Back To The Future

Hi there, how are you doing? I hope you have had a really nice couple of weeks. Mine have been fairly busy with lots of fun things going on. I was born in Aylesbury and I’ve spent most of my life in Buckinghamshire with the exception of the five years I spent living and working in Somerset. And the two years I spent in Middlesex as a child. The reason I mention this is the other day I visited the place where I used to live from the age’s of around eight to ten.

My parents moved there to run a Forbuoys newsagents. And we lived in the flat above the shop in Isleworth. It was quite a culture shock for a young boy to move from a lovely little village school to a big one on the outskirts of London. I grew up more during those two years than I did all through the rest of my childhood.

Bush Corner, Isleworth
Bush Corner, Isleworth

Everybody there was very nice to me possibly because they knew my parents ran a shop and they thought I might be able to get them free sweets. It gave me the life skill of adjusting to new situations and making new friends from scratch at a very early age. I joined the Cubs while I was there. Mainly as that was the only way I could find to play football locally. But I did gain both my Cooking and Entertainment badges during my time with them.

I also did my first paper rounds with my dad there. A job I later did until I was about eighteen. It was the first time I had been back to the area since we moved back to Buckinghamshire on the day of my tenth birthday. It was a bit odd, as I was walking towards it I suddenly started recognising things and also remembering road names, I thought I had long since forgotten about.

Then suddenly I was standing right outside the shop. It is an Off License now. It seemed quite weird being back there. The front door to the flat is next to the shop and it still appeared to be the same old wooden door from when we lived there. Which was thirty years ago now. I did manage to get a few pictures of the shop. I did not go in but I could see they had moved the counter and changed lots of things with the interior.

It is at an area known as Bush Corner. When my parents ran the shop we did have a couple of celebrity customers. Gordon Kaye and Frances De La Tour used to come in to get their papers. It was nice to briefly re-visit the old place once again.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Anyway the reason I was actually in Isleworth was to watch a recording of Harry Hill’s Tea Time Show for Sky TV. It had been a while since I had been to their studios. It is a very nice set up they have there. All very classy. The show features Harry and a guest. During it they make the most ridiculous three course meal. While they are chatting to each other and having a laugh. Then the whole thing ends in a massive food fight. The episode I watched was an Elvis special, so Harry was dressed up as him complete with a very impressive wig. His guest for the evening was Sanjeev Bhaskar.

Before they started filming Harry Hill came out and did some jokes, which were brilliant and very funny. I have not seen his stand up show but on this basis I would suggest it is worth a look. It also features the brilliant Charlie Baker as his put upon assistant. I am not sure when it is on but keep an eye out for it as there is a good chance you will spot me in the audience. For the food fight at the end they pull some one out of the audience to join in. And the person they selected was sat next to me. It was a fun and as you would expect a pretty surreal evening. Also it was good to see Alan Conley on stage management duties. He works on all the biggest television shows and is brilliant.

Neil Quigley in London
Neil Quigley in London

I was at a friends party earlier this year in London, where I was introduced to someone who ran their own restaurant. In fact they were just about to open their second one in the chain in another part of the capital. The original one is only about an eight minute walk from where I work. Now I had been meaning to try it out for ages but not got round to it. Then last week my mate was in town and met me after work for food, so I suggested we try it out. It is called Calcutta Street and it is owned and run by the ace Shrimoyee Chakraborty.

It serves traditional Bengali Street food. So I guess you could say the menu is slightly different to your more conventional Indian Restaurant. But the food there is amazing. A great combination of tastes and flavours. Having a very sweet tooth, as well as sampling the main meal I had to also try one of the puddings of course. Sadly Shrimoyee was not there when I went, as it would have been lovely to see her and personally congratulate her on what a great place she has. I will be definitely going back, as I really enjoyed the experience. Plus it is located in Tottenham Street. Which is a big selling point for me.

Neil Quigley Presenter
Neil Quigley Presenter

Last Friday I enjoyed yet another trip to the theatre. This time I went to see The Philanthropist at the Trafalgar Studios in London. The new version of a classic is produced by the brilliant actor Simon Callow. It boasts a pretty impressive cast list with Simon Bird, Tom Rosenthal, Matt Berry, Charlotte Richie and Lily Cole appearing in it.

It is set at an University and centres around the relationship of the two main characters, who are both super intelligent lecturers. It is a comedy, so there are plenty of jokes and awkward moments. The cast do a grand job. Matt Berry gets the award for best costume for his very bright purple suit. It was a nice evening out enjoying some live theatre entertainment.

