The last couple of weeks have been pretty radio orientated with the events that I have been attending, which is always good with me. It is a medium I have a huge appetite for. To misquote John Miles “Radio is my first love and it will be my last”. From having my first taste of it when I was just seventeen right to the current day I have thoroughly enjoyed every second I have spent in a studio. Although to be honest these recent occasions were much more social.

Grand Olde Opry
Grand Olde Opry

For the second year running I went to Radio 2’s Festival in a Day at Hyde Park in London. It works perfectly for me as I am a massive fan of festivals but I absolutely hate camping. At this one I can spend the whole day in a field enjoying live performances and still sleep in my own bed. The organisation and overall staging of this event is always fantastic. It is so well managed. Hardly any queues when you arrive to get in plus a huge selection of bars and food outlets. What more could you want?

I went along to it with two very good friends of mine. We met up and got the train in to the capital together grabbing tea and croissants on the way. It was all very civilised but what do you expect it was all put on by Radio 2 of course. We got in to the venue just before midday. The first job was to check where all the important amenities were, namely the bar and the toilets. Then it was just a case of getting a beer and finding a good spot to see the stage, while still being able to visit the two aforementioned facilities.

Radio 2 in Hyde Park

Simply Red kicked things off on stage. I had seen them perform a few years ago at the London Palladium. They are a brilliant group with an excellent back catalogue of well-known songs. Mick Hucknall is such a perfect front man with a very distinctive voice. I thought they were great. They did all the big hits you would expect them to. I think it is a good sign a band are doing well, when you are surprised as I was that their set ended, what felt like too soon. It is true that time flies when you are having fun. They were a top choice to get the party in a field underway.

Simply Red

The next act during the afternoon was the American Country singer Kelsea Ballerini from Tennessee. She was fantastic really looking and sounding the part. I am a big fan of Country and Western music and I really like her stuff. Bearing in mind she is only twenty-six, she will be around for a long time yet. She has also assembled a top quality band. That always enhances live performances. She is the youngest current member of the Grand Ole Opry, which is some achievement itself. Add to that the deep south American accent that she has, that I love. I will be keeping an eye on her stuff for years to come.

Kelsea Ballerini

Sadly Emeli Sande was unable to perform at the event as scheduled due to her losing her voice. Craig Charles who was already on the bill to do a Soul and Funk Disco did a bit extra to fill the gap. He did seem to be enjoying himself up there. The sound system for the event was great. It is so clever nowadays at these huge gigs. How they factor in delays with the speakers and big TV screens, so wherever you are, it all seems to be in sync giving the illusion of hearing and seeing it at exactly the same time.

We got back to the live music performances with the now two piece Bananarama. They were sensational doing all their big hits from the eighties and some of the great news songs from their latest album. I must admit they were both sounding and looking amazing. They still had all the dance moves and way more energy than I did for a warm and sunny Sunday afternoon. They looked to be having a fab time up there. They admitted they were looking forward to seeing the rest of the concert themselves when their slot was over. And the thing you do sometimes forget about this band is that they did have a lot of huge hits.


Next up it was a band I was looking forward to seeing. As not only do they seem like lovely down to earth people. But they are a group of very talented musicians to. Any modern band that is just basically fronted by a Cello and Violin player with guest vocalists is alright by me. Clean Bandit have produced so many massive hit anthems with their blend of electric and classical music. On this evidence they are a fantastic live band. Who really do put on a brilliant show. Nobody is really doing what they are doing, as well as they do it. I thought they were ace. They were one of my highlights of the day.

Clean Bandit

When I was about fourteen, I got myself the double cassette of Status Quo’s Greatest Hits, which I listened to a lot at that time. I had been a fan of theirs for many years prior to that. They have a new single out at the moment which is unmistakably them in the way it sounds. They were the next band to perform for Radio 2 at this celebration of music. There had been a couple of occasions in the past where I nearly got to see them but for whatever reason it did not work out. And let us not forget this was the act that launched the Live Aid concert at Wembley stadium. These guys are rock gods.

