoke Mandeville Hospital Radio
Neil Quigley at Stoke Mandeville Hospital Radio

I chose not to watch it. As I am very squeamish. I am so bad I can’t actually watch Casualty. I know what they are doing is not real but if there is any blood and gore on it. I really cannot look. I started my broadcasting career at Stoke Mandeville Hospital Radio.

So as I walked past the studios on the way to my appointment. That brought back lots of nice memories. I started there as a producer before progressing to hosting my own shows. During the five or so year’s that I was there. Good times and some lovely memories.

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

A couple of weeks ago my good friend Adam Fisher celebrated his fortieth birthday. With a night out at a casino in Reading. I have been on a couple of holidays with him over the years. Including my one and only trip outside of Europe. When we went to Las Vegas for a week.

A place which I absolutely loved and fully intend to return to at some point in my life. I also had the honour of being an Usher at his Wedding to. In fact while we were in Vegas. I ended up going ring shopping with him. As he was planning his engagement to his now wife. When we returned from the States.

Neil Quigley and Adam Fisher in Las Vegas
Neil Quigley and Adam Fisher in Las Vegas

I got to the Casino first. It is a place I have been to a few times over the years. However I was surprised to find that when I arrived I was actually still a member there. I must have joined over fifteen years ago now. On the plus side it meant I did not have to sign in. So I could just walk straight in. They then showed me up to where we would be having our meal.

It was the night of the England versus Russia game. With Adam being a big fan of the football. He had organised for us to be near a big screen, so we could see it. The waitress gave me a place name card with what meal I had ordered on. As I was first there.

I put it in the best place to be able to watch the television. So when everyone else arrived later on. And they were looking for somewhere to sit. I already had the best seat in the house reserved. I am telling you. You can’t buy experience.

Neil Quigley's Favourite Shirt Number
Neil Quigley’s Favourite Shirt Number

It was a great night. And lovely to catch up with lots of people. Who I had not seen for ages. The only slight disappointment was England conceding a last minute equaliser. Although that did mean one of the guests won a bottle of Prosecco. For predicting the correct score. It is very fair to say that she was the only one cheering at the final whistle.

I did do a little bit of gambling. Well it would have been rude not to right? I played a couple of hands of Black Jack. Which is my casino gambling game of choice. Sadly though I had no luck at all. But fair play to the Birthday boy. Who managed to double his money. As we were sat there at the table.

Las Vegas Baby
Las Vegas Baby

As part of the deal struck with the venue. We each got a five pound free bet token to use. I have always fancied having a go at Roulette. But as the odds are so stacked against you. I tend not to play it with my own money. But I did use the free bet on it. I felt a bit like James Bond.

When I put my whole five pounds on just one single number. It felt quite exciting while the wheel and ball were spinning. But then it stopped. No where near my selection. And the game was over very quickly. At that point I decided to leave. Quit while you are level. Right!

Neil Quigley in London
Neil Quigley in London

I am spending more time working and socialising in London. Which is brilliant. This has led to a couple of sporting celebrity spots recently. Firstly I saw the Welsh former Hurdler and Olympic Silver Medallist Colin Jackson. Then the unmistakable figure of former boxer Chris Eubank walked past me. His dress sense is amazing. Both of them are forty-nine. And both are still in prime physical condition.

A doctor once said to me. That it is easier to maintain a level of fitness. Rather then stop and start from scratch. So I do still try to keep myself fit. With running and some weights. And seeing two guys ten years older than me looking so well. Gives me great motivation to keep going. And proves that the hard work and effort is worth it.

Neil Quigley talking to Victoria Pendleton
Neil Quigley talking to Victoria Pendleton

I am enjoying watching the Euro 2016 Championships. England are doing alright I think. We are playing some good football. And have done what we needed to do. Which was to get out of our group. And get in to the knock out stages. And from a personal point of view.

I think it is nice to see so many Tottenham players in the squad. I am starting to get quite excited now. I think we might have a chance of winning it. In a one off match there is always a chance right? But people are so right, when they say, it is the hope that kills you. Come on England!

England
England

I have to confess I have quite enjoyed seeing all of the Queen’s Birthday celebrations. When the whole Royal Family are dressed up and they appear on the balcony at Buckingham Palace to wave at the huge crowds below. That is always a beautiful moment, I think. There is something very British and very reassuring about it.

Also I like the tradition now of the military fly past’s down The Mall and over the Palace. They always looks great. In Regents Street currently. They have Union Jack flags running down the whole street. It looks brilliant. There is nothing wrong in being proud of where you are from, displaying a symbol and a passion for that.

