Tag Archives: london

Birthday Fun

It was my birthday a few weeks ago. It was not a landmark one, so I did not do anything spectacular to mark the occasion. I started off the day with my usual morning work out before opening my cards and presents with a cup of tea, proving once and for all that I am the king of rock and roll. I got a bottle of very nice red wine, which I have already enjoyed. My sister got me a ticket to see one of my favourite comedian’s Frank Skinner in the West End in January. I am obviously really looking forward to that.

I had a quiet and relaxing day at home. Then in the evening I went for a meal with my sister and my parents. Nothing to fancy we just went to a local pub for some food. We only had a main as I had been given a chocolate cake, so we had that for pudding after. I then went for a few glasses of Rioja with my sister at our local Wine Bar, bringing to a close possibly one of my most low key birthdays ever. When you consider I have been at Pantomimes, on a River Boat cruises and also out gigging with “The Drifters” on previous ones’, it was certainly quieter. I had a fabulous day though, which is what it is all about.

Neil Quigley

The night before my birthday I was at a charity event at The Comedy Store in London with a friend of mine. It was in aid of the MS Society. Ivo Graham organised it and he was the compere for the night. It is something close to his heart as his mum is affected by the disease. He had managed to put together an excellent line up. The comedians were all performing for free. It was nice to see them support a fellow comic in this way. Despite what you might think about most wanting a rival to fail, so they can seem better, in my experience everyone is helpful and very supportive of each other.

This may seem a very obvious thing to say but The Comedy Store is a perfect venue for comedy. The closeness of the seats to the stage for starters makes you feel part of things. The stage is just the right size to focus your intention but still feel inclusive. Even the sound system in there is brilliant, so you can clearly hear everything, which trust me is not always the case at Comedy Nights. Add to that the fact it is one of the most iconic venues for the genre in the country. It is a real goal and honour to get the chance to perform there as a comedian.

The Comedy Store

Ivo Graham came on and started the night talking to the audience as all hosts should and do. He was fantastic throughout. First on it was the lovely Catherine Bohart. I had heard very good things about her recent Edinburgh show, so I was looking forward to seeing her. She was excellent, original and funny with an inclusive friendly style. I would definitely see her again. Then it was Russell Howard, who I have seen several times before and who I really like. He was on top form. He is so good at making topical jokes that are relatable to his audience. As always he was extremely funny. He has brilliant energy while on stage. He almost hypnotises you.

Next up it was a man who I had previously seen perform in the final of the Musical Comedy Awards earlier this year. His name is Huge Davies. He has a massive keyboard strapped to him to provide his own musical accompaniment. He is different and unique in his style. He was great, if you have not heard of him yet, I expect that you will soon. The final act of part one was another comedian who I had seen before Rhys James. I really like him and think he is very funny. I like the way he covers a lot of topics, sometimes some very dark ones with a smile and cheekiness. That enables the audience to relax and enjoy the jokes, a very clever and funny man.

Neil Quigley

After the interval or as it should be called at comedy gigs the chance to go to the toilet and get a drink without being singled out by the person on stage. I took the opportunity to have a pint of Goose IPA. Well it was the night before my birthday. There is always a decent atmosphere at The Comedy Store. It seems to attract a lot of people who know and really understand comedy.

The act that kicked off part two was someone I had been looking forward to seeing, having enjoyed watching them on television for many years. It was Alan Carr. He was predictably brilliant. His life is quite mad with the people he knows and the circles he moves in. He has some fantastically funny stories. I am pleased to have finally got round to seeing him.

Next on the bill it was Sarah Keyworth, who I had seen there before. She was good, as she always is. She is another comedian who talks about difficult subjects in an inclusive way. The penultimate act of the night was Alfie Brown, yet another comic who I was aware of but had not seen. He does have quite a purposeful awkward style, which for whatever reason did not quite catch fire on the night. That said he handled it all expertly and got quite a few big laughs. I liked it and he seems like a top bloke. I mean he was doing the gig for free to help out a mate’s charity night. That is plenty good enough for me.

Neil Quigley

The headline act was a man who had recently run into a bit of bother at a charity dinner. You might well have read about it, as it became a big story. Nish Kumar had a bread roll thrown at him while doing a lunch for the Lord’s Taverners. As a comedian you have good and bad gigs. They finish and you just forget all about them, however sadly for Nish this one ended up all over social media. A reaction he found staggering, admittedly it did not go well, but as it turned out they were not really his audience and it would seem made up of some rude individuals. He was talking about the incident on stage and of course joking about it, as that is what all comedians do, tell jokes.

Nish was quality as he always has been when I have seen him live. He does do quite a bit of politics and social stuff. His style of comedy can I guess be quite angry at times, but that is just part of the act, simply to try to get bigger laughs. He closed the show perfectly, although he did possibly still seem a little bewildered by recent events.

It is alright to not find something funny or not agree with it without you being offended or getting angry, just do not laugh, that is fine. People are allowed different views to you. That is one of the things that is so great about the world. It was a hilarious night at arguably one of the best comedy venues there is.

Neil Quigley

I have been very lucky over the years to work with some wonderful and very talented people. I do not always speak to them or see them as often as I would like, but it is always lovely when I do meet up with one. The other week I managed to have an overdue lunch with Amy Lewis.

We met while we were both working at Ivel fm in Somerset. She is an exceptional journalist, who has deservedly worked at Sky and now is at ITV. I remember going with her once to interview a large group of travellers who had moved on to a local cricket pitch and set up camp. That is the nearest I have been to feeling like Ross Kemp.

I was also very proud to help produce in a small way some audio that led to her winning an award. Anyway we met up in Marlow the other week. It was great to see her and her son. It seems odd but when you have worked with someone at a radio station, you do always seem to have a certain bond.

It was fantastic catching up on each other’s lives. Towards the end of the meeting we worked out that we had not seen each other for around fifteen years. Although neither of us of course looked old enough for that. We have said we will try not to leave it so long next time.

Sarah Parish started the Neil Quigley Fan Club

I had my annual trip to Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park last week. I think I have been every year for about the last five now. This time I met up with one of my cousin’s there. I arrived a little before him, so had a quick walk round the place. I am not really a fan of fairground rides, so I avoided them.

There are lots of other stalls and attractions to look around. It is free to enter the site and walk about. It does cost more if you want to ice skate or go into some of the specialist areas. While I was waiting I got a snack. I found a place that did fresh mini pancakes. That I had with lots of Nutella. Let me tell you, they were amazing, so nice.

After my food I then went in to the Bavarian Village. That is the main reason I go there. I was starting to feel a bit Christmassy plus it was a little bit cold. Therefore the first thing I did was treat myself to a nice mulled wine. I must say that certainly warmed me up in every sense of the word. It was lovely.