I have always been a massive fun of guitar based music. Status Quo thump out those big songs with the strings on their guitars taking a huge pounding, that energy, that drive. I defy anyone to stand still when they are playing. As well as the new single they played a nice selection of their biggest hits. Francis Rossi seemed to be having a good time and despite his advancing years. He may still have been the biggest kid at the event with a glint in his eye and the urge to at least slightly worry the organisers with what he might say.

I thought they were brilliant and totally enjoyed seeing them play live. Many of their songs are timeless classics. I suppose the only slight regret is that I never got to see Francis and Rick Parfitt play together. As the both of them will always be Status Quo to me. But they still know how to put on a great show. They had the whole place rocking. I know it is the old joke about the Quo only using the same three cords but their music is a bit more intricate than that. A really tight and slick band!

Status Quo

Then as the sun started to set in Hyde Park. It was time for the final “warm up” act or to put it another way the next group, who were Westlife. They have been around for over twenty years now. I know right. Does anyone else feel old? I first saw them at a Smash Hit Poll Winners Party in London. When they had just won a regional band’s competition and were stilled called at that point Westside.

Two decades later I am watching them belt out hit after hit in a perfectly performed set. Like Bananrama they are all sounding and looking great. However their dance moves are not as good as the girls. They all seem like top blokes and can all sing and perform live. They sing great songs well and in their own style. This is of course why they have had such a long and distinguished career. I thought they were wonderfully entertaining, as ever.


The headline act was The Pet Shop Boys. I was lucky enough to be at the Brits Awards when they won the lifetime achievement trophy there, so I knew how good they were live. Those two always put on a great visual display. Neil Tennant’s voice is possibly sounding better than ever. The staging and lighting was bright and lively. Add to that all those iconic hits. Then throw in Olly from Years and Years, who joined them to do their latest single together. And one of my all-time favourite singers Beverley Knight who came out on stage to perform “What Have I Done to Deserve This” with the lads.

Top class entertainment from one of the great British Pop bands of all time was a fitting way to end a brilliant afternoon and evening. I had a wonderful time with my two friends, having a few drinks while singing and dancing along with the music. It is a fun and uplifting day out. We already plan to do it all over again next year. And you know that Radio 2 will as ever book some amazing acts for it. If you have not been and enjoy live music in a fun and friendly atmosphere, you should definitely give it a try, if you can.

Pet Shop Boys

My local radio station Mix 96 celebrated its twenty fifth birthday this April. I did work experience there when I was at college. And it was the place where I started my professional radio career. I have so many happy and fond memories of the place. I have worked there at three different spells over the last twenty odd years. Richard Carr from Bucks TV, who also used to work at the radio station has made a documentary about Mix 96. It features many former and current employees of the station including yours truly.

Mix 96

It was loads of fun recording my bits. It was great catching up with Richard and reminiscing about old times. He has spent a lot of time and effort finding everybody and putting the whole thing together. Last Saturday night it was the World Premiere of the documentary at the Waterside Theatre in Aylesbury. It was also a bit of a Mix 96 reunion night to. I had been looking forward to it for quite a while. I was excited to see the film and hopefully catch up with a few people who I had not seen for years.

Mix 96

It was all very well organised. When I arrived at the theatre I was met with a Bucks Fizz on reception. At one point that was actually going to be the name of this new radio station. Then there was chance to chat to everyone there. It was wonderful to see many of my former colleagues all looking so well. We then watched the first part of the documentary on the big screen. This was followed by an interval to refresh our drinks and wait for Mr Mix 96 Nathan Cooper to arrive. He had been on commentary duty for BBC Radio Oxford at Lincoln.

When he did arrive, he did so fittingly to a huge round of applause. We then sat down to watch a slightly edited version of the actual film. It was ninety-six minutes in length. This stuff is not just thrown together it is all carefully planned. It was brilliant hearing all the old stories and seeing so many familiar faces up on the screen. There were lots of great stories and things that I had forgotten about over the years. It was a fascinating watch.

I have already ordered the full version, which I am very much looking forward to watching. It was nice to see everybody. Thanks and congratulations to Richard Carr for making such a lovely tribute to a truly fantastic local radio station. I look forward to receiving my full four hour copy of this piece of cinematic history.

