Tag Archives: BGT

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.

Sport and Leisure

Hi there, how are you doing? I hope you have had a really good couple of weeks. Mine have been very busy as ever, with lots of fun things going on. So firstly congratulations to Richard Jones on winning this year’s Britain’s Got Talent. In doing so, he became the first magician ever to win it. I think he might have been the only magical act this year. Who basically did not look like he would injure or kill himself in some way during his act.

It was kind of fitting that in this, the Queen’s 90th Birthday year. A member of the Military Services was successful. And will now therefore perform at this year’s Royal Variety Show. Providing his boss, who is technically Her Majesty of course. Will give him the time off.

So once again well done to him on this massive achievement. I will now look forward to seeing him performing alongside the other famous soldier turned entertainer James Blunt at the Queen’s 95th Birthday Party.

BGT London
BGT London

It was another fun series hosted brilliantly by the masters that are Ant & Dec. The judges were great again. And all do bring something different to the party. Annoyingly Simon Cowell is still the one judge I find myself agreeing with most. When he is commenting on the act’s performances. Although sometimes I might personally have phrased this criticism in a slightly different way.

I really enjoyed my night at the Dominion seeing one of the heats. I will most likely try to get to another one next series. Being there live does give you a good chance to get an idea of the overall standard of that year’s contestants.

BGT London
BGT London

I am a huge football fan. I have always played the sport. I really enjoy watching it. I have been lucky enough to visit many of the great stadiums in the country. And I have even managed to play a match at the biggest and best one of all, Wembley Stadium. Rugby however is something I hated playing as a kid at school. I was never really any good at it. I was quite tall and fairly skinny as a child.

But my games teacher still put me in the second row. Which meant I had to go in the scrum. Which I really disliked. Mind you that said with my lack of pace. I could never have been a winger or full back. Since leaving education I have watched the odd game on the television and kind of enjoyed that. Even though I have little idea of what is actually going on.

England V Wales Rugby
England V Wales Rugby

However when a mate of mine offered me the chance to go and see England play Wales at Twickenham. I jumped at the chance. Even though I used to live in Iseworth for a couple of years, when I was growing up. And therefore drove past it quite a few times. I had never actually been to the stadium to see a match. And despite not being a massive fan of the sport.

I am very patriotic and always happy to support an England team at whatever they are competing in. I had heard what a great experience it was suppose to be. Plus how the feel and atmosphere differed from that of a football match. And I am pleased to say this information was perfectly accurate. It did feel different.

England V Wales Rugby
England V Wales Rugby

I met my friend in Wembley and we got the tube to Hounslow East. A station I last used around thirty-two years ago I reckon. When my mum took me for my first ever day trip in to central London. So it was nice and at the same time quite weird to be back there. We then decided to walk to the ground. Stopping to enjoy a drink at a lovely little pub, we found on the way.

Once we were refreshed we continued our walk to the ground. I have to say as you approach it. It is a very impressive sight. We got in to the fans area outside the stadium. Which was impressive in itself, with live music and television screens to watch. Not to mention a nice selection of places to get pretty much every type of food you could think of.

England V Wales Rugby
England V Wales Rugby

We then made our way towards where our seats were. We were up in the top part of the South Stand. Which meant that we had to make our way up a concrete style ramp. Like in a multi-storey car park. To get to where we needed to. I actually preferred that idea to having lots of steps to climb up.

To blend in with the rest of the crowd only, of course. We found the nearest bar and got some drinks. With the two main choices being Lager or Guinness. When you buy your first drink they charge you an extra pound for the plastic glass it comes in. Then as long as you bring this back to the bar they will refill at the normal price.

England V Wales Rugby
England V Wales Rugby

I am guessing this is to encourage people to bring glasses back to the bar and not leave them lying around the place. At the end you can either take the glass home as a souvenir or take it to the bar and get your original pound back. Fair play to some kids at the end. Who I saw collecting up any glasses that had been left. To take them back to the bar and get the cash for them. One child I saw must have had about ten pounds worth in their hands.