Neil Quigley

I then got myself a pint of Bavarian Gold, the lager that they serve there. You can have it out of a cheap plastic glass or pay a five pound deposit to enjoy it out of a slightly thicker plastic glass with a handle. I went for the latter option. As I was drinking that, my cousin arrived and got himself one.

Neil Quigley

We mainly hung around the German area having a chat and a drink. While enjoying a live band that were playing in a kind of Oom-Pah group style. Lots of party songs, shall we say slightly re-imagined. We left the Bavarian Village for a stroll as my cousin had not been there for a few years. He also thought he had spotted a better bar but when we got to it, we had a beer there but both felt where we were originally was more fun. We went back there for some food. I had the classic Bratwurst and chips. That I must say was very nice.

Winter Wonderland

After dinner we found another bar area where a man wearing some leather trousers and an earring was performing classic reggae tunes. I know I had enjoyed a few beers by this point, but I am not making this up, it actually happened. It was pretty good for the record. He was getting the crowd going. I think we left about nine o’clock to beat the crowds away, as it closes at ten. I had a top time there. I do enjoy it and it is always a good giggle. I do fully expect to go and visit again next year.

Neil Quigley

I have talked before about my Christmas Shopping regime. As far as I am concerned Christmas does not exist before my birthday, so I do nothing for it until at least the eleventh of December. I always pick one day to do my entire present shopping. I then compile a list of everything I need to get. Lastly I pick a place that I am going to go to get everything. This year I went to High Wycombe. And in just under three hours I completed all my Christmas Shopping. All I have to do now is wrap everything. Yet again another triumph for this plan!

Neil enjoying a Mince Pie
Neil Quigley

I went to see the Pantomime at the legendary London Palladium last week. It is the third year in a row that I have been and once again it did not disappoint. I do not know this for definite but I think it must have the biggest budget for any Panto in the country. They really do throw everything at it. For starters the lights, sets and the overall staging are themselves spectacular. You will not see a better looking show anywhere. It looks so bright, fun and Christmassy. I make no secret of the fact that I am a big kid and love panto. However this production is as much for the grown-ups, as it is for the children.

London Palladium

It is Goldilocks and The Three Bears this year. Not that the narrative of things is ever that important in this show. The whole thing is just one huge variety show, perfectly fitting for the venue in which it is being performed. The cast are all exceptional. This year wonderful Paul O’Grady plays the baddie. A role he has played brilliantly for a long time now in his angry and fed up way. He is just so good at it and knows how to get the “boos”. While still also getting plenty of laughs, which is no mean feat. Paul Zerdin is back in the comedic role with him and his puppet Sam, doing several very funny routines during the show. He is a total star.

Gary Wilmot returns as the Dame. He is such a talented and amazing man. Every year he has his own bit, which he writes and produces. It is always a big highlight. These have included a song featuring all the London Underground Stations and one with many of the legendary stars who have appeared at the Palladium. This year he did his own special medley of songs from the musicals. He has a fantastic voice, the range of which was fully demonstrated during this song, it was
mesmerising. I lost count of how many well-known tunes it featured. He rightly got a huge round of applause at the end of it. Brilliant!

London Palladium

Matt Baker from Countryfile and The One Show was also in it. He was excellent. It is based in and around a circus, during the show he has to ride a unicycle, juggle and walk the tight rope, as well as the normal acting and singing of course. Nigel Havers appears as Daddy Bear. He is in it every year and happily sends himself up and is very funny. Baby Bear is played by Lauren Stroud who tap dances. Then Mummy Bear is played by Janine Duvitski from Benidorm, who is great. Goldilocks is Sophie Isaacs, she is an excellent all round singer and dancer.

The cast is completed by the innuendo queen that is Julian Clary, who plays the Master of The Ring, insert your own jokes here, he certainly does. His outfits get more outrageous as the show goes on. He is just so good at making everyone laugh both the audience and many of his fellow actors. There is one part where he, Paul Zerdin and Paul O’Grady have a long chat about a pleasant plucker and I am sure you can guess how that goes. They also do one of the best and funniest Pantomime set piece song routines I think I have ever seen.

This show also includes a roller skating act, an amazing magician and four motorcyclists who do the wall of death on stage together. You will not see another show anything like this, anywhere in the United Kingdom over Christmas. It is totally brilliant. It is such a good laugh. I really felt that a visit to this properly kick started my Christmas. I already know I will be back to see next year’s show because simply why would you not go and see it.

London Palladium

I watched the Strictly Come Dancing Final. It has been another ace series. There have been so many memorable dances from lots of the contestants. The last three standing were the correct choices in my opinion and all deserved to be there on merit. I personally felt the right couple won. Kevin and Oti have been sensational. I have been entertained and impressed by all of their performances. They have been brilliant and thoroughly deserved the Glitter Ball, so well done to the both of them.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Amazon have certainly picked the right season to make a behind the scenes documentary about my club Tottenham Hotspur. It has been full of drama with many twists and turns so far. Despite an annoying defeat against Manchester United. Somehow we find ourselves fifth in the Premier League, just three points behind Chelsea, who we face at home tomorrow afternoon. Add to that the fact that we are in the knock out stage of The Champions League. You could say that things are not going that bad.

If you had told me we would be in this position by now, six weeks ago, I might have thought that you were crazy. As it is we are! I am looking forward to being at the match tomorrow and seeing what happens next. I mean if we could end the Christmas period in the top four, which would be amazing. Either way I will have a fun couple of trips to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium over the Festive period.

Neil Quigley having a go at conducting the Orchestra
Neil Quigley having a go at conducting the Orchestra

Have a very Happy Christmas and we will catch up again in a couple of weeks. Cheers Neil.

The Wonder Of You

I have mentioned before that with these busy lives we all lead how hard it is to arrange a simple night out with friends. You have to plan these things well in advance or get lucky by picking a random date you can all make. Happily the stars aligned for me and a group of my mates recently, as at fairly short notice we managed to agree to all meet up for drinks a couple of Fridays ago.

I will admit in theory it should be easier for me to be available, as I am the only one of the gang who is not married with children. In my defence though, I do keep myself nice and busy. I tend to book things in the diary months in advance. We decided to go out in Windsor as it was a pretty good central location. Plus we had not been there for a while. I stayed at one of their houses and met the other two there in a pub.

Windsor Night
Windsor Night

We actually started off in Eton. There are quite a few good venues in that area, many of which we had already experienced in the past. We got the evening underway at The Henry VI. It is a quality pub and it normally has some live music during the weekend. There was a guy singing and playing the guitar, while we were in there. Next we then headed just up the road to The George Inn to sample some of the ales from the local Windsor & Eton Brewery.