Neil Quigley

I was lucky enough to be able to get away for three days of fun in the sun in Spain the other week. My friend’s parents own an apartment in Marbella that they very kindly rented to me for a few nights. On day one I did have to get up at 3am to get my 7am flight from Luton to Malaga but the thought of a few days relaxing by the pool more than made up for that inconvenience.

The place where I was staying was about forty-five minutes away from the airport. I got the bus into the centre of Marbella and then a taxi to the complex. That was to be my temporary home, which was in Puerto Banus. Not that I have honestly ever seen it but when “The Only Way Is Essex” lot head to Spain. This is the place where they go. They were there filming when I was out there. But I did not bump in to them.

I got there at around two in the afternoon and let myself in. It is a lovely place with two bedrooms (both ensuite), a big lounge, kitchen and a balcony. Firstly I went to the local Supermarket to get some supplies. Then it was time to kick back and spend the rest of the afternoon at the pool topping up my tan in the glorious sunshine. I stayed there until six and then came in to get ready for my first night out there.

Puerto Banus

Most of the bars and restaurants are along the port side, which was a fifteen minute walk from where I was. It is a pretty classy place as you can tell from all the amazing yachts that are moored there. And all the Ferraris, Porches and Lamborghinis that drive past. I found a really nice restaurant in which to enjoy a lovely three course meal. I then just checked out a couple of the bars before calling time on a fairly long day.

Puerto Banus

The next day was spent by the pool in the morning. Then on a sunbed at the beach, which was about ten minutes away, in the afternoon. I did then go back to the pool for a swim and more sun. Then quickly got ready to head out and find somewhere to watch Tottenham’s Champions League Game. I found a decent bar which fulfilled those needs, although we could only manage a draw away in Greece. Then it was food, followed by a few drinks and bed. Sitting around in the sun all day is very tiring you know.

Neil Quigley

During my final full day I just repeated the previous day’s plan. Well if it is not broken do not fix it. For my final night there I went out and had a wonderful steak meal washed down with a couple of glasses of Spanish Red Wine. I then visited a couple of bars along the port that I had come to like, the first of which is called Sinatra’s. It is a nice and busy bar with friendly staff and good music. It has a decent feel to it.

My final stop was Joy’s. It is a live music bar. Earlier in the week I saw a great female solo performer there. This time I was there a bit later and the place was packed. I managed to see two different acts. They both had the whole place rocking! There are pictures of some of the famous people who have visited the place on the wall. These include Cilla Black, Anthony Joshua and Vinnie Jones. Which I am sure you will agree is quite a combination.

The next day I just had time to grab a final few hours of sunshine by the pool. Before it was time to lock the place up and head back to England. I had a brilliant few days. The apartment was quality, the weather was great. Plus the actual place itself was friendly and lots of fun with plenty going on there. I would definitely go back again for a break ,if I ever get the chance. And finally it is always nice to return from somewhere with a bit of tan to.

Puerto Banus

I must confess to being a pretty regular listener to Radio 2 and in particular Ken Bruce. He lives near me and I have occasionally seen him at my local train station. I am a big quiz and music fan. Therefore I do obviously enjoy his daily competition Popmaster. Last Monday the Radio Academy put on a Popmaster live event hosted by the man himself at a bar in London. I managed to get myself a ticket to it.

Neil Quigley Presenter
Neil Quigley Presenter

On my way to the venue I bumped into the radio legend that is Tony Blackburn, who was also going. I heard him before I saw him as let us face it that voice is quite recognisable. Also at the event were Trevor Nelson, Stephanie Hirst and of course the Popmaster himself Ken Bruce. I saw lots of people I knew there including the fantastic Nigel Mitchell. Who has been on This Morning and Heart. He is such a nice fella it was great to catch up with him.

Popmaster Live

I met up with the rest of my team at our table, then after a chat over a drink. It was time to knuckle down and play part one of the game. It was pretty high tech. Each team had an I-pad on which to answer the questions. Well it was until round four when this system went down and we had to revert to good old fashioned pen and paper. We were doing alright and at the half way point. We were joint third. There was an interval for a comfort break and to get another drink before we returned to the serious pop related business in hand.

