Tag Archives: Mix 96

Radio

The last couple of weeks have been pretty radio orientated with the events that I have been attending, which is always good with me. It is a medium I have a huge appetite for. To misquote John Miles “Radio is my first love and it will be my last”. From having my first taste of it when I was just seventeen right to the current day I have thoroughly enjoyed every second I have spent in a studio. Although to be honest these recent occasions were much more social.

Grand Olde Opry
Grand Olde Opry

For the second year running I went to Radio 2’s Festival in a Day at Hyde Park in London. It works perfectly for me as I am a massive fan of festivals but I absolutely hate camping. At this one I can spend the whole day in a field enjoying live performances and still sleep in my own bed. The organisation and overall staging of this event is always fantastic. It is so well managed. Hardly any queues when you arrive to get in plus a huge selection of bars and food outlets. What more could you want?

I went along to it with two very good friends of mine. We met up and got the train in to the capital together grabbing tea and croissants on the way. It was all very civilised but what do you expect it was all put on by Radio 2 of course. We got in to the venue just before midday. The first job was to check where all the important amenities were, namely the bar and the toilets. Then it was just a case of getting a beer and finding a good spot to see the stage, while still being able to visit the two aforementioned facilities.

Radio 2 in Hyde Park

Simply Red kicked things off on stage. I had seen them perform a few years ago at the London Palladium. They are a brilliant group with an excellent back catalogue of well-known songs. Mick Hucknall is such a perfect front man with a very distinctive voice. I thought they were great. They did all the big hits you would expect them to. I think it is a good sign a band are doing well, when you are surprised as I was that their set ended, what felt like too soon. It is true that time flies when you are having fun. They were a top choice to get the party in a field underway.

Simply Red

The next act during the afternoon was the American Country singer Kelsea Ballerini from Tennessee. She was fantastic really looking and sounding the part. I am a big fan of Country and Western music and I really like her stuff. Bearing in mind she is only twenty-six, she will be around for a long time yet. She has also assembled a top quality band. That always enhances live performances. She is the youngest current member of the Grand Ole Opry, which is some achievement itself. Add to that the deep south American accent that she has, that I love. I will be keeping an eye on her stuff for years to come.

Kelsea Ballerini

Sadly Emeli Sande was unable to perform at the event as scheduled due to her losing her voice. Craig Charles who was already on the bill to do a Soul and Funk Disco did a bit extra to fill the gap. He did seem to be enjoying himself up there. The sound system for the event was great. It is so clever nowadays at these huge gigs. How they factor in delays with the speakers and big TV screens, so wherever you are, it all seems to be in sync giving the illusion of hearing and seeing it at exactly the same time.

We got back to the live music performances with the now two piece Bananarama. They were sensational doing all their big hits from the eighties and some of the great news songs from their latest album. I must admit they were both sounding and looking amazing. They still had all the dance moves and way more energy than I did for a warm and sunny Sunday afternoon. They looked to be having a fab time up there. They admitted they were looking forward to seeing the rest of the concert themselves when their slot was over. And the thing you do sometimes forget about this band is that they did have a lot of huge hits.


Bananarama

Next up it was a band I was looking forward to seeing. As not only do they seem like lovely down to earth people. But they are a group of very talented musicians to. Any modern band that is just basically fronted by a Cello and Violin player with guest vocalists is alright by me. Clean Bandit have produced so many massive hit anthems with their blend of electric and classical music. On this evidence they are a fantastic live band. Who really do put on a brilliant show. Nobody is really doing what they are doing, as well as they do it. I thought they were ace. They were one of my highlights of the day.

Clean Bandit

When I was about fourteen, I got myself the double cassette of Status Quo’s Greatest Hits, which I listened to a lot at that time. I had been a fan of theirs for many years prior to that. They have a new single out at the moment which is unmistakably them in the way it sounds. They were the next band to perform for Radio 2 at this celebration of music. There had been a couple of occasions in the past where I nearly got to see them but for whatever reason it did not work out. And let us not forget this was the act that launched the Live Aid concert at Wembley stadium. These guys are rock gods.

I have always been a massive fun of guitar based music. Status Quo thump out those big songs with the strings on their guitars taking a huge pounding, that energy, that drive. I defy anyone to stand still when they are playing. As well as the new single they played a nice selection of their biggest hits. Francis Rossi seemed to be having a good time and despite his advancing years. He may still have been the biggest kid at the event with a glint in his eye and the urge to at least slightly worry the organisers with what he might say.

I thought they were brilliant and totally enjoyed seeing them play live. Many of their songs are timeless classics. I suppose the only slight regret is that I never got to see Francis and Rick Parfitt play together. As the both of them will always be Status Quo to me. But they still know how to put on a great show. They had the whole place rocking. I know it is the old joke about the Quo only using the same three cords but their music is a bit more intricate than that. A really tight and slick band!

