Tag Archives: radio

Festival of Fun

Hello again, hope life is good and you are feeling fine. Last weekend was an annual event in my diary. Which I look forward to every year. It is something I first went to more than ten years ago now. I always enjoy any trip to Liverpool. But being there for Ladies Day at Aintree is brilliant fun. We have been doing it for such a long time now. That we have got the whole operation down to a tee.

I travelled up to Liverpool on the Thursday afternoon by train. On the journey I was catching up on the Gary Lineker and Danny Baker Podcast “Behind Closed Doors.” Which they launched at the start of this year. If you are a fan of football stories and banter. Then take a listen. I enjoyed it and it passed the time nicely. As I went through Birmingham on my way to Lime Street Station. On arrival there I walked past and tipped my head to the Ken Dodd statue by the exit. As I always do.

Neil Quigley in Liverpool
Neil Quigley in Liverpool

Then it was the short walk to Central Station to get the Mersey Rail to meet my mate at his local station. I feel very at home there. I put that down to my Granddad having grown up in that area. As always my pal meets me from the station. And we head to his local pub. To have a few beers and a catch up. I drink in London often, so there is something almost exciting about being able to buy two pints for less than four pounds.

It is then back to his place. Where thankfully he always lets me stay. As hotel prices in the city rocket in price unsurprisingly during the Grand National Race Meeting. Food and some tea. Accompanied of course by some music. And this time a little bit of Alan Partridge. We do tend to get to bed at a reasonable time ready for Ladies Day itself. The next day.

Ladies Day 2019

I do not always, but this year I did treat myself to a new suit. We all dress up. Buying a suit is always an odd experience. As normally the men in those places can take one look at you. Then bring things out in exactly the right size. Something I can never manage. When I am shopping alone. Any way we are all suited and booted. And in a pub just down the road from the famous old course by midday.

Next we head down to the entrance. It is always spectacular when you walk in and see those familiar huge stands. Not to mention the amount of people milling around. As you enter you pass the parade ring. Race horses are such beautiful and amazing animals. We were in the big marquee. It has several bars, some bookies and some huge televisions showing all the races. They also have a live band, who go on in between races. So there is just a big party atmosphere in there all day.

I had three winners, while we were there. Including the first race of the day. Which is always a good start to proceedings. The place is rammed with people having a good time. We leave before the last race. To get ahead of the crowd and get into Liverpool City Centre. If you leave it to late. The queues for the trains are horrendous. We as ever timed it perfectly.

We normally start off in The Jacaranda. Which is yet another place where The Beatles used to play a lot. They have a jukebox and great music in there. So it is always a good laugh. From there we continued the fun in several different bars. As more people we knew, who had been at the races earlier, joined us. We then ended up in an eighties bar finishing the night dancing in there. Once again it was another fantastic day. It is brilliant fun! With good company and venues. Plus a nice vibe to the whole thing.

Ladies Day 2019

The next day is of course The Grand National. We also have a bit of a tradition for this momentous event to. We always spend it with my mate’s parents and sister in a lovely pub, near to where they live. It is such a relaxing and fun afternoon. We have a few drinks, a laugh and watch all of the races including of course the big one.

Well done to Tiger Roll on winning it for the second year running, Which is some achievement. I was at Cheltenham when he won so convincing there this year. I must admit after that performance. I knew that he would be the best horse at Aintree. But that is not a guarantee. That you will win it. It was a great race . When he got in front. There was no way that anyone was going to get past him. I am pleased to say that I did have some money on him. Fair play to you if you picked him out to.

Grand National 2019

I came home on the Sunday afternoon. After yet another amazing weekend. I have already booked to stay with my mate again next year. We did have a drive around the course before I had to head to the station. As you can normally, when there is not a race on, drive down the Melling Road. We did just that and looked back down the course at all those daunting fences. A big thanks to everyone who joined in and made it such a fun and memorable few days. To quote The Beautiful South “You can’t have too many good times.”

Ladies Day 2019

I went and saw a brand new show recently. It is starting in the West End before it goes on tour all over the United Kingdom. It stars four Strictly Come Dancing contestants. Three of who won the show and one who really should have done that as well. Or at the very least got a lot further in the competition than he actually did. They are Harry Judd, Louis Smith, Jay McGuinness and Aston Merrigold. The show is called Rip It Up.