We ended the night in The King and Castle in Windsor, which is right opposite the Castle. It was a top evening. We spent the entire time chatting, joking and laughing. None of us can remember what we talked about, but we know we spent a large part of the evening just laughing, which is the sign of a good night. That is exactly how things should be with great friends, who you feel totally at ease with just being completely lost in the moment with them.

Ascot Beer Festival
Neil Quigley

I first became aware of the Mischief Theatre Company when I was talking to an actress friend of mine, who said she was hearing good things about a show that was a success at the Edinburgh Festival. It was due to come to the West End and she said it was worth seeing. That play was “The Play That Goes Wrong”. I eventually got round to seeing it. I went with a mate to see a matinee performance. We sat in the stalls. I really cannot remember the last time I laughed so much during a theatre show. It was brilliant from start to finish.

The members of the company write produce and perform in all of their shows. Well they do initially until they move on to their next show or when it goes on an UK Tour. The original cast of the “Play That Goes Wrong” even took it to Broadway. It was a huge hit in New York. It is actually still on in London and well worth seeing. The next play from them was Comedy About A Bank Robbery. I watched this in the West End with once again the original cast of the Mischief theatre players in it. It was also amazing, fast paced clever and funny.

They then thought they would try their hand at something festive and came up with Peter Pan Goes Wrong, Which was again brilliant. I happily also saw this with the original cast. In fact I have seen all of their shows early enough to see the founding members of this great collective perform in them. I recognise them all and know who they all are now. They are all fantastically talented actors with excellent comedy timing. Why am I telling you all this, you may ask?

Groan Ups

Well last week I went and saw their latest offering called Groan Ups at the Vaudeville Theatre in London. I thoroughly enjoyed it and felt it was very original and funny. While still keeping with the style they are known for. Nobody is doing what the Mischief Theatre Company is currently. They have developed their own brand of craziness and creativity. That is extremely slick and very funny.

Groan Ups follows the lives of four children from their first year at school through to secondary school then on to a reunion. It is full of well-structured topical jokes and quality visual set pieces. There is a lot of silliness but I would expect nothing less and be disappointed if there was not. The staging and transition through the years is also so nicely done. I had a wonderful time seeing this show. It is ace.

Groan ups

The Mischief Theatre Company has a residency at the Vaudeville Theatre. They will be putting on a few different shows. The next of these opens on the 14th December and is called Magic Goes Wrong. That they have put together with help from the legendary American magicians Penn and Teller. I am already sure this will be excellent. I will definitely have to see it.

I want to wish them all the best with it. They seem like a decent bunch of people. Who as well as creating and performing very amusing shows, do a lot of charity fund raising to.

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

My mum and I are both big fans of Elvis Presley. Last year I was lucky enough to visit Graceland, which was amazing. She celebrated her 70th Birthday in September. For her present I got us tickets to see Elvis Presley in Concert Live on Screen with Live on Stage The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and some members of Elvis’s TCB Band. It sounded fantastic. I was looking forward to it as much as she was, I think.

To make the experience extra special I also booked us a night in a hotel right next to the O2 Arena, where the gig was taking place. It was last Sunday. We made our way to London around lunchtime and arrived in North Greenwich with plenty of time to relax before the gig. We were staying at the Intercontinental Hotel, which is so close to the venue, it even has its own walk way to get there. Which I must admit was very handy.

Intercontinental Hotel

I treated her to a lovely meal in the Brasserie Restaurant that they have there. We just went for a main and a pudding, both of which were fantastic for the record. They also have a Sky Bar there on the eighteenth floor. We popped up there for a quick drink. It has great views over the river and the Canary Wharf area of the City. It was really chilled and relaxing in there with jazz music playing. Then it was time to get ready for the main event.

Sky Bar

Using the special walk way between the hotel and the O2, we went and firstly collected our complimentary programmes and bags that I had organised, before going into the venue itself to enjoy a drink. It was then time to take our place ready for the start. I had got us some decent seats. We were seven rows from the front. Firstly the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra came out and played just an instrumental version of an Elvis song. Then Priscilla Presley appears on stage to set the scene and explain how this collaboration came about.

Elvis at O2

The orchestra then strike up and on the big screen right at the start of the first vocal Elvis appears singing totally in-sync with the music. The sound was brilliant, the live music was faultless and it was so cleverly done with Elvis singing and thanking the audience at the end of the songs. I was very impressed with how well the whole thing was put together. It cannot be easy to tie up live music with a video play out. Congratulations to the technical team. They did an excellent job.

We then had some more stories from Priscilla and Elvis’s great friend Jerry Schilling. They then introduced on to the stage what was the highlight of the night for me, some original members of the TCB Band. This was Elvis’s band of musicians he hand-picked, who played with him from around 1969 until the end of his life. For any non-Elvis fans TCB stands for Taking Care of Business. That was his mantra for looking after family, friends and employees. Plus it made up the work ethic for putting on shows and performing for his fans.

He had a massive TCB ring that he used to wear. Those initials were often on his clothes, in his cars and they were even on the tails of the two planes that he owned. They always featured alongside the logo a flash of lightning, meaning “Taking Care of Business in a flash” It is a philosophy and a way of dealing with things, which personally I really like and admire. Looking after people around you the best way you can. I own a couple of items of Elvis branded clothing that proudly display the TCB insignia.

Elvis at O2

The TCB band members performing at the 02 were his lead guitarist James Burton, who is just sensational, his keyboard player Glen D Martin, who also arranged many of “The Kings” hit songs and lastly his drummer Ronnie Tutt, who is considered by many as one of the best drummers of all time. Seeing those guys on stage together with a video of Elvis is the closest I could ever get to seeing the real thing. They had monitors on stage and just like they did when he was alive they were watching him closely on screen to feel the music and the direction from him on the flow of songs. For me it was truly magical.

The TCB Band members joined the Orchestra for a few songs at the end of each of the two halves. There was just something way more special about the songs they were involved with. During the second half Priscilla and Jerry came back out to talk us through some home videos from their private collection. They performed a lot of his big songs and as I said earlier they all sounded and looked great. They included his sense of fun on stage, the faces he would pull and how sometimes he would change the lyrics of songs for a laugh. I was in good company as Brian May from Queen was also in the audience watching it.

Elvis at O2

Both my mum and I had a brilliant night singing and dancing along. It was expertly put together and produced, I loved it! Afterwards we returned to the hotel, found the bar and had a couple of glasses of wine to relax and unwind, while talking about the gig. We then went to bed on a lovely post performance high. The power of music in life should never be underestimated. I am so pleased I caught this show.

Elvis at O2

I was involved in another Quiz show development run through recently. When you are trying to get something brand new on to the television, you need to test it to find out what works and what does not. If the thing you are producing is a game show of some kind, you need “contestants” to play it. This is where I come in. I really enjoy answering questions, so therefore I always like being involved with this kind of thing and jump at any opportunity to do so.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

In this latest one, which took place in Central London I was paired up with somebody I had met previously, as it was a two player quiz. It was the first time I had played this particular game. I cannot tell you too much about it yet, as it is still in development. The production company are in the process of pitching it to television channels in the hope that they will buy it. In fact we were demonstrating it to a major channel’s representatives on this occasion.

