Tag Archives: Strictly Come Dancing

Birthday Fun

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

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

Neil Quigley

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

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

The Comedy Store

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

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

Neil Quigley

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

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

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

Neil Quigley

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

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

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

Neil Quigley

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

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

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

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

Sarah Parish started the Neil Quigley Fan Club

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

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

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

Neil Quigley

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

Neil Quigley

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

Winter Wonderland

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

Neil Quigley

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

Neil enjoying a Mince Pie
Neil Quigley

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

London Palladium

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

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

London Palladium

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

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

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

London Palladium

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

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

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

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

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

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

Radio And Theatre

We have just had this year’s BBC Children In Need appeal. It is always a very special campaign for a whole host of reasons. And most importantly it always raises lots of money for thousands of amazing charities.

It is actually quite frightening the amount of people who do rely on help from charities sometimes just to exist. Some of the stories are heart breaking. But they also highlight how the people in the worse situations can be the most positive. We can all take something and learn from that outlook, I think.

There is a nice community feel to this event with lots of school kids getting involved to help fellow children not as fortunate as them. A whole host of big businesses also embrace and support it. I must say huge congratulations to Rylan Clark-Neal for his twenty-four hour karaoke marathon. That was live on Radio 2 and brought in over one million pounds.

I will be honest I often find it a bit annoying when “non-radio” presenters are suddenly given shows on the big networks. But just as he had with television presenting, he has clearly listened to the right people, learnt the craft quickly and is doing a really great job. For which I respect him greatly. Plus he seems like a thoroughly nice bloke, which again is not always the case.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Last Sunday I went to see Michael Ball do his Radio 2 Show live from The Savoy Theatre in London for Children In Need. They sold tickets for it with all the proceeds going to the Pudsey Bear fronted charity. I have over the years presented lots of radio shows from outside the comfort of the studio.

They are always great fun but require a lot of hard work and result normally in much more adrenaline flowing through the body. There is so much more that can go wrong when you are out on location. It really does involve flying by the seat of your pants and hoping that everything works.

Victoria Pendleton and Neil Quigley
Victoria Pendleton and Neil Quigley

Kudos to Michael and his production team who were putting on this show totally live from a theatre with lots of live music performances thrown in just to make it even harder for themselves. I must say that they did a fantastic job and it was a very slick programme from start to finish. It requires top notch communication skills from everybody to make it all work. You need to be totally on the ball (pun intended).

They did leave it very late to get the audience in. Although that is of course less of an issue with radio than television. The last person got to their seat just as the travel news was about to finish and the show was about to start. The opening act was a Rock Choir who did their version of Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now”. Which I would say is quite apt for the start of a live radio show on location. Despite it being just after eleven o’clock on a Sunday morning the crowd were loud and in good spirits, singing and clapping along from the word go.

Radio 2

Michael Ball is such a natural performer and you could tell he was at home on the stage, even though we were watching him do his radio show. That means lots of conversations with the producers while the records or to be more accurate the digital recordings of songs are playing. This is also when the stage was set up for the next item. That is the beauty of radio. When you need time to sort something out or if something is not quite ready on time, you just play another song.

The next guest on the show was the wonderful Rick Astley. He is always happy to help out and donate his time to charity. He was on fine form. He did his excellent latest single. Then he had a quick chat with Mr Ball about his career and his latest tour before treating us to his big break through hit from the eighties “Never Gonna Give You Up”. His voice by the way is still sounding as good as ever. He really is a top quality live performer. I did enjoy singing along to that classic piece of pop history. However if I am honest I am not sure if the person sitting next to me enjoyed it as much.

Radio 2

Michael then played a round of his weekly quiz On The Ball. It is normally played by two contestants who know each other over the phone. But this time he had them both on stage with him. It did not go exactly to plan as the audience could not resist shouting out the answers, so both competitors got I would suggest more points than they normally would. It was all good fun and I must admit I do like a good quiz. Plus if I do say so myself I am pretty good at them. By this I mean I know a lot of useless rubbish.