The Philanthropist
The Philanthropist

Near to where I live there is a Home of Rest For Horses where a lot of former Police and Military Horses go to retire. It is in a village called Speen. Last weekend they had a Horses, Hounds and Heroes Day. Some friends of mine were taking their children along, so I said I would go and meet up with them.

I think the last time I had visited the place must have been about twenty years ago. The stables area did not seem to have changed and it was still pretty much how I remembered it. You can go up to the stables to see the horses, which are all very friendly and will let you stroke their heads. So it is a great way of introducing kids to the animals.

Home for Horses, Speen
Home for Horses, Speen

As part of the event they had a main arena set up with Birds of Prey displays, Police horse demonstrations and an appearance from some military gun horses. Plus around the site they had pony rides, more birds of prey and emergency vehicles for the children to sit in and have their pictures taken in. It was a really nice and friendly place and the animals are lovely and actually seem to enjoy the company of the visitors.

Most of those horses have seen active service and some of them have seen things that possibly still give them flash backs. It was a very pleasant way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Even just for the great views of the countryside that you get from the place.

Home for Horses, Speen
Home for Horses, Speen

Congratulations to my good friend and former colleague Nathan Cooper who celebrated reaching twenty years at Mix 96 the other week. He joined in the year after it had launched starting on the Evening Show. He has since presented every single show on the station and I am pretty sure virtually carried out every role he possibly could have while he has been there.

As well as being a fantastic bloke, he is an excellent presenter, who has now been keeping Bucks and Beyond entertained for two whole decades. He has hosted more firework displays than most people have had hot dinners. It was a pleasure and an honour to work with him during some of that time at the Aylesbury based radio station. Here’s to another twenty years of Nathan Cooper at Mix 96. Well done mate!

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

We are now around a month away from the start of the Premier League Football Season. I am quite excited about it. As my team Tottenham Hotspur have had a couple of decent years and I am hoping we can push on and improve again this year. One thing that is going to be odd this year is that we are playing all our home games at Wembley Stadium.

Which from a purely selfish point of view is a lot easier for me to get to and from than White Hart Lane. Therefore I am hoping to get along and see quite a few games this season. It is going to be interesting to see how we cope with these new regular surroundings. I am also intrigued to see who we and the other clubs sign before the transfer window closes at the end of August.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I first wanted to work in radio after hearing Chris Evans do the Radio 1 Breakfast Show. It is a station that I have listened to quite a bit over the years. A couple of weeks ago I got the opportunity to sit in and watch the lunchtime Radio 1 Newsbeat update. It was the first time I had actually been in to the Radio 1 offices.

As you would expect the journalists were busy working hard putting the programme together. With the Editor then checking every story before he was happy to accept it was ready for broadcast. It was only about fifteen minutes before the show was due on air that the programme was completely ready to go.

It is such a rapid and fast paced update with lots of production. It has to start exactly on time as Radio 1 and Radio 1Xtra both take it. The programme comes from its own purpose built studio and the main stations studios pick it up and play it out themselves. The fifteen minute show really does fly by.

It is very slickly put together and is very fast paced. In an average show they will use eight or nine different music beds during the course of it. It was interesting to witness something I had heard on the radio many times over the years, in person. That is the closest that I have got to any Radio 1 output currently.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

A while ago now I also got to see a bit of Radio Five Live’s Pienaar’s Politics. The host John Piennar is brilliant by the way at keeping the discussion moving and his guests in order. Which is not as easy as it sounds but he does it effortlessly.

The guests on the show I witnessed included the comedian Mark Steel, the politician Ian Duncan Smith and the film director Ken Loach. It was not long after the general election, so as you can imagine there was lots to talk about. It was interesting seeing how Five Live works and how it is different in some respects to some of the other BBC Stations.

BBC Radio
BBC Radio

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

Roving Comedy

Hi there, how are you doing? I hope you have had a really good couple of weeks. Mine have been very busy with loads of fun stuff going on. I recently went to see one of the London heats of the BBC New Comedy Award 2017 at the Up The Creek Comedy Club in Greenwich.

Former winners of this award include Marcus Brigstocke, Alan Carr, Nina Conti, Rhod Gilbert and Angela Barnes. Peter Kay was a finalist back in 1997 but was beaten to the award by Paul Foot. The night I saw was hosted by the great Kerry Godliman. Who if you think her name sounds familiar, played Hannah in Ricky Gervais’s Derek. She is a brilliant stand up in her own right. And did a top job.

There were Ten acts competing to get through to the semi-finals. I thought the quality and standard was exceptionally high. They were all really good and put in some very composed and professional performances. I was very impressed with everyone.