BGT London
BGT London

It has been quite a busy time for the Queen. Last week it was Royal Ascot. So she was at the races every day. She arrives in a horse drawn carriage. In another fantastically splendid procession. Proving you can gamble on absolutely everything nowadays. You can have a bet on what colour hat she wears.

She is massively into her horse racing. And actually owns a couple of race horses herself. So I was very pleased when she had a winner on the last day of the festival. She had a nice big smile on her face in the winners enclosure. When she was collecting her prize.

Windsor Races Winning
Windsor Races Winning

The new series of Task Master on the TV Channel Dave started last week. It is a comedy challenge panel show hosted by Greg Davies and Alex Horne. The episode that I went to the filming of will be shown next Tuesday night at 10pm. I was sat right in the middle of the front row. So if you do watch it keep a look out for me.

It is a very funny show. The whole panel were on fire but Joe Wilkinson was very funny on the night. Plus you may also want to keep an eye on just how competitive Jon Richardson and Kathryn Ryan are. Simply a good fun, totally silly programme.

Neil Quigley TV Radio & Live
Neil Quigley TV, Radio & Live

Also the BBC New Comedy Award London Heat that I went to see. At the Up The Creek comedy club in Greenwich. Was on Radio 4 Extra last Sunday night. It was a fun night with some great up and coming new comedians.

Having listened back to it myself I can confirm I totally agree with the three acts that the judges sent through. And the winner of the heat George Lewis is definitely one to watch and keep an eye out for in the future, I reckon.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Also you may well have caught a very brief cameo appearance from me during it. My name does not get a mention and there is no real way of knowing it is me. But one of the acts believe it of not does do a knock knock joke.

Which required a little bit of audience participation. And no one will be at all amazed to discover. I was more than happy to step in and help out. In my best Radio 4 style voice. Listen below.

Neil Comedy Clip

Congratulations to the legend that is Rick Astley on securing his first number one album for around thirty years. With his latest record called 50. In doing so he also managed to hold off the challenge of Tom Odell. Whose new album Wrong Crowd went in at number two.

I have to confess I am a fan of all his eighties songs. As was the comedian Peter Kay. Who used the singer as the support and warm up act for his “Tour That Doesn’t Tour Tour.” The first single off the album called “Angels on my Side” is absolutely brilliant. Welcome back Rick.

Neil Quigley and Elvis Presley hanging out in the 70's #crazydays
Neil Quigley and Elvis Presley hanging out in the 70’s #crazydays

I have always been a fan of the chat show format. Currently my favourite one is The Graham Norton Show. Mainly because he gets some great guests on. But also because I do think he is a very good, funny and laid back interviewer.

It is quite a chilled show. So people do tend to open up a bit. It is definitely on my radar to go along to a recording of it. A couple of weeks ago he did a rare one on one interview with Charlie Sheen. Who happily did seem in quite a good place.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

He appeared to have calmed down a lot compared to his past behaviour. And he appeared to be coming to terms with his current and well publicised medical condition. I have to admit I was a little concerned about him when he was having his tiger blood rants. Although I did find them fascinating.

Not everyone’s cup of tea, but personally I reckon he is a pretty good comic actor. And let us face it he has certainly lived a little over the years. He did seem genuinely happy about the warm response he got from the audience.

ITV Studios London
ITV Studios London

I am very much looking forward to paying another visit the the ITV Studios on the South Bank in London. To see an episode of Mr & Mrs being filmed. I went to a recording of the last series. And it was brilliant fun. Phillip Schofield is the master. When it comes to studio based presenting.

They always get brilliant celebrity couples on there. Who reveal a lot more to the audience, than will get shown. When it eventually goes out on the television. I will let you know who was on it and how it was next time we speak.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I have started working more regularly at the BBC in London. It is just an amazing place to be and I am thoroughly enjoying being part of this fantastic organisation. And producing radio with such talented and dedicated professionals.

I am really looking forward to getting more involved with lots more different shows during the rest of the year.

BBC Studio
BBC Studio

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

Sport and Leisure

Hi there, how are you doing? I hope you have had a really good couple of weeks. Mine have been very busy as ever, with lots of fun things going on. So firstly congratulations to Richard Jones on winning this year’s Britain’s Got Talent. In doing so, he became the first magician ever to win it. I think he might have been the only magical act this year. Who basically did not look like he would injure or kill himself in some way during his act.

