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Stand Up And Dance

Hi there, how are you doing? I hope you have had a really good couple of weeks. Mine have been very busy and good fun. I did take at least one day away from a theatre or a stadium to go Horse Racing with my dad. We went to Warwick Races for an afternoon of jump racing. It was my first time there. It is a lovely and friendly track with a really nice feel to the place.

I did actually randomly bump in to someone else I knew. While I was there. It was his birthday. He is a massive racing fan. And although he lives in Liverpool. He had travelled down for the day. I did have a few celebratory drinks with him. It would have been rude not to. Mind you that was the only thing that we had to toast all day. Neither of us picked any winners. Fun day out in the fresh air, though, so all good.

Warwick Races
Warwick Races

After I got home from the races. I then made a random last minute decision to go and see Jason Manford at The Swan Theatre in High Wycombe. I interviewed him probably about twelve years ago now. He was brilliant, very easy and fun to talk to. I actually spoke to him the day before he was going to be on Jonathan Ross’s chat show for the first time. I hope, I proved a useful warm up for that.

Anyway somehow I had never actually managed to see him perform live. I had been hearing really good things about his current Muddle Class tour. So I decided to go along and take a look. He had a warm up act on called The Raymond and Mr Timpkins Revue. I was aware of this duo but had not seen them before. They were brilliant. Their whole act is set to music and is very clever and very funny. They did their thing. Then there was a short interval before Jason came on.

The main show was fantastic. I like his style. How chilled and relaxed he generally is with the audience. That said though, he will deal with any hecklers in a robust way, if required. His first job was as a glass collector at a comedy club. When he was only sixteen. Therefore he is very experienced. And has seen it all before. It is a very relatable subject for most of the audience. Well it was for me certainly. I am pretty sure that I am Muddle Class.

It is a very funny show. Mostly story telling from things that he has come across in his life. Focusing on relationships with family, friends and the people that we all randomly encounter in life. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I can see why it has been getting such great reviews. I also think Jason Manford is a top bloke, nice fella.  Who does not like to spend an evening laughing?

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Which is why I was delighted that I managed to get a ticket for the Absolute Radio Comedy Night in aid of Stand Up To Cancer. Which was at the London Palladium. It was a couple of Sundays ago. That theatre has so much history and nostalgia. I love going there. And as referenced by the performers. The ashes of Sir Bruce Forsyth are now interned in the building.

The charity event was hosted by possibly my favourite comedian Frank Skinner. He was brilliant. As he always is. He came out first and did about fifteen minutes. Before he introduced the opening act Chris Ramsey. I had seen him once before about six years ago at the Limelight Theatre in Aylesbury. That was right before his sitcom was  launched. After which he became a more regular face on television.

Absolute Radio Comedy Night
Absolute Radio Comedy Night

Both the times, I have seen him now, he has been excellent. And very funny. As comedians get older, like us all, our life experiences change. Therefore their material alters to fit in more with what is happening in their life. That is particularly noticeable when you have a long gap in seeing a comics live show. A quality set from the cheeky Geordie. Who always makes me feel like I want to be his friend. When I watch him live.

After a bit more from Frank Skinner. Next up it was Nish Kumar. I have seen him record an episode of Newsjack and also at the Old Rope Comedy in London previously. He was as with every time I have seen him, very good.  Clever with topical gags. These sort of gigs, they only do a small part of what would be an hour or so show. Nish’s set was quite ranty at the start. Which I liked and was fine with because it was funny. I fear a few people were missing the joke. And possibly oblivious to the fact that he was doing it a bit for effect.

The next comic on was Glenn Moore. He is part of the Absolute Radio Breakfast Show team. But is an established comedian in his own right. After previously working as a newsreader in commercial radio. He was really good on the night. He does have his own unique style to telling his jokes. I expect to see and hear more from him over the next few years. I do not just mean on the radio reading the sports news.

Closing the first half was the brilliant Rob Beckett. I have been a fan of his for a while. But this was my first chance to get a look at him in the flesh. And he did not disappoint. Really amusing and yet again someone who just feels like a mate telling you a few stories. Which I like in my comedians. He is getting ready for a new tour. Which on this evidence is going to be fantastic.

Absolute Radio Comedy Night
Absolute Radio Comedy Night

We then had a short interval. Before Frank Skinner came back on and got things moving again. By bringing on Matt Forde. Who I really like.  I saw him do a small warm up gig in Berkhampsted once. And I did enjoy his latest full show at the Edinburgh Festival this year. He is best described as a Political comedian. Which means there is lots of material around for him. But because everything keeps changing all the time at the moment. He is constantly re-writing his show.

He was hilarious on the night. What I liked as well. Is that you could tell he was loving it. Having the chance to play to a full house at the London Palladium. Who would not want that opportunity. His jokes were right on the money. And his impressions of Boris Johnson and Donald Trump are scarily good. It is like they are the in the room. The only worrying thing is that his Trump says more sensible things that the actual one.

Then it was Jo Caulfield’s turn to take to the stage. She was totally amazing. It was such a wonderfully funny set. I think she had me laughing more regularly than any of the other acts on the night. I would now like to see her full show. Therefore I will be keeping an eye out for when she is next playing in London. Top quality stuff.

The penultimate act was actually the first show I saw when I got to the Edinburgh Festival this year. It was Gary Delaney. He is the master of the one liner. He is just a huge gag machine. There are no stories or anecdotes. Just quick fire jokes. He is great. Clever to, because sometimes the shortest jokes are the toughest to write. I enjoyed his set immensely. There are always a few groaners in there. But I do like the odd one of those.