What I can say is that it was an equally fun and frustrating game. It will be one of those that you can really shout along with at home. I like the idea behind it and the jeopardy involved throughout it. My partner and I actually won. Which I must confess I was pretty happy about. I am very competitive and I always enjoy winning. It was a fun couple of hours basically showing off in front of a crowd. It is always something I have a great time doing. I am hoping to do more of these things with this production company in the future. If it does make it on to the television, I will then be able to point it out to you.

Neil Quigley

I have now been to two Spurs home games with our new manager Jose Mourinho in charge. We have won both of these games, which is always a good thing. We still seem to have some problems at the back but we have no such issues at the other end with even Moussa Sissoko scoring his first goal for the club. Already in his short time with us the new boss has quite clearly tweaked the tactics slightly and adjusted the positions and roles of a few players. Which to be fair to him does seem to be mainly working.

He is already starting to win me over with what he is saying and of course the results he is getting. Unfortunately football is a results business and sadly for whatever reasons Mauricio Pochettino was not getting them this season. He is a great coach. He will get another big job soon and he will be very successful by the way. I am off to see us face Burnley at home this afternoon. Always a tough match, but one I hope and think we can win.

Neil Quigley

It is my birthday this Tuesday. Unusually for me I have not really got anything planned or organised this year for the day itself. Mind you I am off to The Comedy Store the night before, which will be good. I do also have plans for the following weekend. Therefore I am pretty sure I will manage enough celebrating of it.

It is not a landmark one as such, so no need to mark it with anything too special. But I expect I will end up doing something for it. I will tell you what that was when we speak next.

Neil Quigley

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

Great Scott

I hope that if you enjoy and indulge in Halloween and Bonfire Night, that you had a good time. I have never really been a fan of Halloween even as a child. I never went trick or treating. Also I have never liked horror films or anything scary. That is possibly why it never really did it for me or to be honest why it still does not. That said I would like to go to Jonathan Ross’s big Halloween Party one year, it does look like brilliant fun. And I quite fancy dressing up in a ridiculous outfit. Plus the guest list for that event is usually very impressive.

I am a little more on board with Fireworks night. I was taken to lots of displays as a kid. I do remember we had some family ones at my Nan and Granddad’s. Where the men would take all the shop bought fireworks up the garden in a biscuit tin. Then take turns to set them off. I am pretty sure health and safety had not been invented then, as I do seem to remember having to run for cover on more than one occasion, as they misjudged the direction of a rocket. Let us call it character building entertainment. I did not go to any displays this year. I think decades of working at them as a radio presenter has made me feel that may be I have earned a break from them.

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

A big horse racing fan, I now have a very small amount of shares in two race horses. A couple of Sunday’s ago I went down to see one of them at the trainer’s stables in Somerset. Which was quite apt, as I went to my first course when I was living in Yeovil, while working at Ivel fm. Wincanton Races used to advertise with us and as a result of that, we occasionally got some tickets to go and watch. In fact we did a live broadcast from there one afternoon. Channel Four Racing had to ask us to turn our radio mic off, as it was affecting their sound. It was also at Wincanton Races that I saw the Somerset legends the Wurzels perform for the first time. It is a decent little track.

Driving down to Somerset that Sunday morning via the A303 gave me a very nostalgic feeling. Having done that journey many times during the five years I lived there. It was actually quite nice to once again pass Stonehenge and drive through some of the small villages round there. My horses’ are both trained by the current Champion Trainer Paul Nicholls out of his stables in Ditcheat, which is only about ten minutes away from Wincanton. It was an open day at the stables organised by the Owners Group. A lovely crisp but sunny autumn day as we arrived at the former dairy farm, which is now home to over sixty horses.

Neil Quigley and Paul Nicholls

They had bacon sandwiches and hot drinks waiting for us. Which were very welcome after the two and an half hour drive. Then we went to the courtyard at the front of the house to wait for the proceedings to begin. Out walks Paul Nicholls himself to greet us and say hello, then a selection of horses are paraded in front of us including mine who is called “Force Ten”. The trainer then tells us a bit about each of them. While we take as many pictures as we like. There is then a question and answer session. Before we are then allowed to have a good look around the stables.

At this point all I wanted to do was go and see my horse “Force Ten” in his home. He is a lovely horse, only four years old. But he is doing well in training and everybody is very happy with him. I managed to find his stable and get even more pictures of him. Then before I left I got to have a quick chat with Paul Nicholls and have my photo taken with him to.

Force Ten

I am hoping for many years of enjoyment from watching and supporting this horse. As I am a bit more involved in the sport. I am starting to discover and learn much more about it, which is great. The Jockey colours are purple with black stripes on the sleeves and a black hat. Keep an eye out for “Force Ten” and if you see him at a race course, could you cheer him on for me please?

The visit was brilliant. Everybody was so helpful and friendly. It was wonderful of Paul and all his staff to give up their time to let us see the horse and also the quality facilities that he has at his disposal. I hope to visit the place again at some point in the future. I was at the races at Newbury last Thursday to see “Force Ten” make his debut. He ran well and led for most of the way round but found the last few furlongs tough going. It was brilliant to see him in action. This is very much just the start of things, I hope.

Force Ten

I went to the world famous jazz bar Ronnie Scott’s for the first time earlier this year. I absolutely loved it, such an amazing place to have a drink and listen to great musicians play. Tickets are quite hard to come by as the place is pretty much sold out all of the time. It has been a cool place to be seen at for many years now. Many familiar faces have been regular patrons virtually since it was launched.

On the thirtieth of October 1959 the club opened its doors for the first time. Sixty years later to the day there was a huge celebration to mark this achievement at the Royal Albert Hall. I was fortunate enough to be able to get a ticket to attend this event. I went with a few mates of mine. We grabbed some food from the nearest pub to the venue. Then made our way to what is arguably one of the best places to enjoy live music in the country. The line-up as you would expect was very impressive. The place was sold out.

Royal Albert Hall

It was a musical celebration alongside a history of the club itself. It was hosted by singer and actor Clarke Peters. He took us through the trials and tribulations of the place assisted by photographs all displayed on the big screen. This was broken up with the excellent musical performances. I was delighted to see Curtis Stigers appear and do a couple of songs. He really does have such a lovely and also distinctive voice. He was a bonus as he was not listed as appearing.