The atmosphere was really friendly and relaxed. And one thing I found very strange coming from a football watching background. Was that the fans were not segregated. It did not matter who you were supporting. You could just sit anywhere, it would seem.

England V Wales Rugby
England V Wales Rugby

I really enjoyed the game. Even though I did not understand the finer points of it. We had some good seats. So we got a decent view of all the action. I think by following the rest of the fans I shouted and cheered at the right times. It was great to see England win.

It was just simply a fun and relaxing afternoon. Watching an England team play in the correct national stadium for that sport. I would definitely go and see a game of rugby there again. If I got offered the chance to.

England V Wales Rugby
England V Wales Rugby

Last Tuesday I went to the fabulous Up The Creek Comedy Club in Greenwich. To see the first London heat of this year’s BBC New Comedy Award. It was the first time that I had been there. I have to say it is a lovely little room for comedy. With a nice bar that has a nice selection of drinks. Which is pretty unusual for these kind of places.

I would say it was the perfect place to hold this event in. Very comfortable for the audience. Which means it is a nice arena for the acts to perform their comedy in. In front of a very supportive and enthusiastic crowd.

Silky at Roving Comedy Night
Silky at Roving Comedy Night

Previous finalists in the competition include amongst others Silky, Lee Mack, Marcus Brigstocke, Peter Kay, Shappi Korsandi, Russell Howard, Rhod Gilbert, Alan Carr, Sarah Millican and Joe Lycett. So as you can see over the years since the first one in 1995. The standard has been pretty high.

It has also been a great stepping stone for many new and up coming comics. There were ten comedians taking part. All performing their own original stuff. I can’t say any more at this stage. As it was all recorded for Radio 4 Extra. Who will be playing out all the heats and acts in a special radio series later in the summer.

BBC New Comedy Awards
BBC New Comedy Awards

What I can say is. The heat was hosted by the excellent Jessica Fostekew. Who was very funny and did a brilliant job. I was sat right on the front row.   Which did lead to a very awkward conversation between me and her.

When she asked me if I could be any food at all. What food would that be? To be honest this is something I had never previously considered. So after a lengthy pause I panicked and said a burger. Funnily enough she did come back to me at all after this incident.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Then later on one of the acts used me. So they could tell a sort of knock knock joke. So do listen out for it when it is on the radio. As you may get to briefly hear my dulcet tones. I thought all the comedians were great. I know from experience. That it is not easy getting up there and making people laugh.

And on reflection I do think the judging panel of three. Which included the brilliant Holly Walsh. Got the decision about right on which three acts to send to the semi finals. Another great night enjoying some live comedy. Go and see some yourself. When you can. Laughter is always good for you.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Also last week I went to see a former colleague and friend of mine Jack Harding in his latest stage production. He was starring in the brilliant Sea Life at The Hope Theatre in Islington.

It was the first time I had been there. It is a lovely venue above the Hope and Anchor pub. Which of course acts as a theatre bar for the performances.The play was totally amazing. It was a very dark comedy written by Lucy Catherine and directed by Matthew Parker.

Sea Life
Sea Life

The set was fantastic. Being sat in the audience you really felt you were there. The sound, lighting and staging were also spot on. Even to the point that as the play is set in a coastal town. When you walk in to the auditorium. There is a strong smell of Fish and Chips that greets you.

The whole cast were excellent but I have to say Jack Harding was sensational as Eddie. A really strong and powerful performance. Showing exactly why he has been Offie nominated for Best Male actor for this role. It was a full two hour show. Which flew by so quickly. As it was so gripping and entertaining.

It was also lovely to catch up with him after the show. And it gave me the chance to buy him a well deserved drink. For the role he has had to grow a big bushy beard. Which to be fair is an absolute triumph in itself.

It seemed to me like it was a quite an emotionally draining role. So I imagine he has been sleeping very well during its run. The final performance is actually tonight. So I am glad I managed to catch it when I did. Also keep an eye out for Jack Harding. When the next series of People Just Do Nothing is released.

