Tag Archives: Mike Sterling

The Return From Oz

Well I thought I would give you a bit of time to soak up my four part Australian adventure. I had a brilliant time there but obviously since I have returned to England things have become a little bit strange. I have certainly never experienced anything like this in my life before. The shear global scale and impact on the United Kingdom of the new Coronavirus pandemic is quite hard to comprehend.

I think personally that we have to listen to the experts and all of the people on the front line battling this thing and do as they say. There are so many mixed messages and incorrect pieces of information on the social media networks. I actually find that scarier than the actual virus. If we do what is asked of us we can all get through this thing together in the shortest possible time.

The plan at the moment is basically to try to control the number of cases in the country. In the hope that we can give the NHS a chance to give the required treatment to anybody who needs it. I appreciate staying in when you feel fine seems ridiculous but no one is exactly sure how long before symptoms show that you can transmit it. We know it spreads very quickly and is a nasty thing as it attacks the respiratory system. That as an Asthmatic is obviously something I am quite concerned about.

We just need to be sensible, follow instructions, social distance and look after each other. The aim of the game is to ease the pressure on the health service so if you or anybody you know requires their help. They will be in a position to be able to treat you in Hospital how you would expect if taken there in an emergency. If this thing continues to spread at the rate it has been they may struggle a little to achieve that, so let’s stick together and help each other out.

Stay at home if you can. If you are a key worker keep doing the brilliant job you are doing. We all really appreciate it. We can win this with a bit of common sense and some big self discipline. Stay safe and more importantly keep joking and having a laugh to.

Neil Quigley Presenter
Neil Quigley Presenter

Right that is the serious bit over but I felt I could not really ignore it and pretend that it was not happening. I would like to also point out that the things I am writing about and the things I have been to were actually a minimum of three weeks ago now before everything was cancelled. I have been closely following the government advice since it was made. Even though I find it slightly difficult to take someone who used to host Have I Got News For You and who got stuck on a Zip Wire seriously but sometimes needs must.

Neil Quigley

I went out for dinner in Berkhamsted about a month ago now. I was invited to a Turkish Restaurant there by a friend. We both wanted to have a few drinks. Initially I was going to get a taxi from where I live to Tring get the train to Berkhamsted and then do the same journey in reverse at the end of the night. However as it turned out the taxi would cost the about same amount as staying at Pendley Manor Hotel, which is within walking distance of Tring Railway Station. It seemed like a complete no-brainer to me, so a night away it was.

I had been to a few works parties and conferences at Pendley Manor but I think this was the first time that I had stayed there. It is a very regal looking building set in beautiful grounds. I cannot think of to many places where Peacocks wander around freely. I am not sure why I see that as a big selling point but for some reason I do. Once I was checked in I did the first thing I always do when I walk in to a hotel room I checked the bathroom to see if it was a shower or bath. I rarely have baths at home now so see this as a hotel room treat. It had a bath which I did take advantage of during my stay.

I walked from the hotel down to the station, which I will confess was slightly further than I thought and caught the train to Berkhamsted. It is only about an eight minute journey. I arrived at the restaurant a bit early but went in and got our table which was booked for six. My friend then arrived we ordered some wine and got the menu. It was the first time I had been to a Turkish restaurant. It is a bit like Tapas in that you order a selection of dishes to share. I must confess as a general rule like Joey from Friends I do not share food but I do make exceptions for these occasions.

Neil Quigley

The food was amazing. The variety of the dishes was fantastic. We had delicious Chicken, Lamb, Halloumi and Butternut Squash dishes. All washed down with a little more wine. I am not saying the portions were generous but it is very rare that I am too full to have dessert. It was a place called Tabure and I would certainly recommend it. When they gave us the bill my friend and I both double checked it as we thought that they had undercharged us. It was not cheap as such but I would say very reasonable for the standard and the amount of food plus the drink prices were fair to.