Rip It Up

It is basically a tribute to the nineteen sixties. It is set up like the American music television programmes. That were on during that decade. Complete with over the top US host. There is a band on stage throughout. A company of brilliant dancers. And the four stars who mostly perform the dances. Either in groups or with a partner. They do also all do a bit of singing. Including Louis Smith. Who then demonstrates what a great gymnast he is in one section. Harry Judd does some drumming. Aston Merrigold throws in some back flips.

It is a nicely put together show. Which features some quality songs and some great dancing. It is good fun. And the audience were up on their feet singing and dancing along by the end. Some bits do feel like they are shoe horned in a little. But it is a brilliant night out. It does not take itself too seriously. It pays homage to a great time in world music. Plus they do have some huge musical stars to help with the narrative. I enjoyed it.

Rip It Up

During my time working in radio. I have met a lot of very talented and lovely people. One of these is the wonderful Neil Sands. He toured the country as a professional Wrestler. He was one of the people behind “The Church”. If you ever went to that place on a Sunday afternoon in Kings Cross. As I did on a few occasions. And for many years now, he has been producing and starring in several different touring shows across the country.

His latest show. Brand new for this year is Sentimental Journey. Which I went and saw at the Wycombe Swan a few weeks ago. It is simply a celebration of great music from the forties through to the seventies. It stars Neil himself alongside some other great singers and performers Chelsea Turnbull, Sophie Presley and Szara King. He works with a brilliant backing band called The Golden Times Duo.

He has been a professional entertainer for many years. He has such a nice way with the audience. It is just all so very inclusive and good humoured. Right from the start the audience are encouraged to join in. I took my mum to see it. And we had a very enjoyable afternoon clapping and singing along to all these fantastic songs. Plus any show that features a section on Buddy Holly, Connie Francis and a little bit of Country and Western is always going to be a big hit with me.

It is a show full of memories and nostalgia delivered with love and grace by the cast. It also has a fitting tribute to our armed forces. Which is equally poignant and joyful. I really enjoyed it. As I have all the Neil Sands productions that I have seen. He was sadly feeling a little under the weather. But I did manage to have a very quick chat with him afterwards. It was great to see him. He is such a nice person and extremely talented. Keep an eye out for him and his shows. They are always worth seeing.

Sentimental Journey

I went to the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium for the second test event there. Which was a Spurs Legends side against Inter Milan. It was great to see so many former players back in the famous white shirts and on the pitch. It was a quality line up. Some of them had not played for a very long time. While others were a lot fitter. And dare I say still pretty athletic. I was very impressed with Jurgen Klinsman. He was still strutting around the pitch and looking sharp. Also David Howells deserves a special mention for treating it like a cup final. He was taking no prisoners out there.

It was great to see Robbie Keane score and do his famous cart wheel celebration. Always a joy to see Dimitar Berbartov play. Nayim was a bit bigger than I remember. But still very skilful. Great to see David Ginola out there after his recent health problems. But there was one player I was looking forward to seeing the most. It was the man who I remember running our whole midfield and scoring that ridiculous free kick against Arsenal in the FA Cup Semi-final back in 1991 Paul Gascoigne.

He was on the bench to begin with. And sadly in true Gazza style, he had managed to damage his Achilles Tendon in the warm up. But fair play to him. He still came on to a brilliant reception from all the fans. The whole place was singing his name. It was clear that he was not moving very easily, so he only lasted about ten minutes. Before he was then replaced. Still great to see him. What a Spurs and England legend. I wish him all the best in his recovery. The game was a good laugh, even though we lost in the end. It gave me another chance to get settled in to the new home.

Tottenham Hotspur

Talking of which I was of course there for the official opening and our first league game at the currently named Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. The ground opened early. So I took advantage of this by having a pint and a pie there before kick off.

There was a bit of an opening show. We had a local youth choir. Who were ace. They were then joined by the Opera Singer Wynne Evans for a different version of Glory Glory Tottenham Hotspur.

Tottenham Hotspur

At the end of which there was a big fireworks display on the roof. Something I had completely missed until I saw the footage after. I was looking straight at the pitch only, I never thought to look up. So I missed it. Then I could not work out where this smoke was coming from. Before the match had even kicked off. A tweet I posted earlier appeared on the four big screens inside the ground. I was very happy that my name had already been displayed at the stadium. I managed to get a really bad picture of it.