Status Quo

Then as the sun started to set in Hyde Park. It was time for the final “warm up” act or to put it another way the next group, who were Westlife. They have been around for over twenty years now. I know right. Does anyone else feel old? I first saw them at a Smash Hit Poll Winners Party in London. When they had just won a regional band’s competition and were stilled called at that point Westside.

Two decades later I am watching them belt out hit after hit in a perfectly performed set. Like Bananrama they are all sounding and looking great. However their dance moves are not as good as the girls. They all seem like top blokes and can all sing and perform live. They sing great songs well and in their own style. This is of course why they have had such a long and distinguished career. I thought they were wonderfully entertaining, as ever.

Westlife

The headline act was The Pet Shop Boys. I was lucky enough to be at the Brits Awards when they won the lifetime achievement trophy there, so I knew how good they were live. Those two always put on a great visual display. Neil Tennant’s voice is possibly sounding better than ever. The staging and lighting was bright and lively. Add to that all those iconic hits. Then throw in Olly from Years and Years, who joined them to do their latest single together. And one of my all-time favourite singers Beverley Knight who came out on stage to perform “What Have I Done to Deserve This” with the lads.

Top class entertainment from one of the great British Pop bands of all time was a fitting way to end a brilliant afternoon and evening. I had a wonderful time with my two friends, having a few drinks while singing and dancing along with the music. It is a fun and uplifting day out. We already plan to do it all over again next year. And you know that Radio 2 will as ever book some amazing acts for it. If you have not been and enjoy live music in a fun and friendly atmosphere, you should definitely give it a try, if you can.

Pet Shop Boys

My local radio station Mix 96 celebrated its twenty fifth birthday this April. I did work experience there when I was at college. And it was the place where I started my professional radio career. I have so many happy and fond memories of the place. I have worked there at three different spells over the last twenty odd years. Richard Carr from Bucks TV, who also used to work at the radio station has made a documentary about Mix 96. It features many former and current employees of the station including yours truly.

Mix 96

It was loads of fun recording my bits. It was great catching up with Richard and reminiscing about old times. He has spent a lot of time and effort finding everybody and putting the whole thing together. Last Saturday night it was the World Premiere of the documentary at the Waterside Theatre in Aylesbury. It was also a bit of a Mix 96 reunion night to. I had been looking forward to it for quite a while. I was excited to see the film and hopefully catch up with a few people who I had not seen for years.

Mix 96

It was all very well organised. When I arrived at the theatre I was met with a Bucks Fizz on reception. At one point that was actually going to be the name of this new radio station. Then there was chance to chat to everyone there. It was wonderful to see many of my former colleagues all looking so well. We then watched the first part of the documentary on the big screen. This was followed by an interval to refresh our drinks and wait for Mr Mix 96 Nathan Cooper to arrive. He had been on commentary duty for BBC Radio Oxford at Lincoln.

When he did arrive, he did so fittingly to a huge round of applause. We then sat down to watch a slightly edited version of the actual film. It was ninety-six minutes in length. This stuff is not just thrown together it is all carefully planned. It was brilliant hearing all the old stories and seeing so many familiar faces up on the screen. There were lots of great stories and things that I had forgotten about over the years. It was a fascinating watch.

I have already ordered the full version, which I am very much looking forward to watching. It was nice to see everybody. Thanks and congratulations to Richard Carr for making such a lovely tribute to a truly fantastic local radio station. I look forward to receiving my full four hour copy of this piece of cinematic history.

Neil Quigley

I was lucky enough to be able to get away for three days of fun in the sun in Spain the other week. My friend’s parents own an apartment in Marbella that they very kindly rented to me for a few nights. On day one I did have to get up at 3am to get my 7am flight from Luton to Malaga but the thought of a few days relaxing by the pool more than made up for that inconvenience.

The place where I was staying was about forty-five minutes away from the airport. I got the bus into the centre of Marbella and then a taxi to the complex. That was to be my temporary home, which was in Puerto Banus. Not that I have honestly ever seen it but when “The Only Way Is Essex” lot head to Spain. This is the place where they go. They were there filming when I was out there. But I did not bump in to them.

I got there at around two in the afternoon and let myself in. It is a lovely place with two bedrooms (both ensuite), a big lounge, kitchen and a balcony. Firstly I went to the local Supermarket to get some supplies. Then it was time to kick back and spend the rest of the afternoon at the pool topping up my tan in the glorious sunshine. I stayed there until six and then came in to get ready for my first night out there.