You only had fifteen seconds to answer each question. All of them related to a piece of music they played which in a busy bar with a limited amount of speakers made it quite hard to hear from time to time. But we felt we were doing pretty well. The penultimate round was really tough, but we thought we had done alright on the last set of questions. Then it was time to announce the top three. We did not honestly think we had a chance. Then they announced the winning team name and it was us, much to our surprise.

We had won Popmaster in a room full of radio people. So it was not like there was any fierce competition for this title. It felt great. We won tickets to a radio live event next month but even better than that the whole team had our picture taken with Ken Bruce. And I got to shake the great man’s hand. What scenes. It was a really fun night. I still cannot quite believe we won it, definitely a huge achievement, that I will be adding to my CV immediately.

Popmasters Winning Team

As I was at Marylebone station waiting for my train home at the end of the night I bumped in to Ken Bruce again and managed to have a quick chat to him. He is such a down to earth and lovely man. Which bearing in mind that he does the most listened to radio show in the country at the moment is a total credit to him. It was an honour to finally meet him. He is one of the finest broadcasters of all time.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I went to see the new Les Miserables Staged Concert at the Gielgud Theatre in London with my sister last Wednesday. Tickets were it is fair to say pretty hard to get hold of, as it is only running for a very limited time. But I managed it and was curious to see the show to see how it would work. The cast assembled for it was of course amazing. They have all been involved with the long running West End version of the show at some point or another.

Les Miserables

The night I was in John Owen-Jones was Jean Valjean, Michael Ball was Javert and Carrie Hope Fletcher was Fantine, which is not bad for starters. But then you also have Matt Lucas and Katy Secombe as Thenardier and Madame Thenardier respectively, so you really do have a stellar cast up on the stage. Add to that the closeness of the venue and the fact that most people there were die-hard fans of the show. And what you get is an electric and amazing atmosphere in the place.

The whole cast were sensational. There are of course so many big and powerful well known anthems in it. All of which were performed perfectly. We had brilliant seats in the fourth row of the stalls, so got totally involved in it all. Some of the applause breaks during it at the end of songs were longer than the applause that I have seen at the close of other shows. It was all expertly put together, a very slick and smooth production. At the end the company of course got a big well deserved standing ovation. I am so pleased that I got to witness it for myself.

Les Miserables

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

I’ll Be There For You

I have always been a Tottenham Hotspur fan. The first game I ever saw was a Spurs side play Wycombe Wanderers at their old Loakes Park ground in a testimonial match. My team won comfortably with a hat-trick from Paul Walsh. Although I of course remained a Spurs fan, after this trip to see the “Chairboys”. I decided to go and watch them more often, as they were based nearer to where I lived at the time.

At this point they were still in the Vauxhall Conference. And had a light blue home kit which weirdly is similar to the brand new Spurs third kit. Anyway I ended up watching the Wanderers regularly in my teens. In fact I was a season ticket holder there for a couple of seasons. I have always kept an eye on their results and still go and see them occasionally.

As it happens as well as my Dad and Mum both being season ticket holders. A friend of mine who I used to work with at Wembley is also a Wycombe fan. We went along to see them play Southend United a couple of weeks ago. They have actually had quite a decent start to the season and came from behind to win the game three-two in the last minute. I cannot fault the excitement factor they provided.

We did predictably bump into my parents after the game. There are two drummers amongst the Blues singing fans who provide a beat all through the game, although it does add to the atmosphere. I am not particularly a lover of it. But on the plus side they serve my favourite beer Rebellion at the ground. Therefore I would not rule out another trip there before the season is over.

Wycombe Wanderers

It was brilliant to be back at Mix 96 for the day the other Thursday. I was helping them with their coverage from The Bucks County Show. I have been involved in many of these big productions over the years normally on air from the showground myself. But this time I was in the studio pressing all the buttons for the legend that is Mr Nathan Cooper.

I have presented countless programmes from that studio, so it was great to be back in there once again. I felt very much at home. It was fun as ever to work with Nathan and the rest of the team there. This year it is the radio station’s twenty fifth-birthday. Richard Carr, who I used to work with there has just produced a documentary, that I am delighted to feature in.

