Tag Archives: I’m a Celebrity

Online and Doing Fine

The second national lockdown in England has ended. We now find ourselves in a selection of different tiers. It is almost as if they have based the latest policies on a sketch from The Frost Report in 1966 featuring John Cleese, Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett. I am in a Tier Two area. It will not change what I have been doing since March. I am still working on the policy the less people you come into contact with the less chance you have of catching or passing on the virus.

I will admit I am being extra cautious but as an Asthma sufferer I feel this is a sensible approach to take. I do not really have the desire to return to a pub or even the theatre until they are more like how they used to be. When you could order a beer stood at the bar or sit next to other people. Plus the whole point of going to the pub was to have a break from the people you live with. Dragging them there with you just defies the reason for going in the first place.

I hope whatever situation, you find yourself in you are coping with it all currently. There is some light at the end of the tunnel. We will get through this and at some point things will return to normal. And we will be able to go back to doing the things we love. We just need to be a bit sensible still and to respect each other. Like everybody else I have lost pretty much a whole year’s worth of events. My diary is the emptiest it has been for years. But on the plus side I have seen many more films this year than in the last ten!

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I took part in my first ever online Zoom Games Night recently. It was organised by a friend and former radio colleague of mine. He got in touch with everyone using the new way to liaise about every event now by setting up a “WhatsApp” group for it. He did oversubscribe it a little as there were only eight places available on the night. These were allocated on a first come first serve basis and I made the cut for the inaugural edition.

The way it worked was we had a Zoom Meeting that we all signed in to using the secret ID of course. Therefore we could all see and chat to each other. Once we had finished catching up we got down to the business in hand. For the games the person hosting had set us up on an American website that offered online games. We could see the screen on the Zoom Call. Then we also had to log into the website Jackbox Games on our own mobile phones.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

At the start of each game we got given a special code to enter which connected us all to the same one. The way it worked was we could put our answers into our phone and then when the time was right these would be displayed on the main screen for everybody else to see. We played three different games, although they were all along the same lines. We had to fill in missing words or give joke meanings for phrases. Then two of us were randomly pitted against each other with the rest of the players voting on who had given the funniest or best suggestion.

It was a bit weird at first and took a little getting used to but when we got the hang of it, it was a good laugh! The games we played were quite silly and simple. Light hearted fun and the chance to have some interaction with other people. I am ultra-competitive so I was a bit disappointed that I did not win any of the games. That said they were not quizzes with exact answers more like parlour games designed for a laugh. I would definitely do it again. Plus it gave me the chance to use my green screen and put up some different backgrounds, simply to amuse myself really.

Neil Quigley

I watched yet another film last weekend making this year a record breaking one for me on that front. I normally average at best five of them in any twelve month period. I am definitely into double figures now, as ever though I am still a bit behind the times with my movie selections. They do also have to fall into a certain category to make me want to put them on and commit to them. This latest one was written by Richard Curtis and directed by Danny Boyle. As I have in the past enjoyed both of their work this convinced me to at least give it a try.

The film was “Yesterday” which was released last year. That for me is like watching something almost brand new. The premise of it is that a strange synchronised event happens at the same time worldwide. Kind of like the year 2k bug that never materialised. The outcome of this is that nobody remembers The Beatles and there is no record of them existing. The star of the piece somehow avoids the meltdown of the planet and he still remembers them. He is a musician so then starts releasing their music pretending that they are all his songs.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

This leads to him supporting Ed Sheeran on tour. Ed appears in it as himself. It is a Richard Curtis film so obviously ultimately there is a massive love story at the centre of it. The best thing about it for me was all The Beatles’ songs that it features. It does have a great cast to. I appreciate when you put the plot down in writing it does sound a bit odd but it all kind of makes some sense when you are watching it. Apart from one bit towards the end which seems to put a massive whole in the concept of it. I will not spoil that here though, you will have to work that out for yourself.

I would say it is an easy film to watch and enjoy. You do not really have to concentrate too much. It does you could argue have a fairly predictable ending. But then you could make that argument about a lot of movies. I did find that when it had ended that I had to listen to all the other Beatles songs that it did not include. It really put me in the mood to hear their music and that is never a bad thing.

Strawberry Fields
Strawberry Fields

Owing to the fact that I am so rock and roll nowadays I have been playing a few games of Scrabble during the last couple of weeks. It has now turned into a bit of a Sunday afternoon pastime. I had not played for years until a few of weeks ago I challenged my girlfriend to a game. It was all going very well by which I mean I was winning and managing to use up lots of my letters. Then she put down the word “Phoenix” on a triple word square and then in that one move I basically lost the game. I did keep playing until the bitter end but it was all in vein. I was defeated!

After that I was not overly keen to play again but the following week we found ourselves going head to head once again. This time it was a timed game as I made it very clear that we had to be finished before the Chelsea v Tottenham game started. It is important to have your priorities right in life. This time the letters and the board worked in my favour. I managed to make two decent words including a Z both on extra points squares. I went on to win and level things up in the series doing so five minutes before kick off. I suspect we may have to play the decider this weekend as we are both very competitive. We may struggle to leave it as a draw.

Scrabble

I have enjoyed this year’s I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here. It has been different with it being at the castle but they have kept the key elements the same the best they could. Ant and Dec have been on top form throughout it. They are more relaxed at the trials so are laughing at the camp mates a lot more, may be because they are in Wales and not being bitten by bugs in the jungle. I was pleased that they all got on with each other. They have all supported and helped each other when they have been struggling. That has been great to see.