Closing the show it was Jon Richardson. I like him and think he is really funny. He did an excellent job finishing off the night. With as always, some wonderful stories and observations. It was a lovely evening spent laughing in a beautiful theatre. While raising money for a marvellous cause. What is not to like? Great fun from start to finish.

Absolute Radio Comedy Night
Absolute Radio Comedy Night

The night after that I found myself in another historic London theatre. I was at the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane. It is such a nice experience there. It is beautifully designed.

The spiral staircases look stunning. Plus there is lots of space. Which is something that cannot be said for all theatres. I was there for the sensational 42nd Street. Which was a show that somehow I had not managed to catch before. I mean, it has only been around since the early eighties.

This version starred the exquisite Bonnie Langford. She was brilliant. As were the whole cast. It is such an all singing and all dancing show. The dance routines are truly a thing of wonder. It is a proper old school big production musical extravaganza.

The story line itself is pretty straight forward and basic. But that does not matter at all. It is more than super seeded by the energy, the colour and the whole spectacle of that many performers dancing around the stage. It of course does contain some classic and well known songs as well.

I am so glad I have now seen it. The choreography for those big group dance numbers was insane. Plus I do admire tap dancing greatly. It looks and sounds amazing. When done properly.

It has several sub plot stories running through it. But I think the main message is to dream big, work hard and be nice to people. Which seems like quite a good motto to have towards life in general to me. Another top night out at the theatre. And finally for the record the Rioja there was very nice.

42nd Street
42nd Street

I was probably one of the last people in the country to see it. But I have made for me what is a rare trip to the cinema to see The Queen biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” I believed that I loosely knew the story of the band and its legendary front man Freddie Mercury. However having seen the film. I now realise that there was quite a bit that I was not aware of.

I thought the casting was perfect. All the main characters looked and as far as I could tell acted exactly like the people there were being. I also liked how the story was told in an intelligent and sympathetic way. An insight was given into what was happening with the viewer left to make the leap and fill in the gaps in their own head. Without it being graphically explained to us.

I felt it showed that like a lot of outstanding performers. He clearly had some issues with being at ease with himself and who he really was. Not helped by some of the people he trusted and invested in. But he was the ultimate showman. If not a little troubled at times during his career.

While watching I developed a new appreciation for John Deakin. He may be my new favourite member of Queen. Even if at one point when having a pop at Roger Taylor, Freddie uses the line “If you were anymore boring you would be Deakin”.

I thoroughly enjoyed the film. I liked how they pitched it and told the story. You could tell the band, despite their differences clearly all cared for each other. All in all, it just worked out for them.

Add in of course that sensational sound track. Queen did produce a plethora of top quality songs over the years. And they sounded good on the cinema surround sound. Finally I must of course mention the way they recreated the Live Aid scenes. That was all very clever. Looked and sounded excellent. And felt very real. I am glad I went to see it in the end.

School of Rock
School of Rock

Over the last two weeks I have experienced the classic highs and lows of being a football fan. Tottenham beat Chelsea three-one at Wembley. We played brilliantly from the start and honestly could of had six or seven.

A few days later we managed to nick a one nil home win against Inter Milan. To just about keep our hopes alive of going through to the knock out stages of the Champions League. At that point everything was looking rosy. We were all smiling. Confidence was high!

Then last Sunday we were fairly beaten by the better team on the day in the North London Derby against Arsenal. Which is never a game you want to lose. But specially when it means your biggest enemies leapfrog above you in the league. So that was a little bit disappointing to, say the least.

It was frustrating as we played so differently to how we performed only the week before. Then just a few days later we beat Southampton. Climb back up to third in the Premier League ahead of the Gunners. And all is good again. You have got to love football.

Tottenham Hotspur
Tottenham Hotspur

It is my birthday on Monday. Which of course I am very much looking forward to.

I think I am just going to have a quiet day at home and catch up with my family. But these things are always subject to change, so we will see what happens.

General Lee
General Lee

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

Entertainment Connoisseur

Hi there, how are you doing? I hope you have had a really good couple of weeks. Mine have been predictably very busy but lots of fun. Two weeks ago today. My dad and I attended a Wine Tasting in London. It was a gift that I had bought him for Fathers Day. That just happened to be an experience for two. So therefore I joined him for it. Solely to aid his fun and enjoyment, of course.

It was run by the company Wine Cottage. Who supply a lot of the big London hotels and restaurants with all their exclusive wines. It was held at the luxurious Number 8 Northumberland Avenue. Which is a pretty classy venue, to say the least. We got there a little early, so we treated ourselves to a little drink in the bar. To get us warmed up for the main event. Like the total professionals that we are.

When it is time to get things underway. You are shown in to a stylish function room. Where you are welcomed at the door by the person hosting things. Who then shows you to your seat’s. There are several round tables of eight laid out. Already set at each place is a selection of glasses, cheeses and chocolates. Ready for the tasting. We were sat with two lovely married couples and two friends. We all had a nice chat before and after the event and also during any gaps in the proceedings.

Red Red Wine
Red Red Wine

It is all presented by Kam Zadeh. Who is the Managing Director and Wine Adviser of Wine Cottage. He was fantastic.  And gave basically a beginners guide to all the things you need to know about wine. And the wine making process in general. I found it really interesting. Plus I actually learnt quite a lot. His assistant then goes around and pours the drinks. While he is talking to the group. You get to try six drinks. A champagne, two white wines and three red wines. Each one has either an accompanying cheese or a chocolate to enjoy with it.

