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Festival of Fun

Hello again, hope life is good and you are feeling fine. Last weekend was an annual event in my diary. Which I look forward to every year. It is something I first went to more than ten years ago now. I always enjoy any trip to Liverpool. But being there for Ladies Day at Aintree is brilliant fun. We have been doing it for such a long time now. That we have got the whole operation down to a tee.

I travelled up to Liverpool on the Thursday afternoon by train. On the journey I was catching up on the Gary Lineker and Danny Baker Podcast “Behind Closed Doors.” Which they launched at the start of this year. If you are a fan of football stories and banter. Then take a listen. I enjoyed it and it passed the time nicely. As I went through Birmingham on my way to Lime Street Station. On arrival there I walked past and tipped my head to the Ken Dodd statue by the exit. As I always do.

Neil Quigley in Liverpool
Neil Quigley in Liverpool

Then it was the short walk to Central Station to get the Mersey Rail to meet my mate at his local station. I feel very at home there. I put that down to my Granddad having grown up in that area. As always my pal meets me from the station. And we head to his local pub. To have a few beers and a catch up. I drink in London often, so there is something almost exciting about being able to buy two pints for less than four pounds.

It is then back to his place. Where thankfully he always lets me stay. As hotel prices in the city rocket in price unsurprisingly during the Grand National Race Meeting. Food and some tea. Accompanied of course by some music. And this time a little bit of Alan Partridge. We do tend to get to bed at a reasonable time ready for Ladies Day itself. The next day.

Ladies Day 2019

I do not always, but this year I did treat myself to a new suit. We all dress up. Buying a suit is always an odd experience. As normally the men in those places can take one look at you. Then bring things out in exactly the right size. Something I can never manage. When I am shopping alone. Any way we are all suited and booted. And in a pub just down the road from the famous old course by midday.

Next we head down to the entrance. It is always spectacular when you walk in and see those familiar huge stands. Not to mention the amount of people milling around. As you enter you pass the parade ring. Race horses are such beautiful and amazing animals. We were in the big marquee. It has several bars, some bookies and some huge televisions showing all the races. They also have a live band, who go on in between races. So there is just a big party atmosphere in there all day.

I had three winners, while we were there. Including the first race of the day. Which is always a good start to proceedings. The place is rammed with people having a good time. We leave before the last race. To get ahead of the crowd and get into Liverpool City Centre. If you leave it to late. The queues for the trains are horrendous. We as ever timed it perfectly.

We normally start off in The Jacaranda. Which is yet another place where The Beatles used to play a lot. They have a jukebox and great music in there. So it is always a good laugh. From there we continued the fun in several different bars. As more people we knew, who had been at the races earlier, joined us. We then ended up in an eighties bar finishing the night dancing in there. Once again it was another fantastic day. It is brilliant fun! With good company and venues. Plus a nice vibe to the whole thing.

Ladies Day 2019

The next day is of course The Grand National. We also have a bit of a tradition for this momentous event to. We always spend it with my mate’s parents and sister in a lovely pub, near to where they live. It is such a relaxing and fun afternoon. We have a few drinks, a laugh and watch all of the races including of course the big one.

Well done to Tiger Roll on winning it for the second year running, Which is some achievement. I was at Cheltenham when he won so convincing there this year. I must admit after that performance. I knew that he would be the best horse at Aintree. But that is not a guarantee. That you will win it. It was a great race . When he got in front. There was no way that anyone was going to get past him. I am pleased to say that I did have some money on him. Fair play to you if you picked him out to.

Grand National 2019

I came home on the Sunday afternoon. After yet another amazing weekend. I have already booked to stay with my mate again next year. We did have a drive around the course before I had to head to the station. As you can normally, when there is not a race on, drive down the Melling Road. We did just that and looked back down the course at all those daunting fences. A big thanks to everyone who joined in and made it such a fun and memorable few days. To quote The Beautiful South “You can’t have too many good times.”

Ladies Day 2019

I went and saw a brand new show recently. It is starting in the West End before it goes on tour all over the United Kingdom. It stars four Strictly Come Dancing contestants. Three of who won the show and one who really should have done that as well. Or at the very least got a lot further in the competition than he actually did. They are Harry Judd, Louis Smith, Jay McGuinness and Aston Merrigold. The show is called Rip It Up.

Rip It Up

It is basically a tribute to the nineteen sixties. It is set up like the American music television programmes. That were on during that decade. Complete with over the top US host. There is a band on stage throughout. A company of brilliant dancers. And the four stars who mostly perform the dances. Either in groups or with a partner. They do also all do a bit of singing. Including Louis Smith. Who then demonstrates what a great gymnast he is in one section. Harry Judd does some drumming. Aston Merrigold throws in some back flips.

It is a nicely put together show. Which features some quality songs and some great dancing. It is good fun. And the audience were up on their feet singing and dancing along by the end. Some bits do feel like they are shoe horned in a little. But it is a brilliant night out. It does not take itself too seriously. It pays homage to a great time in world music. Plus they do have some huge musical stars to help with the narrative. I enjoyed it.

Rip It Up

During my time working in radio. I have met a lot of very talented and lovely people. One of these is the wonderful Neil Sands. He toured the country as a professional Wrestler. He was one of the people behind “The Church”. If you ever went to that place on a Sunday afternoon in Kings Cross. As I did on a few occasions. And for many years now, he has been producing and starring in several different touring shows across the country.

His latest show. Brand new for this year is Sentimental Journey. Which I went and saw at the Wycombe Swan a few weeks ago. It is simply a celebration of great music from the forties through to the seventies. It stars Neil himself alongside some other great singers and performers Chelsea Turnbull, Sophie Presley and Szara King. He works with a brilliant backing band called The Golden Times Duo.

He has been a professional entertainer for many years. He has such a nice way with the audience. It is just all so very inclusive and good humoured. Right from the start the audience are encouraged to join in. I took my mum to see it. And we had a very enjoyable afternoon clapping and singing along to all these fantastic songs. Plus any show that features a section on Buddy Holly, Connie Francis and a little bit of Country and Western is always going to be a big hit with me.

It is a show full of memories and nostalgia delivered with love and grace by the cast. It also has a fitting tribute to our armed forces. Which is equally poignant and joyful. I really enjoyed it. As I have all the Neil Sands productions that I have seen. He was sadly feeling a little under the weather. But I did manage to have a very quick chat with him afterwards. It was great to see him. He is such a nice person and extremely talented. Keep an eye out for him and his shows. They are always worth seeing.

