Tag Archives: BGT

The Game of Life

The end of the summer and the transition to the autumn can be a difficult time. The days are getting shorter and the weather colder. Not to mention a lot wetter at the moment. What you need at this time of the year is a day out with your mates. Which is handy as this is when the now annual boys’ day out at the Ascot Beer Festival and Racing Weekend occurs.

Now in its third year, it is very much an established event. The first time we went we just got normal admission tickets before we found out that for an extra five pounds we could get into the King Edward VII Enclosure, if we wore a suit. As this is the only racing event that we can get anywhere near these facilities, we now do this. It gives us all an excuse to dress up for the occasion.

It is always something I look forward to, as there are not many times during the year nowadays that we all get to spend the day together having a laugh and of course a couple of drinks. I was staying at one of their houses, so we arrived together and met the rest of them at the entrance. There had been a slight issue the previous year when one of the group had not got a tie, happily there were no such issues this time.

Ascot 2019

Apart from the six horse races, there is as the name suggests a Beer Festival to. They do have an impressive selection of Ales and Ciders there. Fortunately for me they had my favourite IPA there from the Marlow Brewery Rebellion. I did manage to have a couple of glasses of that while I was there, which was a nice bonus. I also managed to introduce it to my friends, which was good.

We all had a pretty successful day. All of us won some money back at some point during the afternoon. I must admit it did not seem quite as busy as previous years but that just made it easier for us to get around the place and get served. After the racing was over we went to one of the pubs on Ascot High Street for a bit before all calling it a day and heading home.

Ascot is a wonderful course and it was another fantastic day out. It is always great to properly catch up with good friends, which generally means you spend the entire day laughing, as we did. Unfortunately a few people could not make it this year, which was a real shame. But I hope they will be able to next year, when we do it all over again. As rest assured this staple in the calendar will be back in 2020.

Ascot 2019

Talking of catching up with people my cousin and I had been trying to meet up for months. We both work in London a lot so the plan was to see each other there. However every time he was in town I was not and vice versa. After four months of missing each other we ended up having a quick drink in my local Wine Bar.

It does seem so hard to try to make appointments to see people currently. It did seem easier to do so before mobile phones and now social media, possibly because if you wanted to talk privately to someone the only way was to see them in person.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I had not done this for a while but the other week I got invited once again to help a Production Company with the development of a new quiz show. It is always a fun thing to do. I go to their offices and act as a contestant, so they can see how a new idea works and so they can I guess give it a robust test with an “outsider” playing the game. I am quite a decent general knowledge quizzer, if I do say so myself. I have a lot of useless information stored in my brain, which does seem to be handy in these situations.

As this idea is still in development and they are trying to sell it to TV companies to get it made and on our screens. Obviously I cannot say too much about it. The show does involve teams. It is a clever idea in which the audience and people watching at home can all play along. Gaby Roslin hosted it and is actually involved in the development of it. It was fantastic to meet her, she was lovely, a total professional. I have been a big fan since Motormouth and The Big Breakfast. I may be going back to see them again soon. But I cannot say anymore at this point. If anything comes of it, I will let you know.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

We are well and truly into the latest series of Newsjack on BBC 4 Extra. It is the topical comedy radio show that anybody can write for. I have had material on it myself in the past. I would recommend that you give it a go if you enjoy writing comedy.

They are very good at using it to help new and upcoming talent to progress. It is currently presented by Kiri Pritchard- Mclean who is doing an excellent job. If you have never heard of it give it a listen.

BBC Radio Theatre
BBC Radio Theatre

I did not watch the whole thing but I did see quite a bit of Britain’s Got Talent “The Champions”. Which featured seemingly random acts from the UK versions past, as well as its sister shows from all over the world. There were no public votes towards it. The winners of each heat and the final were chosen by a specially selected group among the audience, which in equal measure seemed sensible and odd. There were a lot of people I had completely forgotten about on it, who re-appeared. One of which became the eventual winners.

It did just highlight how certain types of acts seem to fair better in that environment than others. It proved once again how hard it is for comedians to stand out and be successful in these kinds of variety shows. I am not sure why this is, but singers, dancers and even the novelty acts seem to fair better and stand more chance of winning over the audience.

One thing that it did prove for me is that when they next do the normal BGT. They can just put the best performers through to the semi-finals and not worry about the out there and strange acts. I know why they do it, to mix the shows up and give everybody who is thinking of auditioning the following year some hope. But what “The Champions” version proved is that people will accept more of the same type of acts in the same line up, as long as they are the best of the best.

I like Twist and Pulse a lot and feel they were of course deserving winners but if you look at the quality acts that did not even make the final including Paul Zerdin, Paul Potts and Jack Carroll. All of whom have carved out very steady careers. You have to question how good this process is for finding and promoting the best acts. It does seem that statistically the BGT audience does favour a certain type of act or is it the previously held suspicion that an interesting back story can help an act to go sometimes may be a little bit further than they should.

BGT London
BGT London

I am once again enjoying a bit of Strictly Come Dancing this year. It is a very well produced programme. Visually there is possibly not much that compares to it from a live perspective. The bond the celebrities build with their dancer is a beautiful thing to witness in itself.

The first two celebrities have left and to be honest so far it has been spot on. They were clearly the two worst dancers on the nights they went out. Last week was a shame as I really like Anneka Rice but her performance sadly was not very good. It is a real shame to lose Kevin Clifton so early, as I think he is a terrific dancer and choreographer.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I went to see The Man in the White Suit at the Wyndam’s Theatre in London last week. A new version of a classic comedy play. It is very fast paced and there is a lot going on to enjoy and digest. This new take includes original songs written by Charlie Fink from the band Noah and the Whale.

It stars the wonderful Stephen Mangan in the title role. He is excellent in it and works very hard for his cash. There is a fair bit of physical comedy and running around from him as the story unfolds.