The judges on the night, who included the comedian Holly Walsh. Had to choose a winner and two runners’ up to send through to the next round. Personally I think they got it about right with their decision making. Whoever wins the overall competition gets a cash prize and a radio show commission for Radio 4. Which is pretty cool. The heat was recorded and put out on Radio 4. The Semi-finals this year will take place during the Edinburgh Festival.

BBC New Comedy Awards
BBC New Comedy Awards

Now having previously worked for Regatta Radio. I got to know a few people involved with Henley-on-Thames and a little bit about the rowing itself. So every year I do try and get to at least one day of the Henley Royal Regatta. This time I went on day one. I met up with my mate George Thomas.

We started off by having a quick drink in one of the pubs near the bridge. Then we headed off to the river bank to catch some of the big race action. If you have never been it is a fantastic occasion. As you walk down the river there are lots of enclosures where you can get a selection of food and drinks. Many of them have live music to. So as you watch the races go past, there is plenty to keep you entertained until the next one comes along.

Neil Quigley & George Thomas
Neil Quigley & George Thomas

We walked all the way down to the start and watched a few races from the grandstand there. Before then heading back up the river. While we were watching the rowing we did treat ourselves to a couple of pints of one of my favourite local ales. The IPA from the Rebellion Brewery in Marlow.

I think it is fair to say that the Regatta is very much a celebration of rowing. And there are certainly plenty of people getting right in to the spirit of things. I think it is something you should do at least once in your life. I would guess once you have been once, you will probably go back again and again. I fully intend to return for an afternoon there again next year.

Henley Regatta
Henley Regatta

We then left the river and George took me for a pint in his favourite pub in Henley. Which did not disappoint. It is fascinating walking through the town when this event is on. You obviously see lots of very tall, fit and strong athletes. As well as lots of very smartly dressed people.

Many of them in very bright jackets. Which show you the rowing club they belong to. And if they have previously rowed in the Regatta. Many people who rowed in school still come back to see the next generation of rowers compete and to enjoy the unique atmosphere for many decades after they originally raced.

"Gloriana" looking very regal at Henley Regatta
“Gloriana” looking very regal at Henley Regatta

Thanks to an invitation from my friend and former boss Steve Carpenter. I made a very late decision to go along with him to see the first British Summertime concert of the year at Hyde Park last Friday. There are several of these concerts taking place over the next month with lots of different headliners.

They have three stages there. The main one called the Great Oak Stage, the event’s sponsor Barclaycard have one and then there is a much smaller stage called the Summertime Stage.

Hyde Park
Hyde Park

The line up at the gig I was at was brilliant. On the main stage alone we had KC and the Sunshine Band, Mike and the Mechanics, Blondie and the headline act Phil Collins. So I did not really need to go and check out any of the other stages.

But I did have to pop along to see a few songs from Chas & Dave. Who were playing on the Summertime Stage. And as ever they were ace. I interviewed Chas several years ago. He was brilliant. Such an interesting and lovely bloke.

Chas & Dave
Chas & Dave

The set up in Hyde Park was very good. It was packed as you would expect but it was still pretty easy to get food and drink, as well as to get to the toilets. It is a bit like being at a mini festival except with the bonus that you can sleep in your own bed when it ends. So KC and the Sunshine Band kicked things off on the main stage.

I think the last time I had seen them would have been about fifteen years ago at the Birmingham NEC. As part of one of those seventies and eighties revival nights. They really are one of those bands who have had more decent hits than you think. And you will recognise more of their songs than you thought. They did a great job. And even though it was early evening and still sunny. They still got the crowd dancing.

Phil Collins
Phil Collins

Next up it was Mike and the Mechanics. I have to confess I am a fan of their work. I know and like a lot of their songs. The line up of the band has always been fairly loose and has changed lots over the years with Mike Rutherford whose band it is, as the constant. Andrew Roachford is now part of the line up. His voice really does lend itself to their songs. They played all their big hits and their brilliant new single. Closing their set with the fantastic “All I Need Is A Miracle”. Which is a quality tune.

It was at this point that I nipped off to see Chas & Dave for a bit. Before then returning to the main stage area to see Blondie. They are another band with an amazing back catalogue of songs. I am a huge fan of theirs and I was excited to see them play for the first time.

Debbie Harry is one of the best front women of all time, I would say. The band were sounding great. Though if I am honest Debbie seemed to struggle a bit on some of the vocals of the early big hits. But in her defence some of them were released nearly forty years ago. She sounded excellent on the newer stuff though. I thoroughly enjoyed them. It was a great afternoon/evening having a few drinks and listening to some top quality live music.

