Musical Fun

Hi there, here we are again then. They do say that as you get older time seems to go quicker. I cannot believe two weeks have gone by already, since we spoke last. I have actually had quite a busy time. Which is exactly how I like things to be. I mean for starters it keeps me away from the news and other serious things happening at the moment. Music and comedy, I think is the way forward.

Neil Quigley

I must admit I have been to Las Vegas and I am certainly not adverse to a bit of gambling. However during my latest trip to a Casino. I did not bet a penny. I was at The Rialto in Leicester Square recently to see my mate Mike Sterling perform in his “Stars Of The West End” show. Alongside Karen Mav and Jenny Fitzpatrick.

Stars Of The West End

It was actually the first time I had been there. It is quite a nice and cool place. Not just for a gamble but also for a drink and a bite to eat. When I arrived they had a brilliant pianist and singer performing in the bar area. I got to meet him later on in the night. He is a top class bloke. He was in the original cast of the musical Rent. He also plays in a few different bands. Just a really nice and talented guy.

Then came the start of the actual show. Mike was on first. He did a selection of songs from various musicals. Including of course from Les Miserables and The Phantom Of The Opera. The two shows in which he has played the lead role in the West End. As ever he was sounding sensational. He does have an exceptional voice. He did about thirty minutes. Then there was another interlude with the pianist Richard doing some more songs.

Mike Sterling

Next up on stage was Karen Mav. She was on the X-factor in 2015 and she played Effie White in Dream Girls in London. She did a few songs from that musical. And a few Whitney Houston numbers. She also has such a great voice. She was fantastic. Mike Sterling also did a duet with her. Then it was back to the hardest working man on the night, Richard. For some more tunes from him and his keyboard.

Karen Mav

Lastly we had the lovely Jenny Fitzpatrick. She has been in The Blues Brothers, Sister Act and Ghost. And most recently she was sharing the lead role as Tina Turner in Tina the Musical. I was lucky enough to see her in it and she was phenomenal. On this particular night she mainly did songs from that latest show. Mike joined her on stage to do “Proud Mary”. She was amazing. Her voice is just so strong and powerful. The evening ended with all three of them doing Queen’s “A Kind Of Magic”

Jenny Fitzpatrick

I managed to have a quick chat with Karen and Jenny after the show. They were both so nice and very friendly. I have always liked being around performers. There is a certain vibe and energy that they give off. Which I really love. They then had to dash off home as they were both working the following morning.

I finished the night having a drink and a chat with Mike and the rest of the crew. It was a wonderfully entertaining evening. With three amazing performers singing in what was a relatively small venue. It always makes me feel proud seeing a mate on stage killing it to. Yet another top night out in the capital.

Stars Of The West End

I have mentioned this place before. The Museum Of Comedy is such an great small venue in the Bloomsbury area of London. It has lots of brilliant comedy memorabilia on show. Also Logan Murray my top comedy teacher runs Stand Up Courses there. And quite a few well known comics use it to do warm up or work in progress gigs. This is the reason why I was there the other week.

Logan Murray
Logan Murray

I always like trying to see comedians that I have not seen live before. I am such a huge comedy fan. There are lots of comics that I like. I was therefore pleased to be able to tick Frankie Boyle off that list finally. I have been aware of him since his appearances on Mock The Week. I do appreciate he is not to everybody’s taste. And shall we say some of his jokes can be a bit near the knuckle. But in my eyes if I find something funny, as far as I am concerned it is funny.

The Tommy Cooper Room at the Museum of Comedy holds about eighty. It was absolutely packed awaiting the Scottish comedian’s appearance. He had a support act on first. That was the excellent Tiernan Douieb. He falls in to the category of people I was aware of but had not seen before. I enjoyed his set. He then introduced the man himself Frankie Boyle to the stage. I cannot repeat the words he greeted the audience with. But let us just say those three words set the tone for the night.

Museum of Comedy
Museum of Comedy

I thought he was brilliant. I was laughing a lot. My face was hurting by the end. Yes it is true some of the subjects could be described as sensitive. And as you would expect nothing was off limits. But this was a comedy gig with a comedian known for hard hitting material. I heard nothing that I did not expect to. It was in a room full of people who had chosen to be there. And as with a lot of comedy there was often a social or other point to the joke. Regardless of what it was about.