I never had a favourite this year so was not bothered about who won the crown. It has just been a bit of fun and a nice distraction every night. Just like catching up with old friends or more accurately eaves dropping other people’s conversations. Having now worked in radio myself for over twenty years I have got a fair few showbiz stories to tell. I am not sure if I should hold on until I can get into the jungle to spill them or maybe I will just write my autobiography. I have already got two titles standing by for it either “The Real Neil” or “Power On Basically” If you want to know why “Power On Basically” is one you will have to read the book that technically does not exist yet.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I finished a run of four brand new episodes of my online Pop Quiz last Tuesday. I did them weekly during the last national lockdown. I also did sixteen of them during lockdown one. They are all still free and available to watch on my Facebook page. Each one is about half an hour. It is just me having a bit of fun and asking some music based questions. Here is a link to the latest edition, if you fancy checking it out. https://www.facebook.com/796795590/videos/10164325111415591/

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

As things stand at the minute Tottenham Hotspur are still top of the Premier League. It has been a long time since that has been the case at the beginning of December. I am not getting carried away or too excited as there is still a long way to go. But as someone who likes to live in the moment I am enjoying it right now.

We have another huge game tomorrow with the North London Derby against Arsenal. It is a match that could go either way. I am looking forward to it and hope we can take maximum points from it but it will be tough. COYS!

Neil Quigley

It is my birthday this coming Thursday 10th December. I do like to try to take the day off for it when I can. That will seemingly not be a problem this year. I am somebody who embraces and enjoys my big day. Every year you complete in this game called life is always worth celebrating. Although events this year mean it will be pretty low key. I think I might just stay in cook myself a nice meal and may be have some drinks.

Staying in is the new going out. Plus Tottenham are playing at home in the Europa League that night so I can watch that on the television and pretend I am there. That is where I would have been if the world was normal. Just to clarify for the 19th year in a row my showbiz age will remain at twenty-five!

Neil Quigley

You can listen to me still on Saturday afternoon’s between 2pm – 4pm on Radio Ninesprings https://www.radioninesprings.co.uk/

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

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

Strictly I’m A Celebrity

Hopefully we are now over half way through the second National Lockdown in England, if it does end on the originally planned date of the second of December. Personally it has not affected me too much. I am mostly working from home as I have been lucky enough to do since the first one. I am able to exercise outside at a park near to where I live. It is nice to get out in the fresh air for a bit although I have not yet bumped into my Morgan Freeman type character.

There have been some encouraging developments with potential vaccines, which does appear to be good news. However it still may be quite a while before life returns to anything like it was before this all started sadly. It is just not going to suddenly stop and disappear and it is presenting the country with its biggest logistical challenge since the Second World War. Something I am sure we will all come through if we work together and for each other.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Luckily for me one of my favourite television shows is back on our screens nightly for around the next three weeks. I do not watch a huge amount of TV but I always closely follow “I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here. I am a fan of Ant & Dec this show gives them the perfect platform to do what they do best, mess around and have some fun at their own and the campmates expense.

I have met a lot of the former stars of the show many of whom actually won it! These include Christopher Biggins, Kerry Katona, Carl Fogarty, Pat Sharp, Timmy Mallet, Tony Hadley, Katie Price and Tommy Cannon.

Neil Quigley with Christopher Biggins
Neil Quigley with Christopher Biggins

This series is of course going to be a little bit different as due to the current global situation. They are not in the jungle in Australia but at a castle in Wales. I am particularly gutted about this as at the start of this year I went to Australia and being such a huge fan of the show I stayed at the Versace Palazzo on the Gold Coast.

That is the Five Star Hotel were the celebrities stay after they get voted out of the show. I was looking forward to posting pictures of me in the same locations that they showed the ex-campmates in. I am going have to wait until next year to do that providing of course they use all the same places when they presumably go back to the Jungle again.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

They seem to have a really good and interesting selection of people taking part this year. It is a very strong line up, possibly helped by the fact a lot of their dairies would have been quite empty and that they were not required to be on a plane for twenty four hours. I liked the way they adapted the opening challenge to the new surroundings using the cliff. That was really clever and I think set the scene for what was to come nicely. It will basically be the same but different, as simple as that.

I was thinking after I had seen the new living arrangements that they might be going easy on them this year. But then I changed my mind when they covered everybody in bugs within the first five seconds of the first team trial. They are a very competitive bunch on the whole and of course include a man who has four Olympic Gold Medals, so he knows a thing or two about mind set and motivation. Plus the man is clearly a winner, not to mention a Knight. That works well with the Castle setting of course.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

There is not anybody who I desperately want to win at the moment. I do prefer it when all the campmates get on well and have a good old laugh with each other rather than start arguing. But I am also aware that a big falling out does make for good television. I think this year though for the good of the world it would be nice if they were a tight unit.

It is a show that I do not think I could ever do but everybody I have spoken to who has been on it says it is a once in a lifetime amazing experience, so never say never I guess. I am looking forward to the rest of the series. I think it is going to be a funny one!

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Another television programme I enjoy at this time of the year is Strictly Come Dancing. Like everything in the world it is a little bit different. However the main thing about it that appeals to me is the joy and enthusiasm the celebrities get from dancing itself. Alongside the brilliant bond that forms between them and their professional partner.

Happily these two things still remain the same this year. I tried one two hour Salsa class around fifteen years ago, struggled with the basic steps and never returned. Despite that I still reckon that these amazing dancers could teach me to do a passable routine, mainly down to my work ethic and their patience I suspect. But I still feel it is achievable.

Last weekend there was said to be a shock exit but when you get two half decent people in the dance off one of them has to leave. All the judges can do is decide from the bottom two which the viewers vote for. I enjoyed Anton being a guest judge, he was supportive, positive but also I thought fair. Surely when his time as a dancer on the show comes to an end this move would be the natural progression for him.

Even though at one point there was talk of him hosting it, if I am honest I think he would make a better judge. I do not really have a favourite this year, which is good as that means I can enjoy each of the performances with no interest or concern about the outcome. It is a fun, happy and lively show perfect for Saturday night.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

My girlfriend and I are trying to have as many different weekend meals as possible. In a way we are pretending that we are going to a certain style of restaurant every Saturday night. Except she always ends up doing the cooking. For the record she is fine with that! Most recently we went with a home-made burger. Believe it or not that is something I had not had for ages. I tend to avoid fast food places, which has been very easy for me during most of this year.