Bonnie Langford then came on stage for a chat with the host. She is appearing in 9 to 5. That is currently playing at the theatre, more on that later on. It turns out that Michael had his first on stage kiss with Bonnie in 1985, when they were both in the Pirates of Penzance. For a laugh they did recreate it for us. She then showed off some of her dance moves. This is not meant to be at all sexist or ageist but for a woman of her age she can still kick her feet way above her head. She is amazing and a lovely person to.

Radio 2

To end the first hour of the show Michael was joined on stage by his great mate Alfie Boe to sing a song from their new album. It is the third one that they have made together. They are also going out on tour together to. Obviously they both have spectacular voices that compliment each other. But what is really great is the camaraderie between them. They get on so well and have such respect for each other, it is wonderful. Needless to say their version of “Something Inside So Strong” was sensational.

I have been a fan of Status Quo for years and up till this year had never seen them live. I have now seen them twice in the last three months. They were the first act of the final hour of the show. They came on and did their latest single. Then Michael tried to chat to Francis Rossi. I think he is brilliant! He is just like a big kid, he has that twinkle in his eye and just wants to throw the interviewer off and take the rise without really answering any questions. Then the band played “Rocking All Over The World”, which had the entire theatre singing along at the top of our voices.

Radio 2

The time was really flying by, which is always a good sign. Next on stage it was James Blunt. He did his latest song, then had a chat to Michael before playing a stripped down version of “Goodbye My Lover” with just him on the piano. He does seem to get a lot of stick. I am not even sure why as I think he seems like a nice bloke. I would recommend following him on Twitter as he does give some excellent responses to people who troll him on there. They are pretty funny. For the record his new album is excellent.

Radio 2

Right at the end Michael Ball was joined on stage by the entire cast of the Les Miserables Staged Concert to perform “One Day More”. It was stunning. I have been lucky enough to see the full show, so I do know how out of this world their voices are. It was a brilliant way to close an expertly well produced and executed radio show, all in aid of a very good cause. Congratulations to everyone who was involved. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Radio 2

I was back at The Savoy Theatre last Wednesday to see 9 To 5 The Musical. Being a fan of country music in general I am of course well aware of the work of the legend that is Dolly Parton. Although to be honest I had never seen the film version. That is more due to my lack of ability to watch movies than any slight on the story. It is based on the 1980 film which Dolly herself starred in. She is the producer of this stage version. I am delighted to say she does in video form make a few appearances to.

It is a lovely intimate theatre The Savoy of course attached to the famous hotel, whose name it shares. It is always nice when you go in as outside there is usually a load of limousines, so it feels quite grand and a little bit showbiz. I can confirm that the Rioja they serve there is perfectly acceptable to. The bar areas are quite small and compact but the seats in the theatre have plenty of leg room. Well for a man like me with short legs at least

9 To 5

The show was fantastic. It is a comedy so there were loads of funny moments. It was getting plenty of laughs from the audience. But the subject matter and arc of the story contains lots of moral and ethical issues. The songs are of course brilliant as they have been written by Dolly Parton. The cast were all excellent. It is quite amusing as Dolly played one of the roles in the film and let us just say they have kept true to that in this version. If you see it, you will know what I mean. It does need to be like that for it to all work really.

I must say that I did think Brian Conley was perfect as the terrible sexist boss. He played it great and of course being a comedy genius got plenty of laughs. Also Bonnie Langford was amazing in it. She is virtually a national treasure. She can sing, act and dance. In fact her dancing skills in this are sensational. She gets her own solo routine which she absolutely nails. I do not think I have ever seen somebody do the splits so effortlessly and graciously. She is like Super Woman.

Another fine afternoon out at the theatre seeing an excellent show, it got a deserved standing ovation. Then we all stayed on our feet to sing 9 to 5 with the cast, which is a very uplifting way to finish it off. Afterwards I had dinner with my family at The Ivy Garden in Covent Garden. I do really like it in there. The service is fantastic. They have a very good selection of excellent meals. It is always a pleasure to go there.