Sentimental Journey

I went to the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium for the second test event there. Which was a Spurs Legends side against Inter Milan. It was great to see so many former players back in the famous white shirts and on the pitch. It was a quality line up. Some of them had not played for a very long time. While others were a lot fitter. And dare I say still pretty athletic. I was very impressed with Jurgen Klinsman. He was still strutting around the pitch and looking sharp. Also David Howells deserves a special mention for treating it like a cup final. He was taking no prisoners out there.

It was great to see Robbie Keane score and do his famous cart wheel celebration. Always a joy to see Dimitar Berbartov play. Nayim was a bit bigger than I remember. But still very skilful. Great to see David Ginola out there after his recent health problems. But there was one player I was looking forward to seeing the most. It was the man who I remember running our whole midfield and scoring that ridiculous free kick against Arsenal in the FA Cup Semi-final back in 1991 Paul Gascoigne.

He was on the bench to begin with. And sadly in true Gazza style, he had managed to damage his Achilles Tendon in the warm up. But fair play to him. He still came on to a brilliant reception from all the fans. The whole place was singing his name. It was clear that he was not moving very easily, so he only lasted about ten minutes. Before he was then replaced. Still great to see him. What a Spurs and England legend. I wish him all the best in his recovery. The game was a good laugh, even though we lost in the end. It gave me another chance to get settled in to the new home.

Tottenham Hotspur

Talking of which I was of course there for the official opening and our first league game at the currently named Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. The ground opened early. So I took advantage of this by having a pint and a pie there before kick off.

There was a bit of an opening show. We had a local youth choir. Who were ace. They were then joined by the Opera Singer Wynne Evans for a different version of Glory Glory Tottenham Hotspur.

Tottenham Hotspur

At the end of which there was a big fireworks display on the roof. Something I had completely missed until I saw the footage after. I was looking straight at the pitch only, I never thought to look up. So I missed it. Then I could not work out where this smoke was coming from. Before the match had even kicked off. A tweet I posted earlier appeared on the four big screens inside the ground. I was very happy that my name had already been displayed at the stadium. I managed to get a really bad picture of it.

The game itself was a must win. We had to get the three points. To keep in the hunt for a Champions League place. Thankfully after a bit of dogged resistance from Crystal Palace and a slight deflected shot. We managed to score our first senior goal at the stadium. And go on to win the game two – nil. Which felt great. It is a brilliant stadium. I can tell I am going to have a lot of fun going there over the years.

The Boss

I was at the Champions League Quarter Final First Leg against Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City. The atmosphere in the place was so electric. We won one-nil thanks to another strike from Son. All of the players were immense.

But it is only half time, really. We still have it all to do in the second leg this Wednesday. The only disappointment on what was a very memorable night was Harry Kane going off with an ankle injury. The mood in the ground at full time was delightful.

Tottenham Hotspur

Huge congratulations to the amazing Charlotte Milchard. Who won Best Supporting Actress at the recent National Film Awards. For her role in Best British Film Scott and Sid. I first met her back in Yeovil in 2004. She was playing the villain in that year’s panto. And although on stage she was terrifying. Off it she was one of the loveliest people you could meet. I saw her a few times over the years performing in Somerset. She always popped in to have a chat on the radio. Which was fantastic.

Since then of course I have been following her career on stage and on screen. It is great spending time in her company. Such a talented and yet humble person. She richly deserves any success that comes her way. I was so happy for her when I discovered she had won this big accolade. A great achievement. It seems she had a wonderful night collecting her award. Which also makes me very happy. Well done Charlotte! A pleasure to know you.

Charlotte Milchard

Tonight I am off to see another performer I know compete for an award. I am attending the final of The Musical Comedy Awards in London. To see the excellent Silky perform for the title.

The evening will also feature The Brett Domino Trio. If you not aware of them. They are always good fun. I am looking forward to it. A Saturday night spent laughing at top quality acts. It always a bonus.

Silky at Roving Comedy Night
Silky at Roving Comedy Night

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

Musical Fun

Hi there, here we are again then. They do say that as you get older time seems to go quicker. I cannot believe two weeks have gone by already, since we spoke last. I have actually had quite a busy time. Which is exactly how I like things to be. I mean for starters it keeps me away from the news and other serious things happening at the moment. Music and comedy, I think is the way forward.

Neil Quigley

I must admit I have been to Las Vegas and I am certainly not adverse to a bit of gambling. However during my latest trip to a Casino. I did not bet a penny. I was at The Rialto in Leicester Square recently to see my mate Mike Sterling perform in his “Stars Of The West End” show. Alongside Karen Mav and Jenny Fitzpatrick.

Stars Of The West End

It was actually the first time I had been there. It is quite a nice and cool place. Not just for a gamble but also for a drink and a bite to eat. When I arrived they had a brilliant pianist and singer performing in the bar area. I got to meet him later on in the night. He is a top class bloke. He was in the original cast of the musical Rent. He also plays in a few different bands. Just a really nice and talented guy.

Then came the start of the actual show. Mike was on first. He did a selection of songs from various musicals. Including of course from Les Miserables and The Phantom Of The Opera. The two shows in which he has played the lead role in the West End. As ever he was sounding sensational. He does have an exceptional voice. He did about thirty minutes. Then there was another interlude with the pianist Richard doing some more songs.

Mike Sterling

Next up on stage was Karen Mav. She was on the X-factor in 2015 and she played Effie White in Dream Girls in London. She did a few songs from that musical. And a few Whitney Houston numbers. She also has such a great voice. She was fantastic. Mike Sterling also did a duet with her. Then it was back to the hardest working man on the night, Richard. For some more tunes from him and his keyboard.

Karen Mav

Lastly we had the lovely Jenny Fitzpatrick. She has been in The Blues Brothers, Sister Act and Ghost. And most recently she was sharing the lead role as Tina Turner in Tina the Musical. I was lucky enough to see her in it and she was phenomenal. On this particular night she mainly did songs from that latest show. Mike joined her on stage to do “Proud Mary”. She was amazing. Her voice is just so strong and powerful. The evening ended with all three of them doing Queen’s “A Kind Of Magic”

Jenny Fitzpatrick

I managed to have a quick chat with Karen and Jenny after the show. They were both so nice and very friendly. I have always liked being around performers. There is a certain vibe and energy that they give off. Which I really love. They then had to dash off home as they were both working the following morning.

I finished the night having a drink and a chat with Mike and the rest of the crew. It was a wonderfully entertaining evening. With three amazing performers singing in what was a relatively small venue. It always makes me feel proud seeing a mate on stage killing it to. Yet another top night out in the capital.

Stars Of The West End

I have mentioned this place before. The Museum Of Comedy is such an great small venue in the Bloomsbury area of London. It has lots of brilliant comedy memorabilia on show. Also Logan Murray my top comedy teacher runs Stand Up Courses there. And quite a few well known comics use it to do warm up or work in progress gigs. This is the reason why I was there the other week.