“We” made the actual burgers ourselves. By that I mean that Lynda mixed up the meat with the spices and created the headline part of it if you like. Then I got to construct my own creation within the bun. If you have not had them at home for a while I would recommend it. The best bit is that you can decide on the ingredients and the ratios. None of this one Gherkin or one slice of Cheese rubbish. You can put as much of those in it as you like. I built my own perfect hamburger. Another bonus is you do not feel hungry again ten minutes after you have eaten it. I enjoyed it more than a man of my age should have.

Home-Made Burger

I watched the new Michael McIntyre Netflix Special. I used to have a stand up show on DVD for Christmas every year. These do not exist anymore as the digital platform shows seem to be the replacement. I have been lucky enough to see him do a small warm up gig once and he was very funny. What I think he is really good at is finding things that we all do and can relate to and making them funny and amusing. I appreciate that sounds really easy but try it and you will find out it is not at all. It takes a lot of skill to achieve what he does.

I am not sure if he felt more freedom within this medium but he did swear a bit more than I expected although to be fair nowhere near as much as Frankie Boyle. It is a very well put together piece of comedy. Each story or anecdote builds on the previous one and then leads to the big pay off at the end. It is clever, amusing and relatable. I think that sums his stuff up nicely. It is worth a watch and easy to absorb.

Michael McIntyre
Michael McIntyre

During the first Lockdown I did a weekly pop quiz on my Facebook page for about sixteen weeks. People seemed to enjoy taking part and I had fun doing it. Therefore I decided to bring it back for this latest one. There have been two new episodes in series two so far with two more currently expected in this run. Each one lasts about half an hour. It consists of six rounds each containing five questions.

I have called it “Quigger’s Plays Pop” in honour of a pop quiz that I used to watch on television as a child. Using that title made it quite easy for me to create a theme tune for it. I host it on a Tuesday night at 8.30pm. If you are free and fancy having a bit of music based fun then why not join me? You can play on your own or in teams it does not matter. https://www.facebook.com/neil.quigley

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

A couple of horses from my small stable raced in the last fortnight. “Rock Legend” made his debut at Aintree. He was ridden by Harry Skelton and is trained by his brother Dan Skelton. He did alright for his first time on the track but was a bit weak, so will be held back for a while as he needs more time to grow into himself.

“Force Ten” had an outing at Taunton over the hurdles. He came in sixth out of seven. It was another bit of much needed racing experience for this young horse. Who is under the guidance of the great trainer Paul Nicholls. We may see him race again sometime next month.

Force Ten

Tottenham Hotspur for about an hour were top of the Premier League a couple of weeks ago. It did not last long but it felt good while it lasted. We have since had the International Break with the domestic season back this weekend Spurs face Manchester City today in what will be a massive game for us. It gives us a chance to put down a bit of a marker to the teams around us. I am excited and nervous about the match in equal measure.

As ever from England performances there were plusses and minuses in the results from the three games the national team played. Harry Kane passed the fifty cap mark and in doing so he becomes the most capped Tottenham player ever. If he does stay at White Hart Lane for his whole career, I can see him beating practically every record for the club and possibly for England to. Congratulations Harry he is one of our own!

Neil Quigley

You can listen to me still on Saturday afternoon’s between 2pm – 4pm on Radio Ninesprings https://www.radioninesprings.co.uk/

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

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

Australia Part Two Gold Coast

I had an early flight booked from Sydney Airport to the Gold Coast. As previously mentioned I was staying at a hotel next door but even still the 5am alarm was a bit of a shock to the system, despite the power cut enforced super early night, the night before. While I was waiting to board I got myself quite a decent sized breakfast from a cafe in the departure lounge. Mainly because I wanted to try the breakfast pie they did there.

All my flights and connections had been booked for me by the travel person I use. I was flying with Jet 2 and unbeknown to me my ticket on this flight included a cup of tea and three large sandwiches. That I ate out of politeness even though I was already full up from the food that I had purchased earlier. I have got a real thing about wasting any food at all.

It was only a short journey with a flight time of around one hour and twenty minutes. Although as they actually use a different time zone up there currently it is one hour behind Sydney, so local time wise I landed twenty five minutes after we had taken off. The reason that I wanted to visit the Gold Coast is because I was desperate to stay at a specific hotel.

Palazzo Versace

I am a massive fan of the ITV 1 television programme I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here. I have watched every single series from start to finish. Over the years I have been lucky enough to meet a large number of former contestants and winners from it. All of whom have spoken very highly about the whole experience.

When their time in the jungle comes to an end they are then sent to a very nice hotel where they stay until the show has finished. And the King or Queen has been crowned. When I decided to make the long trip to Australia I also decided that I to had too stay at this particular hotel.

It does feature quite heavily in the show as people get voted out. You always see them arriving in the driveway and then being welcomed in to the reception area. They do also normally show you inside their room and do some other filming in and around the facility.

Therefore I have seen this hotel in all its glory on television many times over the years and always thought that it looked amazing! It is called the “Palazzo Versace”. It is a Five Star hotel and is quite simply stunning. I was staying there for the entire three nights of my Gold Coast experience. I must confess I was possibly way more excited than I should have been about that situation.

Palazzo Versace

When my taxi arrived the entrance looked so familiar having seen it on screen hundreds of times previously. It does look pretty stylish from the front. The circular driveway where the celebrities’ people carriers arrive and drop them off actually looks smaller in real life than it does on TV.

I did have to take a moment to admire the outside of the building before I walked in through those famous glass doors. I then found myself standing right in the middle of that spectacular reception where the friends and family greet the newly arriving ex camp mates.

Neil Quigley

The area is beautifully decorated. One of the main features is a huge Chrystal Chandelier which along with the mosaic on the floor takes centre stage. While I was waiting to be booked in to my room I had a look around the pool area, while working out where I had seen a few bits filmed over the years on “I’m A Celebrity”.

Once I was checked in I made my way to my room on the second floor tracing the steps of a whole host of former contestants. In case you are wondering yes I did open the door and throw myself straight on to the bed.

