Tag Archives: musicals

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.

The Game of Life

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

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

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

Ascot 2019

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

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

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

Ascot 2019

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

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

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

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

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

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

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

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

BBC Radio Theatre
BBC Radio Theatre

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

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

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

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

BGT London
BGT London

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

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

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

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

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

The Man in the White Suit

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

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

The Man in the White Suit

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

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

Neil Quigley

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

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

Mike Sterling and Neil Quigley
Mike Sterling and Neil Quigley

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

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

Stars of The West End

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

Spice Up Your Life

Life is for living and to be enjoyed. And I think to be seen as a great big adventure. For me personally going out and having fun is a huge part of that. Therefore once again I have had a pretty busy couple of weeks. Doing lots of diverse and different things. As I do believe that variety is the spice of life.

For starters I had a brilliant night out with some very good friends of mine. Believe it or not it was the first time that we had all been in the same place at the same time this year. Which is impressive given that we are now half way through it. But we are all so busy, just getting on with our own lives. That finding a date when we are all available, is to say the least a challenge.

However we finally managed it. Meeting up at a local pub that was in a central location for everyone. For some food and a few drinks. I am always the first one to turn up to these things. I really hate being late for anything. So I normally turn up ridiculously early. I am not saying I was keen. But I arrived an hour before the agreed time. I have spent a shocking amount of time in pubs by myself waiting for people over the years.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

The other three turned up. I had been pretty good and was only one drink ahead when they arrived. We made our way to the restaurant area. As we are grown up and organised nowadays, We had booked a table. We had a very civilised three course meal. Washed down of course with a few more drinks. A splendid evening catching up on all the current news. While taking the mickey out of each other. And as ever reminiscing about days gone by.

After dinner there was a singer performing with a guitar in the bar. We stayed and listened to him for a bit. Before heading up to the other end of town to try another pub. We had a couple more there before calling it a night. You really cannot beat spending time with friends. It is very good for the soul. But not that good for the head the next morning, sometimes.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I went to see a fantastic new musical recently. Well I say new, but it has been in the West End since the end of January. And has won four Olivier Awards. But compared to the more established ones. It is still possibly, lesser known. It is actually set around the time of the attack on the World Trade Centre in New York on 9/11. It focuses on knock on side effects from the actual incident. That I must admit, I had not really thought about.

Based on a true story. It explains what happened to a small Canadian suburb. When seven thousand stranded air passengers from all over the world ended up there. After the terrible tragedy. All flights were grounded and American Airspace was closed. Gander International Airport in Newfoundland offered to house inbound flights coming from Europe. The whole community then came together specially to look after these weary and confused travellers. Many of whom are a long way from their planned destination.

It is called “Come From Away”. Because “Come From Away’s” is what the residents of the towns and villages, who took them in called their guests. The show itself is fantastic. It is wonderfully staged and very clever. The whole cast each play at least one of the locals and one of the visitors. But credit to them, as you always know which one they are in every scene. The songs are catchy and memorable. And are all performed in an Irish musical style.

There are so many layers to it. You have of course got the backdrop of the actual horrific incident. The story of how the locals cope with the population of the place suddenly being doubled for a week. Then there are the individual tales of the passengers themselves. Who are suddenly stranded. Seemingly in the middle of nowhere. I thought it was amazing. And I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I would certainly recommend seeing it, if you can. It is well worth it. As well as being an interesting story. It will restore your faith in all human nature. Just in case it is lacking a bit at the moment. It runs straight through with no interval. Luckily though I was aware of this so I took a nice glass of Rioja in with me. “Come From Away” is on at the Phoenix Theatre in London. Go and see it!

Come From Away

A mate of mine took me to the legendary Ronnie Scott’s in London for the first time the other Sunday. He is a member there, so goes a lot. It was yet another place I had been wanting to experience for a while. And it did not disappoint. We arrived, put our jackets in at the cloak room. Then we were shown to our seats. Like a theatre show you buy tickets for certain areas. Either on the round tables right at the front of the stage or at the straight tables to the sides.

We were at the straight tables. But like all the others, they still come with a table lamp and waitress service. You order all food and drink from your seats. Then they bring you the bill at the end of the night. It was the Blues Explosion Band performing. Which is made up of great musicians, who have played and toured with many of music’s biggest stars. The songs were excellent. And the second half was a tribute to the great Blues legend Dr John. It was a quality evening. I look forward to going back there again soon.

Ronnie Scott’s

As part of my Dad’s seemingly never ending birthday celebrations. We had a night at Windsor Races. They have meetings there most Monday’s during the summer. Normally with some sort of theme. This particular evening it was their Irish Night. It was not a nice day weather wise. It had been raining heavily all afternoon. When we got there it was still throwing it down.

I was not convinced we were going to see any racing at all. And I was expecting the meeting to be abandoned at any moment. I had a curry to try to warm myself up. Before the first race. And a couple of cups of tea. It was such a dreary night. That sadly not many people turned up. Although all the racing still went ahead.

The races were quite exciting, possibly due to the weather. Mind you I did not have any winners. We left before the last race and the live music. To get home and dry out. I hope you are also making the most of the Summer, so far to.

Windsor races

I went to the Spice Girls first ever tour at Wembley Arena. I was at the 02 for the last reunion tour. I even went and watched the short lived musical featuring their songs called “Viva Forever”. I did all of these with my sister. Therefore we both just had to go and see their latest show, when it was at Wembley Stadium.