We left the restaurant about eight o’clock and went down the road to the Kings Arms. We were just chatting and having a few more glasses of wine when suddenly it was one in the morning and they were closing the bar. That is the sign of a good night by the way, if you can suddenly lose five hours in the same pub with no gaps in the conversation.

We said goodbye I got the train back to Tring and then strolled back to Pendley Manor for a good night’s sleep. It is a grand hotel but might be getting a little bit old now. It was a wet night and they had lots of buckets around catching water from the leaks in the roof. However it is still a nice place to stay, it has a cool look and feel to it.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Again several weeks ago now I went and saw my mate Mike Sterling do a show at the Kenton Theatre in Henley on Thames. I always like to catch his performances when I can. It was a bit of a mad dash to make this one as I was watching Tottenham play Wolves at the Spurs Stadium that afternoon. (Yes it was that long ago Premier League football was still being payed). I made it to the theatre about fifteen minutes before curtain up. That gave me time to order a beer before it started and the same again ready for the interval.

It was a new show he was performing for the first time. He was celebrating the music of Rodgers and Hammerstein and more. He was joined on stage by his long time friend and musical director Toby Cruse, who accompanied him on the piano. It also featured Joanne Pullen who was his “Christine” when he starred in The Phantom of The Opera. They performed versions of these great songs produced by the legendary composers and lyricists as well as explaining a bit about the history of the songs and the relationships of the people behind them.

Mike Sterling

There was also a cameo appearance at the end of the first half from the superstar that is Vince Hill. He did a few songs including the big hit song he had his version of Edelweiss, which was stunning. He is eighty-five years old but his voice, stage presence and mic control is still first class. What an amazingly talented and very lovely man. The whole show was excellent. It is a while since I have been to a concert featuring just a piano and the singers. It does produce a very raw and real feel to proceedings.

I managed as ever to catch up with Mike for a quick chat and a drink after the show at a little bash at one of the wine bars in Henley. I had a busy day the following day, so could not stay to long but it was nice to see him. I also got to have a brief conversation with Toby who had been working the hardest by far as he was playing the piano all night. He is another extremely talented and nice fella. I now look forward to seeing them both perform later in the year, when it is safe and acceptable to put such things on once again.

Mike Sterling and Neil Quigley

I had been to the Globe Theatre during their summer season in the past and always had a thoroughly enjoyable time. I also had a tour around there once I got to see everything apart from one small part as there was something going on in there.

That missing piece of the jigsaw was The Sam Wanamaker Playhouse at The Globe. It is a smaller inside version of the main theatre in the same style and modelled on a venue of the same era. It is very compact, made of wood and candlelit. The room itself looks stunning!

Sam Wanamaker Playhouse

I went and saw William Shakespeare’s The Taming of The Shrew. I never studied the “Bard” at school so I am slowly getting around to seeing some of his plays in later life. The Wanamaker Playhouse is a great setting to watch these productions in to get a feel of what it might have been like seeing them the first time that they were performed. The Staff there are lovely and you can bring drinks in with you, which is handy as the first half of the play was an hour and fifty minutes long.

It is bench seating inside no individual seats so you will have to be a bit close and cosy with your fellow audience members, also there is nowhere really to stick your coats. I ended up sitting on mine. It is worth it though as it is such a lovely setting. The play was brilliant, the cast were amazing. I think it is a good sign that when the near two hour long first half ended I was like is that the interval already? The time flew by. It is a comedy so there were plenty of laughs to.

Sam Wanamaker Playhouse

The second half was equally as good. I can also confirm for the wine connoisseurs amongst you that they serve a very nice large glass of Rioja in there. It was a wonderful evening, the show, the location and the company I was with. I would happily go back and see something else there in the future.

The night out was rightly rounded off with another drink around Baker Street before we headed home. I fear this looks like the last show I will be seeing for a while, so it was nice to go out on a high.

Neil Quigley

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

Phantom Fun

During my years working in radio I have met and worked with many fantastic people. I am delighted that I am still in contact with lots of my former colleague’s. And also some super talented people, who I have met, when they were guests on my show. I enjoy following their careers and catching up with them from time to time. One of them is the amazing Mike Sterling.