Palazzo Versace

The rooms in general and the bathrooms in particular do follow the Italian and Roman theme of the hotel. While I was on this trip I read Elton John’s book, he was friends with Gianni Versace. He mentions him, giving the impression he was a very elaborate and flamboyant man.

I do feel this trait really comes across within the hotel and the individual rooms. It does feel like a special place to stay. It also has a classy and yet relaxing feel to it.

Palazzo Versace

The hotel is situated at the top of the Gold Coast, so it is a fair way from the main towns of the area. Right next door however there is a small shopping centre which does have a McDonald’s. A little further down the road there is a Marina with a few restaurants and bars.

I initially found a cafe overlooking the water that I ended up using for my breakfast every day. They had a decent variety of food options. In fact one morning I had a healthy spinach based shake alongside a waffle, syrup, bacon and banana dish, which was lovely. And I think you will find the two combined made for a very balanced start to the day. Life is all about moderation!

Neil Quigley

During my first afternoon on the Gold Coast for the first time since I had arrived in Australia the sun had come out. I took full advantage of this by firstly having a nice long walk down the beach including a bit of a paddle in the sea. Then I returned to the hotel for some sun bathing by the pool.

They have a beach area built there with sand on the side and as you go into the water. All of the sun beds are padded. It was peaceful and relaxing, finally the chance to top up my tan a bit. I stayed there almost until the sun set spending the final part of it at the outside bar having yet another wonderful locally made beer.

Neil Quigley

For my evening meal on my first night I went to the local pub at the nearby Marina. It was in the same area as the local radio station that I found. It was called Juice and I must admit I did consider popping into their studios to see if they had any jobs. As the sun had now appeared it was becoming an appealing place to live.

I had a nice meal in the pub and discovered another Aussie beer that I liked. They have the bar area and then a separate counter to order food. You then get given a buzzer which flashes and vibrates when your food is ready to collect from the service counter. This seems pretty common practice in a lot of the pubs out there as far as I could see.

Neil Quigley

Day two on the Gold Coast and the sun was out again, so after I had breakfast I was straight back to sun bathing by the pool again. Apart from staying at the hotel this part of the trip was always meant to be the chill out and relaxing bit.

As I do like feeling the sand under my feet and hearing the sound of the waves I went for another long walk along Main Beach. I felt I had to take this opportunity as this is not a thing you can really do in England in February. The “Palazzo Versace” has its own Spa on site, so I thought while I was there I would treat myself to a treatment.

Neil Quigley

I booked a session in the Sauna and Steam Room as well as a sixty minute full body massage. I arrived in good time, filled out all the relevant paper work, then did the Sauna and Steam first. As well as that facility they also had three pools you could use, a cold one to jump in and cool down in after the heat treatments. Then two more in which the temperatures were progressively warmer. I tried all three as I am someone who is always keen to get my moneys’ worth. I did all of this before the massage.

When it was time to get ready for it I went back into the changing rooms to put on the paper underwear I had been given. It was the first time I had ever used them. I must say as far as I could tell they do not do a lot to preserve your modestly, but rules are rules. I was shown in to the room, which always have the relaxing music and the scented candles. The massage was great I could really feel the knots in my back and shoulders being released. An hour of basically being beaten up by a fairly petite woman does actually go quite slowly. But I did feel nice and relaxed at the end of it though.

Palazzo Versace

After it had finished they gave me some fruit to eat and some sort of ginger shot to drink. All the Staff were lovely and friendly in the Spa, so as the weather for my final day was not meant to be too good I booked in for another Sauna session.

That evening I ate at a chain style restaurant called Hogs Steakhouse. I took the name very literal and I did have a big steak there. While I was eating my meal on the screens in there a picture of their mascot appeared, which I will be honest made me laugh. It was a big bright pink Hog, which I would argue looked a tiny bit camp strangely.

Hogster

Before I had headed out for dinner there was something in the room that I had to try out. If you are a fan of “I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here” you may well remember from the show that the rooms at the hotel have Spa Baths in them as they often feature in the footage as they arrive back from the Jungle. My room had one of these and in the mini bar I had clocked an half a bottle of Australian Red Wine.

I filled the bath, which did not take as long as you might think. Then I put in some bath salts, poured myself a large glass of the wine and then got in. I spent the next ninety-minutes turning the bubbles on and off as I sipped the wine. It was heavenly, such a cool and relaxing experience. I now want one at home!

Palazzo Versace

Every night I would have a drink or two in the hotel bar which kind of over looked the reception area. It was a nice way to round off the day there. I woke up for my last day to find it was tipping it down with rain. The forecast was for heavy rain and thunderstorms all day. That obviously put pay to any sun worshipping plans I had.

I spoke to one of the Concierge team for suggestions on what to do on a wet day in the area. While we are mentioning them, weirdly one of the staff does look like Dec. In fact it was him who very kindly took the picture of me standing in the middle of reception. The guy I chatted to that morning suggested I visit a massive shopping centre about a twenty minute taxi ride away.

I did go there first but I did not really want to buy anything and apart from the stores there was not much in the way of entertainment. On the way back to the hotel I decided to take the tram to somewhere that I had found earlier when I was searching on line for things to do. It was basically in my humble opinion the worst wax museum on the planet.

Neil Quigley

I knew it was bad when I decided to go there but it was still raining heavily, I had nothing to do and most importantly I thought it would be funny. I found the place and went in, fair play to the gentleman on the front desk. He really gave it the hard sell detailing the amazing historical figures I was going to see and how I could take as many photos as I wanted, stating that this would be a very memorable experience.

To be fair to him he was not wrong, from the moment I walked into the small display area I could tell it would be memorable but not in the way that he had suggested. All of the models in this place were totally horrendous. None of them were a good likeness of who they were meant to be. Often the only thing that gave away who people were supposed to be was their clothing. I had to read the cards on most of the exhibits to know who they were.

Wax museum

It is hard to explain how bad it really was. I can only presume the model maker had never set eyes on anyone that he was making. None of them were at all flattering to the celebrities that they were representing.