It was kind of fitting that in this, the Queen’s 90th Birthday year. A member of the Military Services was successful. And will now therefore perform at this year’s Royal Variety Show. Providing his boss, who is technically Her Majesty of course. Will give him the time off.

So once again well done to him on this massive achievement. I will now look forward to seeing him performing alongside the other famous soldier turned entertainer James Blunt at the Queen’s 95th Birthday Party.

BGT London
BGT London

It was another fun series hosted brilliantly by the masters that are Ant & Dec. The judges were great again. And all do bring something different to the party. Annoyingly Simon Cowell is still the one judge I find myself agreeing with most. When he is commenting on the act’s performances. Although sometimes I might personally have phrased this criticism in a slightly different way.

I really enjoyed my night at the Dominion seeing one of the heats. I will most likely try to get to another one next series. Being there live does give you a good chance to get an idea of the overall standard of that year’s contestants.

BGT London
BGT London

I am a huge football fan. I have always played the sport. I really enjoy watching it. I have been lucky enough to visit many of the great stadiums in the country. And I have even managed to play a match at the biggest and best one of all, Wembley Stadium. Rugby however is something I hated playing as a kid at school. I was never really any good at it. I was quite tall and fairly skinny as a child.

But my games teacher still put me in the second row. Which meant I had to go in the scrum. Which I really disliked. Mind you that said with my lack of pace. I could never have been a winger or full back. Since leaving education I have watched the odd game on the television and kind of enjoyed that. Even though I have little idea of what is actually going on.

England V Wales Rugby
England V Wales Rugby

However when a mate of mine offered me the chance to go and see England play Wales at Twickenham. I jumped at the chance. Even though I used to live in Iseworth for a couple of years, when I was growing up. And therefore drove past it quite a few times. I had never actually been to the stadium to see a match. And despite not being a massive fan of the sport.

I am very patriotic and always happy to support an England team at whatever they are competing in. I had heard what a great experience it was suppose to be. Plus how the feel and atmosphere differed from that of a football match. And I am pleased to say this information was perfectly accurate. It did feel different.

England V Wales Rugby
England V Wales Rugby

I met my friend in Wembley and we got the tube to Hounslow East. A station I last used around thirty-two years ago I reckon. When my mum took me for my first ever day trip in to central London. So it was nice and at the same time quite weird to be back there. We then decided to walk to the ground. Stopping to enjoy a drink at a lovely little pub, we found on the way.

Once we were refreshed we continued our walk to the ground. I have to say as you approach it. It is a very impressive sight. We got in to the fans area outside the stadium. Which was impressive in itself, with live music and television screens to watch. Not to mention a nice selection of places to get pretty much every type of food you could think of.

England V Wales Rugby
England V Wales Rugby

We then made our way towards where our seats were. We were up in the top part of the South Stand. Which meant that we had to make our way up a concrete style ramp. Like in a multi-storey car park. To get to where we needed to. I actually preferred that idea to having lots of steps to climb up.

To blend in with the rest of the crowd only, of course. We found the nearest bar and got some drinks. With the two main choices being Lager or Guinness. When you buy your first drink they charge you an extra pound for the plastic glass it comes in. Then as long as you bring this back to the bar they will refill at the normal price.

England V Wales Rugby
England V Wales Rugby

I am guessing this is to encourage people to bring glasses back to the bar and not leave them lying around the place. At the end you can either take the glass home as a souvenir or take it to the bar and get your original pound back. Fair play to some kids at the end. Who I saw collecting up any glasses that had been left. To take them back to the bar and get the cash for them. One child I saw must have had about ten pounds worth in their hands.

The atmosphere was really friendly and relaxed. And one thing I found very strange coming from a football watching background. Was that the fans were not segregated. It did not matter who you were supporting. You could just sit anywhere, it would seem.

England V Wales Rugby
England V Wales Rugby

I really enjoyed the game. Even though I did not understand the finer points of it. We had some good seats. So we got a decent view of all the action. I think by following the rest of the fans I shouted and cheered at the right times. It was great to see England win.

It was just simply a fun and relaxing afternoon. Watching an England team play in the correct national stadium for that sport. I would definitely go and see a game of rugby there again. If I got offered the chance to.

England V Wales Rugby
England V Wales Rugby

Last Tuesday I went to the fabulous Up The Creek Comedy Club in Greenwich. To see the first London heat of this year’s BBC New Comedy Award. It was the first time that I had been there. I have to say it is a lovely little room for comedy. With a nice bar that has a nice selection of drinks. Which is pretty unusual for these kind of places.