Jack Harding and Neil Quigley
Jack Harding and Neil Quigley

I was away for a couple of weeks for work related reasons recently. I stayed in a great hotel in Worcestershire. That had some great photographs of old BBC Television shows on many of the walls. The room that I was staying in had some pictures from the original Generation Game with Bruce Forsyth.

And two from Allo Allo featuring the great Gordon Kaye. When I was a child my parents ran a newsagents in Iseworth. And he used to come in to the shop regularly to buy his papers.

Gordon Kaye
Gordon Kaye

In the hall way just outside my room was a picture of Smashie and Nicey. The DJ creations of Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse. Harry actually lives near to me nowadays. I actually saw him at my local train station the other month.

Small world isn’t it? I think the person who came up with that sixth degrees of separation thing, could really have been on to something.

Smashie & Nicey
Smashie & Nicey

So the Euro 2016 Football Tournament is underway and England play their opening game against Russia tonight. I have to confess I have not got too excited about this yet.

But a good England victory tonight could change all that. Good luck to Roy Hodgson and the squad. Somebody has got to win it. So why can’t it be us?

England
England

I remember I was very excited before Euro 1996. Which was held in England. There was a really good documentary about it with Alan Shearer on the BBC the other week. He caught up with the manager Terry Venables and lots of the players from the squad. To talk through their memories of it.

That made me remember how great it was. The feel good factor in the country. And how close we came to winning it. If only Paul Gascoigne was two inches taller. We would have made the final at the very least. So near and yet so far. A win for England this time would make for an amazing summer. Come on England!

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

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

Face in The Crowd

Hi there, how are you doing? I hope you have had a really good couple of weeks. Mine have been very busy with lots of fun things going on. Firstly on the May Day Bank Holiday Monday. I went on a road trip with my good friend Andy Holmes. To see his football team Hereford FC play in a Cup Final.

It was the Herefordshire FA County Cup Final between Hereford FC and their local rivals Westfields. It just so happened, that it was being played at Edgar Street. Which is The Bulls home stadium. Mainly because it is the biggest and best ground in the county. It was the first time I had been there. And the first time I had ever seen his side play.

Hereford FC
Hereford FC

We decided to watch from the seated area. There was no seat allocation. So you could basically sit anywhere you liked. We sat right at the back and by ourselves. With no-one either side of us. Before kick off the Hereford FC mascot.

A great big huge pedigree Bull was shown around the pitch a couple of times. While they were playing Woolly Bully by Sam the Sham and the Pharoahs. Which to be fair was the perfect song for the occasion. They play in the FA Vase final next weekend against Morpeth. And apparently the same Bull is heading to Wembley to do the same thing there.

Hereford FC
Hereford FC

The game itself was pretty entertaining. If not a very one sided affair. Hereford FC beat Westfields by five goals to one. With the visitors being reduced to ten men after conceding a penalty. At the end of the game we were allowed to go on to the pitch. To see the players lift the trophy in the stand over the other side of the ground.

Hereford FC
Hereford FC

It was a very pleasant afternoon watching a better standard of football than I was expecting. It was nice to be able to share in my mate’s team’s victory. It also means I have an one hundred percent record of every time I have seen them play they have won. I really do wish that I could say the same with my team Tottenham Hotspur.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Talking of my team. We did get back from Hereford in time to see Spurs draw with Chelsea on the television. In what was a very lively game to say the least. It has been a while since I have seen that many of our players get booked. And I have to admit I was a little bit disappointed at the final whistle. I then also watched us lose to Southampton at home last Sunday to. Which was equally as annoying, to be honest.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

That said a point tomorrow away at Newcastle. Will mean that we finish second in the Premier League. Our highest finish in twenty-three years. Mind you whatever happens. It has been a brilliant season. And I am greatly looking forward to next season already. The club motto is “Audere est Facere” which means “To Dare is To Do”. Which is also a mantra, that I do try to use in my everyday life to.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

The other week I was once again back at the fantastic Museum of Comedy. It is a place that firstly contains lots of great comedy memorabilia, from the Carry On Films to Tommy Cooper and much more in between. Including the actual stuffed bear that appeared in an episode of Steptoe and Son.