Believe it or not seeing him on stage during a warm up gig. Where he was chatting between bits and setting things up. And I do not want to spoil any illusions. But he is actually quite a nice and thoughtful man. I am really pleased I saw him.

He was working on new material for both his next big tour and his upcoming television series. And from what I saw both of these things are going to be worth seeing. If you enjoy having a laugh. Hilarious ninety minutes in a delightful venue is how I would sum up this experience.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Totally by chance I ended up going to the Comedy Store in London on International Women’s Day. To mark the occasion they had an all female line up. I had already seen most of these comics live before so I already knew they were good. By the way if you have not been it is your classic London Comedy venue.

Anybody who is anybody from the world of comedy. Will have performed there at some point. The set up and sound system is perfect for comedy. As you would expect. I am not saying a lot of comics are recovering alcoholics. But they do the best selection of soft drinks from any bar I have seen. I enjoyed a pint of Pineapple Juice while I was there.

The compere for the night was the fantastic Laura Lexx. Who I had previously seen doing the warm up for an episode of Upstart Crow. And who I bumped into very briefly at the last Tringe Festival Roving Comedy night. She was great, as always. The first act on was Sarah Keyworth. I had not seen her before. She was hilarious. Really good. Got the crowd on side and some big laughs from the off. I suspect we will be seeing more of her over the next year or so.

Then it was an American comic, who I was not familiar with called Spring Day. She is from New York. After spending sometime living and working in Japan. She has been performing in England for over five years now. She was really good to. A very different style of act from the opener. But with some topical and clever gags.

The final act of the first half was the amazing Kerry Godliman. I had seen her before at a comedy club. We went to on a friend’s Stag Do. You may know her from Ricky Gervias’s Derek or After Life. Or from Bad Move with Jack Dee. She is a powerhouse of a performer. I like her and think she is really funny. Her stuff is so conversational and fast paced. After her set there was of course the obligatory twenty minute interval.

Comedy Store Players
Comedy Store Players

Comedy clubs, football stadiums and theatres are places where you will more than likely have to queue to use the Men’s toilet. We are slowly nudging nearer to equality with women on this one, I feel. In the second half after Laura Lexx had got the audience fired up again.

It was Jen Brister on first. I had seen her before headlining at a sadly short lived comedy night in Aylesbury. Once again this time around. She was fantastic. It is worth seeing her show. Just for the brilliant impression of her mother, if nothing else.

The headline act was a comedian, I really do like. I was lucky enough to see her perform one of her Edinburgh Festival Shows at the BBC Radio Theatre. A couple of years ago. Which was excellent. She is the ace Suzi Ruffell. I think that she is a fantastic performer. You really cannot take your eyes off her. When she is on stage. She has a nice rapport with the audience. And most importantly she is very funny,

It was a perfect fun Friday night. Spent laughing at the Comedy Store. It just happened to be a line up of all women. I think a lot of women are funny. And I think a lot of men are funny. I could not honestly care. Which bathroom you chose to use. If I think you are funny, you are. The only factor I will judge people on is their jokes. As ever a night at a comedy venue. Always makes me want to get back on stage myself.

The Comedy Store

I had a fantastic day out at the Cheltenham Festival last Wednesday. If you are a huge fan of horse racing like I am it is a brilliant spectacle. The course and its settings are amazing. The races are of the highest quality. And the Guinness there is pretty decent to.

I went with a few of my mates. We took the train there. It is a nice journey with lovely scenery to enjoy, While we were queuing for the shuttle bus to the course. I spotted none other than queen of cakes Mary Berry behind me.

Cheltenham Festival

We were in the Club Enclosure. Which gives you a fantastic view of the whole course and is situated right on the finishing line. The races were all close and exciting. There were two stand out performances on the day. Altior in the Champion Chase was astonishing. Not at his best. But such a desire to win and be the first across that line. A truly beautiful horse.

And also Tiger Roll in the Cross Country Chase. We watched that from the middle of the course. He eased to victory in that so easily in the end. Which explains why he is now considered as one of the favourites for this year’s Grand National.

Cheltenham Festival

It was a brilliant day out. The racing was top class. As well as the company. I was the only one of our group not to have a winner. But that did not matter. I thoroughly enjoyed the day still. I am already looking forward to going there next year.

Although Aintree awaits next this year. And that is always good. Special thanks goes to my friends wife. Who picked up four slightly merry gentleman and gave them a lift home from the course.