My dad and I both thoroughly enjoyed the couple of hours. That it lasted. All the wines and food were great. We met some top people. And I know a lot more about wine, than I did when I walked into that room. They even present you with a little certificate. To prove that you have attended. Sadly I am not quite a wine  connoisseur but I can assure you I only drink the right amount of red wine for a gentlemen.

Wine Certificate
Wine Certificate

I went along to see The Simon and Garfunkel Story at the Vaudeville Theatre in London. I am like pretty much the rest of the planet. A big fan of their music. The red wine there was perfectly acceptable by the way. And I did have to have two glasses of it. Just to make sure. The show was exactly as you would expect from the title. There was a full band on stage. Then the  two main performers. Sam O’ Hanlon who is Paul Simon and Charles Blyth who is Art Garfunkel then take centre stage.

It is more of a music tribute show than anything else. The cast take you through all of the duos classic back catalogue of songs. While using the video screens on stage and narration in between to tell their musical story. So unlike for example Buddy (The Buddy Holly Musical) it is not a play about their lives. It is just a fitting tribute to their music with a nod to both their personal and their professional relationship.

The cast are great. The two leads look and when they are singing sound like who they are supposed to be. It is all nicely presented. In a chronological order. Which leads you through all the aspects of their career.  Therefore if you are a fan of Simon and Garfunkel and their music. Then this show is definitely worth seeing.

The Simon & Garfunkel Story
The Simon & Garfunkel Story

I recently paid my first visit to the Waterloo East Theatre in London. To see a former colleague of mine from Wembley Stadium appear in the play called The Greater Game.

It is a true story about a group of footballers from Leyton Orient. Who all went and fought in the First World War together. And all ended up being involved in the Battle of the Somme.

Waterloo East Theatre
Waterloo East Theatre

It focuses on the then League club’s first team. Who all signed up together to help the country’s war effort. As you can imagine the whole thing is an emotional roller coaster. We follow them from the dressing room banter at home to their experiences on the front line at one of the bloodiest battles on record.

It really does bring home to you the helplessness and huge cost of wars. Both to the people who were doing the fighting and those who were left at home. It is I suppose quite laddish in many ways due to the football element. But so poignant and thought provoking at the same time. Especially when you remember all the characters in this piece are real people.

The cast are all excellent. As well as my mate Jack Harding, who I thought was fantastic. It also features Michael Greco, probably still best known for playing Beppe Di Marco in Eastenders. And James Phelps, who was in the Harry Potter films. The entire recent run of this play sold out, so I was very lucky to get a ticket. If it does return to the stage. I would certainly recommend that you do go and see it.

Jack Harding and Neil Quigley
Jack Harding and Neil Quigley

I am hoping this does not shatter too many illusions. But sometimes even during live television shows. Some sections will be recorded in advance. This can be for a number of different reasons. If you were watching Children In Need this year. You might have seen Sheridan Smith singing her latest single on it.

That performance was actually recorded the day before the event. In the Children In Need studio at Elstree. And I was lucky enough to be there, when it was. I have been a fan of her work for quite a while. In fact I did try to see her when she was starring in the musical Funny Girl in the West End. But she was not performing on the night. That I managed to get a ticket.

Funny Girl
Funny Girl

Seeing her live has been on my to do list for a while. It was great to finally see her in person. A group of us filled the front of the studio by the stage. She came on with her band. And then performed the song twice. Accompanied by the audience clapping and dancing around each time. When the director and producer were happy with what they had. She then left the studio, as did we.

Then on the night that was inserted in to the programme. If you did not know, you would not realise that she was not there on the night. Well unless you spotted me on camera dancing. As I was no where near the place on the actual night. It was lovely to see her looking and sounding so good. After her recent and well documented issues. But she is back with a new album. In a good place in her personal life now. And I suspect ready to come back and win more awards.

Children in Need itself was another huge success this year. Since it started it has now raised over one billion pounds for charity. Which is an amazing achievement. As ever there were some excellent and unusual collaborations. The team behind it have done another top job once again. Yet they still do not appear to have raised enough to get Pudsey’s eye fixed.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I managed to get myself along to a small and exclusive gig recently. Russell Brand this week has been performing a three show run of a new theatre show at The Old Vic in Bristol called “Russell Brand My Life by William Shakespeare”. The Friday before that very first show. The comedian decided to do a full rehearsal of the “play” at a secret venue in High Wycombe.

The day before this was due to happen I got hold of a ticket for it. There were about forty of us in this relatively small room. When the unmistakable figure of the actor and presenter walked in. It was a pretty informal affair. He had a chat to us all. Before explaining what he was doing. And a little bit about the show we were going to see.

He is naturally very funny, extremely cheeky and to be honest very self deprecating. The show is simply him telling his life story. Then linking each major part to a speech from a Shakespeare play. It is all very honest and upfront about the problems he has faced. And how he has dealt with them. The explanations he gives are of course very funny. Then he pauses to perform each one of these classic pieces of English literature, perfectly, with such poise and meaning.

It is worth seeing just for the way he performs these segments. He totally immerses himself in them and that really shows. He is such a good orator. And When he speaks he is mesmerising and some what hypnotic. You just cannot take your eyes off him. He does have a real presence about him. The whole show just works perfectly. And for me because he is such a great wordsmith the Shakespeare parts do fit in so naturally.

