Tag Archives: comedy

By Royal Approval

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. Two weeks ago today then I went to my second Royal Ascot. Last year, as I was just dipping my toe in. I went in the Windsor Enclosure. Which was brilliant. But this time I thought I would upgrade slightly and just see what it was like in the Queen Anne Enclosure.

Ascot 2018
Ascot 2018

I went there with a good showbiz friend of mine Mike Sterling. We met up at Waterloo on the Saturday morning. After grabbing some water for the journey. We then braved what I suspected would be a packed train to Berkshire. However it was actually not that bad and we managed to get a seat together. Which meant we could catch up and have a nice natter. Which made the travel time fly by.

Ascot 2018
Ascot 2018

We arrived at the racetrack around twelve forty-five. Sensibly we decided to grab some food first. There were plenty of options. But in the end we opted for a chicken wrap. Which I must admit hit the spot and tasted pretty damn nice to. After a stroll round the place. Just to get our bearings. We decided to have a quick drink before the Royals arrived. It is a marathon day not a sprint at Ascot, so we just started off with an half of lager each. You really cannot buy experience.

Then it was time to head off to get a place in the Parade Ring. Ahead of the arrival of the Queen. To get the space I wanted we had to get in there a bit early. But we did find a cracking spot. Right next to the area set aside for people who were in the Royal Enclosure. Before she arrived Mike managed to nip out and get us another beverage to toast her arrival. Which with the crowds growing was quite a feat to be honest.

Ascot 2018
Ascot 2018

I am a big fan of the Royal family, so I enjoyed Her Majesty arriving in her carriage pulled by those famous grey horses. And her waving to the crowd. I waved back of course. I like to think that she did see me and acknowledged me. Then once she had shaken hands with the selected elite welcoming party. She headed off to her private box to enjoy the day’s racing. While we made our way to the track to do the same.

Ascot 2018
Ascot 2018

I had a little bit of success in the first race. I was as a child and if I am being honest am now still a fan of the television show The Dukes Of Hazard. The famous car in it is called the General Lee. There was a horse in the race called General Hazard.

It was a bit of an outsider. But on the name alone. I backed it each way. It came in third. Which meant I acquired some money back from that one. I only had one other winner during the afternoon. That however really did not spoil my enjoyment of this fantastic event.

Ascot 2018
Ascot 2018

Midway through the afternoon. We took a lunch break in The Band Stand Kitchen restaurant. We sampled the Tex Mex Platter and a Coronation Chicken salad. I have to say it was marvellous. It was all very tasty and the portion size was huge. Which is something you do not always associate with these kind of venues and events. If you know what I mean.

Ascot 2018
Ascot 2018

There is a Band Stand in the Queen Anne Enclosure with a full brass band and a singer. After the day’s racing is over. There is a traditional sing-song around it. Therefore Mike and I grabbed ourselves a glass of Pimms each and headed there to get involved. Lots of people do stay on to enjoy it.

They did play a whole host of old and relatively new top party songs. Basically everybody there joins in. To make it even easier they put all the words up on the big screens. So it is a bit like a giant karaoke. We did every song from the classic Sweet Caroline to We’ll Meet Again and everything in between. It was brilliant fun.

Mike Sterling is a West End performer. Who has starred in The Phantom of The Opera and Les Misarables. So it was amazing to be standing next to him, while he was singing. I was happy to just to sing backing vocals and fill in with some harmony’s. It is all so British with flags waving, champagne being drunk and everyone joining in. I must say I loved it!

Ascot 2018
Ascot 2018

Rather than rush off. We decided to wait for the train traffic to die down a bit. So we went for a few drinks in a couple of pubs in Ascot. On the way to the first one. We bumped in to a former Jockey that Mike knew called Karen Wiltshire. As well as having a successful riding career. She has also done some presenting on various racing programmes. It was fascinating to talk to her and get some of the inside stories and secrets from the world of racing. It was lovely to meet her.

After having a drink at the pub right next to the train station. We decided to catch the train back to London. It was much quieter than on the way there, so we easily found a seat. We randomly got talking to a couple of Italian ladies. Who had been at the races. Mike speaks a little bit of Italian. Plus he is a trained Opera Singer. Who knows a few big Italian songs. He ends up serenading the ladies with a couple of songs in their native tongue.