And secondly it has a lovely small performance room. Where lots of top comics often come to perform “work in progress” shows. In front of audiences of around ninety people. I was there to see Stewart Lee do just that.

I have to confess that I had not really seen much of his live stand up myself. So I was not sure totally what to expect and if I would like his stuff. But he does seem to be the comedians’ comedian. As lots of his peers often reference him as being someone very clever and creative. Who totally gets the art form. And who you can learn from. I have to say that he was brilliant from start to finish. A master of his craft.

Museum of Comedy
Museum of Comedy

From his very specific and explicit no pictures rule. That he laid down the second he walked out on stage. Through to him then reading out some of his columns from The Sunday Times. He was hilarious. I thoroughly enjoyed it. He also did the set he used to do at Open Spots. When he was just starting out in comedy in 1989. And that in itself is a bit of a masterpiece. Which has weirdly just about stood the test of time. Well it has with a few ad-libbed amendments anyway.

It was another great gig. At one of my new favourite comedy venue’s in London. So far I have seen Trevor Noah, Josh Widdicome, James Acaster and Michael McIntyre play there. It is a really friendly room, giving the acts a great environment to try out new jokes in. While I was there I did notice that the exceptionally talented Maddy Anholt is there performing her new show Rent Girl on 23rd July. If you are free and around London. I would suggest you get along and check this out.

Michael McIntyre
Michael McIntyre

While we are talking about comedy and comedy venues. The line up for this year’s Tringe Festival has been released. It is a three week annual event organised by the great Ben Moorhouse. Most of the gigs take place at the Pendley Court Theatre in Tring.

A lot of the acts who perform are previewing their latest Edinburgh Festival shows. This year the Tringe runs from Sunday 26th June through to Saturday 16th July. Comedian’s appearing include Milton Jones, Sam Simmons, Shappi Khorsandi,  Nish Kumar, Katy Brand, Mark Watson and Sean Walsh to mention just a few.

The Tringe Festival does hold a lot of very happy memories for me. Because it was as part of this great event four years ago now. That I made my stand up comedy debut. I took part in the brilliant eight week comedy course led by the Guru that is Logan Murray. When I started I thought I was amusing. But had no idea if I could write material, stand up on stage and then make people laugh. I met lots of great new friends. We spent the time just playing games and constantly laughing. Then some how at the end of it. All of us had five minutes worth of jokes to perform at The Roving Comedy Night.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

For the night we were split in to groups of four. Then we were allocated our own professional comedian. We then travelled around four pubs in Tring performing our new comedy musings to around four hundred people in the process. With the professional comic headlining each of our little shows. I went around with the sensational Tony Law.

It was great to see him at close quarters and then get to talk to him as we walked between gigs. The whole of the night was just a totally unbelievable experience. It gave me such as buzz. It is hard to explain the feeling of excitement, relief and satisfaction. That I felt as I met up with the rest of my comedy group for a pint after our memorable shared experience.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

This year’s Roving Comedy Night is on Sunday 3rd July. I would recommend you go to see new people giving comedy a go for the first time. While also being supported by top class comedian’s. It is a really entertaining night out.

Best of luck to all the trainees currently on the course. And preparing to give their first performances. You will absolutely love it. For more information about the Tringe Festival and The Roving Comedy Night click on the link here. Tringe Festival

Silky at Roving Comedy Night
Silky at Roving Comedy Night

I was back at the Fountain Studios in Wembley last week. To witness a recoding of an episode from the new series of the Dave Channel comedy show Taskmaster. I have just realised it is quite a hard concept to explain in writing.