Neil Quigley

He has released part one. Which I have seen and which is absolutely brilliant. He has also put out a version of the first song played on the station when it launched ABBA’s Dancing Queen with some current and former employees me included grooving along to it. That is epic! Next Saturday there is a Mix 96 Reunion which will also include the premier of Part two of the documentary. I am looking forward to this event. It will be great fun, I am sure.

Neil Quigley

I paid my first ever visit to the Regents Park Open Air Theatre to see their production of Evita. Firstly you will not find a nicer walk to any venue. Than the greenery and scenery you get when strolling to this one. Secondly when you arrive you will find a quality restaurant and a couple of decent bar areas at your disposal. I did my classic thing of a glass of red wine before the show with the same beverage ordered ready for the interval.

Regents Park Open Air Theatre

I was not sure what to expect. I did correctly guess that they would have very limited scenery options and that they would have to be a bit creative with their story telling. The stage itself was pretty basic and made up of lots of steps. All it had on it was Evita in huge letters. There were normal outside event seats fitted but you can also pay to sit on the grass banks to watch. I had a proper seat on the forth row with a perfect view of the stage.

I really enjoyed the show and thought it was brilliant. It had quite a dark and rustic feel to it, which I liked. The cast were fantastic. The costumes were on the whole pretty low-key and basic compared to the normal versions of this musical that I have seen. The lack of sets does not affect the story or your ability to follow and keep up with the narrative. There were some unexpected and you could possibly argue slightly odd interpretations of some parts of the story. But I liked it. And it was performed expertly.

The sound system is faultless. The music and singing so clear. You really could not fault it at all for entertainment. With it being outside they can really raise the pyrotechnic stakes compared to in a normal theatre, which they do. I have just about recovered from the huge explosion right at the start of the performance. They also use a lot of smoke and flares to add to the drama of this classic tale. Along with a clever use of the lighting. I would certainly go and see another show there next summer.

Regents Park Open Air Theatre

My mum has recently celebrated her 70th Birthday. I spent the day with her, which was lovely. We visited a local church, as she wanted to see the grave of one set of her grandparents. We then went for a nice leisurely walk. Before a snack at a chocolate cafe, as a reward for the exercise we had just done and to mark this huge occasion with some cake.

Neil Quigley

In the evening we opened a bottle of bubbles to toast her special day and ordered a huge Chinese Takeaway. We then finished the night by watching the first episode of the new series of QI. Which is fittingly titled Q. This was actually one that I was at the filming of as well, so we spent half the time trying to spot me in the audience. I hope my mum thoroughly enjoyed herself. She does seem to do alright in life. She seems to be out almost as much as I am. That is a pretty decent achievement.

London River Cruise

I am a horse racing fan and try to get to a lot of the big meetings. It is something I first did when I was living and working in Somerset. You cannot beat a nice day out at the races. Recently I have bought a few shares in a fairly young horse called Stage Star through the Owners Group. They have lots of horses with different trainers offering the chance to buy shares in them for a year at a time.

Stage Star and Neil Quigley

As well as sending you regular updates and videos of the horse. They organise open days at the stables and also at a place they own called Equiprep. This is where mainly the horses go to rest and relax when they are not in training, kind of like a little holiday place. But it is also somewhere they are conditioned and built up so they are sent back to the trainers ready and raring to go and in excellent condition.

I went to one of the Open Days there last Sunday. I got to see Stage Star paraded in the arena and in his stable. It was the first time that I had seen him in the flesh and he looked great. He will be kept there for a few months before he is returned to his trainer Paul Nicholls. He is only three years old and is not expected to run in a race until next year, probably not until the autumn. But I am really looking forward to seeing him develop and to see what he can do.

Stage Star

While at Equiprep we also got to look around the Paddocks where the horses spend the days playing and grazing. Everybody was so friendly. It was great to meet some fellow owners there. I learnt a lot about how horses are looked after, selected and trained. Plus quite a few simple facts about them, like for instance they use their necks for balance. As well as my horse I got to see many other wonderful horses a few of which I remember seeing race. It was a lovely and an interesting couple of hours. It is going to be an exciting involvement. I think.