9 To 5

One of my favourite television programmes returned to our screens last Sunday. Right from the very first series I have always enjoyed it. The show in question is I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here. I am a fan of Ant and Dec and I think this is arguably the best thing they do. They get to tell jokes, do mini skits and take the mickey out of all of the camp mates. Add to that the fact they are often so evil to them during the Bush Tucker Trials. I personally think that it makes for top quality entertainment. It is good to see Ant back with his mate after he missed last year due to his personal problems.

Over the years I have been lucky enough to meet many of the Kings and Queens of the jungle, as well as lots of former camp mates. They have all pretty much said the same thing. That it was one of the best experiences of their entire life. I guess it must be such an unique and unusual environment to be subjected to. It simply strips away all the superficial stuff and just leaves the need to acquire food and be with people. It must be quite enlightening, as well as being tough on the body and mind. I would like to give it a try but I will be honest, I am not sure if I could do it. I am not really an outdoorsy kind of guy.

Neil Quigley with Christopher Biggins
Neil Quigley with Christopher Biggins

I know it is still fairly early days but so far I really like all of this year’s Celebrities. They all seem nice and well-meaning people. Which in the current world climate is very reassuring, Mind you they are not cold and hungry yet. The competition has not really started, so that could all change. James Haskell is making me laugh the most. He has some top banter skills honed by many years of playing a team sport, I suspect. The only one who I have met in this line up is Ian Wright. He is a very nice, friendly and decent bloke, who I expect to do well this year. He is certainly very competitive.

I am looking forward to seeing how this series progresses. I know some people like it and think it is good television when people argue and fall out with each other. However I prefer seeing people getting along having a good laugh and working together. I am not a big fan of watching confrontation. I do also like seeing around the hotel they go to when they get kicked out of the jungle. It looks stunning. I am not going to predict who will win, as I do think it is pretty open this year. Plus I always get it wrong.

Neil Quigley is ready for Australia
Neil Quigley is ready for Australia

Strictly Come Dancing is reaching an interesting time. It has got to the stage this year where anyone could go. During the first half you can normally pretty much predict who will leave every week, as they are the worst dancer. At the minute with probably two exceptions everyone is at a fairly similar level. One bad dance or one dance style that does not suit could see anyone go. It is quite odd how I hate to see anyone leave but then forget about them pretty quickly when they do. As the old saying goes “That’s Showbiz”

This year as I have said previously I do like Chris Ramsey. He is not the best dancer, but he is very entertaining. He had not danced in public before the show, so has come a really long way. Kelvin is very good and I think Oti is fantastic. They must be in with a real chance of being champions. Karim and Amy are fabulous. Saffron and AJ look great together and always put on a show. It is brilliant to see Anton have a great year with the lovely Emma Barton. It would be nice to see him in the final.

I am sadly a terrible dancer. Several years ago I went to one Salsa class and was so bad that I never returned. Recently I have been trying to learn the Cha Cha Cha via online videos. I am finding it so tough just mastering the basic steps. The way these celebrities learn a new dance style and routine every week and then perform it live on a Saturday night amazes me. They all have my upmost respect. The professional dancers on the show are like magicians.

Neil Quigley

I went to England’s 1000th International football match at Wembley Stadium against Montenegro with my dad. We went for a couple of drinks first in The Arch pub before heading in to the ground. Before the game we had some pizza and I had a cup of tea. This is a pretty standard pre-match routine for me. The game itself was the most comfortable and straight forward England home game I had seen for years. We won eight – nil and Harry Kane had scored a hat-trick by half time.

England’s 1000th Game

This did mean that the second half was pretty dull and a bit boring compared to the first half when the goals were flying in. I must say I was a little disappointed in the half time reflection on the milestone of this match. I expected to see more of the 1966 World Cup team on the pitch and being interviewed, as well as a bigger selection of former internationals. I few former players walked out to the half way line and some were interviewed. But I just felt that more should have been made out of the occasion. Nice to see Wayne Rooney get a decent reception as the country’s record goal scorer.

Talking of receptions it was odd seeing Joe Gomez getting booed when coming on as a second half sub. He was obviously involved in the incident with Raheem Sterling but had done nothing wrong. I found this reaction very confusing. When a player steps out on to the pitch to represent the national team, they should have the fans full support. The win did mean we guaranteed qualification for the 2020 European Championships. The semi-finals and finals of which will be played at Wembley Stadium.

