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Copy That

Hi there, how are you doing? I hope you have had a really good couple of weeks. Mine have been pretty busy as ever and lots of fun. I managed to get myself along to a television recording at the newly re-opened studios at Television Centre recently.

The building was sold by the BBC. A lot of the old building has been turned in to really expensive flats, as well as shops and restaurants. However two of the original studios have now been brought back in to operation. Therefore once again some shows are starting to be made there.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Which personally I think is fantastic. It is a shame that it is no longer how it originally was. As so many great and very popular shows were produced there over the years. Not least the iconic children’s show Blue Peter. Which was probably the first, what you might call real TV programme, that I watched. The front of the place has been changed a bit. However it does still have a ring of familiarity about it. But it  does not look as iconic, as it once did.

It was a brand new ITV show that I was there to see being filmed. It is the idea of Jon Naismith. The man behind such radio comedy shows as The Unbelievable Truth and Sorry I Haven’t A Clue. He claimed he came up with the idea. When he worked with Rory Bremner on the radio several years ago. He was just waiting for the right opportunity and ITV have given him it. To produce it and make it for them.

It is called the Imitation Game. I watched the last one of the six episodes that are being made. It is hosted by the brilliant Alexander Armstrong. It also features, as the team captains the truly amazing impressionists Rory Bremner and Debra Stephenson. Each week they are joined by some other top mimics. At the show I was at, they were the top quality Jon Culshaw and the brilliant young American Christina Bianco.

During the show they play a whole host of fun and sometimes silly games. Which of course all involve impressions of lots of different famous folk. Therefore giving the impressionists the chance to prove just how good they are. All four of them on the night were amazing. Some of the voices were indistinguishable from the actual people. For example Jon Culshaw’s Ricky Gervias and Christina Bianco’s Jennifer Aniston were both perfect.

It was a very funny evening, Everyone was on top form. Rory was magnificent. Not just when the cameras were rolling. But he was wonderful during breaks with extra impressions and stories to keep the audience entertained and amused. While certain things were set up. They also have a live house band to because there are a couple of music based rounds.

It will be on ITV later on in the year. If you fancy some silly fun with top quality impressions. I would urge you to keep an eye out for it. It is definitely worth a watch in my opinion. Even Alexander throws in a few of the voices he can do in one of the rounds. It is astonishing how many different voices four people can actually do. And how diverse and different they are.

Television Centre
Television Centre

The year before last I took my Mum on a sight seeing tour of London. She was really taken with St Paul’s Cathedral. Which we just looked at from the outside. She decided that she really wanted to see inside it and have a good look round it. Last Christmas I said I would take her on a tour of the place. As one of her presents.

It took us a while to find a suitable day that we were both free on. But finally last week we managed to achieve that. I had purchased tickets in advance. Once you have got them for entry, they do also allow you to book yourself on one of the tours, when you get there for no charge.

St Paul's Cathedral
St Paul’s Cathedral

We arrived there about half past eleven. Mainly so I could enjoy an off peak and relatively quiet train journey for a change. The fact that we had pre-paid tickets meant that we could go straight in via the fast track queue. We managed to book on to a tour starting at one. Which gave us an hour to investigate what was up the stairs, as the tour does not go up there.

There are three galleries that go up into the Dome of the building. The first of which is the Whispering Gallery. Which is around a two hundred and twenty step climb. From there you do get a stunning view of the painted dome roof. And a great birds eye view of the ground floor of the iconic church. It is called the Whispering Gallery, as you can stage whisper into the wall and somebody listening to the wall across the room from you, should be able to clearly hear it.

There are two more galleries that we did not visit on this occasion. They are both outside and involve quite small staircases. They do apparently give you great views of London. I will take a look at them when I go back in the Summer. As once you buy one ticket to visit St Paul’s it becomes an annual pass. That you can use to visit as many times as you like.

We then just had time for a cup of tea and some cake before our tour. There were about twenty of us in the group. We were all given headsets and the tour guide Fiona was wearing a mic, so we could clearly hear what she was saying. Above the basic noise of the place. Which worked very nicely and meant that she did not have to shout.