It went down a storm with forty odd people on a Friday afternoon in High Wycombe, so I suspect when he performed this in that theatre in Bristol. He probably took the roof off the place. At the end I did manage to grab a quick chat and a picture with him. He was great, such a nice friendly and welcoming person. I suspect this show may be back for more performances at some point in the not to distant future.

Neil Quigley & Russell Brand
Neil Quigley & Russell Brand

I was at Wembley for the last two England games. Therefore I got to say farewell and thank you to our record goal scorer Wayne Rooney during the game against USA. I was also at the game when he passed Bobby Charlton’s goals tally.

I was sitting behind the goal in to which he scored the penalty. To claim the title. He came on as sub against America and did not look out of place at all. That said it was good on the night to see a few new young England players making their debuts. We scored three good goals. It was a decent win.

Wayne Rooney
Wayne Rooney

This was actually my first time sampling an International game in the Club Wembley area. I really liked it. Before and after the game there are a couple of nice bars. Where you can get some drinks and food. While also enjoying some live music. Plus you do get a padded seat to sit on while watching the match. The bars are open for an hour after the final whistle. Which means you can relax in comfort as the crowds and queues to get home disappear.

I was back at the National Stadium again in Club Wembley, just a few days later. To watch England progress to the semi-finals of the UEFA  Nations League. After an exciting two-one victory over Croatia with a certain Harry Kane getting the winner with five minutes to go. It was a good afternoon. The atmosphere at the end of the match with Three Lions blasting out was brilliant.

England V Croatia
England V Croatia

I had a nice day out and catch up with my good friend Andy Holmes in London last weekend. In almost a very elaborate remake of the West Wing. We went on a sight seeing walk. While having a good old chat about everything and anything. We walked from Westminster to Marylebone via Buckingham Palace, Downing Street, The Globe theatre, Fleet Street and Leicester Square.

On our travels we managed to clock up a rather impressive fourteen kilometres. Powered only by a Subway and a cuppa. Until just before catching the train home. We had a nice meal in Zizzi’s, just off Baker Street. It was a relaxing afternoon. I like strolling around the capital because there is so much to look at. You do not realise how far it is that you are actually travelling.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

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

Simply The Best

Hi there, how are you doing? I hope you have had a really good couple of weeks. Mine have been busy and fun. I have to admit I have never really been in to Halloween. Even as a child I never dressed up or went trick or treating. It does not interest me in the slightest. And it never has. May be because I do not believe in ghosts or have never watched any horror films.

Every year I try to avoid it completely. By always going out for a meal at a local pub with the family. I am happy for others to enjoy it. But it is just not for me. It was a nice evening. It is good to actually sit down and eat together round a table. And talk to each other. Which you do not really do, if you meet up in a house. In the same way.

We went along to the Red Lion in Longwick. As it happened my dad’s cousin was doing the cooking. So it was nice to see him to. We went for a main and a pudding. As all of us have a very sweet tooth. I had a pint of the local Chiltern Brewery Ale. Which went down very well with my meal. By the time I arrived home all signs of Halloween had  disappeared. Therefore as far as I was concerned. It was yet another very successful night.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I did not end up going to any firework nights this year either. In the past working in radio. I have ended up attending, working and also organising a lot of them.

I have had some great times doing that. It was always hard work but lots of fun on the actual night. Plus there is something pleasing about leading the countdown to the start of the display. Which were mostly set to music and always spectacular.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley point’s the way on stage at the Mix 96 Fireworks.

Personally I prefer going to a big organised event, if I can. Although I think the really big displays seem to be in decline nowadays. When I was younger. I remember going to a few little family displays at my Nan and Gramps. With lots of my cousins there. The ladies would be in the kitchen making soup and Jacket Potatoes. And the men would be up the garden. Helping my Gramp set off the cheap rockets and traffic lights. That we had clubbed together to buy. And stored in a old biscuit tin.

I would normally just watch through the window or if I was feeling slightly braver from the door way. When I was a child. I was a bit scared of fireworks. I liked the pretty colours, just not the big bangs. I do remember once a rocket slightly misfired and a spark from it somehow managed to find its way into my Mum’s trainer. Which gave her a little burn. And did not help to ease my concerns about these multicoloured explosives.

I do enjoy going to displays and watching the fireworks. But then again if I do not go to any, like this year. I am perfectly fine with that to. The best display now seems to be in London on New Years Eve anyway. A couple of years ago I got to witness the whole thing. While I was standing on the roof of Broadcasting House. Which I must say was a brilliant and yet slightly surreal moment.

New Years Eve
New Years Eve

Last Thursday I took my mum, dad and sister to see the Tina Turner Musical. I had heard brilliant things about it. Since it had opened. So I was really looking forward to seeing it for myself. It is playing at the Aldwych Theatre in London. Which is a lovely venue situated just off The Strand. And for the record I can confirm that they do a perfectly adequate Merlot there. Which I sampled before the show and during the interval. Well that is all part of the theatre experience, right?

The show itself is amazing. We already know all the huge songs from her career. Therefore before it starts. You know the music is going to be great. It is a very fast moving production. A lot seems to happen to her in a very short space of time. And most of it is horrendous. I guess that in real life and real time. What she had to live through and deal with was even worse. When you consider how much they may have had to leave out.