Logan Murray
Logan Murray

I always like trying to see comedians that I have not seen live before. I am such a huge comedy fan. There are lots of comics that I like. I was therefore pleased to be able to tick Frankie Boyle off that list finally. I have been aware of him since his appearances on Mock The Week. I do appreciate he is not to everybody’s taste. And shall we say some of his jokes can be a bit near the knuckle. But in my eyes if I find something funny, as far as I am concerned it is funny.

The Tommy Cooper Room at the Museum of Comedy holds about eighty. It was absolutely packed awaiting the Scottish comedian’s appearance. He had a support act on first. That was the excellent Tiernan Douieb. He falls in to the category of people I was aware of but had not seen before. I enjoyed his set. He then introduced the man himself Frankie Boyle to the stage. I cannot repeat the words he greeted the audience with. But let us just say those three words set the tone for the night.

Museum of Comedy
Museum of Comedy

I thought he was brilliant. I was laughing a lot. My face was hurting by the end. Yes it is true some of the subjects could be described as sensitive. And as you would expect nothing was off limits. But this was a comedy gig with a comedian known for hard hitting material. I heard nothing that I did not expect to. It was in a room full of people who had chosen to be there. And as with a lot of comedy there was often a social or other point to the joke. Regardless of what it was about.

Believe it or not seeing him on stage during a warm up gig. Where he was chatting between bits and setting things up. And I do not want to spoil any illusions. But he is actually quite a nice and thoughtful man. I am really pleased I saw him.

He was working on new material for both his next big tour and his upcoming television series. And from what I saw both of these things are going to be worth seeing. If you enjoy having a laugh. Hilarious ninety minutes in a delightful venue is how I would sum up this experience.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Totally by chance I ended up going to the Comedy Store in London on International Women’s Day. To mark the occasion they had an all female line up. I had already seen most of these comics live before so I already knew they were good. By the way if you have not been it is your classic London Comedy venue.

Anybody who is anybody from the world of comedy. Will have performed there at some point. The set up and sound system is perfect for comedy. As you would expect. I am not saying a lot of comics are recovering alcoholics. But they do the best selection of soft drinks from any bar I have seen. I enjoyed a pint of Pineapple Juice while I was there.

The compere for the night was the fantastic Laura Lexx. Who I had previously seen doing the warm up for an episode of Upstart Crow. And who I bumped into very briefly at the last Tringe Festival Roving Comedy night. She was great, as always. The first act on was Sarah Keyworth. I had not seen her before. She was hilarious. Really good. Got the crowd on side and some big laughs from the off. I suspect we will be seeing more of her over the next year or so.

Then it was an American comic, who I was not familiar with called Spring Day. She is from New York. After spending sometime living and working in Japan. She has been performing in England for over five years now. She was really good to. A very different style of act from the opener. But with some topical and clever gags.

The final act of the first half was the amazing Kerry Godliman. I had seen her before at a comedy club. We went to on a friend’s Stag Do. You may know her from Ricky Gervias’s Derek or After Life. Or from Bad Move with Jack Dee. She is a powerhouse of a performer. I like her and think she is really funny. Her stuff is so conversational and fast paced. After her set there was of course the obligatory twenty minute interval.

Comedy Store Players
Comedy Store Players

Comedy clubs, football stadiums and theatres are places where you will more than likely have to queue to use the Men’s toilet. We are slowly nudging nearer to equality with women on this one, I feel. In the second half after Laura Lexx had got the audience fired up again.

It was Jen Brister on first. I had seen her before headlining at a sadly short lived comedy night in Aylesbury. Once again this time around. She was fantastic. It is worth seeing her show. Just for the brilliant impression of her mother, if nothing else.

The headline act was a comedian, I really do like. I was lucky enough to see her perform one of her Edinburgh Festival Shows at the BBC Radio Theatre. A couple of years ago. Which was excellent. She is the ace Suzi Ruffell. I think that she is a fantastic performer. You really cannot take your eyes off her. When she is on stage. She has a nice rapport with the audience. And most importantly she is very funny,

It was a perfect fun Friday night. Spent laughing at the Comedy Store. It just happened to be a line up of all women. I think a lot of women are funny. And I think a lot of men are funny. I could not honestly care. Which bathroom you chose to use. If I think you are funny, you are. The only factor I will judge people on is their jokes. As ever a night at a comedy venue. Always makes me want to get back on stage myself.

The Comedy Store

I had a fantastic day out at the Cheltenham Festival last Wednesday. If you are a huge fan of horse racing like I am it is a brilliant spectacle. The course and its settings are amazing. The races are of the highest quality. And the Guinness there is pretty decent to.

I went with a few of my mates. We took the train there. It is a nice journey with lovely scenery to enjoy, While we were queuing for the shuttle bus to the course. I spotted none other than queen of cakes Mary Berry behind me.

Cheltenham Festival

We were in the Club Enclosure. Which gives you a fantastic view of the whole course and is situated right on the finishing line. The races were all close and exciting. There were two stand out performances on the day. Altior in the Champion Chase was astonishing. Not at his best. But such a desire to win and be the first across that line. A truly beautiful horse.

And also Tiger Roll in the Cross Country Chase. We watched that from the middle of the course. He eased to victory in that so easily in the end. Which explains why he is now considered as one of the favourites for this year’s Grand National.

Cheltenham Festival

It was a brilliant day out. The racing was top class. As well as the company. I was the only one of our group not to have a winner. But that did not matter. I thoroughly enjoyed the day still. I am already looking forward to going there next year.

Although Aintree awaits next this year. And that is always good. Special thanks goes to my friends wife. Who picked up four slightly merry gentleman and gave them a lift home from the course.

Alan Partridge is back on our TV screens again fronting a BBC show. After the slight incident on his first first ever series in the ninety’s. When a guest got shot dead in the last episode. I am a fan of Steve Coogan. As someone who works in radio and television myself. I can of course see a bit of Alan in me. Sometimes unintentionally, we have done some of the things that he makes a habit of. On my last holiday I read “his” last book. Which was brilliant.

I am really enjoying the new series. There is nothing missing from it. In fact there is so much going on in every scene. That you need to see it a few times. Or you will miss some of the gags. Especially the visual ones. I am finding bits of it quite odd. As some of it was filmed at Broadcasting House in London.

If you saw the first episode. The lift he was in. Is the one I use every time I am there working. And I have often used the toilets he was loitering outside. Sadly I did not bump in to him at all. When he was filming the show. I am looking forward to watching the rest of series.