I first met him when I was working at Ivel fm in Somerset. He was also then living in the area. One day he came to the studios while I was on air to get some publicity for a show that he was involved with at the excellent Octagon Theatre in the town. My boss pretty much brought him straight in to me and I interviewed him about his career and the upcoming performance.

He made his name singing in the pubs and clubs of his native Wales. There he was spotted by a producer of the television talent show New Faces. He made it to the final in 1987 being narrowly beaten by a comedian called Joe Pasquale. I wonder what happened to him. He impressed a few certain well known musical theatre producers with his performances. This led to him ultimately playing The Phantom of The Opera in the West End and also a stint as Jan Valjean in Les Mis once again in the capital.

He has appeared in countless other musicals and plays all over the country since. Including the last UK and International Tour of Evita in which he played Juan Peron. He has also regularly performed as a vocalist all over the world. My favourite fact is that he did appear in Allo Allo as one of the Italian Soldiers. Anyway he came in told me about the show in Yeovil. I went along to see it and his voice blew me away.

Mike Sterling and Neil Quigley

We stayed in touch from that moment. He ended up helping us judge lots of local talent competitions at The Chicago Rock Cafe. Plus he once very kindly performed at the Christmas Lights Switch on in the town for me. In fact he sang at my Fortieth Birthday party, a couple of years ago. As part of the mini variety show I put on. I did actually kind of sing with him that night, as we did a version of the classic Morecambe and Wise song “Bring Me Sunshine” to end the show.

He has his own show at the minute that he takes all over the world called “Stars of West End”. In which he and fellow West End stars perform hit songs from lots of different musicals. I went to see this show last Sunday at The Kenton Theatre in Henley on Thames. It was the first time I had been there. It is a lovely, cosy and friendly place. It has a comforting feel to it. The Staff there were all great.

As well as Mike Sterling of course, the cast included the legend that is Shona Lindsay. She has played Christine in The Phantom of the Opera and Sandy in Grease to mention but two of the huge roles that she has portrayed. She was actually Christine when Mike was The Phantom, so they know each other so well. This shows when they perform together. She has an amazing voice, just so talented.

Next there was the ridiculously sublime Jenny Fitzpatrick. She has been in The Lion King and most recently played Tina Turner in “Tina Turner – The Musical” I was lucky enough to see her in that role and she was sensational, such a powerful voice and a fantastic actor. Add to that the fact she is one of the nicest people that you could wish to meet. She will be playing big roles in big shows for years to come, in my opinion.

The final singer was the amazingly versatile Ross William Wild. He has been in We Will Rock You, Grease, The Million Dollar Quartet and up until recently was the lead singer with Spandau Ballet after replacing Tony Hadley. He is now fronting his own Rock band called Mercutio. He has a fantastic voice as you would expect from a young man with all of that already on his CV.

Jenny Fitzpatrick

They were backed by an all-star band made up of current West End musicians under the musical directorship of Duncan Waugh. Who is Sir Tim Rice’s MD. The show was totally brilliant from start to finish. It kicked off with the whole cast performing One Night Only. It was then a mixture of duets, group numbers and of course solo songs from each of the four cast members. They all performed some of the huge numbers from the shows that they had starred in. Everyone was on fire. It looked and sounded great.

The whole audience were on their feet singing, clapping and dancing by the end. They received a very well deserved standing ovation. I totally loved it. There was a small after show party at a restaurant in Henley called Hoff’s. That I was lucky enough to have been invited to. I got to hang out and celebrate with Mike, which was great. I did also manage to have a chat to the talented Jenny Fitzpatrick and wonderful Ross William Wild.

Do keep an eye out for any shows featuring these stars individually, you will not be disappointed. They are all top quality. Also it is hoped that they will be able to do more of these “Stars of The West End” performances. If you like songs from the musicals in West End quality at your local theatre, then go and see this show, if you get chance to. I had a brilliant night. It always makes me very proud seeing a mate kill it on stage.