The game itself was a must win. We had to get the three points. To keep in the hunt for a Champions League place. Thankfully after a bit of dogged resistance from Crystal Palace and a slight deflected shot. We managed to score our first senior goal at the stadium. And go on to win the game two – nil. Which felt great. It is a brilliant stadium. I can tell I am going to have a lot of fun going there over the years.

The Boss

I was at the Champions League Quarter Final First Leg against Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City. The atmosphere in the place was so electric. We won one-nil thanks to another strike from Son. All of the players were immense.

But it is only half time, really. We still have it all to do in the second leg this Wednesday. The only disappointment on what was a very memorable night was Harry Kane going off with an ankle injury. The mood in the ground at full time was delightful.

Tottenham Hotspur

Huge congratulations to the amazing Charlotte Milchard. Who won Best Supporting Actress at the recent National Film Awards. For her role in Best British Film Scott and Sid. I first met her back in Yeovil in 2004. She was playing the villain in that year’s panto. And although on stage she was terrifying. Off it she was one of the loveliest people you could meet. I saw her a few times over the years performing in Somerset. She always popped in to have a chat on the radio. Which was fantastic.

Since then of course I have been following her career on stage and on screen. It is great spending time in her company. Such a talented and yet humble person. She richly deserves any success that comes her way. I was so happy for her when I discovered she had won this big accolade. A great achievement. It seems she had a wonderful night collecting her award. Which also makes me very happy. Well done Charlotte! A pleasure to know you.

Charlotte Milchard

Tonight I am off to see another performer I know compete for an award. I am attending the final of The Musical Comedy Awards in London. To see the excellent Silky perform for the title.

The evening will also feature The Brett Domino Trio. If you not aware of them. They are always good fun. I am looking forward to it. A Saturday night spent laughing at top quality acts. It always a bonus.

Silky at Roving Comedy Night
Silky at Roving Comedy Night

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

Ooh La La

Hi there, how are you? Another two weeks have passed by in a flash. And I think it is fair to say that once again I managed to keep myself fairly busy. St Patrick’s Day this year fell on a Sunday. Not only have I been to Dublin four times. But my Granddad was born in Ireland and I have an Irish surname. Which as far as I am concerned means that I am fully qualified to celebrate this special day. And join in with all the fun.

My preferred choice to spend at least some of every March 17th is at my favourite pub in London Waxy O’Connors. As you may have deducted from its name. It is an Irish Pub. Therefore you will not be surprised to learn that it gets very busy on the Patron Saint’s Day. I managed to get there around one in the afternoon. Much later than that and the queue to get in goes right around the block. You can’t buy experience!

St Patrick’s Day

I have said this before many times. But personally I believe they do serve the best pint of Guinness in London. I had to have six of them just to make sure that this assumption was totally correct. I am very thorough when I am carrying out consumer tests. They have great music on the whole time. The place is packed and the atmosphere is fantastic. Everyone is so friendly and just up for a good time. Certain songs suddenly get the whole pub singing along together.

The best bit for me is that they always have a traditional Irish Band in there playing during the evening. Including a Banjo, a Fiddle and a female singer with red hair. I mean how much more authentic could it be. They do all the classics. Which again sees the whole venue join together to sing them. It is always a brilliant day out. I already plan to do the same thing for St Patrick’s Day next year. You cannot beat it.

St Patrick’s Day

The day before the celebration day of my surname. I was at a dinner at my mates house. To celebrate his birthday. He is from Wales and a rugby fan. It was on the final Saturday of the Six Nations. Therefore I got to his place in time to watch the game with him and his girlfriend. Who is also Welsh. Needless to say they were both delighted with the result. And the Six Nations win.

Even though it was his birthday. My friend was cooking the meal. It was his choice. He enjoys cooking and is really good at it. He made an amazing Beef Stew with triple roasted potatoes and a selection of steamed vegetables. It tasted brilliant. I even went back for seconds. I found out later that it included some Old Speckled Hen. Which may or may not explain, why I liked it so much.

He had a small group of his friends there. We just spent the evening chatting and having a few drinks. It was very civilised. As always tends to happen. I found out some of them shared mutual friends with me. It really is a small world. And I am actually starting to think that everyone does know everyone. It was a lovely day with decent food and quality conversation.

A few Tuesday’s ago I took my very first trip to Paris. I have decided that I want to do some more travelling. And visit more places across Europe and the World. A couple of years ago. I went to Barcelona. Which I really enjoyed. The French adventure came about when I was told of a good offer from Eurostar. They had a bit of a sale on. So I manged to get a reasonable price on a return trip to the Capital of France.