I found the tour fascinating, from what happened to the original, how long it took for the replacement to be built, to how much restoration has been required over the years. You forget how much history the place is steeped in. I mean just for starters, the actual architect behind the amazing place is buried there with his own shrine. As are both the Duke of Wellington and Lord Nelson. Three huge historical figures all laid to rest in the same place.

You can really feel the association with the military in the place. And some regiments even have their own dedicated areas. I had no idea the poet John Donne was the first Dean of the original St Paul’s. The man behind “No man is an Island” and “For whom the bell tolls. He was also buried there and has a memorial there.

The building is beautiful on the outside and the inside. It does have a really British feel to it. The paintings, sculptures and the statues are spectacular. I spent so long just staring up into the dome to admire the paintings and artwork. It is a Church and there is a prayer on the hour. Which means that every sixty minutes there are a couple of minutes of quiet contemplation to be enjoyed. We were there for nearly four hours and probably needed another two or so at least to properly see and read everything that was on show.

Going to St Paul’s and doing the tour reminded me of so much UK history that I had kind of forgotten. It triggered memories of the things I learnt when I was doing my History GCSE. There really have been some fascinating and amazing people who have lived before us. It turns out that Wellington was relatively low key and reserved in his outlook, while Nelson was flamboyant and loved the attention. I will let you decide which of them I am more like.

London
London

Afterwards we went for a nice meal to top off the day properly. An excellent steak with a glass of red wine and cheesecake for desert. We ate in Bills on Baker Street. It was my first time in there. I would certainly not rule out a return visit at some stage. We had a lovely  day. It was nice to be able to take my mum to do something she really wanted to do.

Neil Quigley in London
Neil Quigley in London

As a Tottenham Hotspur fan I am still smiling from us finally beating Chelsea at Stamford Bridge for the first time in twenty eight years. I am not saying it had been a long time coming. But before Dele Alli it was Gary Lineker who scored our last winner there.

The other great thing about it was that it really put us in a strong position to finish in the  top four and clinch Champions League football for next season. Which is so important to keep players and to start off at that level in the new stadium.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Well done to Declan Donnelly for presenting Saturday Night Take Away solo. He is a total professional and great at his job. As he has proved countless times over the years. But it must have been a bit tough not having his mate there for the first time ever. He just about held it together during the first link. Then after that he was flying. He did a fantastic job.

Although in music this is a pretty common occurrence. Somebody leaves a group or a duo and goes it alone. And often they have an equally. if not more successful career. It does feel odd when you first see them but you quickly get used to. If they are good enough. I do know this was an enforced move. Hopefully Ant will recover from his issues and return soon. But if not I am pretty confident Dec will still find plenty of work on his own.

BGT London
BGT London

In case you were wondering. Here is an update on the Nike Trainers that I ordered from Amazon. They have now sent me two of them in the same size. Which is a huge improvement on their first effort. I am now wearing them with the dark red body warmer and travelling around on a skateboard while hanging on to the back of cars. (If you do not get this reference, I suggest you read the previous entry).

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Just a quick reminder that I do a weekly podcast. Which is basically a radio show on the internet with no music featuring stories and old interviews from my twenty years working in radio. It is available on I-tunes, so why not subscribe to it? Then you will get every new episode automatically downloaded to your device. I would also like to point out that it is free. https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/neil-quigley-podcasts/id1236437663?mt=2

Neil Quigley Presenter
Neil Quigley Presenter

I am up in Liverpool this weekend for my annual pilgrimage to the Aintree Grand National Weekend. Which is always a lot of fun. I will tell you all about it of course the next time we speak.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

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

Stand Up and Make It Count

Hi there, how are you doing? I hope you have had a really nice couple of weeks. Mine have been fairly busy with lots of fun things going on. It has been a pretty decent week weather wise and I do think I am more of a Spring/Summer person, as I do like the sunshine.

The other Sunday afternoon I met a mate and just went for a few drinks in and around London. When you have no timescale and no real plan. You can just wander around and go where the mood takes you. And let’s face it there are lots of options in the Capital.