Her life story is as amazing, as it is inspiring. It just shows what an incredible and strong women she is. Both parts of the show tug on all of your emotions. It really is a bit of a roller coaster ride. I must be honest I did not realise how much she was actually struggling before she properly launched her amazing solo career. It was a real fight to get to where she did. At times sadly, literally.

Tina The Musical
Tina The Musical

The cast were sensational and all brilliant. But special praise has to go to Jenny Fiztpatrick. Who was sublime as Tina. As I am sure you can imagine with it being her life story. She is always involved in the action. And by default has to carry the whole thing. Including belting out all of those huge classic hits. Which of course she does brilliantly. She has a truly sensational voice.  Plus she has all of the recognisable Turner mannerisms down to a tee.

I can totally see why it has been getting so many five star reviews. It is an excellent show. It is endorsed and supported by Tina herself. It is very dark and deals with a lot of issues and situations. But happily it is ultimately a success story. It finishes with a party style sing-a-long with the cast. Which is a fantastic way to end any theatre trip. If you can, I would say go and see it.

Tina The Musical
Tina The Musical

After the show we went for dinner at the wonderful Ivy Market Grill in Covent Garden. The staff and service are always top class. And the food is delicious. I personally think the place has a really nice atmosphere to.

While I was there I sampled a bottle of their 2011 Reserva Rioja. Which was very nice. My dad and I then finished the meal by having a Champagne Cocktail each. Which was a top way to round off a lovely afternoon/evening.

Cocktails
Cocktails

Tottenham Hotspur will be playing all their home games a Wembley until at least the end of December now. So I am going to have to wait till next year to see and sit in my season ticket seat for the first time. I am still getting to all the games at the national stadium. I was there to see us lose to Manchester City. We played well. But unfortunately one mistake and then one missed golden opportunity cost us a draw. Which I think we would have just about deserved. But alas it was not to be.

The pitch was not quite at its best having had three weeks worth of American Football games played on it. Including one the day before. After a very wet weekend. It was very bare and odd seeing the NFL pitch markings so clearly. I was lucky enough to play a charity match on the Wembley pitch a few years ago. At the end of the season. Just before the pitch was about to be relayed. I think it may have been in better condition for my match, than it was for the game against City.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I also went to the must win Champions League game against PSV Eindhoven. Which happily for Spurs we did. But for a long time it looked like it we would not. And it would just be one of those nights. It did not help much going one down in the second minute. Then we had lots of chances but they were not going in.  Finally Harry Kane managed to inspire us to two late goals and the three points.

That win keeps us in with a chance of making the next stage of the competition. If we basically win our last two games. One of which is an away trip to Barcelona. Fair play to the PSV fans. They were brill. They never stopped singing, bouncy and clapping all night. Mind you I did bump in to a few outside before the game. And I think that they were making the most of the London hospitality. The Dutch know how to enjoy themselves.

Tottenham Hotspur
Tottenham Hotspur

Last Saturday night I went to my cousin’s wife’s 40th Birthday Party. It was held at a pub in Towersey. Well it was in their function room. Which was a lovely little barn. It was a brilliant night. Great to catch up with some family members. Who I had not seen for a while. I do come from a pretty big family. And we do not get the chance to all meet up. That often nowadays. So it is always nice, when we do.

I was also pleased to discover that the pub served Rebellion IPA. Which is one of my favourite beers. That was a bit of a result. The disco was really good. Top music all night. Played at just the right volume for the size of the room. Which I know does not sound like a massive compliment. But that is an easy thing to get wrong. And this guy did not. He was spot on with it.

The birthday girl seemed to enjoy herself. She took lots of photos. And using one of the many apps you can get nowadays. She made a montage of them all. Which was set to music. She posted it on her Facebook page. For us all to see. Which I think is a brilliant idea. I might have to steal that idea for my next party. Which will not be for at least another eight years, I think.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

The other week I had my final day working for the BBC. There were a few of us leaving on the same day. So we went out for a few drinks and some food.

We actually found a pretty new and fairly cool bar. It is just along the road from the BT Tower. It describes itself as an US Dive Bar.

BBC
BBC

It serves American beer and Philadelphia style food. We had booked a table in there. And I must say the food and service was really good. I would certainly go back there again. It is not a very big place. So it can get quite cosy in there, quite quickly. Buy I really liked it. It is called Passyunk Avenue. I think it has only been open for about a month. But it is worth checking out. Specially if you like traditional style greasy American cuisine.

From there we moved on to a more traditional English Pub. Which was one of our normal go to “work” pubs. It was ace to see everyone who managed to pop along for a drink. I have had a great couple of years working there. It was fun, interesting and exciting. But now it is time to move on to my next big adventure.

BBC
BBC

For Father’s Day this year. I bought my dad a Red Wine tasting experience for two people. Today me and him are heading up to a posh hotel in London to partake in this. I am really looking forward to it.

As well as sampling the wines. We also get to enjoy some accompanying cheese and chocolate. It sounds like a perfect couple of hours to me. I will tell you what it was like next time we speak.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

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

By Royal Appointment

Hi there, how are you doing? I hope you have had a really good couple of weeks. Mine have been busy and fun. It was my Mum’s birthday at the start of September. Her present this year was a day out with me in London including a visit to Buckingham Palace. Over the years I have been up to the front of the Royal house to admire it and watch the changing of the guards several times. The first time I would have been about seven, I think.

For many years now the Palace has been opened up to the public when the Royal Family are away on their summer break. Having a nose around the place is something I had been meaning to do for a while. So when discussing what my mother would like to do for her birthday this year. The suggestion to do the tour there was made. I booked the tickets and we went along to do it the other week.

Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace

There were three parts to the option that I purchased. The first was a look around the Queen’s Gallery. In this display area they put on a different exhibition every year. Which features various items from the Royal Collection. This is made up of the many gifts the family has received over the years. As well as items purchased by some of the Kings and Queens from the past.

The theme for this year’s exhibition in the Queen’s Gallery was the Splendours of the Indian Subcontinent. This included manuscripts, paintings, diamond encrusted jewellery and some very elaborate weaponry.  Some of the items on display are amazing to look at. And impossible to put a price on. Interesting pieces from world history. It makes you think how talented people were back in the 1600’s or so to create these amazing things. Using the tools and the technology that they had at their disposal.

The second part of our Royal Day out included a nice look round the Royal Mews. Where the horses, carriages and some other modes of transport are looked after. Luckily as we arrived a free guided tour was about to start, so we jumped on the back of that. It was great to learn about the history and the current workings of the Mews. They were the idea of Queen Victoria. Who was actually the first Royal to use Buckingham Palace as her official residence.

There were a couple of horses in the stables. Including one of the famous Windsor Grey’s. Which are the horses that always pull the carriage that the Queen is in. Talking of which they do have lots of the carriages on display. Including the one our current Queen went to her Coronation in. The one Princess Diana went to her Wedding in. And the one used by both William and Harry after their big day’s.

Royal Mews
Royal Mews

They do look spectacular and amazing close up. There is a new one that is a few years old and has only been used a handful of times. It has wheels on it designed by a Formula One engineer. And features wood from HMS Victory inside the cabin.

Once the tour ended we were free to have a look around ourselves. They give you the chance to dress up as one of the Queen’s footmen for a photo. Which I did. There is one of the official cars on display. The family always have a car ready to go. And a chauffeur on duty. Should they require to have to go anywhere.

Royal Neil
Royal Neil

The last part of the experience was the thing I was looking forward to most. The chance to actually step foot inside Buckingham Palace. They give you the opportunity to visit the State Rooms. You get an audio guide. Which tells you some information about every one of the fifteen rooms you get to visit. These include Dining Rooms, Ball Rooms and Drawing rooms. All of which are sensational. The look and feel of the place is amazing.

You do get a sense of the occasions and the importance of the people who would have graced these rooms at big state events. There are also a few secret doors and passages from the private living quarters. So the Royals can appear in certain places and not have to see their guests until they want to. The furniture is brilliant. Including of course a couple of rooms that do include thrones.

Another room we got to see was the one where the Investitures take place. This is what it is called when people visit the Palace to receive their honour from a member of the Royal Family. Having visited the place. I now know exactly where to sit and to walk to get my OBE or Knighthood from the Queen. In the future when I get one. Plus of course I will be familiar with the surroundings there. Which should help with any nerves on the big day.

Having been for a good look around the house. I would love to go to one of their dinner party’s. A lovely meal followed by a nice brandy with some good conversation in one of the drawing or music rooms. Would be an ideal evening out for me. Specially if Her Majesty then lent me a carriage and some horses to get home.

The tour ends in the Garden. So you get to walk out down the rear steps and see the area where the Royal Garden Parties are held. To get out you then get to walk around some of the garden to. It is so  picturesque and huge.

Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace

There are lakes, orchards, flower beds and I suspect nice areas for barbecues. It would certainly be a pleasant space to go for a morning walk. The only thing is the exit from the garden. Does put you miles away from where you started. And a fair way from any underground stations.

It was a lovely day out. I found it fascinating looking around the Palace. I could see myself living there. But there is no way that can happen. I still would like to get invited back there for some sort of official occasion with some Royals in attendance. Just in case anyone from the House of Windsor stumbles across this.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I have had a little bit of a break from the theatre over the summer. Mainly as I was busy swanning off around America. Then having a laugh in Edinburgh. One show that I have been wanting to see for a while is Everybody’s Talking About Jamie. The music for which was composed by Dan Gillespie Sells. The lead singer with the band The Feeling. Who I think are brilliant. That was the initial appeal of it for me.

Add to that the amazing reviews the show has had. Plus the amount of theatre awards it has won since it opened in the West End in June 2017. Everything I heard about it was positive. It is such a modern and progressive musical. Set in Sheffield within the last ten years. Based on a real life story. That was actually featured in a television documentary.

Everbody's Talking About Jamie
Everbody’s Talking About Jamie

Finally I went to the Apollo Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue to see it. All I can say is everybody was right about it. It grabs you right from the start. The songs are catchy and brill. The story line is honest and real. The cast are all excellent. It is such a well performed and slick show.

It is quite a long show with a running time of two hours and forty minutes including the interval. But when you reach the half way point. You can’t believe it has arrived so quickly. Time flying by is of course a good sign that it is an entertaining and enjoyable show. It is also a bit of an emotional roller coaster. In many ways it is, I suspect quite an accurate representation of school and home life in the area.

I also like the fact that a lot of the actors who performed in the first version of it that opened in Sheffield moved with it. And got to be in the West End version. It also featured a familiar face from the world of Soap Opera. Shobna Gulati is in it and needless to say she is great.