I would say it was the perfect place to hold this event in. Very comfortable for the audience. Which means it is a nice arena for the acts to perform their comedy in. In front of a very supportive and enthusiastic crowd.

Silky at Roving Comedy Night
Silky at Roving Comedy Night

Previous finalists in the competition include amongst others Silky, Lee Mack, Marcus Brigstocke, Peter Kay, Shappi Korsandi, Russell Howard, Rhod Gilbert, Alan Carr, Sarah Millican and Joe Lycett. So as you can see over the years since the first one in 1995. The standard has been pretty high.

It has also been a great stepping stone for many new and up coming comics. There were ten comedians taking part. All performing their own original stuff. I can’t say any more at this stage. As it was all recorded for Radio 4 Extra. Who will be playing out all the heats and acts in a special radio series later in the summer.

BBC New Comedy Awards
BBC New Comedy Awards

What I can say is. The heat was hosted by the excellent Jessica Fostekew. Who was very funny and did a brilliant job. I was sat right on the front row.   Which did lead to a very awkward conversation between me and her.

When she asked me if I could be any food at all. What food would that be? To be honest this is something I had never previously considered. So after a lengthy pause I panicked and said a burger. Funnily enough she did come back to me at all after this incident.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Then later on one of the acts used me. So they could tell a sort of knock knock joke. So do listen out for it when it is on the radio. As you may get to briefly hear my dulcet tones. I thought all the comedians were great. I know from experience. That it is not easy getting up there and making people laugh.

And on reflection I do think the judging panel of three. Which included the brilliant Holly Walsh. Got the decision about right on which three acts to send to the semi finals. Another great night enjoying some live comedy. Go and see some yourself. When you can. Laughter is always good for you.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Also last week I went to see a former colleague and friend of mine Jack Harding in his latest stage production. He was starring in the brilliant Sea Life at The Hope Theatre in Islington.

It was the first time I had been there. It is a lovely venue above the Hope and Anchor pub. Which of course acts as a theatre bar for the performances.The play was totally amazing. It was a very dark comedy written by Lucy Catherine and directed by Matthew Parker.

Sea Life
Sea Life

The set was fantastic. Being sat in the audience you really felt you were there. The sound, lighting and staging were also spot on. Even to the point that as the play is set in a coastal town. When you walk in to the auditorium. There is a strong smell of Fish and Chips that greets you.

The whole cast were excellent but I have to say Jack Harding was sensational as Eddie. A really strong and powerful performance. Showing exactly why he has been Offie nominated for Best Male actor for this role. It was a full two hour show. Which flew by so quickly. As it was so gripping and entertaining.

It was also lovely to catch up with him after the show. And it gave me the chance to buy him a well deserved drink. For the role he has had to grow a big bushy beard. Which to be fair is an absolute triumph in itself.

It seemed to me like it was a quite an emotionally draining role. So I imagine he has been sleeping very well during its run. The final performance is actually tonight. So I am glad I managed to catch it when I did. Also keep an eye out for Jack Harding. When the next series of People Just Do Nothing is released.

Jack Harding and Neil Quigley
Jack Harding and Neil Quigley

I was away for a couple of weeks for work related reasons recently. I stayed in a great hotel in Worcestershire. That had some great photographs of old BBC Television shows on many of the walls. The room that I was staying in had some pictures from the original Generation Game with Bruce Forsyth.

And two from Allo Allo featuring the great Gordon Kaye. When I was a child my parents ran a newsagents in Iseworth. And he used to come in to the shop regularly to buy his papers.

Gordon Kaye
Gordon Kaye

In the hall way just outside my room was a picture of Smashie and Nicey. The DJ creations of Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse. Harry actually lives near to me nowadays. I actually saw him at my local train station the other month.

Small world isn’t it? I think the person who came up with that sixth degrees of separation thing, could really have been on to something.

Smashie & Nicey
Smashie & Nicey

So the Euro 2016 Football Tournament is underway and England play their opening game against Russia tonight. I have to confess I have not got too excited about this yet.

But a good England victory tonight could change all that. Good luck to Roy Hodgson and the squad. Somebody has got to win it. So why can’t it be us?

England
England

I remember I was very excited before Euro 1996. Which was held in England. There was a really good documentary about it with Alan Shearer on the BBC the other week. He caught up with the manager Terry Venables and lots of the players from the squad. To talk through their memories of it.

That made me remember how great it was. The feel good factor in the country. And how close we came to winning it. If only Paul Gascoigne was two inches taller. We would have made the final at the very least. So near and yet so far. A win for England this time would make for an amazing summer. Come on England!

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

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