The worse one was the model of the American Singer and Actress Whitney Houston not only did it not look anything like her, but it did not even have the right skin colour.

Whitney Houston????

I had been given half an hour to look around but I had finished it all in about ten minutes. I really cannot explain just how bad it was I am not sure how it has the balls to claim it contains the top celebrities that it does. There is another part to this experience. As part of your entrance ticket, (yes they actually charge to witness it) you get a guided tour around their chamber of horrors section.

This features random bad models showing torture techniques through the ages in no obvious or particular date or time order. You learn very little and the whole thing just appears to go on way too long. The plus side of the visit is that I did get a few funny pictures and I managed to stay out of the heavy rain for an hour. If there is a more useless wax museum anywhere I would like to see it. The Staff are all very friendly and lovely by the way. It is worth going just to try and guess who everyone is or at least who they are meant to be.

Wax Musuem

I figured that if I was staying at such an exclusive hotel I had to eat there at least once. On the final night I booked into their flag ship restaurant Vanitas. I had a lovely table for one looking out over the pool area. It is a classically decorated room.

I decided to go for the four course meal with accompanying wine. It was very quiet and peaceful in there, before the meal had actually started the waitress delivered the most amazing Italian bread and truffle butter to the table. That was already a great start to proceedings.

Neil Quigley

I am not normally someone who takes pictures of their food but each of the dishes looked so good, I did on this occasion. The main was a sensational lamb dish, which was delicious. The wine that came with each course matched perfectly with the food. It was a very nicely paced service, so you could eat and digest everything in your own time.

The dessert was magnificent, a chocolate tart with a couple of different flavours of Italian ice-cream. It was a really good meal and the perfect way to round off my stay there. Well I say round off but before bed on my final night I may have had another quick go in the Spa Bath.

Dessert

I am glad I visited the Gold Coast and stayed at the hotel. It means I will be even more excited every year when I watch “I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here” as it will bring back memories of my time there every time I see it.

I had a morning flight to my next destination, so I had to say goodbye to the “Palazzo Versace” at half past seven in the morning as I was picked up right outside it and then driven off to the airport to catch a plane to Melbourne.

Palazzo Versace

Part Three coming soon……….

Radio And Theatre

We have just had this year’s BBC Children In Need appeal. It is always a very special campaign for a whole host of reasons. And most importantly it always raises lots of money for thousands of amazing charities.

It is actually quite frightening the amount of people who do rely on help from charities sometimes just to exist. Some of the stories are heart breaking. But they also highlight how the people in the worse situations can be the most positive. We can all take something and learn from that outlook, I think.

There is a nice community feel to this event with lots of school kids getting involved to help fellow children not as fortunate as them. A whole host of big businesses also embrace and support it. I must say huge congratulations to Rylan Clark-Neal for his twenty-four hour karaoke marathon. That was live on Radio 2 and brought in over one million pounds.

I will be honest I often find it a bit annoying when “non-radio” presenters are suddenly given shows on the big networks. But just as he had with television presenting, he has clearly listened to the right people, learnt the craft quickly and is doing a really great job. For which I respect him greatly. Plus he seems like a thoroughly nice bloke, which again is not always the case.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Last Sunday I went to see Michael Ball do his Radio 2 Show live from The Savoy Theatre in London for Children In Need. They sold tickets for it with all the proceeds going to the Pudsey Bear fronted charity. I have over the years presented lots of radio shows from outside the comfort of the studio.

They are always great fun but require a lot of hard work and result normally in much more adrenaline flowing through the body. There is so much more that can go wrong when you are out on location. It really does involve flying by the seat of your pants and hoping that everything works.

Victoria Pendleton and Neil Quigley
Victoria Pendleton and Neil Quigley

Kudos to Michael and his production team who were putting on this show totally live from a theatre with lots of live music performances thrown in just to make it even harder for themselves. I must say that they did a fantastic job and it was a very slick programme from start to finish. It requires top notch communication skills from everybody to make it all work. You need to be totally on the ball (pun intended).

They did leave it very late to get the audience in. Although that is of course less of an issue with radio than television. The last person got to their seat just as the travel news was about to finish and the show was about to start. The opening act was a Rock Choir who did their version of Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now”. Which I would say is quite apt for the start of a live radio show on location. Despite it being just after eleven o’clock on a Sunday morning the crowd were loud and in good spirits, singing and clapping along from the word go.

Radio 2

Michael Ball is such a natural performer and you could tell he was at home on the stage, even though we were watching him do his radio show. That means lots of conversations with the producers while the records or to be more accurate the digital recordings of songs are playing. This is also when the stage was set up for the next item. That is the beauty of radio. When you need time to sort something out or if something is not quite ready on time, you just play another song.

The next guest on the show was the wonderful Rick Astley. He is always happy to help out and donate his time to charity. He was on fine form. He did his excellent latest single. Then he had a quick chat with Mr Ball about his career and his latest tour before treating us to his big break through hit from the eighties “Never Gonna Give You Up”. His voice by the way is still sounding as good as ever. He really is a top quality live performer. I did enjoy singing along to that classic piece of pop history. However if I am honest I am not sure if the person sitting next to me enjoyed it as much.

Radio 2

Michael then played a round of his weekly quiz On The Ball. It is normally played by two contestants who know each other over the phone. But this time he had them both on stage with him. It did not go exactly to plan as the audience could not resist shouting out the answers, so both competitors got I would suggest more points than they normally would. It was all good fun and I must admit I do like a good quiz. Plus if I do say so myself I am pretty good at them. By this I mean I know a lot of useless rubbish.

Bonnie Langford then came on stage for a chat with the host. She is appearing in 9 to 5. That is currently playing at the theatre, more on that later on. It turns out that Michael had his first on stage kiss with Bonnie in 1985, when they were both in the Pirates of Penzance. For a laugh they did recreate it for us. She then showed off some of her dance moves. This is not meant to be at all sexist or ageist but for a woman of her age she can still kick her feet way above her head. She is amazing and a lovely person to.