BBC
BBC

As ever there is never a dull moment being a Tottenham Hotspur fan. We lost away to Southampton last weekend. Which means we are just about hanging on to third place in the league. We now have a few weeks break to regroup. Thanks to us being out of the FA Cup and the following international break. In that time there should be two test events at the new stadium. Which if they go to plan means that our next Premier League home game will be played there.

Finally it looks like I will actually get the chance to sit in my season ticket seat. When that game is. Depends on some FA cup results that involve other clubs. The next game though, will be away at Anfield against Liverpool. Always a tough place to go. But we do really need a win. I am hoping the rest and a trip for the squad to Barcelona. Can help us finish the season strongly. Come on you Spurs.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Sad news the other week as my local commercial radio station. And the place that I made my professional broadcasting debut Mix 96 has been sold. It had been owned by UKRD.

It is now part of one of the two largest radio groups in the United Kingdom called Bauer. I fear it may mean the end of the Aylesbury station, as we know it. My thoughts and best wishes are with my friends and former colleagues there.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Tomorrow is St Patrick’s Day. An occasion I always try to mark in some way. Using my very loose Irish links and my surname to just about justify me having a few pints of Guinness.

I will let you know where and how I celebrated this event. When we talk next.

St Patrick's Day
St Patrick’s Day

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

Theatre of Life

Hello again. The last two weeks have flown by. I am starting to think Ronan Keating was right. And that Life is a Roller Coaster. Not just for the ups and downs. But for the speed it seems to travel. I hope you are good and avoiding the lurgy. That seems to be everywhere at the moment. I am starting to think that may be Michael Jackson had the perfect idea with his oxygen tent bed.

Talking of which it was the Brit Awards in London the other Tuesday. The aforementioned King of Pop’s performance at the event was once gate crashed by an apparently drunk Jarvis Cocker. I recently discovered that when he was apprehended by the Police backstage after. He asked for Bob Mortimer to be his legal representative. Crazy and wild times. This years awards ceremony were a bit more low key.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

It was held at the O2 Arena and hosted for the second year running by Jack Whitehall. I think he did an excellent job. It is a really tough thing to present. As basically no one in that room is really listening to you or paying any attention to you. Therefore his plan was to more or less focus on the people watching at home. Which I think mainly worked. There were a couple of odd and awkward chats that he did with Bros and Little Mix. But you get that sort of thing most years. The whole place is basically a drunken madhouse.

There were some really strange pairings to present awards. It looked like they were chosen using the same template. That led to Sam Fox and Mick Fleetwood hosting the 1989 Brits. I will be honest I am a little out of touch with some of the current artists. But I am pleased to say I was at least aware of all the winners. Nice to see George Ezra win an award. I think he is extremely talented and a very nice bloke.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

There were as ever some good and interesting performances. I am a big fan of Jess Glynne. I could see what they were trying to do and it tied in nicely with the song. But watching a stage full of girls remove their make up was weird. Not helped by the fact that the singer she was performing with refused to remove hers. And she had plenty on. The Greatest Showman opening was pretty spectacular to be fair.

I was delighted to see Pink get the special recognition award. I think she totally deserves it. For her success over the years in Britain. She always puts on a fantastic show. Also I do really like her as a person. She is always real and honest about her life. Plus personally I think she has a beautiful voice. I liked the way they gave her the award. Then gave her plenty of time after to perform. To close the show. They have learned from when they had to abruptly cut Adele’s acceptance speech short. When running out of time one year.

Overall I thought it was nicely done. I have said this before and I do appreciate you can get so many people in the 02. But I think that it would benefit from being held in a smaller venue with a more select audience. It would make the atmosphere better and possibly lead to more rock and roll excess and “incidents” like in the past. I enjoyed watching it. And I was pleased for all the winners on the night. Even if it was possibly a little bland.

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

I had my first ever immersive theatre experience recently. It was suggested to me by a friend. So we booked a couple of tickets. Not really knowing what to expect from it. But we thought we would give it a try. It is called The Murder Express. And is currently on at Pedley Street Station in Bethnal Green, London. As well as the performance itself. The night also includes a top quality four course meal. Which has been devised by the 2016 Masterchef winner Jane Devonshire.

We arrived at the venue, which is aptly under some railway arches. When you walk in there is a little bar where you can get drinks. And the train carriage where you sit down to enjoy your “journey” and have your food. From the minute you arrive the actors are moving around and chatting to you. One of them stitched me up by selling me a fake drinks voucher. But I had the last laugh in the end.

They call you on to the train and show you to your seats. They are set up in tables of six. Then the actors do the first part of the play. While the starter is being served. Then they set the scene a bit more before the next course. As you have probably guessed from the title of it. It is a bit of a who done it affair. Where the audience get to try to work out what has happened.

The food, which was amazing by the way, comes out in breaks in the action. The fake drinks voucher I had purchased became apparent as we were “travelling”. Thankfully they still honoured it. And I still got my two glasses of red wine. My friend ended up playing a doctor at one point. They have video screens on the wall. So there is scenery going past throughout with train sound effects to.

Obviously I am not going to give away any plot spoilers. But it was all very cleverly done. The food was fantastic. It was a lot of fun. With a fair amount of laughter. There is a comedy theme running through proceedings. I worked out what had happened in my head. But I did not say it out loud. So no one would believe I cracked it. Which to be fair is perfectly reasonable. It is worth doing if you fancy something a little different in London.

Murder Express

I finally got round to seeing the musical Blood Brothers at the Swan Theatre in High Wycombe the other week. Everybody I had spoken to about it said it was excellent. And were amazed I had not seen it. Of course they were completely right. It is a wholesome and thought provoking show. It is real, gritty and tackles a lot of taboo subjects that theatre shows of this nature rarely do.

I have over the years spent quite a bit of time in and around the city of Liverpool. Therefore I found the back drop to the story familiar. The cast were sensational. The two actors who play the brothers. Have to portray them from the age of seven into their twenties. Which is a big ask and really very impressive. It was a slick show. It is quite hard hitting stuff. But an intriguing, eye opening and ultimately sad and tragic story. I am really glad that I have finally seen it. It was fantastic.

Blood Brothers

I am a massive fan of Fawlty Towers. I have watched all the episodes so many times. I know exactly what lines are coming. But still always laugh out loud. When they are delivered. It is just such a perfect and in my opinion funny comedy. And you would not believe how happy I was when John Cleese once replied to me on Twitter. I do still have a picture of that tweet. It is my love of the original show. And the fact that I know Mr Cleese is very anti them. That has really put me off attending one of these Fawlty Towers experiences.

Well until now that is, anyway. As I actually went to one in London. It was on at the Radisson Blu Edwardian Hotel in Bloomsbury Street. You arrive and check in. Before being shown in to the dinning room area. Then Basil, Manuel and Sybil appear to introduce themselves. After which Basil and Manuel then sit you at your table. Which is an experience in itself.