Mike Sterling

Previously you may remember me mentioning a quiz show that I am helping to develop. Well we had another run through of it to try to sell it to a television channel, to get it on screen. I am still waiting to hear how this went and if it will be commissioned.

It was once again a lot of fun to step in as a contestant to show off some of my general knowledge skills. It was hosted by the lovely Gabby Roslin, who is a top presenter. If it gets on television, I will at that point be able to say that I helped to get it there, well at least a little bit.

Gaby Roslin and Neil Quigley

I spent around three fun years working as a Tour Guide at Wembley Stadium. For somebody like me who loves music and football it was a great place to be. I got to visit every important part of the place and take thousands of fans from all over the word around to experience the home of English Football.

I have walked out of that tunnel more times than David Beckham. Although unlike him I only got to play on the hallowed turf once, while I was there. But that was an amazing experience.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

The other great thing about my time there was the other people that I worked with, a fantastic bunch. We worked hard but we had a lot of fun in the process. It was great being involved when the NFL came to town. I met the England manager a few times. And had to help out when we had to sneak David Beckham and his children through on a private tour hiding him from the public one weekend.

Sadly one of my former colleagues has recently passed away after a short illness. And another was leaving. To mark both of these events a friend of mine organised some drinks. Last Friday we met up in a pub just round the corner from Marylebone Station. He had hired their function room. It was really nice to see so many people who I knew there. It was brilliant to catch up with everyone, reminisce and have a good old laugh. I am very proud to have worked for both the Football Association and the BBC in my career so far.

NFL Dolphins v Raiders
NFL Dolphins v Raiders The Team

I am still watching Strictly Come Dancing this year. I have not really got a favourite couple as yet. But there are quite a few of them who I do like. He is not the best dancer but he is trying hard and he is very funny. Chris Ramsey is doing great, I met him a few years ago after a gig in Aylesbury. He is a top bloke. I also like Karen Hauer his partner for her dancing and the fact I think she is a little bit crazy. I did have a small bit of Twitter banter with them both the other week about him teaching her how to speak “Geordie”.

It is nice to see Anton Du Beke doing well this year with his partner Emma Barton. She seems lovely and can clearly dance a bit. I do like Mike Bushell and Katya Jones. I fear his time could be up soon but I hope not, as he lives not far from me, so I feel it is right to support the local person. It does seem pretty even at the moment with the top of the leader board changing every week. It will be a good one this week as it is the Halloween Special. The costumes and make up are always unbelievable for it.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I was back at White Hart Lane after the International break to see us rescue a draw against bottom of the Premier League Watford last Saturday. We once again were not very good in this game and were lucky to get a point from it.

As you can imagine this did not fill me with confidence going into our big Champions League game at home to Red Star Belgrade last Tuesday. I had managed to get my dad a ticket for the seat next to mine, so he could come and watch his first ever match in the new stadium.

Dad and Me at Spurs

We got to the ground nice and early to avoid the queues. We then grabbed a bite to eat and a drink. It was fun to show him the place for the first time on a match day. We took our seats in time to see the teams walk out and hear the Champions League Anthem. We then happily went on to produce our best performance so far this season and ended up winning five-nil. It really could have been more. But if you had offered me this result before kick off, I would have taken it.

I mean it did help us not conceding a goal in the first ten minutes and then us scoring early ourselves. It was nice to get a decent win. Plus it was good to see a few players returning from injury. Tomorrow we have the small matter of trying to tame the league leaders as we go to Liverpool. They remain unbeaten in the league this year and we really need the points. I do have a bit more hope after the last game than I did before it. Fingers crossed we put on a really good display.

Neil Quigley

Tomorrow I am hoping to visit the stables of top horse racing trainer Paul Nicholls’. To see one of the horses that I have a small share in called “Force Ten”. It all depends on the weather. If it does happen I will tell you about it next time we speak.