The Man in the White Suit

It also features the fantastic Kara Tointon. She is brilliant and puts in a top performance. Plus she gets to display some of her dance skills that served her so well on Strictly. She is a great dancer. Then you also have the legend that is Sue Johnston. She plays her role expertly and gives a masterclass in comedy timing. The whole of the cast are quality and bring this very silly, yet very clever comedy to life getting plenty of big laughs.

The songs in it fit perfectly with the time it was set plus are really catchy, which works well. There are lots of classic” scene” set ups that are executed with such precision. It is not quite a farce. It is probably just a step up from that. But it is lots of fun, if you fancy a giggle and I guess a more old fashioned type of comedy show with an excellent cast. Then go and see it. It is a joyous experience.

The Man in the White Suit

I am a season ticket holder at Tottenham Hotspur. We are not having a brilliant time at the moment. I was at the Stadium in my normal seat when we were beaten seven-two by Bayern Munich in the Champions League. Needless to say that is the worst defeat I have ever seen in person. In general our results and performances this season have been very up and down. I was hoping the next league game after the European disaster would see us bounce right back. However we produced the worse display that I have seen for years and deservedly lost that game to.

It is a tough time for the team at the minute. I am a hoping that when the going gets tough, the tough get going. And we can show the fight and character we need to get out of this situation to improve our current position. I have supported this team all my life, through the good times and the bad, the highs and the lows. I would not have it any other way or change anything. It is all just part of following your team. Enjoy the successes and manage the disappointments. Just like in real life. That said I am going to enjoy the current break for the Internationals more than usual this time.

Neil Quigley

A week tomorrow on Sunday 20th October my friend Mike Sterling is performing in the ace Stars of The West End show at the Kenton Theatre in Henley On Thames. He has an amazing voice and is a top quality performer.

As well as singing at my fortieth birthday party he has also played the Phantom of The Opera in the West End and the iconic Jean Valjean in Les Miserables.

Mike Sterling and Neil Quigley
Mike Sterling and Neil Quigley

The rest of the cast have all performed in some huge productions in London to. There are four of them in total. They will be doing the big numbers from shows such as Phantom, Les Miserables, Evita, Chess, Grease, Cats, We Will Rock You and many more. There are actually two performances on the day. I have seen this show several times before and it is sensational.

There are also VIP Tickets on offer which include front row seats, a drink, a two course meal and a meet and greet with the cast. I will be there and I am really looking forward to it. The live West End band is conducted by Douglas Waugh, who is only Sir Tim Rice’s Musical Director. For more information and ticket details just follow the link here. https://kentontheatre.co.uk/event/stars-of-the-west-end/

Stars of The West End

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

Dungeons and Add On’s

It has been another roller coaster of a fortnight. I have as ever been pretty busy. As in all of our lives, some things have gone to plan and others have not. But more on that later. I hope you have had a fun and interesting couple of weeks. Last month I was in Rome looking at some ancient and historic buildings. And more recently I was just down the motorway from my home. Visiting one that was originally used by none other than William The Conqueror.

I went to Warwick Castle for the first time. It is only about an hour or so away from me. So I am not sure why it had taken me so long to go there. I met a friend of mine there. We parked in a public car park in the town centre. Right next to a lovely park. Which had a nice cafe, a splash pool and a mini golf course. None of which we actually used. As we did not really have the time for it. Before we went to the main attraction. We had lunch in a quality local pub in the town. Never go exploring on an empty stomach. That is my motto.

It was about a seven minute walk up to the castle entrance from the pub. Luckily it was a gloriously sunny day. I had bought the tickets in advance online. As it was slightly cheaper. Martin Lewis would have been proud of me. Once we got inside. The first thing we did was go to the main part of the Castle. Where we climbed the highest tower. Using the very narrow and winding staircase. Which at one point I must admit I did not think was ever going to end. On the way back down I managed to catch my head on the stone door frame. Which I can confirm did hurt a little. I am so clumsy.

Warwick Castle

As well the standard general entrance ticket. I had also pre-booked us on the Dungeon Experience. Which I thought was just a look at the Dungeons. Where you could see exhibits and learn about what went on there. That was not quite the case. I had booked us on it for 2pm. We arrived there on time and were shown through to a waiting area. There a member of staff, then came out and said we were the only two booked on it. And it is much better to do it in larger groups. Would we be prepared to wait until 2.30pm and go with the next lot? We said yes, no problem.

But then they sent two more people down to us. Who wanted to do it there and then. They were a mother and her young son. I should caveat this with the fact. That I am not a fan of horror films, spooky or scary stuff. I say this, as by this point it became apparent. That it was an interactive show. And there would be some scary bits during it. So the four of us set off. After being invited into the court yard by a Jester. Who got it all started with some terrible jokes. And warned us of what lay ahead of us.

We were shown in to the first pitch black room. Suddenly out of the dark and out of nowhere a white faced figure appears in front of us. This causes my friend scream out loud. Making me jump. A few more other surprise moments occur. Then as we are getting ready to leave this room. The little lad is now so scared. He wants to leave. Him and his mum are taken out. Leaving just us two, alone. For the rest of the performance. We were both pretty scared. And wanted to leave. But it had started now. And I thought it would be a little unfair on all the waiting actors. If we went. So we continued.

I said this was an interactive experience. The bloke before we went in had said it would be better in a bigger group. And he was right. As I was picked on in every single room. I had my vital organs removed by a rogue doctor. I was tortured. Then executed. And finally appeared in court. Before being sentenced to death. I mean it really was not my day. As I was in the performance at every part. I almost asked for a credit and a fee at the end. There was some more screaming from my friend at the end. But I stayed surprising cool. Or I was possibly just too scared to scream.

I will be honest it was not the sort of thing I would usually do. And if I had realised what it had involved. I would probably not have booked it. But I thought it was very cleverly done. It was pretty educational and it definitely made me jump a few times. I think it is quite a new attraction there. But probably not suitable for any young or nervous children.