Fawlty Towers

You need to buy any drink in the bar before you head in and bring it in with you. We were sat on a lovely table. With a man celebrating his birthday with his wife and son. A man treating his mum to a night out. A young couple. And a man out honouring the anniversary of his mum’s death. Plus me and my friend.

As I am sure you can imagine our three hosts put on a manic night of madness, craziness and fun. While we enjoy a three course meal. It is performed in parts. And thankfully they do have some professional help from real waiters. Or the food would never get delivered or the plates never cleared. The whole thing lasts around two and an half hours. I would say it is a nice tribute to the show. All done in a very respectful way.

Fawlty Towers

Although the programmes co-writer and star does not get any money from this franchise. Which is why he is not a fan. And I totally get that. What I would say though is from what I saw. All the people there seemed to come to this event out of a love for the show. And the memories they have of it. Which I think is perfectly fine. Plus it is laugh out loud funny!

Sarah Parish started the Neil Quigley Fan Club

This February it was ten years since I left Midwest Radio in Yeovil. Which was actually the six month old Ivel fm. When I started at the station in the April of 2004. To celebrate this big landmark occasion. Last weekend I went back to the Somerset town to see some of the people I used to work with. During the five years I spent there.

I started off just doing the odd weeks worth of holiday cover there. Then my now good friend Andy Holmes decided to leave. And I then moved down there full time to do the Drive Show. I did that one for a few years. Before I moved to the morning show. Finally finishing my last six months there presenting the Evening Show. I also did cover the Breakfast show occasionally. Plus I did a weekly Saturday Sports Show. The whole time I was there. I pretty much hosted every slot at the station at some point.

Neil Quigley & Andy Holmes
Neil Quigley & Andy Holmes

I had a fantastic time down there. I met a lot of great people. Many of whom are still really good friends of mine now. One of these is my former boss Steve Carpenter. I met up with him on the Friday. He is currently hosting Breakfast at a new radio station in Yeovil called Nine Springs. I met him at their studios. He gave me a mini tour of the place. They actually have the same desk that I used to do my shows at Ivel fm on. It was nice to see it again, We had spent a lot of hours together.

Then me and Steve went to the local Wetherspoons for a drink and some food. That was a place I used to find myself in quite often when I was living and working there. On the way back to my hotel I popped into a few of the old bars I used to go in. I will be honest they were either quieter than I remembered or in one case now a restaurant. I stayed at the Manor Hotel. Which has become my regular choice. When I to go back there to visit.

Neil Quigley with Steve Carpenter in Yeovil
Neil Quigley with Steve Carpenter in Yeovil

The next morning I met another friend of mine for a cup of tea and lovely catch up. Before I had to head to the pub to watch my team Tottenham play Burnley. That was a bit disappointing in the end. As we lost. But it was nice to visit another familiar pub to see it in. Next on the agenda it was food with another fellow radio presenter Scott Temple. He is currently working at Pirate fm in Cornwall. It was him and I who had this idea of a mini Ivel fm re-union. When we met up in Windsor last summer.

The plan was to meet everybody else at the Chicago Rock Cafe in Yeovil at 7.30pm. When I was there it used to be open all day. Scott and I arrived slightly early to find that it was closed. And after some frantic research. That it did not open until eight. We found a hotel bar around the corner. And managed to contact everyone to meet there instead. So the night did not start exactly how we planned it.

We ended up going to the Chicago Rock Cafe just after eight. The reason I chose that venue for these drinks. Is that the Ivel fm studios were above it. There was actually a back staircase that could get you from the station to the bar. Which was useful on several occasions over the years.

Neil Publicity Shot 2008

I also used to DJ at the bar. I had a regular Thursday and Tuesday Night. Occasionally they would let me loose on a Friday or Saturday. I often hosted their Wednesday night guest appearances. Along with my colleague Chris Criddle. It was great to see him for a bit. Before he predictably had to head off to DJ somewhere else that night. He is always working that bloke. He never stops.

There was a nice group of us. It was brilliant to see everyone. I must say everyone is looking great. We have all aged brilliantly. It was a fun night. Talking about old times and having a right giggle. It did get a little messy towards the end. Scott came back from the bar with a bottle of Hooch each for the last drink of the night. I had no idea it was even still being made. Still tasted far to sweet for the record. But it would have be rude not to drink it.

Ivel fm

It was a lovely weekend. Marking ten years since I left a place. In which I had a lot of fun and good times. I had a brilliant time at the radio station there.

The people of Somerset were always friendly and made me feel very welcome. Plus the five years I spent there is still the longest time that I have ever worked in any one particular place. Thanks to everyone who made the effort to come along.

Ivel fm

As ever it has been a bit up and down recently supporting Spurs. But I would not swap it for the world. I am not going to lie. I was gutted when we lost to Chelsea in the week. But we move on.

I will be at Wembley today for the North London Derby. Hoping that we can beat Arsenal. As that is a highlight of any season. Then we head to Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League in the week. The big games just keep coming at the moment. Come on you Spurs!

Tottenham Hotspur
Tottenham Hotspur

I have been back at the BBC doing a bit of work recently. It is a fun and cool place to be. It has been lovely catching up and working with a lot of good and talented people.

It can be pretty random at times. I found myself in a studio with Ian Wright and Chris Sutton. And in a lift with Simon McCoy. I did not bring up any Royal stories with him of course.

BBC
BBC

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

Lovely February

Hello again, how’s things with you? I am still trying to come to terms with reality again after my holiday. Although some people may well argue that has been a longstanding issue of mine. Nevertheless I am still sporting a slight sun tan. And I am trying to make the most out of the year so far. By that I mean I am experiencing as much as possible, while having a lot of fun along the way.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

There was a new David Bowie documentary shown on the BBC the other week. Which mostly focused on his early days. When he was still trying to make it in the music industry. A few days after this was on I found myself in a Cocktail Bar in Covent Garden. Which had just been given a new name and a total makeover inside.

It is called Blame Gloria. After a women who is alleged to have once owned a B&B in Covent Garden. With rumours and stories about her teaching David Bowie how to put on make up and of once dating Jimi Hendrix. Well I say alleged. As I think, it might be technically a character that has been invented to give the bar its theme. Although David Bowie did once dress up as a women to play a joke on his then band mates calling himself Gloria.

Anyway the place is actually pretty cool. They do a wide variety of Cocktails. A few of which I was familiar with. And many that I was not. Some of them are certainly originals. And their own special creations. The decor is very Bowie inspired. it is fair to say.