Radio 2

To end the first hour of the show Michael was joined on stage by his great mate Alfie Boe to sing a song from their new album. It is the third one that they have made together. They are also going out on tour together to. Obviously they both have spectacular voices that compliment each other. But what is really great is the camaraderie between them. They get on so well and have such respect for each other, it is wonderful. Needless to say their version of “Something Inside So Strong” was sensational.

I have been a fan of Status Quo for years and up till this year had never seen them live. I have now seen them twice in the last three months. They were the first act of the final hour of the show. They came on and did their latest single. Then Michael tried to chat to Francis Rossi. I think he is brilliant! He is just like a big kid, he has that twinkle in his eye and just wants to throw the interviewer off and take the rise without really answering any questions. Then the band played “Rocking All Over The World”, which had the entire theatre singing along at the top of our voices.

Radio 2

The time was really flying by, which is always a good sign. Next on stage it was James Blunt. He did his latest song, then had a chat to Michael before playing a stripped down version of “Goodbye My Lover” with just him on the piano. He does seem to get a lot of stick. I am not even sure why as I think he seems like a nice bloke. I would recommend following him on Twitter as he does give some excellent responses to people who troll him on there. They are pretty funny. For the record his new album is excellent.

Radio 2

Right at the end Michael Ball was joined on stage by the entire cast of the Les Miserables Staged Concert to perform “One Day More”. It was stunning. I have been lucky enough to see the full show, so I do know how out of this world their voices are. It was a brilliant way to close an expertly well produced and executed radio show, all in aid of a very good cause. Congratulations to everyone who was involved. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Radio 2

I was back at The Savoy Theatre last Wednesday to see 9 To 5 The Musical. Being a fan of country music in general I am of course well aware of the work of the legend that is Dolly Parton. Although to be honest I had never seen the film version. That is more due to my lack of ability to watch movies than any slight on the story. It is based on the 1980 film which Dolly herself starred in. She is the producer of this stage version. I am delighted to say she does in video form make a few appearances to.

It is a lovely intimate theatre The Savoy of course attached to the famous hotel, whose name it shares. It is always nice when you go in as outside there is usually a load of limousines, so it feels quite grand and a little bit showbiz. I can confirm that the Rioja they serve there is perfectly acceptable to. The bar areas are quite small and compact but the seats in the theatre have plenty of leg room. Well for a man like me with short legs at least

9 To 5

The show was fantastic. It is a comedy so there were loads of funny moments. It was getting plenty of laughs from the audience. But the subject matter and arc of the story contains lots of moral and ethical issues. The songs are of course brilliant as they have been written by Dolly Parton. The cast were all excellent. It is quite amusing as Dolly played one of the roles in the film and let us just say they have kept true to that in this version. If you see it, you will know what I mean. It does need to be like that for it to all work really.

I must say that I did think Brian Conley was perfect as the terrible sexist boss. He played it great and of course being a comedy genius got plenty of laughs. Also Bonnie Langford was amazing in it. She is virtually a national treasure. She can sing, act and dance. In fact her dancing skills in this are sensational. She gets her own solo routine which she absolutely nails. I do not think I have ever seen somebody do the splits so effortlessly and graciously. She is like Super Woman.

Another fine afternoon out at the theatre seeing an excellent show, it got a deserved standing ovation. Then we all stayed on our feet to sing 9 to 5 with the cast, which is a very uplifting way to finish it off. Afterwards I had dinner with my family at The Ivy Garden in Covent Garden. I do really like it in there. The service is fantastic. They have a very good selection of excellent meals. It is always a pleasure to go there.

9 To 5

One of my favourite television programmes returned to our screens last Sunday. Right from the very first series I have always enjoyed it. The show in question is I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here. I am a fan of Ant and Dec and I think this is arguably the best thing they do. They get to tell jokes, do mini skits and take the mickey out of all of the camp mates. Add to that the fact they are often so evil to them during the Bush Tucker Trials. I personally think that it makes for top quality entertainment. It is good to see Ant back with his mate after he missed last year due to his personal problems.

Over the years I have been lucky enough to meet many of the Kings and Queens of the jungle, as well as lots of former camp mates. They have all pretty much said the same thing. That it was one of the best experiences of their entire life. I guess it must be such an unique and unusual environment to be subjected to. It simply strips away all the superficial stuff and just leaves the need to acquire food and be with people. It must be quite enlightening, as well as being tough on the body and mind. I would like to give it a try but I will be honest, I am not sure if I could do it. I am not really an outdoorsy kind of guy.

Neil Quigley with Christopher Biggins
Neil Quigley with Christopher Biggins

I know it is still fairly early days but so far I really like all of this year’s Celebrities. They all seem nice and well-meaning people. Which in the current world climate is very reassuring, Mind you they are not cold and hungry yet. The competition has not really started, so that could all change. James Haskell is making me laugh the most. He has some top banter skills honed by many years of playing a team sport, I suspect. The only one who I have met in this line up is Ian Wright. He is a very nice, friendly and decent bloke, who I expect to do well this year. He is certainly very competitive.

I am looking forward to seeing how this series progresses. I know some people like it and think it is good television when people argue and fall out with each other. However I prefer seeing people getting along having a good laugh and working together. I am not a big fan of watching confrontation. I do also like seeing around the hotel they go to when they get kicked out of the jungle. It looks stunning. I am not going to predict who will win, as I do think it is pretty open this year. Plus I always get it wrong.

Neil Quigley is ready for Australia
Neil Quigley is ready for Australia

Strictly Come Dancing is reaching an interesting time. It has got to the stage this year where anyone could go. During the first half you can normally pretty much predict who will leave every week, as they are the worst dancer. At the minute with probably two exceptions everyone is at a fairly similar level. One bad dance or one dance style that does not suit could see anyone go. It is quite odd how I hate to see anyone leave but then forget about them pretty quickly when they do. As the old saying goes “That’s Showbiz”

This year as I have said previously I do like Chris Ramsey. He is not the best dancer, but he is very entertaining. He had not danced in public before the show, so has come a really long way. Kelvin is very good and I think Oti is fantastic. They must be in with a real chance of being champions. Karim and Amy are fabulous. Saffron and AJ look great together and always put on a show. It is brilliant to see Anton have a great year with the lovely Emma Barton. It would be nice to see him in the final.