Puerto Banus

Most of the bars and restaurants are along the port side, which was a fifteen minute walk from where I was. It is a pretty classy place as you can tell from all the amazing yachts that are moored there. And all the Ferraris, Porches and Lamborghinis that drive past. I found a really nice restaurant in which to enjoy a lovely three course meal. I then just checked out a couple of the bars before calling time on a fairly long day.

Puerto Banus

The next day was spent by the pool in the morning. Then on a sunbed at the beach, which was about ten minutes away, in the afternoon. I did then go back to the pool for a swim and more sun. Then quickly got ready to head out and find somewhere to watch Tottenham’s Champions League Game. I found a decent bar which fulfilled those needs, although we could only manage a draw away in Greece. Then it was food, followed by a few drinks and bed. Sitting around in the sun all day is very tiring you know.

Neil Quigley

During my final full day I just repeated the previous day’s plan. Well if it is not broken do not fix it. For my final night there I went out and had a wonderful steak meal washed down with a couple of glasses of Spanish Red Wine. I then visited a couple of bars along the port that I had come to like, the first of which is called Sinatra’s. It is a nice and busy bar with friendly staff and good music. It has a decent feel to it.

My final stop was Joy’s. It is a live music bar. Earlier in the week I saw a great female solo performer there. This time I was there a bit later and the place was packed. I managed to see two different acts. They both had the whole place rocking! There are pictures of some of the famous people who have visited the place on the wall. These include Cilla Black, Anthony Joshua and Vinnie Jones. Which I am sure you will agree is quite a combination.

The next day I just had time to grab a final few hours of sunshine by the pool. Before it was time to lock the place up and head back to England. I had a brilliant few days. The apartment was quality, the weather was great. Plus the actual place itself was friendly and lots of fun with plenty going on there. I would definitely go back again for a break ,if I ever get the chance. And finally it is always nice to return from somewhere with a bit of tan to.

Puerto Banus

I must confess to being a pretty regular listener to Radio 2 and in particular Ken Bruce. He lives near me and I have occasionally seen him at my local train station. I am a big quiz and music fan. Therefore I do obviously enjoy his daily competition Popmaster. Last Monday the Radio Academy put on a Popmaster live event hosted by the man himself at a bar in London. I managed to get myself a ticket to it.

Neil Quigley Presenter
Neil Quigley Presenter

On my way to the venue I bumped into the radio legend that is Tony Blackburn, who was also going. I heard him before I saw him as let us face it that voice is quite recognisable. Also at the event were Trevor Nelson, Stephanie Hirst and of course the Popmaster himself Ken Bruce. I saw lots of people I knew there including the fantastic Nigel Mitchell. Who has been on This Morning and Heart. He is such a nice fella it was great to catch up with him.

Popmaster Live

I met up with the rest of my team at our table, then after a chat over a drink. It was time to knuckle down and play part one of the game. It was pretty high tech. Each team had an I-pad on which to answer the questions. Well it was until round four when this system went down and we had to revert to good old fashioned pen and paper. We were doing alright and at the half way point. We were joint third. There was an interval for a comfort break and to get another drink before we returned to the serious pop related business in hand.

You only had fifteen seconds to answer each question. All of them related to a piece of music they played which in a busy bar with a limited amount of speakers made it quite hard to hear from time to time. But we felt we were doing pretty well. The penultimate round was really tough, but we thought we had done alright on the last set of questions. Then it was time to announce the top three. We did not honestly think we had a chance. Then they announced the winning team name and it was us, much to our surprise.

We had won Popmaster in a room full of radio people. So it was not like there was any fierce competition for this title. It felt great. We won tickets to a radio live event next month but even better than that the whole team had our picture taken with Ken Bruce. And I got to shake the great man’s hand. What scenes. It was a really fun night. I still cannot quite believe we won it, definitely a huge achievement, that I will be adding to my CV immediately.

Popmasters Winning Team

As I was at Marylebone station waiting for my train home at the end of the night I bumped in to Ken Bruce again and managed to have a quick chat to him. He is such a down to earth and lovely man. Which bearing in mind that he does the most listened to radio show in the country at the moment is a total credit to him. It was an honour to finally meet him. He is one of the finest broadcasters of all time.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I went to see the new Les Miserables Staged Concert at the Gielgud Theatre in London with my sister last Wednesday. Tickets were it is fair to say pretty hard to get hold of, as it is only running for a very limited time. But I managed it and was curious to see the show to see how it would work. The cast assembled for it was of course amazing. They have all been involved with the long running West End version of the show at some point or another.

Les Miserables

The night I was in John Owen-Jones was Jean Valjean, Michael Ball was Javert and Carrie Hope Fletcher was Fantine, which is not bad for starters. But then you also have Matt Lucas and Katy Secombe as Thenardier and Madame Thenardier respectively, so you really do have a stellar cast up on the stage. Add to that the closeness of the venue and the fact that most people there were die-hard fans of the show. And what you get is an electric and amazing atmosphere in the place.