Warwick Castle

After the Dungeons we had a nice walk around some of the gardens. We also saw a bit of the Birds Of Prey show. Which I must say was very impressive. The size of some of the birds, that they have there.

We had a sit down in the Peacock Garden. Which was a very relaxing end to the visit. It was great fun. And I would go there again. As they often have different special themed weekends and events.

Britain’s Got Talent

I managed to watch most of the Britain’s Got Talent Semi-Finals and the Final. There was a nice variety of acts in it. However I do still feel they do not really need some of the novelty performers. By that last stage. I always feel some of them take up places. That other people who also got four yes’s could fill. Which could improve the overall standard of the show. And actually make the live shows much more competitive. I managed to predict the top three acts virtually every single night.

I did think a few acts actually hindered their own chances. By some of the choices. That they made with their performances. Impressive though it is performing your own song. I do always think the general public will respond better to a song they know. Either done well or with a slight twist or individual stamp put on it. I think that ploy may well have cost Chapter 13 a place in the final at least. Also I did love all the magic acts. But in the Semi-Finals four of them all basically did the same trick. Just in a slightly different way.

I have not particularly liked the fashion this year to use the judges as part of the performance. They are there to watch it and decide what they think of it. That is harder to do when you are actually in it. Plus Simon Cowell walking off when asked to Can Can. Should never have been allowed to happen. Unless it was a publicity stunt for the show. Which they are known for to get press coverage. And that may have been the thinking behind it.

I have never met Simon. But I could of told you that he would be well out of his comfort zone. And flatly refuse to do it on stage. So surely the producers of the show must have known that. Yet they still went ahead with it. If you are trying to win something. Trying to humiliate one of the judges seems an odd way of going about it. And even if it was suggested to the act. They should have said no and refused.

BGT London
BGT London

I was delighted for the winner Chelsea Pensioner Colin Thackery. It was actually heart warming and encouraging that people voted for him. And he can really sing. You cannot argue with that. I thought his performances were great. What an amazing man. You will not find a more humble winner either. The best of luck to him. The exposure of reaching the final will help a lot of the other acts to. It will give them a lift. Or at least get them more gigs, if they already do what they do professionally.

The judges are basically the ultimate dysfunctional family. The way they argue and bicker with each other. Ant and Dec are the men you need at the helm of that madness. From dealing with the contestants to the judges. They are basically producing and directing that show from on stage, as well as presenting it. Far from an easy show to hold together and keep on track. Great job as ever, fellas.

Applications are already open for next year. I wonder if any of this years semi-finalists are thinking of coming back next year. But with a mask on like X did!

Mix 96

The other week I had a fun morning doing some filming in Aylesbury with an old friend. Mix 96 celebrated its twenty-fifth birthday earlier this year in April. I was at the radio station for around seven years in two spells. I was born there and loved presenting on my local station. Richard Carr, who I worked with at Mix 96. And who is now the man behind Bucks TV is currently making a documentary to mark the big occasion.

I met up with him for a cup of tea and a chat first. It was lovely to catch up with him and talk about old times. I cannot lie working in radio is great fun. But the most amusing and sometimes funniest things often happen off air. And behind the scenes.

So it was great to swap stories and reminisce about the old days. Fair play to him. He has managed to get a lot of former employees from the station, all together for this project. Including somebody, who now works on Breakfast television.

Victoria Pendleton and Neil Quigley
Victoria Pendleton and Neil Quigley

After we were both fully refreshed. We went to film my bits outside the Waterside Theatre. I just talked about my memories of Mix 96, how I got to be on air there and any stories I could remember from my time there. I do really enjoy doing things to camera.

Hopefully I supplied Richard with enough good footage. And will make the final edit. He is currently still working on it. I will let you know when it is completed. And how you can see it. I cannot wait to see it. I hope I get an invite to its Premiere.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Last Saturday night it was the Champions League Final. Over the last few years I had not been too bothered about it. But this year I had been looking forward to it for nearly a month. Simply because my team Tottenham Hotspur had made it to the final. For the first time in our history.

After the madness of the way we got past Manchester City and Ajax. I was just delighted to be there. For the first time since 2008. There were two English teams in the final. With Liverpool our opponents. After they got past Lionel Messi and Barcelona in their semi-final.

Tottenham Hotspur

As this was such a huge and historic match for my team. I had really wanted to get to Madrid for it. But although I am now a season ticket holder. I did not have anywhere near enough points to qualify for a Spurs ticket.

Which by the way, I am fine with. The fans who have had these tickets for years and who go to all the away games. Rightly have the most points and therefore deserve to go. I must confess, I was so desperate to go. I did look at a few secondary ticket websites. But they were all charging way too much. And seemed a bit dubious to me. So I did not risk buying one.

It was shocking how the airlines raised the flight prices. The week before and the week after the game. You could get a return flight to Madrid for around one hundred pounds. To fly there and back over the final weekend. It would have cost you over a grand. Which was also about the going rate for one night in an half decent hotel in the Spanish capital.

A few of the people I know went there with the travel company associated with the club. They flew in on the day and out straight after the game. This was fairly reasonably priced. But I understand it was not very well organised. There was lots of delays and confusion. Which is a big shame for such a special event for the fans. Who just wanted to enjoy the occasion.

As I could not get to Madrid. I figured the next best place to watch it was at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. The club decided to hold a screening there. They were selling the tickets for ten pounds. And managed to sell the whole place out. Which to basically sit and see the match on giant televisions is pretty impressive.

Tottenham Hotspur

I optimistically booked a hotel in London. As I did not want to have to rush home, if I was celebrating. Plus if we won. There was to be a bus parade on the Sunday afternoon. And I did not want to miss that.

The atmosphere as I walked down the Tottenham High Road from Seven Sisters tube station was electric. The closer that you got to the ground. The louder and more spine tingling all the singing and chanting was. I got in the ground nice and early and met a friend in there.

We had a pint and a pie before the game. Then we made our way out to sit in our normal season ticket seats. To watch the teams walk out. As well as the four screens in the corners. They had also put an extra six giant screens on the pitch. So we had a good view of the action.