Force Ten

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

Lovely February

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

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

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

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

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

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

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

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

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

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

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

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

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

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

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

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

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

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

Neil Quigley Presenter
Neil Quigley Presenter

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

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

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

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

Mike Sterling and Neil Quigley
Mike Sterling and Neil Quigley

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

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

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

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

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

Aylesbury Waterside Theatre
Aylesbury Waterside Theatre

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

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

Only Fools and Horses Musical

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

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

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

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

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

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

Only Fools and Horses Musical

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

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

Tottenham Hotspur
Tottenham Hotspur

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

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

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

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

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

School of Rock
School of Rock

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

Sterling Work

Hi there, how are you doing? I hope you have had a really good couple of weeks. After a few weeks taking it easy. Mine were nice and busy, once again. Just how I like it. My good friend. The lovely and very talented Mike Sterling is currently on tour in Evita. Due to my hectic schedule. The only time I could get to see the show was the other week. When it was in Great Malvern.

I decided to make a night of it, so I booked a hotel there. It was the first time I had visited the place. I got the train there and arrived just before five o’clock in the afternoon. It is practically built on a big hill. Therefore wherever you go. You are either going uphill or downhill.
My hotel was about a ten minute walk both downhill and uphill from the station.

I checked in and went up to my room. I do not mean to sound at all snobbish. But it was a Wetherspoons owned hotel. I had no idea that they even owned them. Therefore I will be totally honest. I was not really expecting much. However it was very nice. The rooms were brilliant. And the view of the countryside through the window was amazing. The staff were also great. I was well looked after there.

Great Malvern
Great Malvern

Once I had recovered from the shock of it all being much nicer than I expected. I thought I would watch a bit of television before going for dinner. I stumbled across an episode of The A Team on some random channel. I had not seen it for years. But instantly I was drawn in to it. It was like I was ten years old again. I sat there transfixed until it had finished. I absolutely loved it.

It did mean I headed off out for food a little later than I intended. So I just went downstairs. And had a nice Steak and Chips with a glass of Red Wine in the bar. It was then time to make my way to the Great Malvern Theatre. To see the show. It was only five minutes down the road. I arrived there with enough time to sample a glass of their Red Wine. And to order one for the interval. Before it was time to take my seat for the show.

Great Malvern Theatre
Great Malvern Theatre

I was excited and proud to see my mate in action. He is playing Juan Peron. The President of Argentina, no less. He is no stranger to the stage or musicals, of course. Having played the leading roles in both the Phantom of The Opera and Les Miserables in the West End. He also very kindly performed at my fortieth birthday party, a few years ago. Recently me and him spent a cracking day out at Royal Ascot.

The show was sensational. Mike was sublime in it. The whole cast and the production is faultless. It is in many ways such a powerful story. Which does kind of hold a mirror up to society and the way the world is run. Plus of course it has some cracking songs in it. It is on at the Wycombe Swan in Buckinghamshire running from 23rd to 27th of October. I would urge you to see it, if you can. It has been getting lots of four and five star reviews. And I can totally see why.  Go and see it for yourself.

Evita
Evita

Then after the show I met Mike at the Stage Door. As we had earlier agreed. We were off out for a few drinks with some of the rest of the cast. It was their opening night in Great Malvern. So drinks after that is a bit of a theatre tradition, I understand. Any excuse I say. It turned out the drinks were actually taking place in the bar of the hotel that I was staying at. Which was a bit of a result for me. It transpires some of the other performers were also staying there.

I had a fantastic time catching up with Mike and chatting to the cast. After show drinks are always the best. He is having a ball. It is quite full on though. They do eight shows every week spread over six days. They get a day off and one travel day every week. And they really are heading all over the United Kingdom. I do like being around actors, singers and dancers.  There is always a good vibe about, I find. It was a brilliant night seeing an amazing show and then catching up with a Pal.

Mike Sterling & Neil Quigley
Mike Sterling & Neil Quigley

I recently spent a lovely relaxing afternoon with two very good friends. We sat and talked for ages. Had a Barbecue. Then to round things off. Me and one of them went down the pub for a few drinks.