Next up it was the well-known violinist Nigel Kennedy who played a couple of Jimmi Hendrix numbers. The reason being the guitar god actually played his last ever gig in Ronnie’s before he tragically died. That was quite an experience seeing Nigel in action. He does really put on quite a show. I was looking forward to seeing Georgie Fame play. But unfortunately he recently had a fall and was unable to perform. His band the Blue Flames were there and singer Kurt Elling stepped in to do a couple of Georgie’s songs with them.

Now the next man I was looking forward to seeing can be a bit of an enigma. If he has not been in the mood or not happy with how things are going, he has been known to walk off at his own gigs, after a few numbers. Happily Van Morrison seemed to be on good form on this night. He came on with his trusty saxophone and did a couple of jazz standards. He was absolutely brilliant, whatever opinions you may have of the man himself, you cannot argue with the fact that he is a fantastic musician. Who does have a certain sound and an instantly recognisable voice! I thought he was superb. I am so pleased I have now managed to see him live.

I have for many years now been a fan of Imelda May. I think that she has an amazing voice. She produces great songs. And she has a really good energy about her. That is something I really like in people in general, as well as my singers. I was even more excited when she replied to a tweet I sent her before the event. She was outstanding, she had the whole place hanging on her every word. It was a full on powerhouse of a performance from start to finish. I will have to go and see one of her gigs next time she is out on tour. Top quality.

A special mention has to go to the fabulous Madeline Bell. She was the penultimate act on the evening. She is seventy-seven years old and was bouncing around the stage like a teenager. I do not think I have seen anybody put so much in to a performance. Add to that the fact her voice sounded sensational. She was brilliant and is now my new role model. I honestly want to be more like her. She even had her mobile phone on stage taking pictures of the audience. What a lady!

Ronnie Scott the man himself who opened the bar with his business partner Pete King was a Saxophone player of some note. Who of course regularly used to play and run the band at his club. For the finale at the Albert Hall to mark his preference for this instrument and to celebrate the years since the place launched. They had sixty tenor saxophonists on stage. That was quite a spectacle. It was a top night out with high class musicians and entertainers. I will I am sure find myself in Ronnie Scott’s again before the year is out. It is a really cool place.

Ronnie Scott’s

I guess in many ways I am just a big kid at heart, which is probably why I was so excited when I got my hands on some tickets to see the latest London production of Mary Poppins. I used to love the film as a child. And like most people in the county I already know all the big songs from it. It is on at the Prince Edward theatre in Soho. I went to see it the other Thursday. I had seen the actor playing Bert, Charlie Stemp star in Half a Sixpence a few years ago, then in the last two pantomimes at the London Palladium. I already knew he was ace. I thought he would be perfect for this role, as I know he can sing, dance and act brilliantly.

I was way more excited than a man of my age really should be, as my sister and I took our seats in row 3 of the stalls ready for the start of the show. What can I say? The show was absolutely amazing. The staging and the choreography were out of this world. It was so clever how they made all the magical and spectacular things from the film work on stage. Zizi Strallen as Mary Poppins was practically perfect in every way. Joking aside she was just stunning in the role. A lot for her to do and she did it all fantastically with authority and grace. You could not take your eyes off her whenever she was on stage. It felt like she was totally in control of things. Just like Mary Poppins is.

Mary Poppins

I also felt I was totally right about Charlie Stemp. He was brilliant as the chirpy Bert. Just like Zizi whenever he was on stage he fully held your attention. The transitions between scenes were so slick and so very clever. The dance routine for Step In Time is almost worth the ticket price itself. It is just a stunning piece of theatre. You also get a cameo appearance from the wonderful Petula Clark to. In fact the whole of the cast are amazing. There is so much going on at any one time it is actually quite hard to take it all in. It has it all, great songs, amazing dance routines, comedy, tragedy and of course a huge slice of moral dilemmas.

I defy anyone not to see that show and leave in a upbeat and happy mood. It received a massive well deserved standing ovation at the end. There are many surprises that occur that I am obviously not going to spoil for you here. This show is only on for a very short time but it is definitely worth seeing, if you have the chance. If I was to try to some up this version of Mary Poppins in say just one word. Then I think I would call it supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.

Mary Poppins

I was up in Liverpool for a few days last weekend. Normally I go up there and stay with a mate of mine. And if we can we always try to see the Everton against Tottenham game together. However this time due to a piece of very unfortunate timing. The match was moved from the Saturday to the Sunday for television. This meant my friend was not going to be able to make it, as he was going away. He did however offer me his ticket, so I could still go and see the game at Goodison Park.

For the first time in years I now had to find a hotel to stay in. Many years ago I remember seeing possibly one of the first ever fly on the wall documentaries about the Adelphi Hotel in Liverpool. It was a grand place with a large ballroom and suited smart guests, as I was looking for somewhere to stay. The option to stay there arose. It is not the same level of hotel it once was it is fair to say. It looks great from the outside but the inside is looking a bit tired and old. It could do with a little bit of a makeover to be honest. But it is in a great part of the city and I only really needed somewhere to sleep. Therefore I booked it for my stay.

Neil Quigley and Jeff Nolan
Neil Quigley and Jeff Nolan

I arrived about six o’clock on the Saturday evening. Checked in and made my way up in the lift to my room. I think they were still the original lifts from the nineteen fifties. It was certainly the slowest lift that I had been in for a while. The room was fine and it fulfilled my needs for the weekend. I just had time to get changed and grab half a Pizza on the way to meet my friend’s cousin, who was meeting up for a few drinks with me.

He took me on a tour of about six or seven different pubs and bars that I had not been in before. They were all decent establishments with a nice selection of beers and good music, which is what you want from a night out. I had not seen him for a while so it was good to have a chat and a laugh. We finished the night in a bar just round the corner from the hotel. It had a couple of old school singers doing all the classic hits from the sixties to the eighties. It was the perfect way to end the evening.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

The next morning it was game day. I got up and treated myself to a large breakfast at a Wetherspoons before getting the train to see my mate’s dad, who I was going to the match with. We had a few drinks at some classic pubs on the way to Goodison Park, which was good fun. Once in the ground I had a beef pie to soak up a bit of the beer. Then I took my place in my friend’s seat to watch the game.

Both teams are not having particularly good seasons. This was reflected in the game as both teams were poor. It ended in a one all draw. It was an awful match. That sadly did feature a terrible injury to the Everton player Andre Gomes. I wish him a speedy recovery. Nobody likes to see these things happen on a pitch. I really do like Everton’s ground. It is a proper traditional football stadium. And their supporters are great.

Goodison Park
Goodison Park

Straight after the game I met up with the bloke I was with the night before and gate crashed a family night out he was having at The Hot Water Comedy Club. Unfortunately due to the game over running we actually missed the first part of the comedy night, as we arrived too late. We had a drink in the bar while waiting for the next break, so we could then go in.