Neil Quigley

As the teams walked out. The noise in the ground was deafening. This was our first ever Champions League Final. I was nervous and excited. The game kicked off to a massive cheer. Then twenty five seconds later. There is silence and confusion as Liverpool are given a penalty for handball.

Which though, I appreciate I am not exactly a neutral. I thought was very harsh. Moussa Sissoko was pointing to his team mates. While closing down the Liverpool striker. The ball then hits his chest, then bounces down his arm. Which I do not think he can help. I have no idea how that can possibly be deemed as deliberate hand ball. The Reds scored from the spot. And we were instantly one down.

The game was pretty poor. I do not know if that was due to the three week break between the end of the Premier League and this game. Or that with Liverpool scoring so quickly. They were just happy to sit back, let us have possession. And then let us try to break them down. We were one down still at half time.

My mate and I watched the second half in a bar at the Stadium. Spurs huffed and puffed and had a few chances. Which if they had taken one of them. Could have made things a bit more interesting, But as it was, Liverpool grabbed a well taken second late on. Which killed us off. And meant they went on to win the game and claim the trophy.

Tottenham Hotspur

It was obviously disappointing to lose in such a big final. But for the team to even get there was a magnificent achievement. It has been a roller coaster of a season with highs and lows. We have won and lost games in the last minute. We have suffered lots of injuries this year. And had to play technically all of our games away. Until the last few months of the season.

Tottehham Hotspur
Tottehham Hotspur

I am so proud of the players, the coaching staff and the fans for what they have all done this year. It has been great. It is time now to have a rest. And come back stronger and even hungrier next season. Come on you Spurs.

I did stay for a few more drinks with all the fans after the game. For a season debrief. Then I made my way back to the hotel. It had a very nice bar. That was open until 2am. And had top live DJ’s playing. So I thought it would be rude not to have a drink in there. Before I went back to my room via the space and galaxy decorated lifts. To get a bit of sleep.

Neil Quigley

I went to see the musical The Book Of Mormon for the second time last Tuesday. And once again I really enjoyed it. It is written by the people behind the popular television adult cartoon South Park.

So it really does not pull any punches and it is packed full of swear words. Which I guarantee you will hear in very few other theatre shows. It had a bit of a shock factor the first time I saw it. But I was of course prepared for it this time.

The Book Of Mormon

As well as being very funny. It is quite a clever show. It takes a look at religion and beliefs. As you may have guessed from the title. It takes them apart and then kind of puts them back together. And although the religion in its title were not overly pleased. When it launched. It does not really offend. Plus there is a worrying amount of truths in it. The cast are fantastic. And there are so many weird and wonderful little bits of mischief in it to.

It is not meant to change the world or your views on it. Basically it is a bit of fun. I guess in a way it is a modern version of a Life of Brian. It does have some really good and catchy songs in it to. It has now been running at the same theatre in London for over six years. If you get the chance. I think it is worth seeing. Plus the Rioja they serve in The Prince of Wales Theatre is very nice.

The Book Of Mormon

I am looking forward to seeing the Spice Girls at Wembley Stadium with my sister this week. It will be the third time that I have seen the ladies live. And they always put on a really good show. I will tell you all about it next time.

Neil Quigley

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

Check Mate

Hi there, how are you doing? I hope you have had a really good couple of weeks. Mine have been busy and fun. I have to say I could not believe it, that my mate Ben Langley did not make it through to
at least the Semi-final stages of Britain’s Got Talent. Sadly exactly what I feared occurred. He was not selected in that last show where they have to whittle down all the people that they said yes to. To the actual number of places available in the live shows. That was despite him getting four yes’s and a standing ovation from the judges.

I was a little bit concerned that this might happen to him. The reason for that is that he was shown very early on in his episode. He was not interviewed before. They did not really give us any of his back story. But later in the same programme a few of the acts who also got put through received this treatment. Probably a total coincidence but at least a couple of these did make it through to the semi-finals.

I appreciate I might well be a bit biased with him being a friend. But I have seen him perform a lot over the last ten years. And I would say that he can offer a lot more variety and potential than some of the people who made it through. Mentioning no names Opera Cake eating lady. They always put a few quirky and odd acts through to the finals. It does make the show more interesting. Although it is a little frustrating when this is sometimes done at the expense of the talented individuals.

Ben Langley
Ben Langley

Ben has toured with Joe Pasquale, Cannon and Ball and supported Paul Zerdin on his one man show. He was in the Detectorists, albeit briefly and is on CBeebies. Therefore I concede that he is not exactly unknown. Which is may be what they think the show is about.

But Lost Voice Guy, who I love and who truly deserved to win it. Actually won the BBC New Comedy Award a few years ago,  so he was hardly plucked from obscurity either. That said I think he will be excellent at the Royal Variety Performance. I must also say well done to the ace Dec. Who did brilliant job hosting it. Those opening numbers that he was doing were epic.

It was nice to see Ben getting some encouragement and words of support from the legend that is Bobby Ball on his Facebook page. He is currently performing his Ben Langley show all other country. He will be in Pantomime again. As he has been every year since I have known him. Plus he may well tour the UK with his Ha Ha plays again. What I am saying is keep an eye out for him. If you get the chance go and see him in action. You will have a fun and entertaining time.

Ha Ha Hood
Ha Ha Hood

I have to confess owing to the fact I am genuinely so busy. I like to plan things in advance and normally have very structured weeks. I often know what I am doing months in advance. But occasionally something out of the blue and spontaneous will occur. Which is always great fun.

This happened the other week. I was at work when I noticed via social media. That one of my best friends and his wife were out in London at my favourite pub. I knew they were celebrating their 10th Anniversary. But I had not seen them both for a while, so I messaged them to see if they fancied a drink with me.