Blondie
Blondie

Then it was time for the headline act Phil Collins. He is struggling a bit nowadays. Several back operations have left him struggling to walk, so he needs a stick to get around and had to sit on a stool to perform. But that did not stop him from being absolutely sensational. His band which he had clearly assembled himself were quality, so together and tight.

Phil of course renowned as one of the best drummers of all time, had passed on the baton to his sixteen year old son Nicholas for this gig. He was exceptional, as let’s face it there are some big drumming parts in Phil’s songs. As he wrote these for himself when he was playing them on the records. He must have one of the coolest jobs of any teenager I know. Playing drums in front of sixty-thousand people on some of the biggest hits of all time with your dad.

Phil Collins
Phil Collins

Phil Collins was brilliant, his voice sounded better than ever. He was very chilled and chatty between the songs. And he performed a great set of his own songs with a few of the big Genesis hits thrown in for good measure.

I must admit hearing some of those songs performed live for the first time reminded me how good he is. He had the whole crowd up on their feet dancing and singing along. I am so pleased I decided to go along. I had a fantastic time catching up with a good friend, while enjoying some excellent live music.

Phil Collins
Phil Collins

Last Saturday I went to meet a mate for a birthday drink at a Summer Garden Party at The Shoulder of Mutton pub in Wendover. It was a family event. With plenty for the children to do, a mini beer festival and some live music. While I was there a young lad with a guitar was performing a mixture of covers and his own songs. He was ace and provided a nice back ground to chat and catch up with people to.

Then a very decent band rounded off the event. They featured a couple of people I knew from various other bands from the Aylesbury area from over the years. They were fronted by a father and daughter combination. They played a wide and varied range of cover songs. It was a nice way to spend the evening just in a pub beer garden listening once again to some live music.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Last Sunday it was The Tringe Festival Roving Comedy Night 2017. I first performed at this event five years ago after completing a course with the comedy guru that is Mr Logan Murray. So this time I was back with five minutes of new material to unleash on the good people of Tring.

As I arrived at the meeting place for our pre-show briefing I was actually feeling a little bit more nervous than I did the first time that I did it in 2012.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Everyone performing this year had done it before, so we were representing our original groups’ year at this year’s gig. It was nice to meet the people who I would be gigging with from the first time. We introduced ourselves to each other and then shared our own previous experiences from the first time we had done it. I was going to be touring around with Nick Mellors, Damian Hammond and Jake Cuddihy. The professional with us for our mini show was the great Paul B Edwards.

We would perform our show in four different pubs in Tring but we would each have to sit one out and so perform three times each through the night. The first pub was the Kings Arms, which was the one I was to sit out. So I got to watch all the other acts, while mentally preparing myself for my first gig at the next pub.

Paul B Edwards
Paul B Edwards

That pub was the Robin Hood. I went on first as I wanted to get my first one done. As this was all untried new material that had not been performed in front of an audience before. Happily it went well and I had a ball doing it. It was great to be back at the Tringe. You can’t beat that¬†adrenaline rush when they announce your name and you walk to the stage to do your stuff.

The next pub was The Black Horse. Which was the first venue I performed in five years ago. The compere’ in there was my comedy dad Logan Murray, so it was great to see him again. Even though he scared the life out of me, as I was expecting to go on third at this venue. So I was just relaxing when he announced me as the second act, and I had to race to the stage to perform but it was all good though.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

The final venue was The Anchor where I performed my new material for the third and final time that night. Therefore completing my second Roving Comedy Night. It was great fun once again. And I still think one of the best experiences you can have.

I think because I had done it before I could take it all in and actually enjoy it a bit more this time around. After the last gig it was back to The Kings Arms to catch up with everyone and have a couple of well deserved beers.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

It was lovely to spend some more time catching up with Logan Murray. Nice to have a quick chat with Arthur Smith. Great to see and thank Ben Moorhouse, the man who makes the whole Tringe happen for organising such a great and enjoyable event. I got to meet and chat to the other former Rovers who had performed including the very funny Olaf Falafel. Who did the course the year before me and is really starting to make a bit of a name for himself in the world of comedy.

And lastly it was lovely to catch and and have a chat with Silky, who is a brilliant comedian and a great bloke. In fact he was one of the finalist’s in the very first BBC New Comedy Awards. And everyone in Comedy knows him and has probably worked with him at some point.

Logan Murray
Logan Murray

It was a wonderful evening going back to perform in Tring at an event so special to me. I loved every minute of being back there and doing my comedy. It has inspired me once again to try and do a bit more Stand Up.

It seems a shame not to get a bit more value out of the new material I have written. Plus I really do enjoy getting up on stage and doing it. It was great to be back!

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

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