Silky Skills

Hello, Happy Easter for last weekend. Are you still wading your way through a mass of chocolate? Or did you just have a massive binge on it last Sunday. I think Easter Sunday is the only day of the year that you can just about justify having chocolate for breakfast. I hope you had a lovely long Bank Holiday, enjoyed the weather and got to catch up with the family.

I actually had a pretty quiet Easter, much like Jesus did really, to be fair. He did not really do much after the Thursday evening. I did go to a family barbecue on Easter Sunday. Which was very enjoyable. And pretty civilised for this sort of affair. It was my first Al Fresco dining of the year. Well in England. In the Caribbean in January I was eating outside pretty much all of the time.

I am still delighted by the fact that my parents still insist on buying me an Easter Egg. Every year I say I am fine. And that they do not need to get me one. Yet every year I am so happy and pleased that they do. It always gets eaten within a day or two. Well my theory is if I leave any chocolate lying around the house. It will only get eaten. So I might as well eat it as soon as possible.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I recently paid my second visit to one of London’s premier comedy pubs. The Bill Murray in Islington. It is part of the Angel Comedy Club. Along with the Camden Head. Which is just down the road. Between them they put on lots of great gigs. Pretty much every night of the week.

A lot of well known comics use it to do work in progress and warm up shows. Where they are trying out new material. As a comedy fan who does some stand up. I do find these shows fascinating. As I like to see their thought process. How they structure the joke. And if I can work out the writing game that they may have used to come up with it.

But mostly I like going to these things, as they are in small rooms and are very funny events. Previously I saw Eddie Izzard there. This trip was to see Russel Howard do some new stuff in preparation for a big arena tour. He is doing later in the year. I have seen him a few times before. Doing a full show in Yeovil and a warm up one at The Phoenix in London. I have been a fan of his for years. I really like his topical television shows to.

Old Rope Comedy
Old Rope Comedy

He had a warm up act with him Steve Hall. Who also writes a lot of his TV shows with him. Steve was also doing new material ready for his Edinburgh Fringe Show in August. From what I saw and heard it will be worth catching if you are up in the Scottish capital during the festival. He then introduced Russell to the stage.

I am not sure if it was something he was trying out for this gig only or if the new show’s content and set up will require it. But it was a little more abrasive and even angrier Russell, in places. Than I had seen previously. Still very funny and clever with his jokes and delivery. It was quite an early gig with people having come straight from work. So maybe as a whole audience we were not possibly as receptive as he was hoping.

It could even have been a challenge from Steve Hall to play the gig that way. Just for a bit of fun. I really enjoyed it and thought he was fantastic. But as I have said earlier it was a different vibe to what I was expecting. Part of the structure is that he is getting older and grumpier, so he may be tapping in to that to set the tone for some of the subjects he is addressing.

Either way by the time this hits those big arenas. I have no doubt it will be a fully formed hilarious show. If you are a fan of comedy. It is worth keeping an eye on the Angel Comedy Club. As they do have some cracking gigs on there.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

For the first time this year. I went to see the final of The Musical Comedy Awards. The reason I went was that somebody I knew was in it. And I went along to support them. That man was the brilliant Paul “Silky” White. I first met him when I made my Stand Up debut at the wonderful Tringe Roving Comedy Night. I ended up giving him a lift back to his hotel. He is a lovely bloke and an extremely funny guy.

I have seen him perform several times since. I made sure I went and caught his Edinburgh show. When I was up there last year. He is a comic that does jokes. But he also plays the guitar and does some musical comedy. Hence why he was appearing at this event. After quite rightly storming through the heats to the final.

Silky at Roving Comedy Night
Silky at Roving Comedy Night

It was held at The Bloomsbury Theatre. Which is actually a lovely venue. It was the first time I had been. I was very impressed with the place. Randomly as I was on my way there I bumped into Silky, so got to wish him the best of the luck for his performance. Which was a nice bonus. It was great to see him, albeit very briefly.