A team of celebrities are given a selection of weird and wonderful tasks to complete. They are all set the same one and have to compete against each other to win points. Their efforts are then scored in his own unique way by the Taskmaster. Who is Greg Davies. The show was devised by Alex Horne. Who assists Greg with the show itself and also he helps the contestants with some of the challenges to.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Greg Davies was hilarious. And did a great job hosting and chatting to the audience in between takes. He and Alex Horne were really good together. It is a very funny. If not at times slightly surreal programme. With some of the things that they make them do. Taking part in this series are Doc Brown, Joe Wilkinson, Jon Richardson, Katherine Ryan and Richard Osman.

Now I do not want to give too much away but to say Jon and Katherine are very competitive is an understatement. The whole panel were on form and very entertaining. But for me on the night I thought Joe Wilkinson just edged it. Mainly with his sly looks to the crowd and his reactions to what the others were saying. Which at times were priceless.

Neil Quigley Presenter
Neil Quigley Presenter

It was a fun show to watch being filmed. I had a decent seat right in the middle of the second row. So I got a perfect view of all the action. Not only that but the production team also gave me a free bottle of Budweiser on entry. If you saw the first series. You will know a lot of it is filmed in advance with them doing the tasks.

Well we got to see them played to us on a big screen. While watching the contestants watching themselves and more amusingly the others attack these dilemmas in very different ways. Keep your eye out on Dave for when this new series starts. It is well worth seeing. I witnessed some true works of genius. While I was sat there in that studio.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Last Sunday Night it was the TV Baftas. Hosted brilliantly by Graham Norton. I thought his opening monologue was great. He kept the whole thing together very nicely. I do always try to watch the awards ceremony if I can. Mainly to see what great dramas or documentaries have passed me by over the last twelve months.

Well done to Peter Kay for winning two nods for his brilliant come back situation comedy Car Share. I thought it was right that Strictly Come Dancing won the Entertainment award. The last series was brilliant. The standard of the dancing was so high. Every week the show was a real spectacle. And very enjoyable.

Neil Quigley in Car
Neil Quigley in Car

Lastly it was nice to see Leigh Francis win Entertainment Performance. The character’s that he plays including the wild Keith Lemon. Are I get the impression a million miles away from the actual man. Who I have heard is one of the nicest and loveliest people. You could wish to meet and to work with. That is according to a friend and former colleague of mine, anyway.

I even liked the way he did not want to or feel comfortable accepting the award in his own voice. May be showing how he likes to try to keep his public and private life completely separate. Anyway Well done Leigh Francis. Totally deserved. I almost got to interview him once. It was all booked in. Then unfortunately something came up at the last minuet and it never happened. Oh well that is showbiz.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

If you watched last week’s Britain’s Got Talent. Towards the end of the show you may have seen a familiar face appear in the crowd. I went to the final London audition. Now as they cut and change from location to location during this stage of the show. You never know when acts you witnessed will be on or indeed if they will make it on screen at all. There was a fantastic singer called Rachael Wooding. Who came on and did a great version of “With You” from the musical Ghost.

Neil Quigley at BGT
Neil Quigley at BGT

She admitted she had been an actress and appeared in the West End before taking a break to have children. At the end of her song the camera cut to the audience. And you got a nice view of me appreciating her stunning performance. Clapping and smiling. It must have been quite obvious it was me. As basically straight away after it happened. I was getting text and Facebook messages from friends and family. Telling me that they had just spotted me on their television.

BGT London
BGT London

So it might be worth keeping your eyes out for me for the rest of the audition shows. Just in case you see me clapping and cheering for another one of the wannabe’s. That I saw when at the Dominion Theatre, trying out for the judges. That is them not me, just to be clear. I was sat right behind the top judging panel. So I got a good view of their reactions to the acts.

BGT London
BGT London

As I said previously I am going to be working for the BBC starting this summer. I will be doing some behind the scenes radio production work. Across several different shows on a few of their different networks. I am really looking forward to the challenge. And I am very much looking forward to when I start with them. I have always wanted to work for this great organisation. So I am very thankful for this amazing opportunity.

Neil Quigley TV Radio & Live
Neil Quigley TV, Radio & Live

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