I am sadly a terrible dancer. Several years ago I went to one Salsa class and was so bad that I never returned. Recently I have been trying to learn the Cha Cha Cha via online videos. I am finding it so tough just mastering the basic steps. The way these celebrities learn a new dance style and routine every week and then perform it live on a Saturday night amazes me. They all have my upmost respect. The professional dancers on the show are like magicians.

Neil Quigley

I went to England’s 1000th International football match at Wembley Stadium against Montenegro with my dad. We went for a couple of drinks first in The Arch pub before heading in to the ground. Before the game we had some pizza and I had a cup of tea. This is a pretty standard pre-match routine for me. The game itself was the most comfortable and straight forward England home game I had seen for years. We won eight – nil and Harry Kane had scored a hat-trick by half time.

England’s 1000th Game

This did mean that the second half was pretty dull and a bit boring compared to the first half when the goals were flying in. I must say I was a little disappointed in the half time reflection on the milestone of this match. I expected to see more of the 1966 World Cup team on the pitch and being interviewed, as well as a bigger selection of former internationals. I few former players walked out to the half way line and some were interviewed. But I just felt that more should have been made out of the occasion. Nice to see Wayne Rooney get a decent reception as the country’s record goal scorer.

Talking of receptions it was odd seeing Joe Gomez getting booed when coming on as a second half sub. He was obviously involved in the incident with Raheem Sterling but had done nothing wrong. I found this reaction very confusing. When a player steps out on to the pitch to represent the national team, they should have the fans full support. The win did mean we guaranteed qualification for the 2020 European Championships. The semi-finals and finals of which will be played at Wembley Stadium.

England then completed their qualifying campaign with a four- nil away win against Kosovo. Harry Kane scored his 32nd goal for his country. He is now sixth on the all-time scorer’s list, just twenty one goals behind Wayne Rooney. If he can stay fit I can see no reason why he cannot beat the record. He really is one of the best forwards in the world. He creates so many goals as well as scoring them. May be I am a little bit biased but I do sometimes think that he does not always get the credit he deserves.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Tottenham Hotspur continues to disappoint. I was at the last home game before the International Break. We managed to hold on for a draw against Sheffield United with a little help from our old friend VAR. Which for the record, I hate. It really is taking the fun and passion out of games. You are not sure if you should celebrate a goal now in case it is ruled out. Fans are cheering no goals like goals.

The decisions take ages and nobody in the ground has any idea what is going on. That makes for a very strange atmosphere during the games. Finally it is putting the officials on edge, so they are making more mistakes than they would if it was not there. I wish they would just stop using it completely.

Neil Quigley

I am still in shock at Mauricio Pochettino being sacked by Spurs. I am a massive fan of his, he did an amazing job at the club in very difficult circumstances. I did not only love the manager, I loved the man. How he held himself, the way he spoke, his ideas and passion for the team. I just want to personally thank him for what he has done for us over the last five years. I am sad to see him go and although things have not been going well this season, I would still have backed him to turn things around. Cheers Poch, he is still magic you know!

Tottehham Hotspur
Tottehham Hotspur

I have never been a fan of Jose Mourinho. I appreciate that he has been successful in the past. However he is the new manager of my club and I am completely behind him. I hope he does not moan as much as he has in the past or be such an idiot in some situations. We play West Ham United away this weekend, always a tough place to go. We really need to win as we are at risk of being dragged into the relegation places. Big match!

The London Stadium
The London Stadium

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

Life Begins at 40 Right?

Hi there, how are you doing? I hope you have had a really nice couple of week’s. Mine have been quite busy with some fun things going on. December is very much a time for catching up with family and friends, I think. So I had a full day of doing exactly that last Saturday.

At lunchtime I went and met up with two of my best mates. For a long overdue catch up. Over some food and a few drinks. Everybody seems to have such busy live’s nowadays with so much going on. So as a result of that, this was actually the first time I think we had all been together for nearly a year.

We went to the Royal Saracens Head in Beaconsfield. When you are with good friends the conversation just flows constantly from the moment you get there. Filling each other in on recent developments, while also reminiscing about the past. Is there a better way of spending a Saturday afternoon than having a laugh with mates.

The food was great to. I had the pork belly, which was amazing. And for desert I had a dish called the Chocolate Bomb. The waitress bought it to the table. And it was just a big ball of chocolate. Then she pours on the special custard. And the chocolate explodes in the bowl. It looked spectacular and tasted so good. It was a brilliant few hours spent with that winning combination of great food and great company.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I then went straight from my lunch meeting to my Uncle’s house for his annual pre-Christmas drinks. This is always a good fun event. It was lovely to catch up with lots of members of my family, all in one go. I do have quite a big family. So there were lots of us there. All having a nice chat and a good giggle. Another tradition that has developed at this event is a family sing song.

One of my cousin’s husband’s is a decent guitarist. So he now brings his axe. And we all get together in the kitchen to sing a few carols and Christmas songs together. I seem to remember that one year someone actually went and produced song sheets for everyone.

Then after the singing there is always some lovely food to enjoy. So everyone is always well fed and watered. Then as the party thinned out a little bit when people started to leave. We moved through to the living room to continue the fun. Now I do not know why but I always seem to be one of the last people to leave any party. And once again I was one of the last people to leave this one.

Another successful and fun festive get together with the family. This event almost signals the official start of Christmas for me. Luckily they are all fun people, so there is lots of joking around and laughing at these occasions. Which is right up my street.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Now as a child I did play a lot of football and have always been a massive fan of the game. Although I kind of stopped playing regularly when I was in my mid twenties. As I started to pick up more radio work at the weekends. Since then I have played the odd bit of five a side.