This is another show that is worth seeing if you can. There is some choice language in it, so it is not suitable for children. That said it is all in context and what you would expect to hear for real in the scenarios that they are re-creating. See it if you can.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I had to venture up to Manchester recently for a meeting at Media City. I got an early morning train from Buckinghamshire to the rainy city. They have a really good tram network there. You can get one from Piccadilly Station straight to Media City. I quite enjoyed the journey there via the various Quays.

I got there a little bit early, so I had time to have a little bit of a walk around. The place does exactly what it says on the tin. As the area contains BBC television and Radio Studios. ITV have some studios and facilities there. In fact Coronation Street is now filmed at newly built studios and sets there. They even offer you tours of the famous cobbled streets. Sadly I did not have the chance or time to do that while I was there.

Media City
Media City

Several independent radio and television companies have facilities there as well. There are also quite a few bars and restaurants in the area. Well media professionals and creatives need to be fed and of course watered. Just like everybody else.

I bet they would be quite good places for Celebrity spotting specially if you are a soap fan. I had a meeting in one of the BBC buildings there. It was in the Sports Personality of The Year meeting room, as it happened.

When I had finished I did plan to do some more investigating in the area. But it was tipping it down with rain. So I just decided to get the tram back to  the station, have a quick bite to eat and then get the next train home. I have had a few decent nights out in Manchester over the years. I have not had one for a while. May be I need to try and put that right soon.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Things have not been going that well for my team Tottenham. I went to my first game of the season at Wembley. To see Liverpool beat us. The best bits were trying the Vegetarian Burger. Which was curried beetroot and parsnip in a green bun.

Then randomly sitting next to someone who was a couple of years below me at school. The match itself was not so good. Let us just leave it at that.

Tottenham Hotspurs
Tottenham Hotspurs

Then of course came defeat in injury time away to Inter Milan. That was not ideal either. I have my ticket and I am looking forward to the Tottenham v Barcelona game at Wembley Stadium this week. It will be good seeing Messi in action. It was a relief to return to winning ways at Brighton in the Premier League last weekend.

I made my first ever visit to MK Dons Stadium in Milton Keynes to see Spurs play Watford in the Carabao Cup. It is a nice ground. But it was a bit weird watching my team there, as the home side. Plus it is a little harder to get to than Wembley. Parking the car is a nightmare. At least Tottenham won, albeit on penalties. Still in the cup though!

Stadium MK
Stadium MK

I had a brilliant time at my mate’s surprise Birthday Meal. His wife had arranged it all. He had absolutely no idea. We met in a pub. And as he was not expecting me to be there.

I was actually standing right behind him for about five minutes before he noticed me. It was good fun. Although I did have to leave early as I had a very early alarm call the next day. But that’s show business.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

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

Check Mate

Hi there, how are you doing? I hope you have had a really good couple of weeks. Mine have been busy and fun. I have to say I could not believe it, that my mate Ben Langley did not make it through to
at least the Semi-final stages of Britain’s Got Talent. Sadly exactly what I feared occurred. He was not selected in that last show where they have to whittle down all the people that they said yes to. To the actual number of places available in the live shows. That was despite him getting four yes’s and a standing ovation from the judges.

I was a little bit concerned that this might happen to him. The reason for that is that he was shown very early on in his episode. He was not interviewed before. They did not really give us any of his back story. But later in the same programme a few of the acts who also got put through received this treatment. Probably a total coincidence but at least a couple of these did make it through to the semi-finals.

I appreciate I might well be a bit biased with him being a friend. But I have seen him perform a lot over the last ten years. And I would say that he can offer a lot more variety and potential than some of the people who made it through. Mentioning no names Opera Cake eating lady. They always put a few quirky and odd acts through to the finals. It does make the show more interesting. Although it is a little frustrating when this is sometimes done at the expense of the talented individuals.

Ben Langley
Ben Langley

Ben has toured with Joe Pasquale, Cannon and Ball and supported Paul Zerdin on his one man show. He was in the Detectorists, albeit briefly and is on CBeebies. Therefore I concede that he is not exactly unknown. Which is may be what they think the show is about.

But Lost Voice Guy, who I love and who truly deserved to win it. Actually won the BBC New Comedy Award a few years ago,  so he was hardly plucked from obscurity either. That said I think he will be excellent at the Royal Variety Performance. I must also say well done to the ace Dec. Who did brilliant job hosting it. Those opening numbers that he was doing were epic.

It was nice to see Ben getting some encouragement and words of support from the legend that is Bobby Ball on his Facebook page. He is currently performing his Ben Langley show all other country. He will be in Pantomime again. As he has been every year since I have known him. Plus he may well tour the UK with his Ha Ha plays again. What I am saying is keep an eye out for him. If you get the chance go and see him in action. You will have a fun and entertaining time.

Ha Ha Hood
Ha Ha Hood

I have to confess owing to the fact I am genuinely so busy. I like to plan things in advance and normally have very structured weeks. I often know what I am doing months in advance. But occasionally something out of the blue and spontaneous will occur. Which is always great fun.

This happened the other week. I was at work when I noticed via social media. That one of my best friends and his wife were out in London at my favourite pub. I knew they were celebrating their 10th Anniversary. But I had not seen them both for a while, so I messaged them to see if they fancied a drink with me.

I finished work and had not heard anything back. I was walking to Marylebone Train Station. When my phone rang. It was my mate’s wife seeing where I was and if I was still up for a drink. The answer was yes I am and I am on my way to you now. Luckily I know a nice little pub just round the corner. We met up there and had a great catch up over a few drinks.