We started off just by Bond Street before making our way to Soho to enjoy a pint in the legendary Dog and Duck. From there it was just down the road to The Cambridge just opposite the Palace Theatre. In there we tried a few different halves of some local real ales including an intriguing plumb flavoured porter, which was lovely.

Next we headed to a tried and tested favourite The Albany at the top of Great Portland Street. The main reason being that they do a fantastic Sunday roast in there. Which once again did not disappoint. Then we called it a day and went home. I do like relaxing and fun afternoons like that.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I have always been good at going to the Dentist pretty regularly, which I appreciate some people do struggle with. Now I have got to the stage where I actually book my own clean and polish appointments without being asked to.

I would not say I particularly enjoy these extra trips but my dentist is very nice and I always feel better for them. It is a pretty thorough clean which I am relieved I do not have to go through every morning and evening when I am brushing at home. I mean what do they use to power that special tooth brush? I am guessing it is the battery from an pneumatic drill by the sound of it.

Neil Quigley Presenter
Neil Quigley Presenter

I had a bit of a disaster the other week. I was walking out of work when I decided to look at my mobile phone. As I was getting it out it got caught on the side of my pocket and fell out of my hands only to fly about a meter through the air and come crashing down twice on the screen. Needless to say this did not do it much good.

In fact it pretty much shattered the whole display screen. Luckily it was still somehow working but with the screen broken and big cracks in it. It was pretty hard to read anything on it. After doing quite a bit of emergency research on what to do next. I was advised that as I had insurance it was best to claim on that and get a new replacement phone.

So I phoned the insurance company and they said it was all fine. They could do it but there was an excess charge of one hundred pounds to pay. But as this was considerably cheaper than buying a new I-phone. I went ahead with the claim. So you have to send them the broken phone and then they assess it before sending you out the new phone. This process could take up to seven working days. I got my first mobile phone in about nineteen ninety-nine and I had not been without one since. Like most people pretty much my entire life is on my phone, so I was a bit concerned about being without it for a whole week. But basically I had no choice. So away it went.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I will be honest I actually found not having one to be quite liberating. It meant I actually had to talk to people and just spend time chilling and thinking when I was travelling to places. Although I will admit it was annoying not to be able to check the internet whenever I wanted. It did feel a bit strange only being able to speak to people by email or through Facebook when I was near a computer.

But I did not actually miss it as much as I thought I would. I mean I still managed to have friends and meet up with them prior to ever having a mobile, so I should still be able to do that. However it was really odd not having one. But I kind of liked the freedom that no one could get in touch with me, like some wild and crazy maverick just going through life by himself.

That said I was pretty happy and excited when the new phone arrived. Happily they under promised and over delivered, as I received it within five days of making the initial claim. Although setting up the new one was a bit stressful. I use I-cloud so all my settings and documents were saved there, ready to install on the new device.

However as a part of this set up Apple send you a code to your phone, which at that point is not set up so you can’t see it. So unless you own another Apple device that you can log in to, it means a long call to Apple Support to get it sorted. Credit where it is due, the lady I spoke to was brilliant and very helpful and talked me through it. But we can certainly file this in the nothing is ever simple is it file. Mind you I got it all sorted and set up. So I am now back in the twenty-first century. And have a mobile phone with me again at all times, just like the rest of the world.

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

I went to see a Radio 4 Sitcom pilot being recorded at the BBC Radio Theatre last Monday. It starred the brilliant Tony Law. Who was the professional comedian that I was with when I did the Tringe Festival Roving Comedy Night for the first time five years ago. More on that later.

This comedy was written with him in mind and has his name in the title. As I have met him and do kind of know him we did have a brief Twitter exchange beforehand. Although to be fair as it was such a lovely hot and sunny day it was just me checking the air conditioning was on. Which for the record it was.

So Tony Law being Tony Law he had dressed up in character for the performance. But to be fair his stage gear is usually pretty distinctive anyway. The cast also included the great Helen Lederer and excellent Nina Wadia. The basic premise is that Tony is an explorer, who leads his own unique crew around the world on missions. A little bit like a kind of radio Indiana Jones.