Alan Partridge is back on our TV screens again fronting a BBC show. After the slight incident on his first first ever series in the ninety’s. When a guest got shot dead in the last episode. I am a fan of Steve Coogan. As someone who works in radio and television myself. I can of course see a bit of Alan in me. Sometimes unintentionally, we have done some of the things that he makes a habit of. On my last holiday I read “his” last book. Which was brilliant.

I am really enjoying the new series. There is nothing missing from it. In fact there is so much going on in every scene. That you need to see it a few times. Or you will miss some of the gags. Especially the visual ones. I am finding bits of it quite odd. As some of it was filmed at Broadcasting House in London.

If you saw the first episode. The lift he was in. Is the one I use every time I am there working. And I have often used the toilets he was loitering outside. Sadly I did not bump in to him at all. When he was filming the show. I am looking forward to watching the rest of series.

BBC
BBC

As ever there is never a dull moment being a Tottenham Hotspur fan. We lost away to Southampton last weekend. Which means we are just about hanging on to third place in the league. We now have a few weeks break to regroup. Thanks to us being out of the FA Cup and the following international break. In that time there should be two test events at the new stadium. Which if they go to plan means that our next Premier League home game will be played there.

Finally it looks like I will actually get the chance to sit in my season ticket seat. When that game is. Depends on some FA cup results that involve other clubs. The next game though, will be away at Anfield against Liverpool. Always a tough place to go. But we do really need a win. I am hoping the rest and a trip for the squad to Barcelona. Can help us finish the season strongly. Come on you Spurs.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Sad news the other week as my local commercial radio station. And the place that I made my professional broadcasting debut Mix 96 has been sold. It had been owned by UKRD.

It is now part of one of the two largest radio groups in the United Kingdom called Bauer. I fear it may mean the end of the Aylesbury station, as we know it. My thoughts and best wishes are with my friends and former colleagues there.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Tomorrow is St Patrick’s Day. An occasion I always try to mark in some way. Using my very loose Irish links and my surname to just about justify me having a few pints of Guinness.

I will let you know where and how I celebrated this event. When we talk next.

St Patrick's Day
St Patrick’s Day

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

Theatre of Life

Hello again. The last two weeks have flown by. I am starting to think Ronan Keating was right. And that Life is a Roller Coaster. Not just for the ups and downs. But for the speed it seems to travel. I hope you are good and avoiding the lurgy. That seems to be everywhere at the moment. I am starting to think that may be Michael Jackson had the perfect idea with his oxygen tent bed.

Talking of which it was the Brit Awards in London the other Tuesday. The aforementioned King of Pop’s performance at the event was once gate crashed by an apparently drunk Jarvis Cocker. I recently discovered that when he was apprehended by the Police backstage after. He asked for Bob Mortimer to be his legal representative. Crazy and wild times. This years awards ceremony were a bit more low key.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

It was held at the O2 Arena and hosted for the second year running by Jack Whitehall. I think he did an excellent job. It is a really tough thing to present. As basically no one in that room is really listening to you or paying any attention to you. Therefore his plan was to more or less focus on the people watching at home. Which I think mainly worked. There were a couple of odd and awkward chats that he did with Bros and Little Mix. But you get that sort of thing most years. The whole place is basically a drunken madhouse.

There were some really strange pairings to present awards. It looked like they were chosen using the same template. That led to Sam Fox and Mick Fleetwood hosting the 1989 Brits. I will be honest I am a little out of touch with some of the current artists. But I am pleased to say I was at least aware of all the winners. Nice to see George Ezra win an award. I think he is extremely talented and a very nice bloke.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

There were as ever some good and interesting performances. I am a big fan of Jess Glynne. I could see what they were trying to do and it tied in nicely with the song. But watching a stage full of girls remove their make up was weird. Not helped by the fact that the singer she was performing with refused to remove hers. And she had plenty on. The Greatest Showman opening was pretty spectacular to be fair.

I was delighted to see Pink get the special recognition award. I think she totally deserves it. For her success over the years in Britain. She always puts on a fantastic show. Also I do really like her as a person. She is always real and honest about her life. Plus personally I think she has a beautiful voice. I liked the way they gave her the award. Then gave her plenty of time after to perform. To close the show. They have learned from when they had to abruptly cut Adele’s acceptance speech short. When running out of time one year.