When I got inside I met up with the man behind the Tringe Festival Ben Moorhouse at the bar. He was also there to support Silky. He was telling me that the line up is almost finalised for this year’s event and once again it is top quality. There will be some great acts coming to Tring to perform. Plus watch out for the marketing campaign for it which is going to be brilliant. Nice to see him and have a quick catch up.

I actually had front row seats for the show. I had found out that Silky was on first. So I made sure I got to my seat nice and early. So I was ready to laugh, clap and cheer for him. Previous finalists of this event have included Abandoman and Rachel Parris. The host for the night was Nick Horseman. He came on first. And got the crowd hyped and ready for what was ahead.

Bloomsbury Theatre

Silky came on first. He started with a tribute to the comedian Ian Cognito. Who had recently died on stage. While performing at a comedy night in Bicester. He then went into a couple of very funny musical songs. He was getting plenty of laughs. I thought he was, as ever great. It is always tough to go on first in a final. But I thought he did an excellent job.

Then we had The Dragprov Review who tried to improvise a musical. I thought they did alright. But I have been lucky enough to see the Show Stoppers. Who are amazing at doing just that. So for me the bar has been set very high for this type of act. Other performers on the night included Jamie Finn, Huge Davies, Louis Burgess, Matt Hutson, Joe Jacobs and Charlie Patridge.

Apart from Silky, who I know and think is great. The act that I really enjoyed the most were Maris Piper. They are a duo who do topical parody songs of well known records. Their lyrics and subject choices were smart and funny. The punch lines were sometimes obvious but that was mainly down to rhyming. And the famous tunes that they were using being so familiar. They did make me laugh out loud.

The Step Dads came on last. They were very off the wall and quirky. It was all a bit surreal. They were certainly the most different act of the night, in my opinion. My favourite act was Katie Pritchard. She came on as a self proclaimed tour guide. Then performed parody songs explaining some big historical attractions. In a funny, clever and amusing away. Plus she really did put everything in to her performance. She was totally going for it.

While the judging panel made their decisions. We were treated to a performance by the act that had already won the Best Newcomer award Hadfield and Swan. They did a couple of very funny numbers. Again I thought this duo were great and worth keeping an eye out for.

Then the headline act The Brett Domino Trio came on. I have been aware of them for a long time. I have heard them on the radio and seen them on TV. So it was great to witness them live at last. They were brilliant. Everything I expected them to be. Great fun!

After this final performance the winners were announced. In third place were Maris Piper. In second it was the Step Dads and the act that won the title was Katie Pritchard. Who I think on the night did deserve it.

I thought Silky should have been top three. Then again I would think that. A very entertaining night out seeing some funny people doing their thing. I already plan to go again to next years’ finals. Well done to the organisers and everyone who took part.

Neil Quigley doing Stand Up
Neil Quigley doing Stand Up

A very Happy 25th Birthday to Mix 96 for the 15th April. It is my local radio station. And it was an absolute honour to be able to work there in several spells over the years.

I actually ended up doing my work experience from College there for two weeks back during its first twelve months. As a result of that I went along to the station’s first birthday party at Stoke Mandeville Stadium. With all of the presenters. Which was brilliant fun.

Neil Quigley

It was the Mix 96 presenters who suggested that if I was wanting to get into radio. I should get involved with Stoke Mandeville Hospital Radio. Which I did spending around seven years there. It was doing this that enabled me to get on to Mix 96. Firstly just assisting on the Sports Show.

Before going on to present that and then host Drive Time, Mid Mornings and the Evening Show over the years. I would have presented my first show there in 1998 and my last show was in 2012. Mind you I had a five year break from the Buckinghamshire airwaves. When I was working in Somerset.

Victoria Pendleton and Neil Quigley
Victoria Pendleton and Neil Quigley

I have some great memories of being there over the years. Including helping to carry Kim Mazelle to and from the stage at a very muddy Fireworks Night. Being involved with the radio “Big Brother” we did called The Big Lock Up. All the County Show outside broadcasts.