Stage Star

Like most of my generation I am a fan of the iconic American comedy Friends. Comedy Central is pretty much the home of the show now, as they show it seemingly not stop during the day. For the last few years they have been running an event called “FriendsFest”. Up until now only in London and Manchester. But this year they have added a venue in Milton Keynes. I went along to it with my sister last week to have a look around.

The location for it was Willem Lake. Happily one thing they already have there is plenty of car parking places, as we were driving this made finding a space pretty easy. The whole event is mostly one big photo opportunity with your chance to recreate classic moments from the show. As you walk in you can have your picture taken in a photo frame dressed in known outfits from the show while holding famous quotes from it.


Next to that you can recreate the floating heads at Monica’s door. They do of course have a replica Central Perk with the till area, the famous sofa and Phoebe’s performance area. They also offer you the chance to stage your own Ross and Rachel Vegas Wedding pictures in the appropriate outfits.

Just along from this is your chance to be in the title sequence on the sofa by the waterfall. They give you this in a seven second video with the music. Which to be honest is pretty cool. In another part you also have the chance to have your photo taken with the Umbrella’s and the Sofa. Again like the titles.


Next your chance to shout “Pivot” as you pretend to take the Sofa up the stairs recreating that classic scene with Ross. You can have a go in Phoebe’s taxi and witness someone performing all her classic songs in the coffee shop. They show clips from Friends on the big screen. Plus you are never very far away from hearing the strains of The Rembrandts title tune.

Finally they have three complete replica sets for you to get pictures in. These are Joey and Chandlers place, Monica’s apartment and of course Ross’s flat. They have done a good job everything you saw in the show is on this set. It really does feel like you are hanging out in these rooms. It was a good fun day out. I have not taken that many pictures anywhere for a very long time. I had a big smile on my face pretty much the whole time I was there. Great fun!


I went to see the latest touring version of The Rocky Horror Picture Show recently. The last time I saw it must have been at least sixteen years ago. Jonathan Wilkes was starring as Frank n Furter. I went to see it with Richard Carr when I was working at Mix 96. I remember enjoying it, so I am not sure why it has taken me a decade and an half to see it again.

It was on at the Wycombe Swan, as it was the previous time. One of the reasons I like this theatre at the moment is that they now serve my favourite beer Rebellion IPA. On arrival I had a pint and instantly ordered the same again ready for the interval. It is certainly one of the stranger musicals and I think even Richard O’Brien would also accept this. Few others have the audience participation and also the outfits that this one does.

Wycombe Swan

The cast included Joanne Clifton, Stephen Webb and Philip Franks. Joanne of course is a former winner of Strictly Comes Dancing and now an established stage musical performer. I thought she was ace in the role of Janet. She can dance like no other, sing and act, she has it all. Stephen Webb was brilliant as the corset wearing Transvestite Scientist. I bet that role is lots of fun to play. And Phillip Franks who is probably still best known for The Darling Buds of May was a spot on Narrator bantering with audience and sounding the part. The rest of the cast were fabulous to.

I had a great time and really enjoyed it. Plus I can confirm that I can still remember and perform perfectly every single move of the Time Warp. You never lose it! It is a crazy show and fair play to the many people who come dressed up as the characters. I will try not to leave it quite so long until I see this one again. It was another quality night out at the theatre.

Rocky Horror Show

I am off to see Tottenham play Crystal Palace this afternoon. I will be honest our season has not started quite as well as I would have liked. But that is what supporting a team is all about the highs and the lows pleasure and pain. We have not really got going properly yet despite draws away at Manchester City and Arsenal. I am pleased with the Champions League draw. I look forward once again to watching us play in this competition. They are always great nights.

Neil Quigley

Tomorrow I am going to Radio 2’s Festival in a Day at Hyde Park. I went last year and it was brilliant, so I am really looking forward to doing it again. Fingers crossed the weather is kind to us. I will tell you how it went next time we speak.

Radio 2 Hyde Park
Radio 2 Hyde Park

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