And seem to have almost averaged about one charity game of football a year. Each time I play in one. It does actually seem to get harder and harder every year. And although I do try to keep myself fit by going running and doing some weights. It is a different kind of fitness, that is required to play football.

Charity Football Match
Charity Football Match

The other week I played in my latest charity game. Which was organised by my mate Andy Holmes to raise money for Bucks Mind. My previous game was at Wembley Stadium. And I did think that may be I should make that my last game. As that would be quite a fitting place to bow out. But Andy is a good friend and I still do enjoy a game of football.

So therefore I agreed to play in it. It took place on the 3G pitch at the Aylesbury Academy. It was the first time that I had been there. It seems like the whole estate it was on had appeared from nowhere. Without wishing to show my age. And sound like an old man. I really do remember when it was all fields there.

Charity Football Match
Charity Football Match

It was very well organised. And we even had kits to wear. I was put on the red and black team and managed to get the number eight shirt. Which was the number Paul Gascoigne used to wear when he was at Tottenham. So it was a choice I was happy with. I think because I play so little and so rarely. I always seem to injure myself when I play now.

Normally I think this is because when I step out on to a football pitch in my head I am eighteen. So I race around everywhere but in reality I am not of course. So predictably within a minute of kick off I collided with a defender while running and went flying. Hurting my shoulder and giving myself a very impressive cut and friction burn from the pitch on my left knee.

Charity Football Match
Charity Football Match

I picked myself up and got on with the game like the hero I am. I was playing up front. Now when I was younger and was pretty good. I scored lots of goals in my teens and my twenties. But nowadays I still know what I want to do with the ball in my head. But my body is not quite as responsive as it used to be. Which I think led to me missing lots of chances. That I am pretty sure a younger me would have put away without thinking about them.

I did still produce a few moments of class to set up some goals. But sadly I could not get myself a goal. It was not for the want of trying I can assure you. My team won 8-6. But the real winner was the charity of course. As we raised over seven hundred pounds for them. It was good fun, despite the fact I was struggling to walk for two days after it.

Charity Football Match
Charity Football Match

So Tottenham Hotspur’s Champions League experience has not gone brilliantly. I went to two of the home games at Wembley. And saw us lose both of them. We are now out of the competition. Which I guess means we can concentrate on the league and possibly the FA Cup now. At least we had a nice win last weekend against Swansea. As we head towards the second half of what is our very last season at White Hart Lane.

I still plan to get to at least one game there. To say good bye to the old place. It is nice to see the manager getting our star players signed up on long contracts with Harry Kane and Jan Vertonghen. Both signing new deals this week. So the future looks bright and exciting, I think.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

It has been another great series of Strictly Come Dancing. The standard of the celebrities this year has been astonishing. Even the much maligned Ed Balls improved as a dancer and put in some really good performances. Which although were not technically perfect were very entertaining. I think it is very difficult to choose between the final four. They are all such good dancers. Who have all put in memorable performances. Danny Mac was brilliant from show one but has maintained these standards. Ore Oduba has steadily improved every week. And the two ladies Louise Redknapp and Claudia Fragapane have both just got better and better each week.

I think Louise might just edge it and get her hands on the Glitter Ball trophy. Mainly because of her partner Kevin Clifton. He has reached the final every year since he joined the show. So I think he is over due his win. Which could be made even sweeter by beating his sister Joanne. Who partners Ore. The bond and friendship that develops between the celebrities and their professional partners. Just makes the show so watchable and often very emotional. It is a great all round family entertainment show. Which is just perfect for Saturday Night’s.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Another television show that I really enjoy is I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here. I think Ant & Dec are brilliant on it. Linking it all together smoothly with lots of good jokes. And amusing set pieces normally at the expense of the camp mates. Who this year have all been really nice. It has been a good happy fun camp with lots of laughter and very few arguments. Which I have really liked.

I would much rather watch people getting on and enjoying each others company. Than people screaming and shouting at each other. I did not really have a favourite. They all seemed like they were nice people. I thought that may be Danny Baker would have lasted a little longer than he did in there. But I guess as you get the same money if you get voted out first or last. Then why not get out early and enjoy living it up in the six star Australian hotel. As opposed to sleeping on a camp bed and eating rice and beans for three weeks.

Neil Quigley with Christopher Biggins
Neil Quigley with Christopher Biggins

Well done to Scarlett Moffatt who was crowned the Queen of the Jungle this year. It just shows you how the world of reality TV has developed. As she is basically famous for watching TV. While being filmed for TV. You some times forget that the show has now been running since 2002. Scarlett made us all feel very old. When she revealed she used to watch it as a ten year old and dreamed of being on it. She seems like a nice girl and I wish her all the best for the future.

I think this might show how the programme’s demographic has changed over the years. When you think an established name like Tony Blackburn won the first series. And now the last two have been won by up and coming reality style stars. While it used to be the chance to revive the profile of existing performers. It is now may be more of a stepping stone for future celebrities and stars. Still I do enjoy it and it is a great fun show, whatever.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

So since we spoke last while I have been at work. I have been in a lift with Radio One’s Scott Mill’s. I have seen his former producer Beccy Huxtable in the office. I have also spotted in and around the building Pete Tong, Bradley Walsh and Julie Walters.

There is always so many cool people about New Broadcasting House. I also got to speak to the legend that is journalist Martin Bashir the other week. As he was doing a report in to one of the shows that I was working on.

BBC Radio
BBC Radio

So today it is actually my 40th Birthday. I am not quite sure how this has happened. And it seems to have come around very quickly. I do always make sure I do something to celebrate my birthday. And as it is a landmark one. I am throwing a big party tonight. Which I have organised and arranged all by myself.

Every party I have had has included some entertainment. And I have really pulled out all the stops for this one, this year. I will tell you all about, when I speak to you next. But needless to say I am really looking forward to it and it should be a lot of fun. I have no hang ups or issues about heading in to my forties. Age is just a number. I will carry on just, as I always have.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

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