Interviewing Victoria Pendleton. And just the laughs that we would have on and off air. It was a time of my life that I am very proud of. You absolutely cannot beat broadcasting on your home town radio station. There is nothing like it.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I hoped it would happen. I knew we could do it. But the way the second leg panned out away against Manchester City was crazy. I have never watched a match like it. I was emotionally drained by the end of it. Shocked and delighted that we had made it through to the Semi-Finals of the Champions League. One minute we were out and then thirty seconds later after VAR stepped in. We were through to face Ajax. Now just two games away from a place in the big final in Madrid.

City got their revenge in the league game the following Saturday. In a one nil win. That I thought we probably just about deserved a draw out of. It means the fight for a top four finish and Champions League qualification for next season is still a bit too close for comfort. But with two out of our final three games at our new home. I think we can do it. And finish the season on a high.

Our situation was also helped by our home win against Brighton on Tuesday. We left it late. The eighty-ninth minute to be precise. The joy and relief around the stadium when Christian Eriksen’s shot hit the back of the next was palpable.

We have now won all four games at the new place and not even conceded a goal yet. Before the game I also had the pleasure of meeting two Spurs Legends in Tony Galvin and Pat Jennings. They were both fantastic.

Neil Quigley and Pat Jennings

I have been back at the BBC recently doing some work there. It is always a fun place to be. You never know who you are going to end up working with or who you could randomly bump in to.

I saw the current host of the Radio One Breakfast show Greg James leaving as I was on my way in to the building the other day. One of the people I work with looks just like him, so at first I thought it was him. And I could not work out why he did not acknowledge me. So Greg, sorry for looking at you a bit weird.


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

Festival of Fun

Hello again, hope life is good and you are feeling fine. Last weekend was an annual event in my diary. Which I look forward to every year. It is something I first went to more than ten years ago now. I always enjoy any trip to Liverpool. But being there for Ladies Day at Aintree is brilliant fun. We have been doing it for such a long time now. That we have got the whole operation down to a tee.

I travelled up to Liverpool on the Thursday afternoon by train. On the journey I was catching up on the Gary Lineker and Danny Baker Podcast “Behind Closed Doors.” Which they launched at the start of this year. If you are a fan of football stories and banter. Then take a listen. I enjoyed it and it passed the time nicely. As I went through Birmingham on my way to Lime Street Station. On arrival there I walked past and tipped my head to the Ken Dodd statue by the exit. As I always do.

Neil Quigley in Liverpool
Neil Quigley in Liverpool

Then it was the short walk to Central Station to get the Mersey Rail to meet my mate at his local station. I feel very at home there. I put that down to my Granddad having grown up in that area. As always my pal meets me from the station. And we head to his local pub. To have a few beers and a catch up. I drink in London often, so there is something almost exciting about being able to buy two pints for less than four pounds.

It is then back to his place. Where thankfully he always lets me stay. As hotel prices in the city rocket in price unsurprisingly during the Grand National Race Meeting. Food and some tea. Accompanied of course by some music. And this time a little bit of Alan Partridge. We do tend to get to bed at a reasonable time ready for Ladies Day itself. The next day.

Ladies Day 2019

I do not always, but this year I did treat myself to a new suit. We all dress up. Buying a suit is always an odd experience. As normally the men in those places can take one look at you. Then bring things out in exactly the right size. Something I can never manage. When I am shopping alone. Any way we are all suited and booted. And in a pub just down the road from the famous old course by midday.

Next we head down to the entrance. It is always spectacular when you walk in and see those familiar huge stands. Not to mention the amount of people milling around. As you enter you pass the parade ring. Race horses are such beautiful and amazing animals. We were in the big marquee. It has several bars, some bookies and some huge televisions showing all the races. They also have a live band, who go on in between races. So there is just a big party atmosphere in there all day.

I had three winners, while we were there. Including the first race of the day. Which is always a good start to proceedings. The place is rammed with people having a good time. We leave before the last race. To get ahead of the crowd and get into Liverpool City Centre. If you leave it to late. The queues for the trains are horrendous. We as ever timed it perfectly.