We went to the opening night of the three. That they were doing in the Capital. It was actually the first music concert. That I had been to at the home of the national team. I have of course been to countless football matches there in the past. I will admit the walk up from the train station was slightly different to that of a standard match day. It was a bit more chilled and relaxed. With the same amount of Union Jacks but a lot more leopard print around than normal.

Spice Girls

We got inside the stadium. It was impressive how many people had dressed up as their favourite Spice Girl. I say people, as there were a lot of men dressed up to. We had a burger and a soft drink. I am not turning into Paul McCartney but I did have the Veggie Burger. Which was delicious. I had managed to get us in the Bobby Moore seats. In my opinion these are the comfiest seats in the place. Plus they gave us a decent view of the stage.

The support act was Jess Glynne. She is a fantastic artist. Who has had six number one’s in the UK herself. And sells out her own shows. But I thought she was the perfect choice for the gig. Her stuff is well known and upbeat. The right person to get things started and up and running. Although judging by the reaction when the DJ played C’est La Vie by Bewitched. May be they should have booked them. Joking aside, Jess was brilliant. And looked to be enjoying herself out there. Which was good to see. Great work!

Jess Glynne

Then we came on to the main event. The backing dancers came out nice and early. To get the crowd warmed up. The Spice Band appear and start playing. The big screens at the side of the stage kick into life. Then suddenly the four girls appear from nowhere right at the front of the stage. They launched in to Spice Up Your Life. And we were off and running. The party had well and truly started.

They then go through all of their brilliant back catalogue of songs. There are lots of outfit changes. These breaks in the action were often filled by their excellent dancers. Sometimes with individual routines. We got the usual onstage banter. You would expect from the ladies. Which was often hectic, lively and a little bit fruity. But which was also sincere, honest and real. Containing plenty of good humour.I felt it was all delivered in a very positive way.

Spice Girls

They are all older. They have all been through a lot. They are more emotional than they used to be. Which if anything shows how they have matured. After going off to rapturous applause. They returned for the encore. To perform Stop, Mama and of course the song that kicked things off for them back in 1996 Wannabe. We had fireworks at the start and at the end. It was a bright colourful and a thoroughly entertaining show.

They did of course reference the missing member of the band a few times. The same way a group of mates would, if one person could not make the get together. It was a proper big production. I am around the same age as the Spice Girls, well except Geri, of course. So we have kind of grown up together. Their concerts are just fun and full of lots of positivity. I do not think they try to be anything else. Just live in the moment. And have a good time. Top work all round!

Spice Girls

Next Sunday sees the start of the Tringe Festival. A three week long comedy event in Tring. It features lots of top comedians previewing their new show’s ready for this Summer’s Edinburgh Festival. Now in its tenth year. It is curated by Ben Moorhouse, Most of the events take place at The Court Theatre in Tring.

The first event however takes place across four pubs in Tring. I know this, as I have done it twice. Once in 2012 and then again in 2017. It is The Roving Comedy Night. A group of wannabe comedians work with the comedy guru Logan Murray for eight weeks. Doing weekly three hour sessions.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Which I must say from my own personal experience are so much fun. Basically you spend the whole time laughing with new found friends. Then somehow at the end of it. You have five minutes of brand new stand up to perform to four different audiences on the same night.

The added bonus of this night for the upcoming comic is that you get to work with a professional comedian. You go around all the pubs in groups of three or four with your professional comedian. In each of the venues you all do your five minutes and then the pro headlines your little show. So not only do you get to do your first four gigs in one night. You get to see a seasoned performer handle four separate audiences at close quarters.

Neil Quigley Stand Up Comedy
Neil Quigley Stand Up Comedy

The first time I did it. I had completed the course. And did my debut stand up performance going around with the great Tony Law. When I did it the second time round. It was a selection of comics from all the past classes. I was delighted to be able to represent my year. I Had so much fun both times, I did it. I would honestly recommend anyone to do it. Just for the amazing experience of it all.

Some of the comedians who have attended a Logan Murray course at the start of their career include Josh Widdicombe, Rhod Gilbert and Greg Davies. To mention but a few. In fact quite a few of the Roving Comedy alumni have gone on to win awards and perform their own show’s in Edinburgh.

Logan Murray
Logan Murray

I am looking forward to seeing this year’s Roving Comedy “Trainees” in action. It is always a great night. And once again I hope to catch up with one of the stalwart professional comedians of this night. The marvellous Silky. And hopefully the legend that is Logan Murray to. This event is sold out.

But if you want to check out the other gigs on at the festival. Click on the link. https://www.get-stuffed.biz/tringe/

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I have once again been to Royal Ascot this year. It is always a fun and interesting event.

And a very good excuse to put a nice suit on. I will tell you all about my two visits next time we speak.

Ascot 2018
Ascot 2018

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

Check Mate

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

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

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

Ben Langley
Ben Langley

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

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

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

Ha Ha Hood
Ha Ha Hood

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

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

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

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

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

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

Chess
Chess

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

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

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

Museum of Comedy
Museum of Comedy

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

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

Neil Quigley Stand Up Comedy
Neil Quigley Stand Up Comedy

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

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

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

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

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

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

Neil Quigley in Car
Neil Quigley in Car

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

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

Neil Quigley Presenter
Neil Quigley Presenter

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