Overall I thought it was nicely done. I have said this before and I do appreciate you can get so many people in the 02. But I think that it would benefit from being held in a smaller venue with a more select audience. It would make the atmosphere better and possibly lead to more rock and roll excess and “incidents” like in the past. I enjoyed watching it. And I was pleased for all the winners on the night. Even if it was possibly a little bland.

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 had my first ever immersive theatre experience recently. It was suggested to me by a friend. So we booked a couple of tickets. Not really knowing what to expect from it. But we thought we would give it a try. It is called The Murder Express. And is currently on at Pedley Street Station in Bethnal Green, London. As well as the performance itself. The night also includes a top quality four course meal. Which has been devised by the 2016 Masterchef winner Jane Devonshire.

We arrived at the venue, which is aptly under some railway arches. When you walk in there is a little bar where you can get drinks. And the train carriage where you sit down to enjoy your “journey” and have your food. From the minute you arrive the actors are moving around and chatting to you. One of them stitched me up by selling me a fake drinks voucher. But I had the last laugh in the end.

They call you on to the train and show you to your seats. They are set up in tables of six. Then the actors do the first part of the play. While the starter is being served. Then they set the scene a bit more before the next course. As you have probably guessed from the title of it. It is a bit of a who done it affair. Where the audience get to try to work out what has happened.

The food, which was amazing by the way, comes out in breaks in the action. The fake drinks voucher I had purchased became apparent as we were “travelling”. Thankfully they still honoured it. And I still got my two glasses of red wine. My friend ended up playing a doctor at one point. They have video screens on the wall. So there is scenery going past throughout with train sound effects to.

Obviously I am not going to give away any plot spoilers. But it was all very cleverly done. The food was fantastic. It was a lot of fun. With a fair amount of laughter. There is a comedy theme running through proceedings. I worked out what had happened in my head. But I did not say it out loud. So no one would believe I cracked it. Which to be fair is perfectly reasonable. It is worth doing if you fancy something a little different in London.

Murder Express

I finally got round to seeing the musical Blood Brothers at the Swan Theatre in High Wycombe the other week. Everybody I had spoken to about it said it was excellent. And were amazed I had not seen it. Of course they were completely right. It is a wholesome and thought provoking show. It is real, gritty and tackles a lot of taboo subjects that theatre shows of this nature rarely do.

I have over the years spent quite a bit of time in and around the city of Liverpool. Therefore I found the back drop to the story familiar. The cast were sensational. The two actors who play the brothers. Have to portray them from the age of seven into their twenties. Which is a big ask and really very impressive. It was a slick show. It is quite hard hitting stuff. But an intriguing, eye opening and ultimately sad and tragic story. I am really glad that I have finally seen it. It was fantastic.

Blood Brothers

I am a massive fan of Fawlty Towers. I have watched all the episodes so many times. I know exactly what lines are coming. But still always laugh out loud. When they are delivered. It is just such a perfect and in my opinion funny comedy. And you would not believe how happy I was when John Cleese once replied to me on Twitter. I do still have a picture of that tweet. It is my love of the original show. And the fact that I know Mr Cleese is very anti them. That has really put me off attending one of these Fawlty Towers experiences.

Well until now that is, anyway. As I actually went to one in London. It was on at the Radisson Blu Edwardian Hotel in Bloomsbury Street. You arrive and check in. Before being shown in to the dinning room area. Then Basil, Manuel and Sybil appear to introduce themselves. After which Basil and Manuel then sit you at your table. Which is an experience in itself.

Fawlty Towers

You need to buy any drink in the bar before you head in and bring it in with you. We were sat on a lovely table. With a man celebrating his birthday with his wife and son. A man treating his mum to a night out. A young couple. And a man out honouring the anniversary of his mum’s death. Plus me and my friend.

As I am sure you can imagine our three hosts put on a manic night of madness, craziness and fun. While we enjoy a three course meal. It is performed in parts. And thankfully they do have some professional help from real waiters. Or the food would never get delivered or the plates never cleared. The whole thing lasts around two and an half hours. I would say it is a nice tribute to the show. All done in a very respectful way.

Fawlty Towers

Although the programmes co-writer and star does not get any money from this franchise. Which is why he is not a fan. And I totally get that. What I would say though is from what I saw. All the people there seemed to come to this event out of a love for the show. And the memories they have of it. Which I think is perfectly fine. Plus it is laugh out loud funny!