It was the first time that I had used the service. It did feel a little bit weird going through customs and security at a train station. Then you end up in the waiting room. Which is a cross between a train waiting room and an airport lounge. It is also a bit like flying. In that they ask that you are there at least an hour before the departure time. You have your own designated seat. Which to be fair are, I thought, pretty comfortable.

The journey down to the English coast seems to go quite quickly. And what I did not realise is you are only in the actual tunnel that goes under The Chanel for about thirty minutes. The longest bit is the ride through France to Paris. One of the first things I noticed, as we approached the station was that they had Double Decker trains.
That nearly blew my mind. You arrive at Paris Gare Du Nord Station.

My next mission was to work out their Metro system. To get to my hotel. I had already checked out what stations I needed to aim for. But I was struggling to find where the entrance to the right lines were at the station. I then found a planner app on my phone. Which gave me idiot proof instructions. How did we manage to do anything before mobiles? I found the hotel, which was opposite the place that I was going to that evening.

Paris

I checked into the hotel. Then went for a little walk. I know this is so cliched. But I was surprised how many people were sitting outside Cafe’s drinking red wine and smoking. Plus there were lots of folks walking around carrying Baguettes. I had to visit a cafe. I could not see any tea on the menu. So I played it safe. And I ordered a water with a hot chocolate. It was really relaxing in there. It felt good.

I then went on the hunt for food. I found the most traditional looking French restaurant that I could. I am very much for embracing culture and trying new things. I had a glass of red wine of course. But for my starter I decided to experience Snails. I must say they were very nice. Not at all chewy, as I feared. I could not say what they tasted like but they did come in lots of garlic butter. I would be perfectly happy to eat them again.

For my main I played it safe with Duck and Potatoes. Which did of course come with two massive clothes of garlic in it. And I may also have had a second glass of the Bordeaux. I then had to hop back to the hotel. To get showered and in to my suit. Ready for the evening entertainment. I am a huge fan of live performances and big shows. Therefore with only one night to spend in Paris. Where else could I go other than the world famous Moulin Rouge.

Moulin Rouge

The landmark Windmill and those bright neon lights mean that the place stands out. I had bought the ticket online in advance. You walk in. They show you to the cloak room to leave your coat. Then you get taken to your seat. I got very lucky as my seat was right by the stage. I had booked a champagne package. Because I am classy like that. That meant the waiter then delivered half a bottle of bubbly in a ice bucket. For me to enjoy during the show.

I arrived about twenty minutes before the show started. There was a lady from China sitting opposite me. I do not speak any Chinese and she did not speak any English. However she had a translation app on her phone. So we did manage to have a brief conversation. Before it got under way. When we arrived there was already a band with two singers on stage performing. They finished about ten minutes before the main show time.

Moulin Rouge

Then it was time for the actual Moulin Rouge Show. Right from the very start it grabs you. It is a non stop ninety minute extravaganza. The dancers are amazing. All stunning and all ridiculously talented. Some of them also sing. The costumes are sensational. There are lots of different themed sections. Including of course the traditional Can Can routine. Which was one of the things it was famous for from its launch.

The sets are magnificent. The whole thing is such an amazing sight. You cannot take your eyes off it. But there is so much going on. It is sometimes difficult to know where to look. Aside from the dancing. There are also circus acts including a juggler, acrobat, swimmer and a roller skating duo. You just sit there in this amazing venue, sipping Champagne and being blown away by the performers. Oh yeah and it is a topless review show. Which is more of a nod to the venues past than its current.

I am so pleased I went to see it. For me that has to be one of the slickest and best staged shows. That I think I have ever seen. The time flies by. When it ends. They do want you to leave quite quickly. As there is another show straight after. They do three shows a day there. Which in itself is staggering. If you visit Paris in my opinion you need to see this.

Next door to the Moulin Rouge believe it or not there was an Irish bar. I went in there straight after the show for a drink. I tried the 1664 Blanc for the first time ever. It was really nice. So nice in fact that I ended up having a second pint of it. While I watched the duo performing in there. They were singing covers from British and also American artists. They were pretty good to be honest. After I had finished my second pint. I decided to call it a night and headed back over the road to my hotel.