We normally start off in The Jacaranda. Which is yet another place where The Beatles used to play a lot. They have a jukebox and great music in there. So it is always a good laugh. From there we continued the fun in several different bars. As more people we knew, who had been at the races earlier, joined us. We then ended up in an eighties bar finishing the night dancing in there. Once again it was another fantastic day. It is brilliant fun! With good company and venues. Plus a nice vibe to the whole thing.

Ladies Day 2019

The next day is of course The Grand National. We also have a bit of a tradition for this momentous event to. We always spend it with my mate’s parents and sister in a lovely pub, near to where they live. It is such a relaxing and fun afternoon. We have a few drinks, a laugh and watch all of the races including of course the big one.

Well done to Tiger Roll on winning it for the second year running, Which is some achievement. I was at Cheltenham when he won so convincing there this year. I must admit after that performance. I knew that he would be the best horse at Aintree. But that is not a guarantee. That you will win it. It was a great race . When he got in front. There was no way that anyone was going to get past him. I am pleased to say that I did have some money on him. Fair play to you if you picked him out to.

Grand National 2019

I came home on the Sunday afternoon. After yet another amazing weekend. I have already booked to stay with my mate again next year. We did have a drive around the course before I had to head to the station. As you can normally, when there is not a race on, drive down the Melling Road. We did just that and looked back down the course at all those daunting fences. A big thanks to everyone who joined in and made it such a fun and memorable few days. To quote The Beautiful South “You can’t have too many good times.”

Ladies Day 2019

I went and saw a brand new show recently. It is starting in the West End before it goes on tour all over the United Kingdom. It stars four Strictly Come Dancing contestants. Three of who won the show and one who really should have done that as well. Or at the very least got a lot further in the competition than he actually did. They are Harry Judd, Louis Smith, Jay McGuinness and Aston Merrigold. The show is called Rip It Up.

Rip It Up

It is basically a tribute to the nineteen sixties. It is set up like the American music television programmes. That were on during that decade. Complete with over the top US host. There is a band on stage throughout. A company of brilliant dancers. And the four stars who mostly perform the dances. Either in groups or with a partner. They do also all do a bit of singing. Including Louis Smith. Who then demonstrates what a great gymnast he is in one section. Harry Judd does some drumming. Aston Merrigold throws in some back flips.

It is a nicely put together show. Which features some quality songs and some great dancing. It is good fun. And the audience were up on their feet singing and dancing along by the end. Some bits do feel like they are shoe horned in a little. But it is a brilliant night out. It does not take itself too seriously. It pays homage to a great time in world music. Plus they do have some huge musical stars to help with the narrative. I enjoyed it.

Rip It Up

During my time working in radio. I have met a lot of very talented and lovely people. One of these is the wonderful Neil Sands. He toured the country as a professional Wrestler. He was one of the people behind “The Church”. If you ever went to that place on a Sunday afternoon in Kings Cross. As I did on a few occasions. And for many years now, he has been producing and starring in several different touring shows across the country.

His latest show. Brand new for this year is Sentimental Journey. Which I went and saw at the Wycombe Swan a few weeks ago. It is simply a celebration of great music from the forties through to the seventies. It stars Neil himself alongside some other great singers and performers Chelsea Turnbull, Sophie Presley and Szara King. He works with a brilliant backing band called The Golden Times Duo.

He has been a professional entertainer for many years. He has such a nice way with the audience. It is just all so very inclusive and good humoured. Right from the start the audience are encouraged to join in. I took my mum to see it. And we had a very enjoyable afternoon clapping and singing along to all these fantastic songs. Plus any show that features a section on Buddy Holly, Connie Francis and a little bit of Country and Western is always going to be a big hit with me.

It is a show full of memories and nostalgia delivered with love and grace by the cast. It also has a fitting tribute to our armed forces. Which is equally poignant and joyful. I really enjoyed it. As I have all the Neil Sands productions that I have seen. He was sadly feeling a little under the weather. But I did manage to have a very quick chat with him afterwards. It was great to see him. He is such a nice person and extremely talented. Keep an eye out for him and his shows. They are always worth seeing.