I was sitting next to him and let me tell you it sounded beautiful. They were loving it. One of them was filming it on her phone, so she could send it to all her friends in Italy.  We had people walking down the train to get closer and enjoy the impromptu performance.

It is a shame neither of us were wearing Top Hats or we could have put them down and made a few quid. To have such a talent must be amazing. He absolutely made the two girls day. It also made the train trip back to London very enjoyable.

Once we were back in Waterloo. We went to a nearby bar to have a nice glass of red wine to toast a successful and fun day. It was such a good occasion that I am already planning next year’s trip. I will again choose the Queen Anne Enclosure. Mainly just for the access to the Parade Ring and the Band Stand singing at the close of the event.

Ascot 2018
Ascot 2018

I had a brilliant time at this year’s Tringe Roving Comedy Night. I did the course and performed at it in 2012. Then last year I got to do it again. Which was so much fun. I was watching all the action at The Kings Arms. A venue that I played during my debut year. There were twelve brand new comedians and four professionals. One for each of the four groups, that each perform in four different pubs around the town.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Congratulations to all of the Logan Murray Course Graduates. Who performed on the night. You were all great. You got up there and did you stuff. I hope you enjoyed it and will keep doing it. If you now have the taste for it after this introduction. I would recommend doing the comedy course and this event to anyone. It is lots of fun and you will get a lot out of it. The people behind the Tringe Festival are all ace.

The professional comedians were all brilliant. They included Steve Best, who really does have his own unique style. I enjoyed seeing him for the first time. Rich Wilson, who was another new one on me was also very funny. Then there was the brill Laura Lexx.  Who I had seen before doing the warm up at a recording of Upstart Crow. She is fantastic.

Rich Wilson
Rich Wilson

Finally there was the guy who I once gave a lift home to. The always hilarious Silky. He was quality as ever. It helps the whole night along. When you know that you are never more than three comedians away from a seasoned and polished act. As a new comedian. I was delighted with this. As it made the audience more patient knowing that a comedy treat was on the way very soon.

Silky at Roving Comedy Night
Silky at Roving Comedy Night

I did manage to briefly catch up with Silky after the show. For our annual chat. He is a top bloke. I did also grab a quick word with the very funny Olaf Falafel. Plus I spoke to the man behind the whole brilliant festival Ben Moorhouse.

I am hoping to bump in to all of them and see their full shows. When I am up in Edinburgh at the Festival in August. Sadly though I did not get to see the comedy guru himself Logan Murray. I had to dash off before he arrived at the after show drinks.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

The football World Cup is reaching its big finale. I have been trying to watch as many matches as I can. There have been plenty of goals and excitement and that was just the England against Panama game.

Not to mention the high drama of the penalty shoot out against Columbia. With three Spurs players scoring in it. Just saying! Today we face Sweden in the Quarter Finals. Come on England!

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

My Dad’s cousin lives in Australia and has done for many years. He was in Russia supporting his country at all their group games. He is now visiting England. Which was always the plan. I am not sure if it would have changed if Australia had got through to the knock out rounds. Or he was realistic about their chances. When all of this was booked.

I am hoping to see him today to find out what it was like in Russia. And actually being there at a World Cup supporting your nation. I would love to be able to do that myself one day. Now that the chance of me representing England in one of these tournaments has may be passed. Also I quite fancy a visit to Australia, so I may have a chat to him about that to. It will be really nice to meet up with him.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I am very excited about my upcoming holiday. I am going to America to do a bit of a musically inspired tour of the place. Which includes visits to the home of County and Western Nashville, the place where Elvis Presley made his home Memphis and the area where Jazz and Blues exploded New Orleans.

It is going to be extremely interesting and a lot of fun. It does mean the blog will be taking a little bit of a break. But I will of course tell you all about the trip, when I return.

Neil Quigley and Elvis Presley hanging out in the 70's #crazydays
Neil Quigley and Elvis Presley hanging out in the 70’s #crazydays

Have fun and we will catch up again soon. Cheers Neil

Fantasy Comedy

Hi there, how are you doing? I hope you have had a really good couple of weeks. Mine have been busy and fun. I do spend a lot of time in London. Therefore I am very often on the train to and from the Capital. As I was about to get off one at Marylebone Station a few weeks ago. I randomly bumped in to somebody, who I had not seen for a ages.