I finished work and had not heard anything back. I was walking to Marylebone Train Station. When my phone rang. It was my mate’s wife seeing where I was and if I was still up for a drink. The answer was yes I am and I am on my way to you now. Luckily I know a nice little pub just round the corner. We met up there and had a great catch up over a few drinks.

It was brilliant to see them and we had a lovely time chatting and laughing. I did feel a little bit guilty about gate crashing their day. But I was there the first time they ever met. Therefore I felt that it was perfectly acceptable for me to be with them. We got the train home together. Then said our goodbyes. It was a wonderful impromptu way to end the working day.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Last week I went and saw the latest West End production of Chess. It was only on for a limited run, so I was pleased that I did manage to catch it. It is written by Tim Rice with music and lyrics also supplied by Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus of ABBA fame. It was first performed in London in 1986. This latest version was at the London Coliseum.

Chess
Chess

One of the main reasons I wanted to see this show was because of the cast. That they had assembled for it. I have been a long time fan of Michael Ball. But had never had the chance to see him on stage. He was playing one of the lead roles. Alongside a man reprising the role that he had played in the original production Murray Head. Ball plays the Russian and Head the American.

The two female leads were also great. One whom I had seen perform before and the other who I had been trying to see for a while. They were Cassidy Janson and Alexandra Burke. I saw Cassidy when she was playing Carole King in Beautiful and she was sensational in that. Alexandra had been on The One Show when I was there once. But she showed off her dancing not her singing that evening.

I thoroughly enjoyed this version of Chess. The staging was very clever and involved a lot of video images on big screens with live cameras on stage to capture the footage. The music and songs are fantastic. As you would fully expect from the people who are behind them. The whole cast were totally amazing.

Michael Ball was exceptional. His voice is just immense. When he is on that stage belting out those songs. He is a truly terrific performer. Murray Head was brilliant to. In a role he has really made his own. I particularly enjoyed him doing One Night In Bangkok. A song he had a number twelve hit with in the UK.

Cassidy Janson was just ridiculously good. Her voice is like velvet and her acting is faultless. She is just such a good all round star. I love watching her on stage. Alexandra Burke also blew me away from her first song. She proved what a amazing singer and performer she is. It made the whole theatre sit up and pay attention.

I have already mentioned one of the two best known songs from this musical. The other is performed by the two ladies. The two original leading ladies had a number hit with it in the eighties. They were Elaine Page and Barbara Dickson. The song I am talking about is “I Know Him So Well. Which is immaculately performed by Cassidy and Alexandra. Real goose bumps and hairs on the back of your neck standing up stuff.

I enjoyed the show and I was impressed by how good the cast were. But the reason this show has not had the longevity of other musicals, like Phantom of Opera for example. Is possibly due to the story not being quite strong enough. And it not containing enough poignant dramatic moments. I thought it was great and I am sure they will bring it back again in the future. It is I think quite amusing that the main American character’s surname is Trumper. Just as it was in the original.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I went to see James Acaster do a work in progress gig for his latest show at The Museum Of Comedy in London. It is a lovely little place. It only holds about eighty people. They have improved the bar area there recently. Which just makes it a bit easier to sit and have a drink before the entertainment starts.

As the name of the place suggests there are lots of historic comedy items and memorabilia dotted around the including a signed printed copy of the classic Two Ronnies “Four Candles” Sketch and an old Freddie Starr red stage jacket. Not to mention some Spitting Image masks and the back door from the Trotters three wheeler from Only Fools and Horses.

Museum of Comedy
Museum of Comedy

It was slightly odd when we walked into the performance room, as James was already on the stage waiting for us. I know it is a small venue and there is not a dressing room. But this is the first time I had experienced that. I am not sure if that was something new he was testing. Or if he could not be bothered to hide from us for the sake of it. Which I completely understand, to be honest.

He was trying out a lot of new stuff that may or may not make it into the finished and final polished show. He was also telling us about his weekend. To see if he could find any comedy value in it and get some future material from that. He is one of the top gigging comics around at the moment, really good.  His recent appearances on television panel shows have been brilliant to.

Neil Quigley Stand Up Comedy
Neil Quigley Stand Up Comedy

It was a fun evening seeing some comedy rounded off with a trip to Byron Burger. Which is pretty much my default burger restaurant. When I am in London. You know exactly what you are going to get there and their burgers are tasty.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Tottenham Hotspur have signed a deal with the Beavertown Brewery to be the official craft beer of their new stadium. Therefore I thought I better have a can of their Neck Oil Beer to wash my food down with. As an appreciation of the new connection with my football team.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I like most of the country on Bank Holiday Monday watched the last ever episode of Car Share. Peter Kay and Sian Gibson are both great in it. The story line works and makes total sense. The dialogue is top quality comedy. But as I have said previously. The thing I really love about it is the additional comedy from the radio station and the ace visual jokes. That have been getting better with every programme.

In the last show there were at least three things I spotted in the shot as the car was driving around that made me laugh out loud. Ranging from stickers on cars, to posters and shop signs. I would imagine that I missed lots of other gags. Some of those radio adverts are genius. I think he has ended it at the right time. As great creators and writers always do with these projects.

Neil Quigley in Car
Neil Quigley in Car

Yesterday I had my six monthly hospital appointment for my ears. I have had problems with them for the last three years. I am not sure if it is as a result of years of wearing headphones or of too many loud music gigs. But they do get quite bunged up. Therefore twice a year I have to go and have them basically hoovered out.

They have a special machine that can shall we say remove any debris from the area. It does make a weird noise and give you a slightly odd sensation, when it is happening. There is also a camera attached, so you can see what is going on. But as I am so squeamish. I try not to look. I always feel happier that I can hear much better after having it done. l am already booked in for my next appointment in December.

Neil Quigley Presenter
Neil Quigley Presenter

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

No Business Like Showbusiness

Hi there, how are you doing? I hope you have had a really good couple of weeks. Mine have been busy and lots of fun. A few months ago now I went to see my first ever Oscar Wilde play. I really enjoyed it. The Vaudeville Theatre in London this year are staging a season of his plays. The other week I treated myself to another one of his masterpieces “An Ideal Husband”.