The whole cast were sensational. There are of course so many big and powerful well known anthems in it. All of which were performed perfectly. We had brilliant seats in the fourth row of the stalls, so got totally involved in it all. Some of the applause breaks during it at the end of songs were longer than the applause that I have seen at the close of other shows. It was all expertly put together, a very slick and smooth production. At the end the company of course got a big well deserved standing ovation. I am so pleased that I got to witness it for myself.

Les Miserables

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.

Dungeons and Add On’s

It has been another roller coaster of a fortnight. I have as ever been pretty busy. As in all of our lives, some things have gone to plan and others have not. But more on that later. I hope you have had a fun and interesting couple of weeks. Last month I was in Rome looking at some ancient and historic buildings. And more recently I was just down the motorway from my home. Visiting one that was originally used by none other than William The Conqueror.

I went to Warwick Castle for the first time. It is only about an hour or so away from me. So I am not sure why it had taken me so long to go there. I met a friend of mine there. We parked in a public car park in the town centre. Right next to a lovely park. Which had a nice cafe, a splash pool and a mini golf course. None of which we actually used. As we did not really have the time for it. Before we went to the main attraction. We had lunch in a quality local pub in the town. Never go exploring on an empty stomach. That is my motto.

It was about a seven minute walk up to the castle entrance from the pub. Luckily it was a gloriously sunny day. I had bought the tickets in advance online. As it was slightly cheaper. Martin Lewis would have been proud of me. Once we got inside. The first thing we did was go to the main part of the Castle. Where we climbed the highest tower. Using the very narrow and winding staircase. Which at one point I must admit I did not think was ever going to end. On the way back down I managed to catch my head on the stone door frame. Which I can confirm did hurt a little. I am so clumsy.

Warwick Castle

As well the standard general entrance ticket. I had also pre-booked us on the Dungeon Experience. Which I thought was just a look at the Dungeons. Where you could see exhibits and learn about what went on there. That was not quite the case. I had booked us on it for 2pm. We arrived there on time and were shown through to a waiting area. There a member of staff, then came out and said we were the only two booked on it. And it is much better to do it in larger groups. Would we be prepared to wait until 2.30pm and go with the next lot? We said yes, no problem.

But then they sent two more people down to us. Who wanted to do it there and then. They were a mother and her young son. I should caveat this with the fact. That I am not a fan of horror films, spooky or scary stuff. I say this, as by this point it became apparent. That it was an interactive show. And there would be some scary bits during it. So the four of us set off. After being invited into the court yard by a Jester. Who got it all started with some terrible jokes. And warned us of what lay ahead of us.

We were shown in to the first pitch black room. Suddenly out of the dark and out of nowhere a white faced figure appears in front of us. This causes my friend scream out loud. Making me jump. A few more other surprise moments occur. Then as we are getting ready to leave this room. The little lad is now so scared. He wants to leave. Him and his mum are taken out. Leaving just us two, alone. For the rest of the performance. We were both pretty scared. And wanted to leave. But it had started now. And I thought it would be a little unfair on all the waiting actors. If we went. So we continued.

I said this was an interactive experience. The bloke before we went in had said it would be better in a bigger group. And he was right. As I was picked on in every single room. I had my vital organs removed by a rogue doctor. I was tortured. Then executed. And finally appeared in court. Before being sentenced to death. I mean it really was not my day. As I was in the performance at every part. I almost asked for a credit and a fee at the end. There was some more screaming from my friend at the end. But I stayed surprising cool. Or I was possibly just too scared to scream.

I will be honest it was not the sort of thing I would usually do. And if I had realised what it had involved. I would probably not have booked it. But I thought it was very cleverly done. It was pretty educational and it definitely made me jump a few times. I think it is quite a new attraction there. But probably not suitable for any young or nervous children.

Warwick Castle

After the Dungeons we had a nice walk around some of the gardens. We also saw a bit of the Birds Of Prey show. Which I must say was very impressive. The size of some of the birds, that they have there.

We had a sit down in the Peacock Garden. Which was a very relaxing end to the visit. It was great fun. And I would go there again. As they often have different special themed weekends and events.

Britain’s Got Talent

I managed to watch most of the Britain’s Got Talent Semi-Finals and the Final. There was a nice variety of acts in it. However I do still feel they do not really need some of the novelty performers. By that last stage. I always feel some of them take up places. That other people who also got four yes’s could fill. Which could improve the overall standard of the show. And actually make the live shows much more competitive. I managed to predict the top three acts virtually every single night.