England then completed their qualifying campaign with a four- nil away win against Kosovo. Harry Kane scored his 32nd goal for his country. He is now sixth on the all-time scorer’s list, just twenty one goals behind Wayne Rooney. If he can stay fit I can see no reason why he cannot beat the record. He really is one of the best forwards in the world. He creates so many goals as well as scoring them. May be I am a little bit biased but I do sometimes think that he does not always get the credit he deserves.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Tottenham Hotspur continues to disappoint. I was at the last home game before the International Break. We managed to hold on for a draw against Sheffield United with a little help from our old friend VAR. Which for the record, I hate. It really is taking the fun and passion out of games. You are not sure if you should celebrate a goal now in case it is ruled out. Fans are cheering no goals like goals.

The decisions take ages and nobody in the ground has any idea what is going on. That makes for a very strange atmosphere during the games. Finally it is putting the officials on edge, so they are making more mistakes than they would if it was not there. I wish they would just stop using it completely.

Neil Quigley

I am still in shock at Mauricio Pochettino being sacked by Spurs. I am a massive fan of his, he did an amazing job at the club in very difficult circumstances. I did not only love the manager, I loved the man. How he held himself, the way he spoke, his ideas and passion for the team. I just want to personally thank him for what he has done for us over the last five years. I am sad to see him go and although things have not been going well this season, I would still have backed him to turn things around. Cheers Poch, he is still magic you know!

Tottehham Hotspur
Tottehham Hotspur

I have never been a fan of Jose Mourinho. I appreciate that he has been successful in the past. However he is the new manager of my club and I am completely behind him. I hope he does not moan as much as he has in the past or be such an idiot in some situations. We play West Ham United away this weekend, always a tough place to go. We really need to win as we are at risk of being dragged into the relegation places. Big match!

The London Stadium
The London Stadium

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

Phantom Fun

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

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

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

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

Mike Sterling and Neil Quigley

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

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

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

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

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

Jenny Fitzpatrick

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

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

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

Mike Sterling

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

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

Gaby Roslin and Neil Quigley

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

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

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

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

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

NFL Dolphins v Raiders
NFL Dolphins v Raiders The Team

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

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

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

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

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

Dad and Me at Spurs

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

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

Neil Quigley

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

Force Ten

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

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.

Magical Mystery Tour

Hi there, how are you doing? I hope you have had a really good couple of weeks. Mine have been predictably busy and fun. The other weekend I went up to Liverpool. To see my mate who lives there. This is not unusual, as I normally go and see him two to three times a year. More often than not these visits tend include a football match or a day at the races.

This time however there was no event as such. Although there was a certain exhibition I wanted to see while I was there. Which I will tell you more about later. As ever, I let the train take the strain to make my way up to the North West. I arrived about half past six. And as is the tradition. He met me at his local train station. Then we headed to the nearest pub to have a few drinks and catch up.

As someone who goes out drinking in London and therefore is used to the premium prices you pay for thisĀ privilege. I still find it very odd that I can order two pints for under four pounds in the particular bar we go to. Anyway after a few very reasonably priced beers. We went back to his place to have some food. Before enjoying a lovely cup of tea. While listening to some top quality music. Before bed.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

The next morning he had decided to take me to a very nice cafe for breakfast. It was in an area of Liverpool. That perfectly lent itself to his very own Beatles inspired Magical Mystery Tour. Which I loved by the way. The first stop was the Church Hall. Where Paul met a certain John for the first time. It was also where the band use to play and rehearse in the very early days.

We then quickly nipped across the road to the Church Yard. To see the grave stone of Eleanor Rigby. From there it was on to the gates of Strawberry Fields. The park is actually closed at the moment. But it is being refurbished and it is expected to re-open in a few years. I think it is brilliant that they are doing that. Another nice tribute and nod to the band. And its two main song writers.

Strawberry Fields
Strawberry Fields

Next I was driven down Penny Lane. While my mate was pointing out all the things that are mentioned in the song. Fair play I must say the description of it in the song is very accurate. I mean talk about writing about what you know about. I must also add that during this personally guided tour. That I was being treated to. All the relevant songs were playing in the car at the relevant times.