Like the previous one I saw “Lady Windermere’s” Fan. Again this production featured a fantastic cast including Edward Fox, Freddie Fox, Frances Barber, Sally Bretton and Susan Hampshire. Having now seen two of his plays. He does appear to have had a fascination with the establishment and politics. Which he liked to explore and play with in his work. He was almost doing topical satire in his plays before it was invented. If he was still with us today. I reckon that he would be a regular guest on Have I Got News For You.

It is certainly not a new thing to say that he was ahead of his time. But some of his comical observations about society and politics are still relevant and applicable today. In fact some of the lines from this play could literally have been written about the last couple of years.

An Ideal Husband
An Ideal Husband

His plays seem to reflect everything that he was himself clever, witty and flamboyant. It is fair to say he is no Agatha Christie in the way he sets out the plot. You can fairly easily work out what is going to happen. But he certainly makes you laugh a lot more than she does.

He was also writing strong female characters in to his plays at a time when I would guess that was not necessarily the fashion. The cast were brilliant and the performance faultless. It was all done in a very traditional and vintage way. With a violinist coming on stage to play to the audience. While the scenery was being changed. As I imagine they would have when these plays were originally staged during the Victorian times.

I had another thoroughly enjoyable evening at the theatre watching this play. There are still more to come in the series. I am certainly not ruling out seeing another one. Any man who can go through customs claiming “I have nothing to declare but my genius” is alright with me. Although obviously set in the eighteen hundreds. The main story line of the play is a situation that could have possibly arisen in the last few years. Which does I believe make it a timeless classic.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I do watch a lot of live comedy but there are still loads of comedians that I want to see perform. But have not quite managed to yet. I did  tick another one off my list last week. I have liked Shappi Khorsandi since I saw her on Live at The Apollo. I interviewed her several years ago. When she was doing a gig locally to me. That I could not get along to unfortunately.

She was great to chat to back then and of course recently she has been on the latest series of I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here. Which is one of my favourite television programmes. Finally I got the chance to see her in action the other Thursday. She was doing her latest tour show Mistress and Misfit at the Soho Theatre in London.

It is such a great little theatre. The bar there is almost a bit of a meeting place for comedians. You will generally see faces you recognise. Either there supporting their mates or just relaxing after their own gigs there.

The show was brilliant, funny and smart. Plus it is not often you see a comedian walk out to “In The Navy” by the Village People. The great thing about the Soho Theatre. Is it is a place where people who really love their comedy go, so the audiences are friendly, respectful and well behaved. Therefore the comics can just relax and do their thing. I am glad I finally got round to seeing her. It was well worth the wait. A very entertaining evening spent laughing lots.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I was delighted and excited to see someone I know performing on Britain’s Got Talent last Saturday Night. I knew he was going to be on, so I tuned in especially. He did not disappoint. I thought he was absolutely brilliant. His name is Ben Langley. If you saw it, he did the act with the songs and cue cards featuring some genius misheard lyrics.

I first met Ben around fourteen years ago. When I was working at Ivel fm in Yeovil, Somerset. He was in pantomime at The Octagon Theatre, playing if my memory serves me right Buttons. He came in to the radio station with several other members of the show’s cast to be interviewed about it. Incidentally that cast also included the ace Jodie Prenger. I wonder what happened to her.

Ivel FM Studios
Ivel FM Studios

I got on with Ben straight away. He was lovely, polite, cheeky, silly and very funny. We also met up again at the Christmas Lights Switch on and did a bit on stage together. Then after the Pantomime Press night. I went out for a few drinks with the whole cast. Which was fantastic fun. They were all a really good laugh.

This cycle was repeated every year during the next four years. So once a year I would get to catch up with Ben. Have a chat and a good laugh with him. Then watch him be totally brilliant as the comic lead in the Panto every single year. One year I ended up seeing the show twice. In fact after press night drinks one time. He and his lovely wife Sarah ended up back at my flat for some after, after show drinks.

When he was not in Pantomime, he could often be found in Covent Garden in London working as a Street Entertainer. Or appearing in other plays and shows around the country. While also working on his very own stage plays and writing projects.

He decided to write a series and known stories in his own style and perform them in his unique way under the “Ha Ha” heading. The first of these he debuted at the Octagon Theatre in Yeovil.  This original version also featured yet another talented actor I had met through Panto called Charlotte Milchard. The show was called Ha Ha Holmes and was his comedy take on the story of Sherlock.

I thoroughly enjoyed this show and thought it was brilliant. Luckily I was not the only one. As a West End producer was there to see it. And on the back of what he had seen wanted to take on the project and put it on a national tour.

Fast forward a few years later and I had the pleasure of watching a updated version of Ha Ha Holmes now also featuring Joe Pasquale at the Wycombe Swan. And then making a very brief but fun cameo appearance in it. When it was on at the great Waterside Theatre in Aylesbury.

The next play I saw in the Ha Ha series was Ha Ha Hood. Which as well as the writer and creator Ben Langley. Also featured comedy legends Cannon and Ball along with Sue Pollard. I again saw this twice in Wycombe and Aylesbury. After the Aylesbury show I had drinks with the cast at their hotel. Where I got to meet and chat to Tommy Cannon. Which was amazing.

Ha Ha Hood
Ha Ha Hood

I remember meeting up with Ben for a cup of tea in Chesham one time. He was there to support Paul Zerdin on his UK Tour. Paul went on several years later to win America’s Got Talent. I am hoping may be this connection proves a lucky omen for Ben on BGT.

On the audition show last weekend he only got the chance to show a glimpse of what he can do. His whole act is very funny. He is a highly infectious and very likeable performer. Plus his show is the definition of Variety. I could honestly not think of a more suitable thing for A Royal Variety Performance.