It was brilliant to see them and we had a lovely time chatting and laughing. I did feel a little bit guilty about gate crashing their day. But I was there the first time they ever met. Therefore I felt that it was perfectly acceptable for me to be with them. We got the train home together. Then said our goodbyes. It was a wonderful impromptu way to end the working day.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Last week I went and saw the latest West End production of Chess. It was only on for a limited run, so I was pleased that I did manage to catch it. It is written by Tim Rice with music and lyrics also supplied by Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus of ABBA fame. It was first performed in London in 1986. This latest version was at the London Coliseum.

Chess
Chess

One of the main reasons I wanted to see this show was because of the cast. That they had assembled for it. I have been a long time fan of Michael Ball. But had never had the chance to see him on stage. He was playing one of the lead roles. Alongside a man reprising the role that he had played in the original production Murray Head. Ball plays the Russian and Head the American.

The two female leads were also great. One whom I had seen perform before and the other who I had been trying to see for a while. They were Cassidy Janson and Alexandra Burke. I saw Cassidy when she was playing Carole King in Beautiful and she was sensational in that. Alexandra had been on The One Show when I was there once. But she showed off her dancing not her singing that evening.

I thoroughly enjoyed this version of Chess. The staging was very clever and involved a lot of video images on big screens with live cameras on stage to capture the footage. The music and songs are fantastic. As you would fully expect from the people who are behind them. The whole cast were totally amazing.

Michael Ball was exceptional. His voice is just immense. When he is on that stage belting out those songs. He is a truly terrific performer. Murray Head was brilliant to. In a role he has really made his own. I particularly enjoyed him doing One Night In Bangkok. A song he had a number twelve hit with in the UK.

Cassidy Janson was just ridiculously good. Her voice is like velvet and her acting is faultless. She is just such a good all round star. I love watching her on stage. Alexandra Burke also blew me away from her first song. She proved what a amazing singer and performer she is. It made the whole theatre sit up and pay attention.

I have already mentioned one of the two best known songs from this musical. The other is performed by the two ladies. The two original leading ladies had a number hit with it in the eighties. They were Elaine Page and Barbara Dickson. The song I am talking about is “I Know Him So Well. Which is immaculately performed by Cassidy and Alexandra. Real goose bumps and hairs on the back of your neck standing up stuff.

I enjoyed the show and I was impressed by how good the cast were. But the reason this show has not had the longevity of other musicals, like Phantom of Opera for example. Is possibly due to the story not being quite strong enough. And it not containing enough poignant dramatic moments. I thought it was great and I am sure they will bring it back again in the future. It is I think quite amusing that the main American character’s surname is Trumper. Just as it was in the original.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I went to see James Acaster do a work in progress gig for his latest show at The Museum Of Comedy in London. It is a lovely little place. It only holds about eighty people. They have improved the bar area there recently. Which just makes it a bit easier to sit and have a drink before the entertainment starts.

As the name of the place suggests there are lots of historic comedy items and memorabilia dotted around the including a signed printed copy of the classic Two Ronnies “Four Candles” Sketch and an old Freddie Starr red stage jacket. Not to mention some Spitting Image masks and the back door from the Trotters three wheeler from Only Fools and Horses.

Museum of Comedy
Museum of Comedy

It was slightly odd when we walked into the performance room, as James was already on the stage waiting for us. I know it is a small venue and there is not a dressing room. But this is the first time I had experienced that. I am not sure if that was something new he was testing. Or if he could not be bothered to hide from us for the sake of it. Which I completely understand, to be honest.

He was trying out a lot of new stuff that may or may not make it into the finished and final polished show. He was also telling us about his weekend. To see if he could find any comedy value in it and get some future material from that. He is one of the top gigging comics around at the moment, really good.  His recent appearances on television panel shows have been brilliant to.

Neil Quigley Stand Up Comedy
Neil Quigley Stand Up Comedy

It was a fun evening seeing some comedy rounded off with a trip to Byron Burger. Which is pretty much my default burger restaurant. When I am in London. You know exactly what you are going to get there and their burgers are tasty.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Tottenham Hotspur have signed a deal with the Beavertown Brewery to be the official craft beer of their new stadium. Therefore I thought I better have a can of their Neck Oil Beer to wash my food down with. As an appreciation of the new connection with my football team.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I like most of the country on Bank Holiday Monday watched the last ever episode of Car Share. Peter Kay and Sian Gibson are both great in it. The story line works and makes total sense. The dialogue is top quality comedy. But as I have said previously. The thing I really love about it is the additional comedy from the radio station and the ace visual jokes. That have been getting better with every programme.

In the last show there were at least three things I spotted in the shot as the car was driving around that made me laugh out loud. Ranging from stickers on cars, to posters and shop signs. I would imagine that I missed lots of other gags. Some of those radio adverts are genius. I think he has ended it at the right time. As great creators and writers always do with these projects.

Neil Quigley in Car
Neil Quigley in Car

Yesterday I had my six monthly hospital appointment for my ears. I have had problems with them for the last three years. I am not sure if it is as a result of years of wearing headphones or of too many loud music gigs. But they do get quite bunged up. Therefore twice a year I have to go and have them basically hoovered out.

They have a special machine that can shall we say remove any debris from the area. It does make a weird noise and give you a slightly odd sensation, when it is happening. There is also a camera attached, so you can see what is going on. But as I am so squeamish. I try not to look. I always feel happier that I can hear much better after having it done. l am already booked in for my next appointment in December.

Neil Quigley Presenter
Neil Quigley Presenter

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