Sentimental Journey

I went to the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium for the second test event there. Which was a Spurs Legends side against Inter Milan. It was great to see so many former players back in the famous white shirts and on the pitch. It was a quality line up. Some of them had not played for a very long time. While others were a lot fitter. And dare I say still pretty athletic. I was very impressed with Jurgen Klinsman. He was still strutting around the pitch and looking sharp. Also David Howells deserves a special mention for treating it like a cup final. He was taking no prisoners out there.

It was great to see Robbie Keane score and do his famous cart wheel celebration. Always a joy to see Dimitar Berbartov play. Nayim was a bit bigger than I remember. But still very skilful. Great to see David Ginola out there after his recent health problems. But there was one player I was looking forward to seeing the most. It was the man who I remember running our whole midfield and scoring that ridiculous free kick against Arsenal in the FA Cup Semi-final back in 1991 Paul Gascoigne.

He was on the bench to begin with. And sadly in true Gazza style, he had managed to damage his Achilles Tendon in the warm up. But fair play to him. He still came on to a brilliant reception from all the fans. The whole place was singing his name. It was clear that he was not moving very easily, so he only lasted about ten minutes. Before he was then replaced. Still great to see him. What a Spurs and England legend. I wish him all the best in his recovery. The game was a good laugh, even though we lost in the end. It gave me another chance to get settled in to the new home.

Tottenham Hotspur

Talking of which I was of course there for the official opening and our first league game at the currently named Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. The ground opened early. So I took advantage of this by having a pint and a pie there before kick off.

There was a bit of an opening show. We had a local youth choir. Who were ace. They were then joined by the Opera Singer Wynne Evans for a different version of Glory Glory Tottenham Hotspur.

Tottenham Hotspur

At the end of which there was a big fireworks display on the roof. Something I had completely missed until I saw the footage after. I was looking straight at the pitch only, I never thought to look up. So I missed it. Then I could not work out where this smoke was coming from. Before the match had even kicked off. A tweet I posted earlier appeared on the four big screens inside the ground. I was very happy that my name had already been displayed at the stadium. I managed to get a really bad picture of it.

The game itself was a must win. We had to get the three points. To keep in the hunt for a Champions League place. Thankfully after a bit of dogged resistance from Crystal Palace and a slight deflected shot. We managed to score our first senior goal at the stadium. And go on to win the game two – nil. Which felt great. It is a brilliant stadium. I can tell I am going to have a lot of fun going there over the years.

The Boss

I was at the Champions League Quarter Final First Leg against Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City. The atmosphere in the place was so electric. We won one-nil thanks to another strike from Son. All of the players were immense.

But it is only half time, really. We still have it all to do in the second leg this Wednesday. The only disappointment on what was a very memorable night was Harry Kane going off with an ankle injury. The mood in the ground at full time was delightful.

Tottenham Hotspur

Huge congratulations to the amazing Charlotte Milchard. Who won Best Supporting Actress at the recent National Film Awards. For her role in Best British Film Scott and Sid. I first met her back in Yeovil in 2004. She was playing the villain in that year’s panto. And although on stage she was terrifying. Off it she was one of the loveliest people you could meet. I saw her a few times over the years performing in Somerset. She always popped in to have a chat on the radio. Which was fantastic.

Since then of course I have been following her career on stage and on screen. It is great spending time in her company. Such a talented and yet humble person. She richly deserves any success that comes her way. I was so happy for her when I discovered she had won this big accolade. A great achievement. It seems she had a wonderful night collecting her award. Which also makes me very happy. Well done Charlotte! A pleasure to know you.

Charlotte Milchard

Tonight I am off to see another performer I know compete for an award. I am attending the final of The Musical Comedy Awards in London. To see the excellent Silky perform for the title.

The evening will also feature The Brett Domino Trio. If you not aware of them. They are always good fun. I am looking forward to it. A Saturday night spent laughing at top quality acts. It always a bonus.

Silky at Roving Comedy Night
Silky at Roving Comedy Night

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