On the second ever series of Big Brother. There was a gentlemen from Oxfordshire in the house. He was only in there for a couple of weeks and was voted out fairly early on. But he did still make a bit of an impression with his regular work outs and his tendency to wink at people quite a bit. His name was Stuart Hosking.

I was at the time working at Mix 96. When he came out of the house and the series was over. He ended up getting a Sunday morning show at the radio station. I produced the programme for the first two or three weeks. Which was great fun and a good laugh.

Neil Quigley

I think on show two. We had somebody who had been on Blind Date the night before in for a chat. It was interesting to get the inside track on how it all works from someone who has been through it. We all went for a quick drink afterwards. Which was normal practice for our post programme meeting. Well it was, while I was producing.

I seem to meet up with Stuart at various things over the years. I once went with him to an Industry Magazine Party. And fair play to him he managed to get us in to the VIP section. Which meant we upgraded from free beer to free champagne.

I also went with a mate of mine to a big birthday party. That he threw at a very nice hotel a few years ago. That was a brilliant evening. The entertainment were the Rockoakie Band. Who are amazing. They are a live band. Who then give you the chance to perform songs with them. My friend did a few numbers on the night. As did the Birthday boy himself. Chris Moyles often booked them for his live theatre shows.

Stuart Hosking Sings
Stuart Hosking Sings

It was nice to see him and have a quick chat. As we headed up the platform. He is still keeping nice and busy and up to some fun and interesting things. He is still good friends with a few people in the entertainment business. Personally I think that the first three Big Brothers were the best. Then it started going down hill from there.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Frank Skinner has been one of my favourite comedians, since I can remember. I have read both of his books. I have watched from the studio, as he hosted an episode of Room 101. Plus over the years spent hours watching Fantasy Football. And I even watched his sitcom Blue Heaven. The one thing I had not seen him do was stand up comedy live.

Happily I finally managed to put this right a couple of Saturday’s ago. I found out he was doing some work in progress shows at the Soho Theatre in London. I managed to grab myself a ticket. As I have said before it is a nice venue for comedy. He was playing the down stairs room. Which is set up like a lounge bar with tables and chairs. It is a little bit like a cabaret place similar to the London Hippodrome set up.

Soho Theatre
Soho Theatre

Needless to say the gig was a sell out. As I was in the bar beforehand I saw the unmistakable figure of Mr Skinner arrive and make his way down stairs to prepare for his audience. The title for this appearance was “The Man With No Show” Therefore the idea was he would just come out chat to the audience and hopefully find some stuff. That he can then polish into comedy gold. Probably for a big tour.

He is for me one of the funniest and most quick witted comics around. His brain does just seems to process things much quicker than us mere mortals. Bearing in mind he was on stage with no pre-prepared stuff. He was hilarious. I have not laughed that much at a comedy gig for ages. He has such a calm, warm and relaxed way of talking to people. Even when he is having a bit of a go at people. He does it in the right  way and makes it feel inclusive. Like he is still on their side.

I had a brilliant night. It is always pleasing when your hero’s do not let you down. He is doing some more work in progress gigs at the same place in August. I certainly have not ruled out going again to see him. As it will actually still be a completely different show. Frank Skinner is quality.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I started my radio career at Stoke Mandeville Hospital Radio twenty three years ago. I met some wonderful people there. Many of whom I am still friends with all these years later. Two of the first people I met and worked with back then are now both living in Yorkshire. I started working with them producing their shows before I got my own programme on the station.

Stoke Mandeville Hospital Radio
Stoke Mandeville Hospital Radio

Last weekend I went up to visit them. I was staying with one of them at their house in Castleford. On the Friday night we stayed in to watch the football. Had an Indian take away and a nice bottle of red wine. While of course having a good chat about the old times and our current lives. A really fun and yet relaxing evening.

During the day on the Saturday we went and had a look around an Armed Forces Day event. That was taking place at Pontefract race course. My mate was in the RAF, so has an interest in this venture of course. It was basically like a classic County Show with charity stalls, arena displays and a wide selection of various refreshments.