I got up fairly early the next morning to try and get a bit of sight seeing in. Before I had to catch my train home. I literally only had a few hours. I thought I would head straight to the Eiffel Towers. As I figured I had to see that while I was there. To get to it I had to swap Metro Lines. As I was doing this I suddenly spotted an exit for the Arc De Triomphe. So I thought I may as well go and see that. From there I ended up walking down the Champs Elysees. Then I saw the top of the Eiffel Tower, so I thought I would walk to that.

Paris

I will be honest it was a little bit further away than I thought. And therefore it took me longer to get there than I was hoping. I had not had any breakfast at the hotel. So I got two Pain Au Chocolat from a traditional Boulangerie. That I passed on the way there. It was good to say that I had been to it and seen it. But I guess as I had seen so many pictures of it in the past. It just looked so familiar. And did not really astound me too much.

By now time was getting on, so after taking a few quick pictures. I found the nearest Metro Station. And headed to catch my Eurostar train home. Thanks to the strikes by French Customs. It took me a bit longer than I was planning to get back to London. Which was a bit of an inconvenience. As I was heading there to go and see George Ezra at the 02 that night. I had booked a hotel in Canary Wharf. As I did not have time to go home and dump my suitcase.

Paris

Thanks to my travel delays. I just had time to check in to the hotel, get changed and then head off to the gig. I got there about eight in the end. I met my friend in a bar outside and we went straight in to the venue. We had managed to get ourselves into one of the boxes to the side of the stage. We got to our seats as the warm up act was doing her thing. It was Sigrid. Who is possibly best known for her tune “Don’t Kill My Vibe. She was great.

The good thing about watching the show from a box was as well as a great view. There was a waitress who would bring you drinks to your seats. As you watched the gig. I must admit that is something that I could get use to very easily. Between Sigrid and the main attraction. There was about a thirty minute break. Which just gave me time to grab a bite to eat. And then settle down to see George Ezra.

George Ezra

I must say he and his band were fantastic. With those two big albums behind him now. He does have a great selection of songs to play. And he is very conversational between numbers. Often explaining where he was when he wrote them. His mood at the time. And also how the songs themselves actually came about. The set list was cleverly put together with his best know songs spread nicely through out it. His guitar technician had a busy night. As he seemed to change his for each song.

It was a full on performance with predictably Shotgun being saved for the encore. I must say he looked like he was really enjoying it. Which was great to see. He is going to be around for many years to come. I had one quick drink at All Bar One after. Before I returned to my London hotel. It had a lovely Conservatory Bar overlooking the water. Therefore I thought it would be rude not to have a pint and a packet of Cheese and Onion crisps in there. Before going to bed. A busy but great forty-eight hours.

George Ezra

My Dad and I went to the England versus Czech Republic game at Wembley. It was brilliant to see us get a five-nil home win. And it is always nice seeing Harry Kane score. I think it is quite an exciting time for the national team. With so many young talented players starting to emerge. Raheem Sterling was top quality. He deserved the man of the match plaudits for his hat-trick. It was a quality night out at the match. Spending some time with a family member. Which may also have involved a few drinks after the game.

England continued their great start to Euro 2020 Qualifying with a five-one win away at Montenegro last Monday. In a game which saw a couple more youngsters get their first starts for the country. If you do not know this already some of the group matches, the Semi-finals and the final of Euro 2020. Are due to be played at Wembley. Which might make those championships even more interesting and exciting hopefully.

England

Last Saturday Tottenham Hotspur held the first test event at the new stadium. It was an under eighteen game against Southampton. We were originally meant to play our first game there in September. But building works. It is fair to say over ran some what. However I was excited to be able to finally see it for myself. And sit in my own season ticket seat at last. I must confess as I did not want to see it as a building site. I had not been there since the old White Hart Lane was knocked down.

The old stadium was a little bit hidden from the road. But as you exit White Hart Lane Station. You can clearly see the new stadium right in front of you. It looks to me like a giant space ship. It is kind of grey and silver. It does look spectacular. The closer you get to it the more impressive it appears. I got a good look around it. As my entrance is the opposite side from the main road. You head up some outside steps to get in. This is the point where your ticket is swiped and you go through security.

Tottenham Hotspur

Once you are inside the stadium you are free to walk around where you like. There are plenty of different bars and food outlets dotted about. It is a very well designed venue.

Amongst many other unique features . It has its own Beavertown Brewery onsite. Luckily for me I am a fan of their Neck Oil beer. Which is available from all the bars. I had a drink, some food and then a bit of a look round. Just to get my bearings. As it is a place I will be spending a lot of time at.