I did think a few acts actually hindered their own chances. By some of the choices. That they made with their performances. Impressive though it is performing your own song. I do always think the general public will respond better to a song they know. Either done well or with a slight twist or individual stamp put on it. I think that ploy may well have cost Chapter 13 a place in the final at least. Also I did love all the magic acts. But in the Semi-Finals four of them all basically did the same trick. Just in a slightly different way.

I have not particularly liked the fashion this year to use the judges as part of the performance. They are there to watch it and decide what they think of it. That is harder to do when you are actually in it. Plus Simon Cowell walking off when asked to Can Can. Should never have been allowed to happen. Unless it was a publicity stunt for the show. Which they are known for to get press coverage. And that may have been the thinking behind it.

I have never met Simon. But I could of told you that he would be well out of his comfort zone. And flatly refuse to do it on stage. So surely the producers of the show must have known that. Yet they still went ahead with it. If you are trying to win something. Trying to humiliate one of the judges seems an odd way of going about it. And even if it was suggested to the act. They should have said no and refused.

BGT London
BGT London

I was delighted for the winner Chelsea Pensioner Colin Thackery. It was actually heart warming and encouraging that people voted for him. And he can really sing. You cannot argue with that. I thought his performances were great. What an amazing man. You will not find a more humble winner either. The best of luck to him. The exposure of reaching the final will help a lot of the other acts to. It will give them a lift. Or at least get them more gigs, if they already do what they do professionally.

The judges are basically the ultimate dysfunctional family. The way they argue and bicker with each other. Ant and Dec are the men you need at the helm of that madness. From dealing with the contestants to the judges. They are basically producing and directing that show from on stage, as well as presenting it. Far from an easy show to hold together and keep on track. Great job as ever, fellas.

Applications are already open for next year. I wonder if any of this years semi-finalists are thinking of coming back next year. But with a mask on like X did!

Mix 96

The other week I had a fun morning doing some filming in Aylesbury with an old friend. Mix 96 celebrated its twenty-fifth birthday earlier this year in April. I was at the radio station for around seven years in two spells. I was born there and loved presenting on my local station. Richard Carr, who I worked with at Mix 96. And who is now the man behind Bucks TV is currently making a documentary to mark the big occasion.

I met up with him for a cup of tea and a chat first. It was lovely to catch up with him and talk about old times. I cannot lie working in radio is great fun. But the most amusing and sometimes funniest things often happen off air. And behind the scenes.

So it was great to swap stories and reminisce about the old days. Fair play to him. He has managed to get a lot of former employees from the station, all together for this project. Including somebody, who now works on Breakfast television.

Victoria Pendleton and Neil Quigley
Victoria Pendleton and Neil Quigley

After we were both fully refreshed. We went to film my bits outside the Waterside Theatre. I just talked about my memories of Mix 96, how I got to be on air there and any stories I could remember from my time there. I do really enjoy doing things to camera.

Hopefully I supplied Richard with enough good footage. And will make the final edit. He is currently still working on it. I will let you know when it is completed. And how you can see it. I cannot wait to see it. I hope I get an invite to its Premiere.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Last Saturday night it was the Champions League Final. Over the last few years I had not been too bothered about it. But this year I had been looking forward to it for nearly a month. Simply because my team Tottenham Hotspur had made it to the final. For the first time in our history.

After the madness of the way we got past Manchester City and Ajax. I was just delighted to be there. For the first time since 2008. There were two English teams in the final. With Liverpool our opponents. After they got past Lionel Messi and Barcelona in their semi-final.

Tottenham Hotspur

As this was such a huge and historic match for my team. I had really wanted to get to Madrid for it. But although I am now a season ticket holder. I did not have anywhere near enough points to qualify for a Spurs ticket.

Which by the way, I am fine with. The fans who have had these tickets for years and who go to all the away games. Rightly have the most points and therefore deserve to go. I must confess, I was so desperate to go. I did look at a few secondary ticket websites. But they were all charging way too much. And seemed a bit dubious to me. So I did not risk buying one.

It was shocking how the airlines raised the flight prices. The week before and the week after the game. You could get a return flight to Madrid for around one hundred pounds. To fly there and back over the final weekend. It would have cost you over a grand. Which was also about the going rate for one night in an half decent hotel in the Spanish capital.

A few of the people I know went there with the travel company associated with the club. They flew in on the day and out straight after the game. This was fairly reasonably priced. But I understand it was not very well organised. There was lots of delays and confusion. Which is a big shame for such a special event for the fans. Who just wanted to enjoy the occasion.

As I could not get to Madrid. I figured the next best place to watch it was at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. The club decided to hold a screening there. They were selling the tickets for ten pounds. And managed to sell the whole place out. Which to basically sit and see the match on giant televisions is pretty impressive.