We got in for the second and third sections of it. I thought it was a really nicely run little comedy club. The stage, sound and seating was spot on. The compere for the night was good interacting and talking with the audience. The rest of the acts were a bit more hit and miss to be honest. But in their defence it was a new material night, so they were trying out some new stuff.

When the comedy was over I had a final quick drink with them in a Karaoke bar. While I was there I got to “enjoy” versions of Bryan Adams and Cher songs. I then left them there stopping on my way back to the hotel for a cheeky late night McDonalds. Well I was on holiday, sort of. I got the train home on the Monday morning after another great couple of days in a City that I am very fond of.

Neil Quigley in Liverpool
Neil Quigley in Liverpool

My Granddad grew up there after moving over from Ireland. I had a bit of an odd experience in one of the pubs on the Saturday night. I was standing by the bar, when I noticed a man by the entrance. Who seemed to be looking at me. I looked back at him and noticed that he was a spitting image of my dad!

This was totally confirmed as I walked past him on my way out. We did not say anything to each other. When I got home I checked with my dad. He told me that he does still have some cousins in Liverpool. I am guessing this bloke must of been one of them. Either that or my Granddad may have had a son up there, who we did not know about.

Albert Docks
Albert Docks

I had my annual Asthma check-up recently. During which I received my yearly telling off about using my inhaler incorrectly. I have been using them since I was seven. But have never been able to do it the right way. Anyway I am all fine and it appears to be under control. I did also take the opportunity to have the flu jab. As I am very much of the thinking, if I am entitled to it, I will have it. If you can have it, do have it. I think it makes sense.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

The less said about Tottenham at the moment the better. But this afternoon I am going to watch them play against the team who I own shares in. About twenty years ago a mate said it would be good to buy shares in Sheffield United. He convinced me and another mate and we put one hundred pounds in each and bought three hundred pounds worth of shares.

The plan was to make some money. We still have those shares. They are now almost worth what we paid for them originally. Needless to say I have not taken any financial advice from this particular friend since, although I am looking forward to the match. And just to be clear I want Spurs to win it.

Neil Quigley

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

The Game of Life

The end of the summer and the transition to the autumn can be a difficult time. The days are getting shorter and the weather colder. Not to mention a lot wetter at the moment. What you need at this time of the year is a day out with your mates. Which is handy as this is when the now annual boys’ day out at the Ascot Beer Festival and Racing Weekend occurs.

Now in its third year, it is very much an established event. The first time we went we just got normal admission tickets before we found out that for an extra five pounds we could get into the King Edward VII Enclosure, if we wore a suit. As this is the only racing event that we can get anywhere near these facilities, we now do this. It gives us all an excuse to dress up for the occasion.

It is always something I look forward to, as there are not many times during the year nowadays that we all get to spend the day together having a laugh and of course a couple of drinks. I was staying at one of their houses, so we arrived together and met the rest of them at the entrance. There had been a slight issue the previous year when one of the group had not got a tie, happily there were no such issues this time.

Ascot 2019

Apart from the six horse races, there is as the name suggests a Beer Festival to. They do have an impressive selection of Ales and Ciders there. Fortunately for me they had my favourite IPA there from the Marlow Brewery Rebellion. I did manage to have a couple of glasses of that while I was there, which was a nice bonus. I also managed to introduce it to my friends, which was good.

We all had a pretty successful day. All of us won some money back at some point during the afternoon. I must admit it did not seem quite as busy as previous years but that just made it easier for us to get around the place and get served. After the racing was over we went to one of the pubs on Ascot High Street for a bit before all calling it a day and heading home.

Ascot is a wonderful course and it was another fantastic day out. It is always great to properly catch up with good friends, which generally means you spend the entire day laughing, as we did. Unfortunately a few people could not make it this year, which was a real shame. But I hope they will be able to next year, when we do it all over again. As rest assured this staple in the calendar will be back in 2020.

Ascot 2019

Talking of catching up with people my cousin and I had been trying to meet up for months. We both work in London a lot so the plan was to see each other there. However every time he was in town I was not and vice versa. After four months of missing each other we ended up having a quick drink in my local Wine Bar.

It does seem so hard to try to make appointments to see people currently. It did seem easier to do so before mobile phones and now social media, possibly because if you wanted to talk privately to someone the only way was to see them in person.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I had not done this for a while but the other week I got invited once again to help a Production Company with the development of a new quiz show. It is always a fun thing to do. I go to their offices and act as a contestant, so they can see how a new idea works and so they can I guess give it a robust test with an “outsider” playing the game. I am quite a decent general knowledge quizzer, if I do say so myself. I have a lot of useless information stored in my brain, which does seem to be handy in these situations.

As this idea is still in development and they are trying to sell it to TV companies to get it made and on our screens. Obviously I cannot say too much about it. The show does involve teams. It is a clever idea in which the audience and people watching at home can all play along. Gaby Roslin hosted it and is actually involved in the development of it. It was fantastic to meet her, she was lovely, a total professional. I have been a big fan since Motormouth and The Big Breakfast. I may be going back to see them again soon. But I cannot say anymore at this point. If anything comes of it, I will let you know.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

We are well and truly into the latest series of Newsjack on BBC 4 Extra. It is the topical comedy radio show that anybody can write for. I have had material on it myself in the past. I would recommend that you give it a go if you enjoy writing comedy.

They are very good at using it to help new and upcoming talent to progress. It is currently presented by Kiri Pritchard- Mclean who is doing an excellent job. If you have never heard of it give it a listen.

BBC Radio Theatre
BBC Radio Theatre

I did not watch the whole thing but I did see quite a bit of Britain’s Got Talent “The Champions”. Which featured seemingly random acts from the UK versions past, as well as its sister shows from all over the world. There were no public votes towards it. The winners of each heat and the final were chosen by a specially selected group among the audience, which in equal measure seemed sensible and odd. There were a lot of people I had completely forgotten about on it, who re-appeared. One of which became the eventual winners.

It did just highlight how certain types of acts seem to fair better in that environment than others. It proved once again how hard it is for comedians to stand out and be successful in these kinds of variety shows. I am not sure why this is, but singers, dancers and even the novelty acts seem to fair better and stand more chance of winning over the audience.

One thing that it did prove for me is that when they next do the normal BGT. They can just put the best performers through to the semi-finals and not worry about the out there and strange acts. I know why they do it, to mix the shows up and give everybody who is thinking of auditioning the following year some hope. But what “The Champions” version proved is that people will accept more of the same type of acts in the same line up, as long as they are the best of the best.

I like Twist and Pulse a lot and feel they were of course deserving winners but if you look at the quality acts that did not even make the final including Paul Zerdin, Paul Potts and Jack Carroll. All of whom have carved out very steady careers. You have to question how good this process is for finding and promoting the best acts. It does seem that statistically the BGT audience does favour a certain type of act or is it the previously held suspicion that an interesting back story can help an act to go sometimes may be a little bit further than they should.