Tottenham Hotspur

I then went outside to find my seat. And check out the view from it. I have no complaints. I am already looking forward to watching many games from it. The game itself was pretty decent. It was good to see young first team player Oliver Skipp out there with the other young players from the club. Well done to J’Neil Bennett for scoring the first goal at the new place. A decent strike to. Our Academy side ran out three-one winners. An excellent start to proceedings there.

After the game I went back inside to have another drink. The bars there are going to stay open for two hours after the games. Which I think is a great idea. They also have either live music or DJ’s playing. This makes for a bit of a party atmosphere. I am looking forward to going to the next test event today. Where a Spurs Legends team will take on the legends of Inter Milan. And Gazza is playing. I cannot wait.

Tottenham Hotspur

It is always a joy to visit TV Centre. I was there last week to see an episode of QI being filmed. I was impressed that while the audience were coming in. That on the big screens in the studio. They had lots of ace QI facts. It was fascinating and passed the time brilliantly. The host of the show Sandi Toksvig comes out first. We play a fun quiz to find the most intelligent member of the audience. You will not be to surprised to hear. That it was not me.

Alongside Sandi and of course Alan Davies for this episode were Jason Manford and Sarah Millican. Plus a South African stand up who I must confess I was not aware of Loyiso Gola. Somehow we have now reached series Q. It was hilarious, as always. I will be honest a lot of the funniest and best bits will never make the finished programme. As they are often too rude.

It was a fun afternoon. Everybody was on top form. It is such a lovely and relaxed show. The two hours flew by. When the series is on later in the year. Do remember to keep an eye out for my face on your screens. Sandi Toksvig does a fantastic job. Seeing her always reminds me of being a child. As I was a big fan of Number 73.

Television Centre
Television Centre

I was settling down to watch an episode of The Simpsons on Channel 4 recently. When as the announcer was introducing the programme I almost fell off my seat. He said “And now it is time for the Quigley’s, sorry I mean the Simpsons” I never expected that. But at the same time was weirdly pleased to be mistaken for that family. If you do not believe me. Have a listen to the video link below. https://www.facebook.com/neil.quigley/videos/10161418846550591/

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

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

Theatre of Life

Hello again. The last two weeks have flown by. I am starting to think Ronan Keating was right. And that Life is a Roller Coaster. Not just for the ups and downs. But for the speed it seems to travel. I hope you are good and avoiding the lurgy. That seems to be everywhere at the moment. I am starting to think that may be Michael Jackson had the perfect idea with his oxygen tent bed.

Talking of which it was the Brit Awards in London the other Tuesday. The aforementioned King of Pop’s performance at the event was once gate crashed by an apparently drunk Jarvis Cocker. I recently discovered that when he was apprehended by the Police backstage after. He asked for Bob Mortimer to be his legal representative. Crazy and wild times. This years awards ceremony were a bit more low key.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

It was held at the O2 Arena and hosted for the second year running by Jack Whitehall. I think he did an excellent job. It is a really tough thing to present. As basically no one in that room is really listening to you or paying any attention to you. Therefore his plan was to more or less focus on the people watching at home. Which I think mainly worked. There were a couple of odd and awkward chats that he did with Bros and Little Mix. But you get that sort of thing most years. The whole place is basically a drunken madhouse.

There were some really strange pairings to present awards. It looked like they were chosen using the same template. That led to Sam Fox and Mick Fleetwood hosting the 1989 Brits. I will be honest I am a little out of touch with some of the current artists. But I am pleased to say I was at least aware of all the winners. Nice to see George Ezra win an award. I think he is extremely talented and a very nice bloke.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

There were as ever some good and interesting performances. I am a big fan of Jess Glynne. I could see what they were trying to do and it tied in nicely with the song. But watching a stage full of girls remove their make up was weird. Not helped by the fact that the singer she was performing with refused to remove hers. And she had plenty on. The Greatest Showman opening was pretty spectacular to be fair.

I was delighted to see Pink get the special recognition award. I think she totally deserves it. For her success over the years in Britain. She always puts on a fantastic show. Also I do really like her as a person. She is always real and honest about her life. Plus personally I think she has a beautiful voice. I liked the way they gave her the award. Then gave her plenty of time after to perform. To close the show. They have learned from when they had to abruptly cut Adele’s acceptance speech short. When running out of time one year.