Tottenham Hotspur

I optimistically booked a hotel in London. As I did not want to have to rush home, if I was celebrating. Plus if we won. There was to be a bus parade on the Sunday afternoon. And I did not want to miss that.

The atmosphere as I walked down the Tottenham High Road from Seven Sisters tube station was electric. The closer that you got to the ground. The louder and more spine tingling all the singing and chanting was. I got in the ground nice and early and met a friend in there.

We had a pint and a pie before the game. Then we made our way out to sit in our normal season ticket seats. To watch the teams walk out. As well as the four screens in the corners. They had also put an extra six giant screens on the pitch. So we had a good view of the action.

Neil Quigley

As the teams walked out. The noise in the ground was deafening. This was our first ever Champions League Final. I was nervous and excited. The game kicked off to a massive cheer. Then twenty five seconds later. There is silence and confusion as Liverpool are given a penalty for handball.

Which though, I appreciate I am not exactly a neutral. I thought was very harsh. Moussa Sissoko was pointing to his team mates. While closing down the Liverpool striker. The ball then hits his chest, then bounces down his arm. Which I do not think he can help. I have no idea how that can possibly be deemed as deliberate hand ball. The Reds scored from the spot. And we were instantly one down.

The game was pretty poor. I do not know if that was due to the three week break between the end of the Premier League and this game. Or that with Liverpool scoring so quickly. They were just happy to sit back, let us have possession. And then let us try to break them down. We were one down still at half time.

My mate and I watched the second half in a bar at the Stadium. Spurs huffed and puffed and had a few chances. Which if they had taken one of them. Could have made things a bit more interesting, But as it was, Liverpool grabbed a well taken second late on. Which killed us off. And meant they went on to win the game and claim the trophy.

Tottenham Hotspur

It was obviously disappointing to lose in such a big final. But for the team to even get there was a magnificent achievement. It has been a roller coaster of a season with highs and lows. We have won and lost games in the last minute. We have suffered lots of injuries this year. And had to play technically all of our games away. Until the last few months of the season.

Tottehham Hotspur
Tottehham Hotspur

I am so proud of the players, the coaching staff and the fans for what they have all done this year. It has been great. It is time now to have a rest. And come back stronger and even hungrier next season. Come on you Spurs.

I did stay for a few more drinks with all the fans after the game. For a season debrief. Then I made my way back to the hotel. It had a very nice bar. That was open until 2am. And had top live DJ’s playing. So I thought it would be rude not to have a drink in there. Before I went back to my room via the space and galaxy decorated lifts. To get a bit of sleep.

Neil Quigley

I went to see the musical The Book Of Mormon for the second time last Tuesday. And once again I really enjoyed it. It is written by the people behind the popular television adult cartoon South Park.

So it really does not pull any punches and it is packed full of swear words. Which I guarantee you will hear in very few other theatre shows. It had a bit of a shock factor the first time I saw it. But I was of course prepared for it this time.

The Book Of Mormon

As well as being very funny. It is quite a clever show. It takes a look at religion and beliefs. As you may have guessed from the title. It takes them apart and then kind of puts them back together. And although the religion in its title were not overly pleased. When it launched. It does not really offend. Plus there is a worrying amount of truths in it. The cast are fantastic. And there are so many weird and wonderful little bits of mischief in it to.

It is not meant to change the world or your views on it. Basically it is a bit of fun. I guess in a way it is a modern version of a Life of Brian. It does have some really good and catchy songs in it to. It has now been running at the same theatre in London for over six years. If you get the chance. I think it is worth seeing. Plus the Rioja they serve in The Prince of Wales Theatre is very nice.

The Book Of Mormon

I am looking forward to seeing the Spice Girls at Wembley Stadium with my sister this week. It will be the third time that I have seen the ladies live. And they always put on a really good show. I will tell you all about it next time.

Neil Quigley

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

Silky Skills

Hello, Happy Easter for last weekend. Are you still wading your way through a mass of chocolate? Or did you just have a massive binge on it last Sunday. I think Easter Sunday is the only day of the year that you can just about justify having chocolate for breakfast. I hope you had a lovely long Bank Holiday, enjoyed the weather and got to catch up with the family.

I actually had a pretty quiet Easter, much like Jesus did really, to be fair. He did not really do much after the Thursday evening. I did go to a family barbecue on Easter Sunday. Which was very enjoyable. And pretty civilised for this sort of affair. It was my first Al Fresco dining of the year. Well in England. In the Caribbean in January I was eating outside pretty much all of the time.