The music was brilliant. A really nice mix of sixties, seventies and eighties tunes. They also have a two for one happy hour between five and seven, every evening. Which may be worth keeping in mind if you happen to be in the area around that time. It is a chic venue with a relaxed atmosphere.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I popped in to see some friends on their daughter’s third birthday. I actually arrived there early. And they were still out somewhere. As it happened my mate’s wife’s Mum was there and let me in. When they arrived in the end. There was actually a small group of people there to welcome them home.

It was a little gathering. That I kind of gatecrashed. But it was nice to see all the birthday presents being opened and played with. I ended up helping with a little bit of painting. And laughing at my mate, as I watched him try to put together a big new toy that needed building.

There was also a birthday tea on offer. I thought it would be rude not to at least have some of the Peppa Pig Cake. Prior to that I did get stuck in to the cheese and biscuits. In the process discovering that you can get pickle with no bits in it. Who knew? I certainly did not. I had to ask what it was.

I think the star of the show enjoyed herself. Although when you asked her if she had, had a good day. She always answered no. But I am sure with a slight smile at least. It was a lovely afternoon. Which may have continued on slightly in to the night. As I stayed for a beer after the children had gone to bed. To catch up with the parents.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Last weekend I was at another family house party. This time it was a surprise sixtieth Birthday celebration for my Auntie. My two cousins had organised it with military precision. They had taken their mum out for the afternoon. Leaving one of their husbands alone to get the house ready. And cook the party food. Then to be there to let all the guests in ready for when the birthday girl returned home.

We were all told we had to be there before a certain time. Everyone was there when they should have been. When we got a message to say they were running a bit late. Therefore the party started a bit before it was meant to. As we all had a drink while we were waiting.

We got word on when they arrived, so were all silent in her living room waiting for her to walk in. When she did we treated her to a rendition of Happy Birthday. I can honestly say, I do not think she was expecting it. As she did look quite shocked.

The food was amazing. One of my cousins is a very good baker. So there were about six different sweet options of which I tried at least five. They were all delicious but it was a tough night for the waistline. Her sister then hosted a fun selection of different games throughout the evening. The first a straight forward game of bingo. Then a quiz that was based on the year my Aunt was born.

Next we each had to write a memory of her down. My cousin read them out. And my Auntie had to guess who had written it. She got mine straight away. When I was a young child, she took me, my mum and my sister to a fireworks night where she worked. I spent most of the night trying to hide. As I was terrified of all the loud bangs. For the record I am a little better with them now.

There was also a quiz about my Auntie’s life. And one where we had to decide if you she was older or younger than a list of certain people or things. And lastly a photo round for us to identify my Auntie in. I did very badly in all of the quizzes. It was a good laugh, though. I had a nice evening catching up with the family. Some of whom I had not seen for a while. Once again I think the Birthday lady enjoyed it.

Neil Quigley Presenter
Neil Quigley Presenter

I had a great time seeing my friend Mike Sterling the other day. He has most recently been on tour with Evita. Which he was brilliant in by the way. He also appeared in the West End for many years. So knows his way around London. Which is where we met. Mind you I chose the meeting point. Which is why we started the proceedings off with a few pints of Guinness in Waxy O’Connors. I have said it before and I will say it again. It is my favourite pub in the capital.

We then decided to get some food. We chose to have a stroll around to Piccadilly. And got ourselves a table at The Terrace. It is a nice and classy place. They had a full jazz band playing. While we were eating. I had the Chilli Calamari for starters, a T-bone steak with Red Wine sauce for my main and cheesecake for dessert. The meals there were excellent. As was the Italian wine. We had on Mike’s suggestion.

Our final stop was at the Phoenix Theatre Bar. It used to be called the Wentworth Club. It was somewhere Mike used to visit quite a lot when he was starring in Phantom of the Opera and Les Mis in the West End. I had been there a few times before. But never this late in the evening.

In a back room they occasionally do musical singalongs. There is a piano with a pianist. And you can go up and sing any song from any musical that you wish to. The standard was pretty high for the hour or so that we were in there. I really like the place. It has a very show business and arty feel to it. I would definitely go again. Had a quality time catching up with a good friend.

Mike Sterling and Neil Quigley
Mike Sterling and Neil Quigley

I managed to get some last minute tickets to see Ricky Gervias do a warm up show for his upcoming tour “Super Nature” in Aylesbury at the Waterside Theatre. I went with Andy Holmes. I also watched one of the very early warm up gigs for his last massive tour “Humanity” in London. That went on to become a huge success. If you are a user of Netflix. It is still available on there.

This new show he is working on at the moment has already been signed up by Netflix again. I am a big fan of his and have been since the days of The Office. Which was even more relevant at the time for me. As I was working in a small Sales office. With a few possible David Brent’s. I have seen all his television comedies. I will be honest I have not seen all his movies. But that is more down to my lack of ability to watch films, than anything else.

The show in Buckinghamshire was brilliant. I saw him on the second night of two that he did. Bearing in mind this was just a warm up gig. He sold out the theatre both nights. A lot of comedians would give their right arm to sell out an one thousand seat venue for a proper show. Let alone just a warm up one.

He does seem to have a lot of fans in England. He has never changed his stand up style. He has a lectern with some beer on it. And walks around the stage with a one of those head mics on. He had a support act with him called Sean McLoughlin. It was the first time I had seen him. I was very impressed. I thought he was great. I think he may be worth keeping an eye out for.

Ricky Gervais was funny as always. He has a unique way of attacking any subject and making it funny but not seem awkward. Which is not always as easy as it sounds. The finished version of this show. I have no doubt will be hilarious. Much of it I guess follows the same chain of thought of his previous stand up specials. And when he finishes the tour. May be he can do a series of TED Talks about the subtlety of offence. Another fun evening out at one of my favourite theatre’s.

Aylesbury Waterside Theatre
Aylesbury Waterside Theatre

I also managed to get myself a ticket last week to go and see one of the preview performances of the brand new Only Fools and Horses Musical. Well I say preview. It was the full actual show performed to a sold out paying audience. But they have not had their official opening press night as yet. I will be honest I had mixed emotions about seeing it.

I am a massive fan of the television series. I can still happily re-watch any of the episodes. And I guarantee it will make me laugh and in many instances cry. I really wanted to see the show, though. But I was worried that it would be odd not seeing the actors you instantly associate with those roles not playing them.

Only Fools and Horses Musical

It is on at the fantastic Theatre Royal in Haymarket. Where for this particular show. They do serve Del Boy Pina Coladas in the bars. Although slightly disappointingly I did not see anyone order one. It starts with a song. Which makes a lot of sense for a musical. But all through the opening number. I was just waiting to get a glimpse of Del and Rodney. They obviously do appear during it.

As do pretty much all the regular characters from the classic television show. It is actually quite good fun spotting them all as they walk out. The thing to remember I think is, it is very much a stand alone musical. But with many classic lines, sketches and moments from the timeless sitcom in it.