Overall I thought it was nicely done. I have said this before and I do appreciate you can get so many people in the 02. But I think that it would benefit from being held in a smaller venue with a more select audience. It would make the atmosphere better and possibly lead to more rock and roll excess and “incidents” like in the past. I enjoyed watching it. And I was pleased for all the winners on the night. Even if it was possibly a little bland.

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

I had my first ever immersive theatre experience recently. It was suggested to me by a friend. So we booked a couple of tickets. Not really knowing what to expect from it. But we thought we would give it a try. It is called The Murder Express. And is currently on at Pedley Street Station in Bethnal Green, London. As well as the performance itself. The night also includes a top quality four course meal. Which has been devised by the 2016 Masterchef winner Jane Devonshire.

We arrived at the venue, which is aptly under some railway arches. When you walk in there is a little bar where you can get drinks. And the train carriage where you sit down to enjoy your “journey” and have your food. From the minute you arrive the actors are moving around and chatting to you. One of them stitched me up by selling me a fake drinks voucher. But I had the last laugh in the end.

They call you on to the train and show you to your seats. They are set up in tables of six. Then the actors do the first part of the play. While the starter is being served. Then they set the scene a bit more before the next course. As you have probably guessed from the title of it. It is a bit of a who done it affair. Where the audience get to try to work out what has happened.

The food, which was amazing by the way, comes out in breaks in the action. The fake drinks voucher I had purchased became apparent as we were “travelling”. Thankfully they still honoured it. And I still got my two glasses of red wine. My friend ended up playing a doctor at one point. They have video screens on the wall. So there is scenery going past throughout with train sound effects to.

Obviously I am not going to give away any plot spoilers. But it was all very cleverly done. The food was fantastic. It was a lot of fun. With a fair amount of laughter. There is a comedy theme running through proceedings. I worked out what had happened in my head. But I did not say it out loud. So no one would believe I cracked it. Which to be fair is perfectly reasonable. It is worth doing if you fancy something a little different in London.

Murder Express

I finally got round to seeing the musical Blood Brothers at the Swan Theatre in High Wycombe the other week. Everybody I had spoken to about it said it was excellent. And were amazed I had not seen it. Of course they were completely right. It is a wholesome and thought provoking show. It is real, gritty and tackles a lot of taboo subjects that theatre shows of this nature rarely do.

I have over the years spent quite a bit of time in and around the city of Liverpool. Therefore I found the back drop to the story familiar. The cast were sensational. The two actors who play the brothers. Have to portray them from the age of seven into their twenties. Which is a big ask and really very impressive. It was a slick show. It is quite hard hitting stuff. But an intriguing, eye opening and ultimately sad and tragic story. I am really glad that I have finally seen it. It was fantastic.

Blood Brothers

I am a massive fan of Fawlty Towers. I have watched all the episodes so many times. I know exactly what lines are coming. But still always laugh out loud. When they are delivered. It is just such a perfect and in my opinion funny comedy. And you would not believe how happy I was when John Cleese once replied to me on Twitter. I do still have a picture of that tweet. It is my love of the original show. And the fact that I know Mr Cleese is very anti them. That has really put me off attending one of these Fawlty Towers experiences.

Well until now that is, anyway. As I actually went to one in London. It was on at the Radisson Blu Edwardian Hotel in Bloomsbury Street. You arrive and check in. Before being shown in to the dinning room area. Then Basil, Manuel and Sybil appear to introduce themselves. After which Basil and Manuel then sit you at your table. Which is an experience in itself.

Fawlty Towers

You need to buy any drink in the bar before you head in and bring it in with you. We were sat on a lovely table. With a man celebrating his birthday with his wife and son. A man treating his mum to a night out. A young couple. And a man out honouring the anniversary of his mum’s death. Plus me and my friend.

As I am sure you can imagine our three hosts put on a manic night of madness, craziness and fun. While we enjoy a three course meal. It is performed in parts. And thankfully they do have some professional help from real waiters. Or the food would never get delivered or the plates never cleared. The whole thing lasts around two and an half hours. I would say it is a nice tribute to the show. All done in a very respectful way.

Fawlty Towers

Although the programmes co-writer and star does not get any money from this franchise. Which is why he is not a fan. And I totally get that. What I would say though is from what I saw. All the people there seemed to come to this event out of a love for the show. And the memories they have of it. Which I think is perfectly fine. Plus it is laugh out loud funny!