In this crazy world where we all currently seem to be running on a treadmill. And getting nowhere fast. A whole afternoon away from it all. Just catching up with best mates. Is something to be enjoyed and even celebrated, I think.

Blues Brothers
Blues Brothers

I managed to get along to Radio 2 Live in Hyde Park. Their festival in a day last Sunday. I have done Glastonbury in the past which is great, but means sleeping in a tent. The good thing about this event is that it has the feel of a festival. But I could sleep in my own bed at the end of it all.

The line up was fantastic. But I must admit it was the lady who was headlining. Who I was looking forward to seeing the most. I arrived there at midday and managed to get in straight away. It was already starting to fill up nicely. It gave me time to have a good walk around. See what was about and on offer. And also get my bearings for when it got really busy later on.

Radio 2 Hyde Park
Radio 2 Hyde Park

I have to say it was all very well organised. And of course there were queues for things. Due to the sheer number of people. But it was all managed the best it possibly could be. I thought it would be rude not to at least sample a bit of what the bars had to offer. So I had a pint of the Pilsner they had on draft. Which was six pounds a pint. Now that might sound expensive. But that is not far off normal London prices to be honest.

I managed to find a nice standing area to the right hand side of the stage. Which I could get to and from quite easily. So I decided this would be my go to area. To watch the acts from throughout the day. Jo Whiley was the main host for the event. However for each and every introduction. She was joined by pretty much all of the other Radio 2 Presenters at some point. It was an excellent line up.

Radio 2 Hyde Park
Radio 2 Hyde Park

First on was Lenny Kravitz. He was simply wonderful. His band and him sounded amazing. He did all his big hits including his current one Five More Days Till Summer. Not only did he sound great. But he is such a cool guy.

I mean who else could pull off flared jeans, leather jacket, big hat and snakeskin Cuban heeled boots. Plus you would never guess he is almost in his mid fifties. It was a brilliant start to the live music for the day.

Lenny Kravitz
Lenny Kravitz

Up next it was Rita Ora. Who also put on a fantastic show. She was sounding and looking great to. Nothing personal against her. But due to timing restrictions. While she was on I was checking out the Real Ale and Champagne Bar’s. Although with the quality top sound set up and the big screens. I could still see and hear her perfectly. Even from right at the back of the park.

The next act were a little bit left of centre. They were a folk group collaboration. Who have a new album coming out that features folk style re-workings of many disco classics. They are called The Band Of Love. Their set included their versions of Night Fever, Gimme The Night and We Are Family. They were really good. And are clearly a very talented bunch of musicians and singers. Who got the audience singing along.

Lenny Kravitz
Lenny Kravitz

Then it was time for a trip down memory lane with an appearance from the All Saints. They did all the big hits from their impressive back catalogue. They were sounding ace. And still had all the dance moves and routines.

They looked like they were having fun. And that they were all enjoying being back together on stage. They finished their set with the hit song from the film “The Beach”, Pure Shores. Which went down very well with the Hyde Park crowd.

All Saints
All Saints

Next it was the duo who stepped in to replace the unwell Carrie Underwood. I would have loved to seen her live. But I have been following the careers of The Shires for a while now. So it was quality to finally get to see them play live. I am a big fan of country music. so I really like their stuff.

These two are already Britain’s most successful band of that genre. They were brilliant. Lovely people and talented performers backed by a great band. They are only going to get bigger and better. Next time they are in Nashville. I would be very happy to head over there with them. Seeing them reminded me very of my time in America.

The Shires
The Shires

The first ever Party in the Park style music event I went to see was one of the early Capital FM ones in Gunnersbury Park. A new Irish band called Boyzone were their performing their first two hits. Over the years I have met both Keith Duffy and Shane Lynch. Who for the record are both top blokes. The group are celebrating their 25th Anniversary this year. Which let’s face it. Is making us all feel old.

They are going to go out on one more big World Tour. Then they are going to call it a day for good. They were excellent. I have seen them live a few times. And I did honestly think they were sounding better than ever. Plus you forget what a great back catalogue of songs they had. For example I forgot they did that cover of the Bee Gees Words. That sounded sensational in the evening sunshine.