The songs for me all work. There are some very familiar ones. Which you will recognise from its previous incarnation. And some new ones written especially for this project. For me they are in the same style the show always had. It has a story to it of course. Which is kind of a mixture quite a few of the different things. That happened to the Trotters on our screens. The cast are all fantastic. Each one of them have got the character of the person they are playing to a tee. While still making the roles in this their own. The wardrobe and sets are brilliant.

The whole feel to it is quite nostalgic. It bought back a lot of great memories for me of sitting at home and laughing my head off at the television. It was an idea that the writer of Only Fools and Horses John Sullivan was working on before he sadly died. It was finished by his son Jim and the excellent Paul Whitehouse. Who plays Granddad faultlessly. And some of the additional songs  were co-written by Chas Hodges from Chas & Dave.

I really enjoyed it. And if you are a fan of Only Fools and Horses. It is certainly worth seeing, As you would expect from a project initiated by the shows creator. Nothing is missing from it. If I am completely honest. The only slight issue I still had was trying to come to terms with the fact Del, Rodney, Trigger and Boycie were not being played by David Jason, Nicholas Lyndhurst, Roger Lloyd-Pack and John Challis.

That is not a slight on the amazing cast. That is just my issue. As all those actors for me are so part of the DNA of those characters. This is of course something the production can do nothing about. It is a lovely warm overview of a great British Institution. That is played out in front of your eyes. And with that great writing. It is of course very funny. Lovely Jubbly!

Only Fools and Horses Musical

Tottenham Hotspur have been doing alright recently. Quietly going about our business and winning our Premier League matches. I have been at Wembley to see us beat, Watford, Newcastle and Leicester.

All of which have been tough games. Not made any easier by the fact we are still without Harry Kane and Dele Alli. I am enjoying things at the minute. But we will just see how the next few weeks go. I am not going to lie the match day experience is more fun when you win.

Tottenham Hotspur
Tottenham Hotspur

The quality Radio 4 Extra weekly topical news comedy programme Newsjack has returned for a new series. Once again I will be busy writing jokes for it.

I will also be doing my own weekly news comedy podcast for the next five weeks. Which you can find on my You Tube channel or on Apple Podcasts.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Busy few weeks coming up. I am finally getting round to seeing the musical Blood Brothers. I know I am very late to the party on this one. But have heard nothing but great things about it.

And of course next Wednesday it is the BRIT Awards. Which is always a fun and interesting night. Plus I am going to my first ever immersive theatre performance.

School of Rock
School of Rock

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

Happy Christmas 2018

Hi there, how are you doing? I hope you have had a really good couple of weeks. Mine have been pretty busy but lots of fun. I am a massive fan of comedy. And I must admit I do like going to see work in progress style shows. To see top comedians putting together new routines and trying out new jokes. I am also aiming to see as many of them live as I can. 

Handily a couple of weeks ago these two goals collided nicely. As I managed to get a ticket for an Eddie Izzard Work in Progress gig. He had been someone that I had wanted to see for a while. He was on at the famous comedy pub in Islington The Bill Murray. It is a place that I had been aware of for a while. But never been to. The main bar area is quite small. But there is a really cool and creative vibe to the place. Which I liked. 

I was standing at the bar having a drink. Waiting for the comedy room to open. When Eddie Izzard suddenly walked right past me on his way to the dressing room area. The venue there holds about fifty people. I found a seat in the second row. So I had a great view of the action.

He was amazing. Even though he was trying out completely new bits. Plus also trying to add ad-libs and extra jokes to existing stories. He is so captivating. His story telling ability is great. He is super intelligent. My mouth was hurting from laughing. It was that funny.

He of course does have a great stage presence. And total control of the room. He started off as a Street Entertainer in Covent Garden. He was dressed as ever in a suit with high heels, bright red lipstick and painted nails. But that is all irrelevant really. He could be telling those jokes wearing a Panda suit. And would still be hilarious.

He has already performed warm up gigs for this Wunderbar tour in French. And was off to do the same in German. After the show I was at. This means every time he adds something in whichever language. He will then have to translate it into the other two. He really does not seem to like making things easy for himself. If you can, go and see the finished Wunderbar Tour. As I can already tell from what I have seen. That it is going to be sensational.  

Neil Quigley Stand Up Comedy
Neil Quigley Stand Up Comedy

I went along to have a look behind the scenes at Build TV a couple of weeks ago. They are a Social Media company who broadcast regular interviews with lots of different people. They do this via Facebook and by You Tube. Therefore you can either watch them live or you can catch up with them at a later date. When the live feed ends the recording is instantly available to watch online. 

They have a fairly small studio. It is pretty basic. But is well lit and the set they have looks good on screen. I was impressed with how many cameras they had. It was in total a five camera shoot. Which for a twenty minute online show is impressive. They have room for a small audience of around fifty people. The brand is quite big in the United States. This is the London version of it. 

I watched two of these live to the internet interviews. The first one was with comedians Judi Love and Aurie Styla. They have recently each been given a radio show on BBC London. When the station revamped its weekday evening line up. They were talking about their careers.

Both of which were enhanced by their use of social media. In particular the use of videos on You Tube and Instagram. This got them more coverage and created an interest in what they did. To a broader audience. They also told us what we could expect from the new radio programmes they were hosting. 

Build TV

The next one featured the two men behind The Revolution Will Be Televised. Comedians Jolyon Rubinstein and Heydon Prowse. They spoke a little bit about how that came about. And some of the things that they experienced while filming it. But they were mainly there to plug their brand new Channel 4 show Ministry of Justice. Which has a similar format to their previous work. Except this time they are trying to expose crime rather than politics. 

They are two very interesting characters. They are clearly intelligent and clever guys. And they do talk a lot of sense about the state of the world at the moment. And maybe how we could all try to improve it. But that said they are comics, so do want to make you laugh as often as possible. The set up is such with in the studio. That they can play in clips while they are in conversation with their guests. So I got to see a bit of the latest show and it looked good. 

It is a nice little set up they have there. They are quite a small team. There are a selection of different presenters. Who come and host these webcasts for them. They do from time to time get some huge names on. As it is not television and just online. You do have a little bit more time to let things breathe. Plus there are no adverts during the broadcast itself. This visit has given me some food for thought for 2019. 

Build TV

 It was my birthday on 10th December. Historically I go over the top and really celebrate my special day. This year was by previous years quite low key. It was not a big or landmark birthday. I just had a very nice and relaxing day at home. Then in the evening treated myself to a tasty steak, some red wine and a chocolate cake. Living the dream! You know when you are getting older. When you ask for practical gifts rather than fun and crazy things. 