They had a stall there for the Vulcan plane. As they are trying to build a special hanger for it in Doncaster. Which will include a coffee shop viewing area. So visitors can see the plane sat there in all its glory. While enjoying a drink and a piece of cake. It was nice to visit a race track and leave without losing any money for a change.

We then headed to Sheffield, so we could all catch up with my other friend and his wife. We went to his house and sat in his garden for a bit. Before heading in to town for a really nice meal and a couple of drinks. I have been out in Sheffield a few times over the years. I also went through a spell of spending some time just down the road in Worksop. Therefore I do know the area a little.

My mate had booked us a table at The Botanist. The table they gave us was right in the middle of the restaurant. Kind of in a sort of glass band stand. It was really not a place to be if you prefer keeping a low profile. Luckily none of us there fell in to that category. The selection of drinks there was fantastic. I chose to sample a few of the German beers they had on offer. The food there was really good to.

I had a homemade scotch egg for starters. Their famous hanging chicken garlic kebab with sweet potato fries for my main. Then for dessert I had the sticky toffee pudding. It was a really enjoyable meal. The company was fantastic. It was a wonderful night talking and catching up. While winding each other up and chatting about the glory days. When we regularly used to all go out and do discos together. Fun times!

Yorkshire
Yorkshire

I travelled home on the Sunday after first enjoying a massive brunch with my friend and his wife. The perfect end to a lovely weekend. I decided to treat myself to first class train travel on the way back. It was only about ten pounds more than the standard ticket. It meant that I got a comfier seat. Plus free tea, biscuits and water during the trip. Worth every penny as far as I am concerned. I could get used to it.

World Cup
World Cup

The World Cup in Russia is very much up and running. I am trying to watch as many matches as I can. I did of course make sure that I saw the England against Tunisia game. I was delighted for Captain Harry Kane and the whole team. The first game of any tournament is very tough. We are on the whole a young and inexperienced side. It was not a classic. We left it late but most importantly we got the three points.

Harry Kane will score goals in this tournament, He loves scoring and is very driven. I would not rule him out being there or thereabouts for the Golden Boot. If we can get the win against Panama tomorrow then we will be through to the knock out rounds. At that point really anything can happen. Good and bad. You just never know. Looking forward to getting behind the team and supporting the country. Come on England!

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Obviously working at Broadcasting House in London. I do often see some recognisable faces around. Recently I found myself in the lift with new Radio One Presenter Maya Jama. Who as well as being an excellent broadcaster. Just happens to be going out with a certain gentlemen known as Stormzy. I saw the lovely Reverend Richard Coles. Who was dressed in his dog collar. And as you would expect he was just chatting to everyone and being generally lovely.

BBC Studio
BBC Studio

Tomorrow night I am off out in Tring to enjoy The Roving Comedy Night. I have performed at this event myself twice over the years now. But I am looking forward to seeing this year’s trainees do their stuff. And make their stand up debuts. I remember the nerves I felt before I did my first one. And the feeling of pure joy and exhilaration at the end of the night. I was walking on air for the next week or so.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I will be there laughing, clapping and cheering on all the first timers. As well as enjoying all the professional comedians accompanying them. It will be great to catch up with a few people. I know and have met through this wonderful event. Especially the comedy guru and my teacher himself Logan Murray. It will be my annual catch up with them. Although I am hoping that I might see some of them, when I go to Edinburgh for the festival in August.

Logan Murray
Logan Murray

The Roving Comedy Night signals the start of three weeks of gigs during the Tringe Festival. With lots of top comedians coming to Tring to do warm up shows for Edinburgh. I am going to see Marcus Brigstocke a week Sunday at the Court Theatre. If you like your comedy and are local it is well worth a look. Here is a link to their website http://www.get-stuffed.biz/tringe/

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I am really looking forward to going to Royal Ascot today. I went for the first time last year. And I enjoyed it so much. That I have decided to make it an annual event. I will be in the Queen Ann Enclosure. Which means I will get to have a sing-song at the famous band stand after the day’s racing has finished.

I will tell you all about it next time we speak. I will be wearing my lucky suit, so I am hopeful of picking up a few winners. I may also sip a few glasses of champagne. It is a brilliant event. Plus as a bit of a Royalist I am hoping once again to catch a glimpse of the Queen.