BGT London
BGT London

I am really hoping he makes it in to the live shows. As although he did get four yes’s and a standing ovation from all four of the judges. They always put more people through than they have spaces for. We then have to endure that painful episode. When they keep talking about photos of people that we cannot see, as they try to whittle it down.

I am completely behind Ben Langley and I really think he should win it. Yes he is a friend and I know him. But I also now how hard he has been working and how much time and effort he has put into his act and career over the last twenty years. He is also a lovely man. Which I think is another important factor. Go on Ben!

Ben Langley
Ben Langley

I enjoyed a family theatre trip with my parents and sister to see a matinee performance of the current London production of Chicago at the Pheonix Theatre. We treated ourselves a little bit, so booked a package where we got a glass of Prosecco and nibbles in an exclusive room prior to the show. We also had some great seats, four rows from the front and right in the middle.

I had already seen a touring version of the show a few years ago and previously the film version. But it was completely new to the other three. It has some great songs in it and of course a very jazzy feel to it. In tune with the time in the American city that it is set. One thing I like about it is that the band are on stage with the cast and are very much part of things. There are no scene changes everything happens right in front of you on the same set throughout. It works perfectly with the story and the feel of the show though.

The cast as you would expect were amazing. I recognised a lot of the Ensemble from the touring version. They were all brilliant. The main stars are Sarah Soetaert (Roxy), Josefina Gabrielle (Velma), Paul Rider (Amos), Alan Richardson (Mary Sunshine) and a certain Oscar winning actor called Cuba Gooding Junior. Who was playing Billy Flynn. It is was also due to future musical legend Ruthie Henshall as Mama Morton. Sadly she was off for this performance. However her understudy Zoe Gappy was brilliant in the role.

Chicago
Chicago

Cuba Gooding Junior, as you would expect a man of his class to do puts his own spin on the Lawyer. While keeping the character and the attitudes of the man. He can sing, dance and really hold a note. I thought he was excellent. But a man with his ability and charisma could never be anything else. It was a very slick and entertaining production. And for anybody interested in my theatre wine updates they do serve a lovely glass of Rioja there.

After the show we went for a meal at the Ivy Garden in Covent Garden. The place was absolutely packed. But as I am well versed in organising these things. I had booked a table in advance. The food and the service was magnificent. I had their slow roasted lamb with some red wine and a Chocolate Bomb for pudding. Then me and my dad rounded things off with a champagne and beer cocktail. Which was a lot nicer than it sounds.  A wonderful way to round off a great day.

Family Meal
Family Meal

I went to Tottenham’s final Premier League “home” game of the season at Wembley Stadium. It was an odd game. There were nine goals. Spurs won the game five- four. It was great to end the season with a win. But it was quite a dull and boring game, unbelievably. I have been to much more exciting games featuring a lot less goals this year. It had an end of season feel to it and some of the defending was shocking. To quote Alan Hansen.

It meant Tottenham finished in third and qualified again for next season’s Champions League. Therefore at the end of the game we had earned the right to celebrate. I of course stayed to clap and cheer the players and management, as they did their lap of honour.

Tottehham Hotspur
Tottenham Hotspur

I have really enjoyed the season and seen more live Spurs games than ever before. I have enjoyed feeling more part of things. It has been fun being at Wembley. But you can’t beat your own ground, so I am looking forward to getting to as many games as possible at the new Stadium next year.

Congratulations to Harry Kane who has been named as the England Captain for the World Cup. What a great honour for the man who has yet again had another brilliant year for his club. I am not that excited about the World Cup yet. But I am sure that will change as our first match approaches.

England v Germany
England v Germany

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

Food for Thought

Hi there, how are you doing? I hope you have had a really good couple of weeks. Mine have been pretty busy with some fun stuff happening. A couple of Friday’s ago, a good friend of mine invited me around to his house for some food and a few drinks.

Everybody has such busy lives nowadays, it is really hard to organise the time to meet up and see people. Which I think makes this time spent with mates and family even more special and precious. Even more so in light of the recent events in Manchester and London. So it was brilliant to catch up with one of my oldest friends and his family.

Neil Quigley Enjoying the Sun
Neil Quigley Enjoying the Sun

It was a lovely hot and sunny day. He has a very nice garden. So we had a few beers outside before he fired up the barbecue. Both him and his wife are excellent cooks, so the standard of food when I go round to there place is always high. He cooked up a selection of steak, chicken, salmon and sausages. Which was supplemented by a potato salad and finished off by a wonderful home made fruit salad.

This was all washed down with a few glasses of a twelve year old Rioja, which I supplied. I know my Red Wine. It was a fun night spent in great company with lovely food and drink. It is so important to enjoy and appreciate the simple things in life.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I also went out in Oxford recently for some food and drink. One of the things I really enjoyed from my recent trip to Barcelona was the Catalan style Tapas. Somebody told me about a great restaurant in the Jericho area of Oxford, which did this type of cuisine. So it would have been rude not to try it out. Firstly I sampled the wine. The Rioja there was very nice. Then I ordered a selection of four different dishes to try. Which is kind of how a Tapas style meal works. You have a little selection of what is on offer from the vast menu.

The first dish that arrived was baked goats cheese and honey. Which although I admit sounds a bit of an odd combination was fantastic. So that was a very strong start. Then the waiter brought out the spicy potatoes, the chicken and chorizo in tomato sauce and the roasted peppers dish.

The first two were nice and I enjoyed them but the peppers were a little disappointing. The first meal I had in Barcelona was a pepper dish and that was sensational. I was hoping for more of the same here, but sadly this offering was no where near as good. Mind you, I was too full for pudding, which I must confess is very rare for me.

After the food I continued the evening at a really nice wine bar down the same road as the restaurant with a few more glasses of what else but Rioja. It was a civilised evening. Some decent food and and few glasses of a nice Red Wine. Which is the kind of night I am starting to enjoy more as I get a little bit older.

Oxford is such a beautiful City. And now a really easy journey from my local train station. So I think I might end up doing some more exploring there before the end of the summer. I did work there for a bit at a radio station called Passion 107.9. But I did not really go out there that much at the time, so there is plenty for me still to discover.