BGT London
BGT London

I am once again enjoying a bit of Strictly Come Dancing this year. It is a very well produced programme. Visually there is possibly not much that compares to it from a live perspective. The bond the celebrities build with their dancer is a beautiful thing to witness in itself.

The first two celebrities have left and to be honest so far it has been spot on. They were clearly the two worst dancers on the nights they went out. Last week was a shame as I really like Anneka Rice but her performance sadly was not very good. It is a real shame to lose Kevin Clifton so early, as I think he is a terrific dancer and choreographer.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I went to see The Man in the White Suit at the Wyndam’s Theatre in London last week. A new version of a classic comedy play. It is very fast paced and there is a lot going on to enjoy and digest. This new take includes original songs written by Charlie Fink from the band Noah and the Whale.

It stars the wonderful Stephen Mangan in the title role. He is excellent in it and works very hard for his cash. There is a fair bit of physical comedy and running around from him as the story unfolds.

The Man in the White Suit

It also features the fantastic Kara Tointon. She is brilliant and puts in a top performance. Plus she gets to display some of her dance skills that served her so well on Strictly. She is a great dancer. Then you also have the legend that is Sue Johnston. She plays her role expertly and gives a masterclass in comedy timing. The whole of the cast are quality and bring this very silly, yet very clever comedy to life getting plenty of big laughs.

The songs in it fit perfectly with the time it was set plus are really catchy, which works well. There are lots of classic” scene” set ups that are executed with such precision. It is not quite a farce. It is probably just a step up from that. But it is lots of fun, if you fancy a giggle and I guess a more old fashioned type of comedy show with an excellent cast. Then go and see it. It is a joyous experience.

The Man in the White Suit

I am a season ticket holder at Tottenham Hotspur. We are not having a brilliant time at the moment. I was at the Stadium in my normal seat when we were beaten seven-two by Bayern Munich in the Champions League. Needless to say that is the worst defeat I have ever seen in person. In general our results and performances this season have been very up and down. I was hoping the next league game after the European disaster would see us bounce right back. However we produced the worse display that I have seen for years and deservedly lost that game to.

It is a tough time for the team at the minute. I am a hoping that when the going gets tough, the tough get going. And we can show the fight and character we need to get out of this situation to improve our current position. I have supported this team all my life, through the good times and the bad, the highs and the lows. I would not have it any other way or change anything. It is all just part of following your team. Enjoy the successes and manage the disappointments. Just like in real life. That said I am going to enjoy the current break for the Internationals more than usual this time.

Neil Quigley

A week tomorrow on Sunday 20th October my friend Mike Sterling is performing in the ace Stars of The West End show at the Kenton Theatre in Henley On Thames. He has an amazing voice and is a top quality performer.

As well as singing at my fortieth birthday party he has also played the Phantom of The Opera in the West End and the iconic Jean Valjean in Les Miserables.

Mike Sterling and Neil Quigley
Mike Sterling and Neil Quigley

The rest of the cast have all performed in some huge productions in London to. There are four of them in total. They will be doing the big numbers from shows such as Phantom, Les Miserables, Evita, Chess, Grease, Cats, We Will Rock You and many more. There are actually two performances on the day. I have seen this show several times before and it is sensational.

There are also VIP Tickets on offer which include front row seats, a drink, a two course meal and a meet and greet with the cast. I will be there and I am really looking forward to it. The live West End band is conducted by Douglas Waugh, who is only Sir Tim Rice’s Musical Director. For more information and ticket details just follow the link here. https://kentontheatre.co.uk/event/stars-of-the-west-end/

Stars of The West End

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

I’ll Be There For You

I have always been a Tottenham Hotspur fan. The first game I ever saw was a Spurs side play Wycombe Wanderers at their old Loakes Park ground in a testimonial match. My team won comfortably with a hat-trick from Paul Walsh. Although I of course remained a Spurs fan, after this trip to see the “Chairboys”. I decided to go and watch them more often, as they were based nearer to where I lived at the time.

At this point they were still in the Vauxhall Conference. And had a light blue home kit which weirdly is similar to the brand new Spurs third kit. Anyway I ended up watching the Wanderers regularly in my teens. In fact I was a season ticket holder there for a couple of seasons. I have always kept an eye on their results and still go and see them occasionally.

As it happens as well as my Dad and Mum both being season ticket holders. A friend of mine who I used to work with at Wembley is also a Wycombe fan. We went along to see them play Southend United a couple of weeks ago. They have actually had quite a decent start to the season and came from behind to win the game three-two in the last minute. I cannot fault the excitement factor they provided.

We did predictably bump into my parents after the game. There are two drummers amongst the Blues singing fans who provide a beat all through the game, although it does add to the atmosphere. I am not particularly a lover of it. But on the plus side they serve my favourite beer Rebellion at the ground. Therefore I would not rule out another trip there before the season is over.

Wycombe Wanderers

It was brilliant to be back at Mix 96 for the day the other Thursday. I was helping them with their coverage from The Bucks County Show. I have been involved in many of these big productions over the years normally on air from the showground myself. But this time I was in the studio pressing all the buttons for the legend that is Mr Nathan Cooper.

I have presented countless programmes from that studio, so it was great to be back in there once again. I felt very much at home. It was fun as ever to work with Nathan and the rest of the team there. This year it is the radio station’s twenty fifth-birthday. Richard Carr, who I used to work with there has just produced a documentary, that I am delighted to feature in.

Neil Quigley

He has released part one. Which I have seen and which is absolutely brilliant. He has also put out a version of the first song played on the station when it launched ABBA’s Dancing Queen with some current and former employees me included grooving along to it. That is epic! Next Saturday there is a Mix 96 Reunion which will also include the premier of Part two of the documentary. I am looking forward to this event. It will be great fun, I am sure.

Neil Quigley

I paid my first ever visit to the Regents Park Open Air Theatre to see their production of Evita. Firstly you will not find a nicer walk to any venue. Than the greenery and scenery you get when strolling to this one. Secondly when you arrive you will find a quality restaurant and a couple of decent bar areas at your disposal. I did my classic thing of a glass of red wine before the show with the same beverage ordered ready for the interval.

Regents Park Open Air Theatre

I was not sure what to expect. I did correctly guess that they would have very limited scenery options and that they would have to be a bit creative with their story telling. The stage itself was pretty basic and made up of lots of steps. All it had on it was Evita in huge letters. There were normal outside event seats fitted but you can also pay to sit on the grass banks to watch. I had a proper seat on the forth row with a perfect view of the stage.