Royal Ascot
Royal Ascot

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

Catching Up

Hi there, how are you doing? I hope you have had a really good couple of weeks. Mine have been busy and fun. I met up with a very good friend for drinks in London recently.  We worked out that it was actually the first time we had seen each other this year. We speak regularly on the phone. But this was the first face to face catch up for a while.

Life is so busy and hectic these days, especially if you are married with young children. The balancing act to look after them. While still trying to spend some good quality time with the other half. Tends to mean it is not always that easy to organise a night out, that often.  Well, so all my married friends tell me anyway. And I believe them.

But even without any children. I am pretty hard to book for a night out. As I like to keep myself nice and busy, so I generally fill any spare time or any free weekends up with things to do. Usually months in advance. I always tell people to book early to avoid disappointment. Although I reckon my mates think I am joking.

Anyway these are the reasons that we have basically waited around four months in to the year to see each other. But this gap does not matter with close friends. You always have lots to talk about and as you know all about each others lives. The conversation flows freely and it is like you only saw them yesterday anyway.

South Bank London
South Bank London

We went for a few drinks along the South Bank. Which was cool. There are some decent bars and pubs around that area. We were joined by his younger brother. Who, as it happens was the person who designed and built my first ever website. When he was still at University. And if my memory serves me right, I paid him in beer for his services on that project.

To give you some idea of how long me and my mate have been friends. I think his brother was around eight years old. When I first met him. It was a brilliant evening relaxing and chatting with the both of them.

London Night
London Night

Last weekend I met up with a friend who I used to work with at Ivel Fm in Somerset. He is working for a radio station in Cornwall. Where he now lives. Him and his mate, who I also know came up and met me in Windsor. We had booked a hotel for the night, so we got together there late Saturday afternoon.

I am always ridiculously early for everything. I got to the hotel about an hour or so before they were due to arrive. As it was a nice sunny day. I did the only thing that you should do in that situation. I got myself a pint of shandy and sat out in the beer garden to wait for them. It was pretty good timing in the end.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

As they arrived just after I had finished my first drink. They instantly joined me for a few more drinks outside in the sun. Well you have got to make the most of the weather, while you can in this country. Plus you have to re-hydrate after a long drive.

Once we had finished these, we got ourselves ready to head out in Windsor for the evening. With the big Royal Wedding taking place there in just a couple of weeks at this point. There was Union Jack bunting up across lots of the streets. Plus in various shop windows I spotted cardboard cut outs of the Queen, Prince William, Prince Harry and of course Meghan Markle.

First we headed to a well known pub chain who have a venue right opposite Windsor Castle. This particular company are known for food and drink deals. It turns out that they have added a new one.  You can get a Pizza and an alcoholic drink together in that bar for nine pounds. And for the record the Pepperoni Pizza I had in there was really nice. As was the American Shipyard Pale Ale I had with it.

"Gloriana" looking very regal at Henley Regatta
“Gloriana” looking very regal at Henley Regatta

From there we headed over the Thames to Eaton. Where we found a pub with a nice beer garden to enjoy the last of the day’s sun. While sampling a beer from the local Windsor and Eaton Brewery. Which was very pleasant and I must say unusually sweet for an ale.

As it happened the night was basically me taking them to all the old bars in the area. That I used to visit when I went out there in my twenties. Therefore next we stopped off in Browns for a drink. That place has not changed at all. It was exactly how I remembered it.

We ended up, as most nights out in Windsor in the past did. At one of the bars under the Arches. There did seem to be less bars there than I remembered. But old classics like Vanilla and The Scotch Bar where still there. We went in to the Fuzzy Bear.

Well I thought it was about time that I let my guests choose at least one place to go in to. It was fun in there, good atmosphere and some decent music. As all the bars in that area are built under arches. They are all really long and thin. Not like most normal bars. But once you have been in one for a while, you do kind of get used to it.

It was another entertaining night. I do like Windsor for a night out. There are some nice places to go and it is a pretty friendly town. It was nostalgic to talk about the old times at Ivel fm. And just have a general catch up on life and each others world’s. The weekend was of course rounded off with the obligatory full English Breakfast on the Sunday morning. I think next time I will head down to Cornwall to see him. Any excuse to visit the place and enjoy the coast down there.