It was a fun night and I really enjoyed the show. It is just a pilot but the episode will get played out on Radio 4 at some point and then the powers that be will decide if it gets a series or not. I enjoyed it and would like to see it get a series, mainly because I think it is something that Tony Law deserves. Keep a look out for it. It is worth a listen, if you like your comedy a little surreal and slightly off the wall.

BBC Radio Theatre
BBC Radio Theatre

I had my first experience of Royal Ascot this week. It is an event I had always wanted to go to but never quite got round to. Until I decided very last minute to go along to day one of the festival on Tuesday.

I had been to Ascot a few times before but as soon as you stepped off the train at the station you can tell that it is a big deal. The atmosphere is ace and hits you right from your arrival. All the bars have marquees and music blaring out and there are just very well dressed people everywhere.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I had managed to get myself a ticket in the Windsor Enclosure and headed straight there. It was around lunch time, so my first port of call was the food stand to get a pretty decent burger. As you know it is important to fuel yourself properly for these occasions.

It was a lovely hot day and my hair does not offer the protection it once did so I then decided to check out the Ascot shop and buy myself a Royal Ascot baseball cap. Which did an excellent job keeping me from burning my head.  Although I am not sure it went that well with my suit.

Royal Ascot
Royal Ascot

Now I know opinions differ on this but I am a big supporter and fan of the Royal Family. So I made sure that I secured myself a nice spot to see the Royal Procession. Which takes place before the start of the days racing.

It was a spectacular sight with the military horses leading the way followed by the carriages containing the Royals. It was great seeing the Queen and Prince Phillip go past smiling and waving. And it was the first time I had got to see Prince William and Princess Catherine in the flesh, which was nice. Once they had gone past, it was time to get down to the racing.

Royal Ascot
Royal Ascot

I had a bad day on the betting front. Despite wearing my “lucky suit” I did not pick any winners at all. That is the first time in four meetings that it has let me down. But I am seriously thinking about burning it. That’s show business. I do not think I was alone I saw a lot of happy bookmakers at the end.

Despite my lack of success it was a great day. The whole thing has a party atmosphere to it and it was an exciting day out. It is such a spectacle. I am already hoping and planning to go back and do it again next year.

Royal Ascot
Royal Ascot

This weekend it is the Glastonbury Festival. I have been twice before to this amazing event. In fact this year is the tenth anniversary since my first visit. I camped there for the whole weekend and had a brilliant time. Although we did have back stage passes and were in a special area with our tent.Which did make the whole experience a bit more exciting and interesting. I saw some brilliant and amazing acts and performances.

I would really like to go back to do it all again but I never quite get round to organising it. If you have never been I would recommend you try to go along once to experience it but tickets are so hard to get hold of as the demand is so high. It is well worth experiencing though. The atmosphere there is so special. There is so much on offer to see and do. You will miss much more than you actually manage to see but the things you do see will become a special lasting memory.

Neil Quigley at Glastonbury

Next Sunday 2nd July it is the Tringe Festival Roving Comedy Night. I made my debut at this great event five years ago. And this year I return to the event at which I gave my first ever stand up comedy performance. I am really looking forward to performing. It is going to be a fun night.

It will be great to catch up with the members of the Roving Comedy Club and my comedy guru and teacher Logan Murray. He will be the host at one of the four pubs in Tring that are taking part. One of the four venues has already sold out. So if you want to get some tickets for one of the other venues, I would not hang about. Roving Comedy Night 

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

So you buy a ticket for one of the pubs and stay there all night to see all of the comics performing. While the comedians move around and perform in each of the pubs. So we have a great laugh and giggle moving from pub to pub and experiencing a completely new audience every time. Headlining each of the groups of comedians at each venue will be Carey Marx, Paul B Edwards, Silky and Arthur Smith.

The first time I did it, it was one of the best experiences of my life. I was happily recommending to people that they should do it, so when the opportunity came up for me to do it again. I did not hesitate and said yes straight away.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

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