I really enjoyed the show and thought it was brilliant. It had quite a dark and rustic feel to it, which I liked. The cast were fantastic. The costumes were on the whole pretty low-key and basic compared to the normal versions of this musical that I have seen. The lack of sets does not affect the story or your ability to follow and keep up with the narrative. There were some unexpected and you could possibly argue slightly odd interpretations of some parts of the story. But I liked it. And it was performed expertly.

The sound system is faultless. The music and singing so clear. You really could not fault it at all for entertainment. With it being outside they can really raise the pyrotechnic stakes compared to in a normal theatre, which they do. I have just about recovered from the huge explosion right at the start of the performance. They also use a lot of smoke and flares to add to the drama of this classic tale. Along with a clever use of the lighting. I would certainly go and see another show there next summer.


Regents Park Open Air Theatre

My mum has recently celebrated her 70th Birthday. I spent the day with her, which was lovely. We visited a local church, as she wanted to see the grave of one set of her grandparents. We then went for a nice leisurely walk. Before a snack at a chocolate cafe, as a reward for the exercise we had just done and to mark this huge occasion with some cake.

Neil Quigley

In the evening we opened a bottle of bubbles to toast her special day and ordered a huge Chinese Takeaway. We then finished the night by watching the first episode of the new series of QI. Which is fittingly titled Q. This was actually one that I was at the filming of as well, so we spent half the time trying to spot me in the audience. I hope my mum thoroughly enjoyed herself. She does seem to do alright in life. She seems to be out almost as much as I am. That is a pretty decent achievement.

London River Cruise
Mum

I am a horse racing fan and try to get to a lot of the big meetings. It is something I first did when I was living and working in Somerset. You cannot beat a nice day out at the races. Recently I have bought a few shares in a fairly young horse called Stage Star through the Owners Group. They have lots of horses with different trainers offering the chance to buy shares in them for a year at a time.

Stage Star and Neil Quigley

As well as sending you regular updates and videos of the horse. They organise open days at the stables and also at a place they own called Equiprep. This is where mainly the horses go to rest and relax when they are not in training, kind of like a little holiday place. But it is also somewhere they are conditioned and built up so they are sent back to the trainers ready and raring to go and in excellent condition.

I went to one of the Open Days there last Sunday. I got to see Stage Star paraded in the arena and in his stable. It was the first time that I had seen him in the flesh and he looked great. He will be kept there for a few months before he is returned to his trainer Paul Nicholls. He is only three years old and is not expected to run in a race until next year, probably not until the autumn. But I am really looking forward to seeing him develop and to see what he can do.

Stage Star

While at Equiprep we also got to look around the Paddocks where the horses spend the days playing and grazing. Everybody was so friendly. It was great to meet some fellow owners there. I learnt a lot about how horses are looked after, selected and trained. Plus quite a few simple facts about them, like for instance they use their necks for balance. As well as my horse I got to see many other wonderful horses a few of which I remember seeing race. It was a lovely and an interesting couple of hours. It is going to be an exciting involvement. I think.

Stage Star

Like most of my generation I am a fan of the iconic American comedy Friends. Comedy Central is pretty much the home of the show now, as they show it seemingly not stop during the day. For the last few years they have been running an event called “FriendsFest”. Up until now only in London and Manchester. But this year they have added a venue in Milton Keynes. I went along to it with my sister last week to have a look around.

The location for it was Willem Lake. Happily one thing they already have there is plenty of car parking places, as we were driving this made finding a space pretty easy. The whole event is mostly one big photo opportunity with your chance to recreate classic moments from the show. As you walk in you can have your picture taken in a photo frame dressed in known outfits from the show while holding famous quotes from it.

FriendsFest

Next to that you can recreate the floating heads at Monica’s door. They do of course have a replica Central Perk with the till area, the famous sofa and Phoebe’s performance area. They also offer you the chance to stage your own Ross and Rachel Vegas Wedding pictures in the appropriate outfits.

Just along from this is your chance to be in the title sequence on the sofa by the waterfall. They give you this in a seven second video with the music. Which to be honest is pretty cool. In another part you also have the chance to have your photo taken with the Umbrella’s and the Sofa. Again like the titles.

FriendsFest

Next your chance to shout “Pivot” as you pretend to take the Sofa up the stairs recreating that classic scene with Ross. You can have a go in Phoebe’s taxi and witness someone performing all her classic songs in the coffee shop. They show clips from Friends on the big screen. Plus you are never very far away from hearing the strains of The Rembrandts title tune.

Finally they have three complete replica sets for you to get pictures in. These are Joey and Chandlers place, Monica’s apartment and of course Ross’s flat. They have done a good job everything you saw in the show is on this set. It really does feel like you are hanging out in these rooms. It was a good fun day out. I have not taken that many pictures anywhere for a very long time. I had a big smile on my face pretty much the whole time I was there. Great fun!

FriendsFest

I went to see the latest touring version of The Rocky Horror Picture Show recently. The last time I saw it must have been at least sixteen years ago. Jonathan Wilkes was starring as Frank n Furter. I went to see it with Richard Carr when I was working at Mix 96. I remember enjoying it, so I am not sure why it has taken me a decade and an half to see it again.

It was on at the Wycombe Swan, as it was the previous time. One of the reasons I like this theatre at the moment is that they now serve my favourite beer Rebellion IPA. On arrival I had a pint and instantly ordered the same again ready for the interval. It is certainly one of the stranger musicals and I think even Richard O’Brien would also accept this. Few others have the audience participation and also the outfits that this one does.

Wycombe Swan

The cast included Joanne Clifton, Stephen Webb and Philip Franks. Joanne of course is a former winner of Strictly Comes Dancing and now an established stage musical performer. I thought she was ace in the role of Janet. She can dance like no other, sing and act, she has it all. Stephen Webb was brilliant as the corset wearing Transvestite Scientist. I bet that role is lots of fun to play. And Phillip Franks who is probably still best known for The Darling Buds of May was a spot on Narrator bantering with audience and sounding the part. The rest of the cast were fabulous to.

I had a great time and really enjoyed it. Plus I can confirm that I can still remember and perform perfectly every single move of the Time Warp. You never lose it! It is a crazy show and fair play to the many people who come dressed up as the characters. I will try not to leave it quite so long until I see this one again. It was another quality night out at the theatre.

Rocky Horror Show

I am off to see Tottenham play Crystal Palace this afternoon. I will be honest our season has not started quite as well as I would have liked. But that is what supporting a team is all about the highs and the lows pleasure and pain. We have not really got going properly yet despite draws away at Manchester City and Arsenal. I am pleased with the Champions League draw. I look forward once again to watching us play in this competition. They are always great nights.

Neil Quigley

Tomorrow I am going to Radio 2’s Festival in a Day at Hyde Park. I went last year and it was brilliant, so I am really looking forward to doing it again. Fingers crossed the weather is kind to us. I will tell you how it went next time we speak.

Radio 2 Hyde Park
Radio 2 Hyde Park

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