Sarah Parish started the Neil Quigley Fan Club

This February it was ten years since I left Midwest Radio in Yeovil. Which was actually the six month old Ivel fm. When I started at the station in the April of 2004. To celebrate this big landmark occasion. Last weekend I went back to the Somerset town to see some of the people I used to work with. During the five years I spent there.

I started off just doing the odd weeks worth of holiday cover there. Then my now good friend Andy Holmes decided to leave. And I then moved down there full time to do the Drive Show. I did that one for a few years. Before I moved to the morning show. Finally finishing my last six months there presenting the Evening Show. I also did cover the Breakfast show occasionally. Plus I did a weekly Saturday Sports Show. The whole time I was there. I pretty much hosted every slot at the station at some point.

Neil Quigley & Andy Holmes
Neil Quigley & Andy Holmes

I had a fantastic time down there. I met a lot of great people. Many of whom are still really good friends of mine now. One of these is my former boss Steve Carpenter. I met up with him on the Friday. He is currently hosting Breakfast at a new radio station in Yeovil called Nine Springs. I met him at their studios. He gave me a mini tour of the place. They actually have the same desk that I used to do my shows at Ivel fm on. It was nice to see it again, We had spent a lot of hours together.

Then me and Steve went to the local Wetherspoons for a drink and some food. That was a place I used to find myself in quite often when I was living and working there. On the way back to my hotel I popped into a few of the old bars I used to go in. I will be honest they were either quieter than I remembered or in one case now a restaurant. I stayed at the Manor Hotel. Which has become my regular choice. When I to go back there to visit.

Neil Quigley with Steve Carpenter in Yeovil
Neil Quigley with Steve Carpenter in Yeovil

The next morning I met another friend of mine for a cup of tea and lovely catch up. Before I had to head to the pub to watch my team Tottenham play Burnley. That was a bit disappointing in the end. As we lost. But it was nice to visit another familiar pub to see it in. Next on the agenda it was food with another fellow radio presenter Scott Temple. He is currently working at Pirate fm in Cornwall. It was him and I who had this idea of a mini Ivel fm re-union. When we met up in Windsor last summer.

The plan was to meet everybody else at the Chicago Rock Cafe in Yeovil at 7.30pm. When I was there it used to be open all day. Scott and I arrived slightly early to find that it was closed. And after some frantic research. That it did not open until eight. We found a hotel bar around the corner. And managed to contact everyone to meet there instead. So the night did not start exactly how we planned it.

We ended up going to the Chicago Rock Cafe just after eight. The reason I chose that venue for these drinks. Is that the Ivel fm studios were above it. There was actually a back staircase that could get you from the station to the bar. Which was useful on several occasions over the years.

Neil Publicity Shot 2008

I also used to DJ at the bar. I had a regular Thursday and Tuesday Night. Occasionally they would let me loose on a Friday or Saturday. I often hosted their Wednesday night guest appearances. Along with my colleague Chris Criddle. It was great to see him for a bit. Before he predictably had to head off to DJ somewhere else that night. He is always working that bloke. He never stops.

There was a nice group of us. It was brilliant to see everyone. I must say everyone is looking great. We have all aged brilliantly. It was a fun night. Talking about old times and having a right giggle. It did get a little messy towards the end. Scott came back from the bar with a bottle of Hooch each for the last drink of the night. I had no idea it was even still being made. Still tasted far to sweet for the record. But it would have be rude not to drink it.

Ivel fm

It was a lovely weekend. Marking ten years since I left a place. In which I had a lot of fun and good times. I had a brilliant time at the radio station there.

The people of Somerset were always friendly and made me feel very welcome. Plus the five years I spent there is still the longest time that I have ever worked in any one particular place. Thanks to everyone who made the effort to come along.

Ivel fm

As ever it has been a bit up and down recently supporting Spurs. But I would not swap it for the world. I am not going to lie. I was gutted when we lost to Chelsea in the week. But we move on.

I will be at Wembley today for the North London Derby. Hoping that we can beat Arsenal. As that is a highlight of any season. Then we head to Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League in the week. The big games just keep coming at the moment. Come on you Spurs!

Tottenham Hotspur
Tottenham Hotspur

I have been back at the BBC doing a bit of work recently. It is a fun and cool place to be. It has been lovely catching up and working with a lot of good and talented people.

It can be pretty random at times. I found myself in a studio with Ian Wright and Chris Sutton. And in a lift with Simon McCoy. I did not bring up any Royal stories with him of course.

BBC
BBC

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