I am still delighted by the fact that my parents still insist on buying me an Easter Egg. Every year I say I am fine. And that they do not need to get me one. Yet every year I am so happy and pleased that they do. It always gets eaten within a day or two. Well my theory is if I leave any chocolate lying around the house. It will only get eaten. So I might as well eat it as soon as possible.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I recently paid my second visit to one of London’s premier comedy pubs. The Bill Murray in Islington. It is part of the Angel Comedy Club. Along with the Camden Head. Which is just down the road. Between them they put on lots of great gigs. Pretty much every night of the week.

A lot of well known comics use it to do work in progress and warm up shows. Where they are trying out new material. As a comedy fan who does some stand up. I do find these shows fascinating. As I like to see their thought process. How they structure the joke. And if I can work out the writing game that they may have used to come up with it.

But mostly I like going to these things, as they are in small rooms and are very funny events. Previously I saw Eddie Izzard there. This trip was to see Russel Howard do some new stuff in preparation for a big arena tour. He is doing later in the year. I have seen him a few times before. Doing a full show in Yeovil and a warm up one at The Phoenix in London. I have been a fan of his for years. I really like his topical television shows to.

Old Rope Comedy
Old Rope Comedy

He had a warm up act with him Steve Hall. Who also writes a lot of his TV shows with him. Steve was also doing new material ready for his Edinburgh Fringe Show in August. From what I saw and heard it will be worth catching if you are up in the Scottish capital during the festival. He then introduced Russell to the stage.

I am not sure if it was something he was trying out for this gig only or if the new show’s content and set up will require it. But it was a little more abrasive and even angrier Russell, in places. Than I had seen previously. Still very funny and clever with his jokes and delivery. It was quite an early gig with people having come straight from work. So maybe as a whole audience we were not possibly as receptive as he was hoping.

It could even have been a challenge from Steve Hall to play the gig that way. Just for a bit of fun. I really enjoyed it and thought he was fantastic. But as I have said earlier it was a different vibe to what I was expecting. Part of the structure is that he is getting older and grumpier, so he may be tapping in to that to set the tone for some of the subjects he is addressing.

Either way by the time this hits those big arenas. I have no doubt it will be a fully formed hilarious show. If you are a fan of comedy. It is worth keeping an eye on the Angel Comedy Club. As they do have some cracking gigs on there.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

For the first time this year. I went to see the final of The Musical Comedy Awards. The reason I went was that somebody I knew was in it. And I went along to support them. That man was the brilliant Paul “Silky” White. I first met him when I made my Stand Up debut at the wonderful Tringe Roving Comedy Night. I ended up giving him a lift back to his hotel. He is a lovely bloke and an extremely funny guy.

I have seen him perform several times since. I made sure I went and caught his Edinburgh show. When I was up there last year. He is a comic that does jokes. But he also plays the guitar and does some musical comedy. Hence why he was appearing at this event. After quite rightly storming through the heats to the final.

Silky at Roving Comedy Night
Silky at Roving Comedy Night

It was held at The Bloomsbury Theatre. Which is actually a lovely venue. It was the first time I had been. I was very impressed with the place. Randomly as I was on my way there I bumped into Silky, so got to wish him the best of the luck for his performance. Which was a nice bonus. It was great to see him, albeit very briefly.

When I got inside I met up with the man behind the Tringe Festival Ben Moorhouse at the bar. He was also there to support Silky. He was telling me that the line up is almost finalised for this year’s event and once again it is top quality. There will be some great acts coming to Tring to perform. Plus watch out for the marketing campaign for it which is going to be brilliant. Nice to see him and have a quick catch up.

I actually had front row seats for the show. I had found out that Silky was on first. So I made sure I got to my seat nice and early. So I was ready to laugh, clap and cheer for him. Previous finalists of this event have included Abandoman and Rachel Parris. The host for the night was Nick Horseman. He came on first. And got the crowd hyped and ready for what was ahead.

Bloomsbury Theatre

Silky came on first. He started with a tribute to the comedian Ian Cognito. Who had recently died on stage. While performing at a comedy night in Bicester. He then went into a couple of very funny musical songs. He was getting plenty of laughs. I thought he was, as ever great. It is always tough to go on first in a final. But I thought he did an excellent job.

Then we had The Dragprov Review who tried to improvise a musical. I thought they did alright. But I have been lucky enough to see the Show Stoppers. Who are amazing at doing just that. So for me the bar has been set very high for this type of act. Other performers on the night included Jamie Finn, Huge Davies, Louis Burgess, Matt Hutson, Joe Jacobs and Charlie Patridge.

Apart from Silky, who I know and think is great. The act that I really enjoyed the most were Maris Piper. They are a duo who do topical parody songs of well known records. Their lyrics and subject choices were smart and funny. The punch lines were sometimes obvious but that was mainly down to rhyming. And the famous tunes that they were using being so familiar. They did make me laugh out loud.