Oxford
Oxford

I have to be totally honest for the first time ever in my entire life I had no interest in the FA Cup Final and for the first time ever I did not watch it. Normally I will want one of the teams to win, so support them for the day. Or I will really not mind who wins and just watch it hoping for a good and entertaining match. Sadly this year it was kind of like the perfect storm for me.

Being a Tottenham Hotspur fan, my two least favourite teams in the world are Arsenal and Chelsea. I wanted both of them to lose and did not want either of them to win the cup. Which I knew was impossible, so I avoided the game. That said well done to Arsenal on winning. Hopefully next year I will be able to return to the joy and excitement of FA Cup Final day once again.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

My dad celebrated his sixty-fifth birthday last weekend. He also retired from work to. So he held a retirement party for all the people he has worked with for the last twelve years at his final place of employment. Fair play to him. He organised it all by himself at a local pub near by where he lives. There was food, music and some nice speeches, so I was very impressed. It was also nice to see how popular he was at work, judging by the number of people who turned up to be there with him. And the nice messages that he got in his many leaving cards.

During his speech I found myself in the rather unusual position of cameraman, so he could have a nice memory of the occasion. Although me, my mum and sister slightly spoiled the effect by laughing a little bit too loud at his former boss making fun of some of his quirks. Which he only discovered when he watched the video the next day.

I to played my part. He had a buffet there. When it was announced it was open. Nobody at all was going up to get any of the food. As they were all politely waiting for someone to go first. Luckily I stepped in here, went up and filled my plate up. Then suddenly everyone started following me and started eating. In life there are shepherds and sheep and that night I was the shepherd.

Family Meal
Family Meal

I am not saying he was really milking the occasion but we also went out for a nice Sunday lunch to celebrate. There is nothing better than heading out to a pub for a nice roast dinner, it saves cooking and washing up for starters. We returned to the same place where my dad had held his party the night before.

While there I continued my support of locally produced beer by having a pint of the award winning Chiltern Brewery “Beechwood” beer. The other bonus about having food out is that generally most places have a much better selection of puddings than you do at home. Which for someone who always likes to finish off any meal with something sweet is a big plus point.

Windsor Races Winning
Windsor Races Winning

Then the final part of his Birthday celebrations was a trip to Windsor Races. He booked us a table in one of the restaurants in the Club Enclosure. Which overlooked the the home straight. It was the first time that we had, had this experience at a course that we have visited many times. I have to say it was brilliant.

There was a glass of Champagne on arrival. A fish platter to share. Which was amazing and unbelievably the first time I had ever tried Crab and Mussel. It will not be the last. Then we had a top quality three course meal. I had the Pork dish for my main. Not only did it taste fantastic but the presentation was sensational. It was made to look like a rural country field with even the crackling made in to a gate. It almost looked to good to eat.

After the food was over we enjoyed a great evening of racing. I was wearing what has now become my lucky racing suit. I bought it for Aintree and had a winner there. I then wore it at Newbury and had a winner there. And once again at Windsor it gave me a decent winner. Which pretty much paid for my night. So next time I go racing, I make no apology for the fact that I will be wearing it again. It was a lovely way of rounding of my dad’s celebrations and a great way to enjoy an evening’s horse racing.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

It was also the Britain’s Got Talent final last weekend. This year was a bit different as the judges did not actually have any say in the acts going through to the final. They were allowed to have their say on the performances but for the first time ever it was solely decided by the public vote. Credit where it is due. Doing it this way did mean there was generally a nice variety of acts. Although three magicians with two of them doing similar things was probably a little bit over the top.

As ever with this show there were quite a few people in the final who you could not see progressing any further. The whole act was what you saw and you could not really see it developing or evolving. But then if the competition is to just to win a quarter of a million pounds and perform at The Royal Variety Performance, I guess that does not really matter.

BGT London
BGT London

The show was brilliantly held together by Ant & Dec who for me are still the best presenting duo on television. Even when they make mistakes they help each other out, make a joke out of it and sort of just gloss over it. Which is a skill in itself. Love or hate the judges they do complement each other nicely. They all bring something different to the party across the entertainment genre. They do all have different areas of expertise.

I have said this before Simon Cowell has definitely mellowed a bit since becoming a dad. I mean he still can be honest and brutal when he needs to but he is better at talking to the kids. And certainly seems a lot more emotional about some of the performances that he witnesses. And much as it pains me to admit it, he is still the judge I agree with most often.

BGT London
BGT London

It was won this year by the very talented multi-instrumentalist Tokio Myers. Clearly a very clever and accomplished performer.  Although it is difficult to see what he can do with it to develop and grow it. He may find it tricky finding a big audience to see an individual concert because he is not really a standard classical artist. And you wonder if the people he appeals to would go to that sort of gig. I think collaborations could be the future for him. That said congratulations to him. He deserved to win it.

In third place it was the comedian Daliso Chaponda. He was very good but I do think it is very hard to shine as a comedian on this show. They are clearly very restricted with what they can do and it also feels a bit forced. And it is not a typical comedy style audience. If you are a singer with a great voice you can sing someone else’s song and impress. Comics have to do all their own stuff. I just think it is tough, so personally I can never see a comedian winning it. May be there should be a spin off show just for comedian’s only. If that now happens I want royalties, as it was clearly my idea.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

It is now less than a month until my next big stand up comedy gig at the Tringe Festival Roving Comedy Night. It takes place across four pubs in Tring on Sunday 2nd July. I am really looking forward to it. I will be on with some other former Roving Comedy performers from over the last eight years.

I made my first appearance there five years ago now.  If you fancy coming along for what is always a fun evening. There are still some tickets available. You will get to see about sixteen comedians in one evening, in one venue. Including at least four professional comics. Follow this link for more details. http://www.get-stuffed.biz/tringe/2017/07/roving-comedy-night/

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

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