Build TV

These items included some thermal underwear. I seem to feel the cold more than I used to. And a Fit Bit. I go running three times a week. And I thought it might actually be fun to find out how far I travel every time that I do it. I had a lovely day. Thanks for all your birthday wishes. It was much appreciated. Once my birthday has been and gone. Then and only then do I allow myself to actually start thinking about and getting organised for Christmas. 

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

The day after my birthday. I went to my first Christmas Party of the year. It was at a lovely venue on Great Portland Street in London. It was with my former BBC colleagues. They are a talented bunch. For this Do every year. A group of them form a band for the night. This was the first time that I was able to go to it. They played for about one hour and twenty minutes. And I have to say, they sounded great. I was impressed with the wide and varied repertoire of songs that they performed. Including of course a couple of Christmas classics. 

Once the band had finished. A couple of other work mates. Then did a disco for the final ninety minutes. They were ace. Although at one point it did feel like they were doing the set that I used to play back in 2006. When I used to DJ at The Chicago Rock Cafe in Yeovil. A brilliant night! Great to catch up with everyone. It was a nice way the kick start my own personal festive celebrations. 

Happily I have managed to make a trip to Winter Wonderland an annual event. Over the last couple of years. It is held in Hyde Park. I went there last Tuesday. They have a massive funfair. Which I will be honest does not interest me at all. I hate rides. Just being me, gives me a big enough adrenaline rush. I do not need any extra help. That and I find the big ones scary. There are also lots of great food stands, bar areas and entertainment. 

The Band

The main reason I go is to visit the Bavarian Village. That they also have. I love it there. I have been to the actual Oktoberfest in Munich twice. It is brilliant fun. And this event in London reminds me of the time I spent there. The atmosphere is great. They do serve the beer in pint steins. Not the two and half pint steins they have in Germany. But you cannot have it all. They also have lots of live music. 

Winter Wonderland

This year they had a crooner style Sinatra and Dean Martin singer in one area. He has been there the last couple of times I have been. And I think he is great. Funny, as well as a decent singer. In another beer hall. They had a four piece German band. They were playing all the party hits. In the style that you would hear in all the massive Beer Kellers in Munich. During the festival. Where you would literally be dancing and singing on the tables by the end of the night. 

Neil Quigley at Winter Wonderland

In another bar they had a traditional Oompah Band. As the evening progresses, as you look round. All you can see is people swaying in time with the music. And singing along with the songs. I always have a good time when I go there. The day I went it was a bit wet. But the rain could not dampen my enjoyment of it. I will definitely be back once again next year. 

Singer Winter Wonderland
Winter Wonderland Band

A few weeks ago I spent a lovely Sunday afternoon at my Uncle and Aunties’s house. They held some pre-Christmas drinks. It was nice to catch up with some family members. Who I had not seen for while. These things are always a good laugh. Sadly not everyone could make it to this one. And then I was not available to go to one the following week. Where I could of caught up with the rest of the family. The festive period is always manic with lots going on. I am looking forward to a relaxing Christmas Day, though.

Neil Quigley Happy Christmas
Neil Quigley Happy Christmas

For the second year running I went to see the spectacular Panto at the London Palladium. This theatre has a huge history of putting on these festive shows. And always with a stunning cast. This one was no different. The pantomime just looks visually incredible. As unlike the ones around the country. This is a big old West End Theatre. So they can drop people in from the ceiling. And fly a massive Dragon out over the audience. Which is excellent. What an experience for the children. It is magical, just like Christmas itself.

The show this year is the classic Snow White. But as ever with these Pantomimes at the Palladium. It is performed in a slightly different way. When you have such an all star talented cast. You need to give them space and time to have their own bits. To show off their skills. So the plot is fairly straight forward. But what happens around it, is what makes it so special. The staging is a joy. The dance routines are truly a thing of wonder.

Talking of which it features former Strictly Come Dancing stars. The brilliant Vincent and Flavia. Who come on to perform two absolutely spellbinding dances. The Dame is the legend that is Gary Wilmot. He is ace. He can sing, dance and do comedy all equally effortlessly. He holds the whole show together. Paul Zerdin is totally hilarious. Both with and without his comedy partner the very fluffy Sam. You can see how this man deserved to win America’s Got Talent a few years ago. He really knows his craft. And like all the cast. He is given space to do his stuff and his own routines.

Snow White is played by Danielle Hope. Who won Andrew Lloyd Webber’s last television audition show “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”. Meaning she got to play Dorothy in a new production of “The Wizard of Oz”. She can sing and dance obviously. But she was fully involved with the fun and the devil fellow cast members have in trying to put each other off. She was fantastic.

The Prince was played by the wonderful Charlie Stemp. He is I think the best West End performer of the moment. He can sing, dance and act brilliantly. I have seen him in “Half a Sixpence” and he was great in that. He has spent the most of this year appearing on Broadway in Hello Dolly. Next year he is going to be playing Bert in a new version of Mary Poppins in London. I will tell you this now. He is going to be sensational in that show, no question.

Dawn French is appearing in what I believe to be her first ever panto. As the wicked Queen. She is as you would expect amazing. She is just a naturally funny person. The only slight problem with that, is that it does at first make it a bit difficult to boo her. But she is a top quality actress. Therefore the boos do start to echo around the auditorium pretty soon. She plays it brilliantly. There are lots of in jokes and digs between the stars. As regards to their careers and lives. All of course for comedy purposes only.

Julian Clary as ever, virtually steals the show. He plays the Man in the Mirror. He has a different costume every time he appears. And they get more ridiculous each time. Pantomime was made for him. It has always been a medium that works on two levels. The story and fun for the kids. And jokes for the grown ups aimed to sail over the children’s heads. Because of who he is and what we know about him from his career. It seems easy for him to do this. He really is the King or should I say Queen of Innuendo. It is joyously funny.

And finally Nigel Havers is back. Once again principally playing himself, sending himself up, joining in, having fun and just messing about. He is also Julian’s “understudy” which leads to some very entertaining moments. The show is Christmassy, laugh out loud funny and brilliantly entertaining. You will not find a bigger and I suspect better pantomime anywhere in the country. The whole cast are a joy to watch. I hope they are having a ball doing it.

Snow White at the London Palladium

It has been a good couple of weeks for Tottenham Hotspur. We have had a few good wins in the Premier League. Plus we have made it to the Semi Finals of the League Cup. After beating the Arsenal at their place. We still have not had a fully fit squad to pick from this season yet. We look unlikely to make any new signings in January. But I am still excited for the second half of the season. I think it will be fun and interesting!

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Have fun and we will catch up again in a couple of weeks. Happy Christmas, eat, drink and be merry. Cheers Neil