The Step Dads came on last. They were very off the wall and quirky. It was all a bit surreal. They were certainly the most different act of the night, in my opinion. My favourite act was Katie Pritchard. She came on as a self proclaimed tour guide. Then performed parody songs explaining some big historical attractions. In a funny, clever and amusing away. Plus she really did put everything in to her performance. She was totally going for it.

While the judging panel made their decisions. We were treated to a performance by the act that had already won the Best Newcomer award Hadfield and Swan. They did a couple of very funny numbers. Again I thought this duo were great and worth keeping an eye out for.

Then the headline act The Brett Domino Trio came on. I have been aware of them for a long time. I have heard them on the radio and seen them on TV. So it was great to witness them live at last. They were brilliant. Everything I expected them to be. Great fun!

After this final performance the winners were announced. In third place were Maris Piper. In second it was the Step Dads and the act that won the title was Katie Pritchard. Who I think on the night did deserve it.

I thought Silky should have been top three. Then again I would think that. A very entertaining night out seeing some funny people doing their thing. I already plan to go again to next years’ finals. Well done to the organisers and everyone who took part.

Neil Quigley doing Stand Up
Neil Quigley doing Stand Up

A very Happy 25th Birthday to Mix 96 for the 15th April. It is my local radio station. And it was an absolute honour to be able to work there in several spells over the years.

I actually ended up doing my work experience from College there for two weeks back during its first twelve months. As a result of that I went along to the station’s first birthday party at Stoke Mandeville Stadium. With all of the presenters. Which was brilliant fun.

Neil Quigley

It was the Mix 96 presenters who suggested that if I was wanting to get into radio. I should get involved with Stoke Mandeville Hospital Radio. Which I did spending around seven years there. It was doing this that enabled me to get on to Mix 96. Firstly just assisting on the Sports Show.

Before going on to present that and then host Drive Time, Mid Mornings and the Evening Show over the years. I would have presented my first show there in 1998 and my last show was in 2012. Mind you I had a five year break from the Buckinghamshire airwaves. When I was working in Somerset.

Victoria Pendleton and Neil Quigley
Victoria Pendleton and Neil Quigley

I have some great memories of being there over the years. Including helping to carry Kim Mazelle to and from the stage at a very muddy Fireworks Night. Being involved with the radio “Big Brother” we did called The Big Lock Up. All the County Show outside broadcasts.

Interviewing Victoria Pendleton. And just the laughs that we would have on and off air. It was a time of my life that I am very proud of. You absolutely cannot beat broadcasting on your home town radio station. There is nothing like it.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I hoped it would happen. I knew we could do it. But the way the second leg panned out away against Manchester City was crazy. I have never watched a match like it. I was emotionally drained by the end of it. Shocked and delighted that we had made it through to the Semi-Finals of the Champions League. One minute we were out and then thirty seconds later after VAR stepped in. We were through to face Ajax. Now just two games away from a place in the big final in Madrid.

City got their revenge in the league game the following Saturday. In a one nil win. That I thought we probably just about deserved a draw out of. It means the fight for a top four finish and Champions League qualification for next season is still a bit too close for comfort. But with two out of our final three games at our new home. I think we can do it. And finish the season on a high.

Our situation was also helped by our home win against Brighton on Tuesday. We left it late. The eighty-ninth minute to be precise. The joy and relief around the stadium when Christian Eriksen’s shot hit the back of the next was palpable.

We have now won all four games at the new place and not even conceded a goal yet. Before the game I also had the pleasure of meeting two Spurs Legends in Tony Galvin and Pat Jennings. They were both fantastic.

Neil Quigley and Pat Jennings

I have been back at the BBC recently doing some work there. It is always a fun place to be. You never know who you are going to end up working with or who you could randomly bump in to.

I saw the current host of the Radio One Breakfast show Greg James leaving as I was on my way in to the building the other day. One of the people I work with looks just like him, so at first I thought it was him. And I could not work out why he did not acknowledge me. So Greg, sorry for looking at you a bit weird.

BBC
BBC

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

Musical Fun

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

Neil Quigley

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

Stars Of The West End

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

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

Mike Sterling

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

Karen Mav

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

Jenny Fitzpatrick

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

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

Stars Of The West End

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

Logan Murray
Logan Murray

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

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

Museum of Comedy
Museum of Comedy

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

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

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

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

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

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

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

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

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

Comedy Store Players
Comedy Store Players

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

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

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

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

The Comedy Store

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

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

Cheltenham Festival

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

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

Cheltenham Festival

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

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

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

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

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

BBC
BBC

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

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

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

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

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

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

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

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

St Patrick's Day
St Patrick’s Day

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