Sarah Parish started the Neil Quigley Fan Club

This February it was ten years since I left Midwest Radio in Yeovil. Which was actually the six month old Ivel fm. When I started at the station in the April of 2004. To celebrate this big landmark occasion. Last weekend I went back to the Somerset town to see some of the people I used to work with. During the five years I spent there.

I started off just doing the odd weeks worth of holiday cover there. Then my now good friend Andy Holmes decided to leave. And I then moved down there full time to do the Drive Show. I did that one for a few years. Before I moved to the morning show. Finally finishing my last six months there presenting the Evening Show. I also did cover the Breakfast show occasionally. Plus I did a weekly Saturday Sports Show. The whole time I was there. I pretty much hosted every slot at the station at some point.

Neil Quigley & Andy Holmes
Neil Quigley & Andy Holmes

I had a fantastic time down there. I met a lot of great people. Many of whom are still really good friends of mine now. One of these is my former boss Steve Carpenter. I met up with him on the Friday. He is currently hosting Breakfast at a new radio station in Yeovil called Nine Springs. I met him at their studios. He gave me a mini tour of the place. They actually have the same desk that I used to do my shows at Ivel fm on. It was nice to see it again, We had spent a lot of hours together.

Then me and Steve went to the local Wetherspoons for a drink and some food. That was a place I used to find myself in quite often when I was living and working there. On the way back to my hotel I popped into a few of the old bars I used to go in. I will be honest they were either quieter than I remembered or in one case now a restaurant. I stayed at the Manor Hotel. Which has become my regular choice. When I to go back there to visit.

Neil Quigley with Steve Carpenter in Yeovil
Neil Quigley with Steve Carpenter in Yeovil

The next morning I met another friend of mine for a cup of tea and lovely catch up. Before I had to head to the pub to watch my team Tottenham play Burnley. That was a bit disappointing in the end. As we lost. But it was nice to visit another familiar pub to see it in. Next on the agenda it was food with another fellow radio presenter Scott Temple. He is currently working at Pirate fm in Cornwall. It was him and I who had this idea of a mini Ivel fm re-union. When we met up in Windsor last summer.

The plan was to meet everybody else at the Chicago Rock Cafe in Yeovil at 7.30pm. When I was there it used to be open all day. Scott and I arrived slightly early to find that it was closed. And after some frantic research. That it did not open until eight. We found a hotel bar around the corner. And managed to contact everyone to meet there instead. So the night did not start exactly how we planned it.

We ended up going to the Chicago Rock Cafe just after eight. The reason I chose that venue for these drinks. Is that the Ivel fm studios were above it. There was actually a back staircase that could get you from the station to the bar. Which was useful on several occasions over the years.

Neil Publicity Shot 2008

I also used to DJ at the bar. I had a regular Thursday and Tuesday Night. Occasionally they would let me loose on a Friday or Saturday. I often hosted their Wednesday night guest appearances. Along with my colleague Chris Criddle. It was great to see him for a bit. Before he predictably had to head off to DJ somewhere else that night. He is always working that bloke. He never stops.

There was a nice group of us. It was brilliant to see everyone. I must say everyone is looking great. We have all aged brilliantly. It was a fun night. Talking about old times and having a right giggle. It did get a little messy towards the end. Scott came back from the bar with a bottle of Hooch each for the last drink of the night. I had no idea it was even still being made. Still tasted far to sweet for the record. But it would have be rude not to drink it.

Ivel fm

It was a lovely weekend. Marking ten years since I left a place. In which I had a lot of fun and good times. I had a brilliant time at the radio station there.

The people of Somerset were always friendly and made me feel very welcome. Plus the five years I spent there is still the longest time that I have ever worked in any one particular place. Thanks to everyone who made the effort to come along.

Ivel fm

As ever it has been a bit up and down recently supporting Spurs. But I would not swap it for the world. I am not going to lie. I was gutted when we lost to Chelsea in the week. But we move on.

I will be at Wembley today for the North London Derby. Hoping that we can beat Arsenal. As that is a highlight of any season. Then we head to Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League in the week. The big games just keep coming at the moment. Come on you Spurs!

Tottenham Hotspur
Tottenham Hotspur

I have been back at the BBC doing a bit of work recently. It is a fun and cool place to be. It has been lovely catching up and working with a lot of good and talented people.

It can be pretty random at times. I found myself in a studio with Ian Wright and Chris Sutton. And in a lift with Simon McCoy. I did not bring up any Royal stories with him of course.

BBC
BBC

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