Windsor Night
Windsor Night

It is Tottenham’s final league game of the season at Wembley tomorrow. I have recently been to two home games in fairly quick succession. I was there to see us beat Watford on the Monday Night football the other week. The performance was not great but we won and should have scored more goals. It was also nice to go to a game now that the weather is a little warmer. That does make it a bit more enjoyable in the stands.

Spurs v Watford
Spurs v Watford

This week I was back at Wembley once again to watch Spurs play Newcastle United. After our defeat away at West Brom in the last game. A win was desperately needed to secure a top four finish and the crucial Champions League football for next season. Happily a win was achieved, albeit by just the one goal in an otherwise fairly ordinary game. The one moment of magic was provided by none other than Harry Kane.

Spurs v Newcastle
Spurs v Newcastle

On the same night Chelsea were held to a draw by Huddersfield. Which means they are now four points behind us with one game to go. Therefore we have now already qualified for the Champions League for the third successive year. It also will make us the highest placed London club for the first time since the nineties.

If we beat Leicester we will finish in third place.  Which would be a wonderful achievement for a team who have technically had to play a whole season of away games. I am looking forward to the deserved celebrations after the game tomorrow.

Spurs v Real Madrid
Spurs v Real Madrid

The annual comedy event that is the Tringe Festival is back next month. It is the event at which I made my stand up comedy debut nearly six years ago now. It is also where I performed again last year at the always brilliant Roving Comedy Night.

Neil Quigley Stand Up Comedy
Neil Quigley Stand Up Comedy

In fact that event kicks off this year’s proceedings. I have already booked my ticket to check out the new batch of Logan Murray students. See some professional comics. Who I have not seen live before. And catch up with some old friends. It is taking place on Sunday 24th June. It is always a fun and enjoyable evening.

I had a fantastic time gigging at it last year. The audiences are lovely, the venues are good and it is all excellently organised. But most of all it is just great fun to be involved with. Part of me will miss not being on stage this year. But watching will mean I will hopefully be a little bit less nervous than I was before it began last year.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

The Roving Comedy Night kicks off three weeks worth of gigs in the Tring area. Lots of them are comedians previewing and honing their new shows. Which they will be doing at the Edinburgh Festival. Later on in the summer. It always manages to attract a star studded line up. With some hilarious comedians once again lined up to appear there.

Here are just some of the names you can see at the Tringe this year. They include Rhod Gilbert, James Acaster, Nina Conti, Mark Watson and Marcus Brigstocke to mention but a few. Most of the gigs are at the wonderful Court Theatre in Tring. For more details on this just follow the link. But I will warn you, tickets for this do get snapped up quickly http://www.get-stuffed.biz/tringe/

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I watched the improvised special of Car Share on Bank Holiday Monday. We already know that Peter Kay is a comedy genius both at stand up. And at writing and performing in funny television shows. This episode was basically edited together from lots of the footage of him and Sian Gibson going off piste and randomly chatting  on set during the filming of the last series.

A lot of it was so good they figured they could make a whole special episode from it. And they were totally right. The conversation is so relaxed and genuine between them. They just bounce off each other expertly.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

While still seemingly taking great pleasure and joy in trying to trip the other one up. Or send the discussion in a surprising and totally different direction. There was one bit in it, which I loved. It was where they both genuinely made each other laugh out loud a lot. Natural, spontaneous giggling is one of the best feelings in the world.

It is a really clever show. The way they take the rise out of local commercial radio is brilliant. I like to believe it is done with love and respect for the medium. Having worked in it. I should be offended, of course. But a lot of it is pointing out exaggerated examples of things that have more than likely happened on air. Plus I know he is a fan of radio in general, so I am sure it is all a bit tongue in cheek.

Neil Quigley

The other brilliant thing is all the extra visual jokes and gags that go into the external shots of the car. And the views of the streets they show. Including some comically named shops and businesses. A dog doing its business by a phone box. In quite graphic detail. Featured in the latest one,

Just lots of odd to see on TV, yet normal things you would more than likely see if you were driving around a town. Many of course with an extra comic element or two added to them. I reckon you could watch it several times and possibly spot something new every time. Funny and clever, which sums up the man who makes it.

Neil Quigley in Car
Neil Quigley in Car

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