Boyzone
Boyzone

In between the live performances. They were playing out videos of some of the live studio performances from Radio 2 shows from the last year or so. A few of these were spectacular themselves.

We did also have DJ sets from Craig Charles and Ooh Gary Davies. Which were fun. The sound quality of the event was perfect. But I would expect nothing less from my BBC colleagues.

Craig Charles
Craig Charles

The last time I had seen The Manic Street Preachers was at the Glastonbury Festival. They were great that time and they were equally as good or even better this time around. They sounded fantastic. They played all their huge hits. It was a very slick and entertaining set from a power house of a band. Plus their latest single is excellent.

The whole day flew by really quickly. Aided by the great live music. And a few more of the Portobello Pilsners beers. Fuelled by a burger, crisps and some doughnuts.  I was more than ready to dance and sing along with the headline act.

Radio 2 Hyde Park
Radio 2 Hyde Park

I mentioned earlier the Capital Fm Party in the Parks. Well I went to the first one they held in Hyde Park. Sadly it was raining so hard that day. I had to leave two songs in to a certain Australian female singers performance. I had now waited a long time for the chance to see her again. So I was more than ready for this. And very excited to see her perform live.

The current host of the Radio 2 Breakfast Show Chris Evans came out to introduce her. As he had promised to do when she was last on his show. She came out looking stunning in a pink dress. And went straight in to one of her big hits. After the first song. She then sang a few lines acapella from some of her late eighties hits. The set list was a real celebration of her glorious and long career. In the year that she has celebrated her fiftieth birthday.

After a quick outfit change in to a nice little black number.  She was back out for more fun. I was having a great time singing and dancing away to hit after hit. Then she goes into the song that I would love to do as a duet with her Especially For You. Although I had to make do with singing the male part of the song. With the rest of the forty-eight thousand crowd. But it was still magical. Specially when Jason Donovan then joined her on stage halfway through to re-create the original dance moves. That was a brilliant moment!

The surprises did not end there. A little later on she started singing her debut single, I should Be So Lucky. During this she references the fact that it does sound a little bit like Never Gonna Give You Up. She sings a little bit of that. Then on walks the man whose song it is Rick Astley. To do a brilliant version of it with Kylie. He then stays on stage to do a version of the hit she had with Robbie Williams, Kids.

It was a brilliant end to a great day of live music in London. She is fantastic live. A great singer and dancer. Who is very at ease talking to her audience. The complete, albeit tiny package. She really did not disappoint. You do not have a career that lasts that long unless you are the real deal. And she very much is. Would I marry her tomorrow if the chance arose? Of course I would. Who wouldn’t? You have to love Kylie!

Kylie
Kylie

I will be having a look around Buckingham Palace soon. I will let you know what that was like next time we speak.

I am also finally getting round to seeing the brilliant “new” musical “Everybody’s Talking About Jamie” next week. And today I am off to Wembley to see the mighty Spurs play Liverpool.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

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

By Royal Approval

Hi there, how are you doing? I hope you have had a really good couple of weeks. Mine have been busy and lots of fun. Two weeks ago today then I went to my second Royal Ascot. Last year, as I was just dipping my toe in. I went in the Windsor Enclosure. Which was brilliant. But this time I thought I would upgrade slightly and just see what it was like in the Queen Anne Enclosure.

Ascot 2018
Ascot 2018

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

Ascot 2018
Ascot 2018

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

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

Ascot 2018
Ascot 2018

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

Ascot 2018
Ascot 2018

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

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

Ascot 2018
Ascot 2018

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

Ascot 2018
Ascot 2018

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

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

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

Ascot 2018
Ascot 2018

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

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

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

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

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

Ascot 2018
Ascot 2018

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

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

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

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

Rich Wilson
Rich Wilson

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

Silky at Roving Comedy Night
Silky at Roving Comedy Night

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

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

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

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

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

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

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

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

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

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

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

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

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