He then took me to see John Lennon’s child hood house. Which was actually pretty big and on quite a main busy road. We then went to see where Paul McCartney grew up. Which was on a council housing estate. It is hard to comprehend the huge songs that were written in that little house in Merseyside. And then from there what they both went on to achieve in their careers.

Sir Paul McCartney's place
Sir Paul McCartney’s place

That brought to a close the Beatles VIP Tour. It finished with a really tasty breakfast in a lovely little cafe. I had poached egg on toast with spinach and mushrooms. Which was delicious. Next on the agenda was kind of the main reason for my visit. To see a new free exhibition at the Museum of Liverpool.

The museum is at The Albert Docks. We had a quick walk around there. I have been there many times before. It is always busy and bustling there. With some nice restaurants and shops. And of course it is famously the place that This Morning used to come from. Before it moved to London.

Albert Docks
Albert Docks

The exhibition called Double Fantasy did keep on with the Beatles theme of the day. As it is all about John Lennon and Yoko Ono. It tells the story of both of their lives, how they met, how they worked and lived together. It also features lots of personal possessions. Like the outfits they got married in, a pair of John’s glasses, original hand written lyrics and lots more.

It is fascinating. I certainly learnt a lot about the pair of them. That I did not know. He was a very unique and special individual. There are some great photo opportunity’s. Including your chance to join their famous “Bed In” for peace. I found it really interesting. It did also highlight issues they had. That I was not aware of. For example at one point the authorities wanted them out of America. And made it very hard for them to get VISA’s.

Give Peace A Chance
Give Peace A Chance

If you can. This is an exhibition well worth seeing. It is on in Liverpool until April next year. Then it may well move around the country or even around the world. It is of course such a tragic shame how and when John Lennon died.

He was still so relatively young. We have all been robbed of at least twenty years of amazing songs. And I would also guess some thoughtful quotes and observations about the world in which we live.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I had some drinks in London after work the other night. We started off in the BBC Club for one. This is a bar actually located in Wogan House for staff. A place to relax in and grab some food, if required. I however decided to eat at Byron. Which is my burger place of choice when I am in London. And in need of a fairly quick meal. I think I have tried everything on their menu. And it is all good!

Next up was a pub on the Marylebone High Street. That is always a pretty classy place to hang out. There are some decent bars and restaurants in that area. That do offer a good selection of drinks. Specially, if you like me, do enjoy trying different ales. It was a fun night. There is something in having a few drinks straight from work that somehow makes, what you are drinking taste even better.

Blues Brothers
Blues Brothers

It was nice to see Tottenham continue where they had left off before the International Break with a win at West Ham United. Our next league game is against Manchester City on Monday Night. I am off to see that game at Wembley.

The way the table is currently poised, if we could somehow beat them. It would really put us back into the mix to be challenging for the top spot. But I would definitely take a draw and a share of the points in this one. Let us just gloss over the whole Champions League thing at the moment.

The London Stadium
The London Stadium

For the first time this series I managed to watch the whole of Strictly Come Dancing on Saturday. It is still a very entertaining show. All the dances were really good, I thought. A lot of praise needs to go to the professional dancers. For not only coming up with brilliant routines every week. But for also teaching them to their celebrity’s in under five days. They must have the patience of saint’s.

There are a couple of really good celebrity dancers this year. But then everybody else appears to be at more or less the same level. Which makes it a very exciting competition. Meaning it is extremely hard to predict. Who will leave the show every week. Ashley Roberts and Faye Tozer are for me the best two dancers. I like Danny John-Jules. For a man of his age. He is quite the mover.

I also think Joe Sugg is very good. I will be honest I had no idea at all who he was when the show started. But he seems like a really nice and decent chap. He could do well in the competition, I think. It was Vick Hope who was voted out last week. She was maybe a little bit unlucky to go. Although once you are at the bottom of the leader board. You will be up against it. If you end up in the dance off.

I like Seann Walsh. Not the best dancer, but his performances are I think quite watchable. I think he could well be the next to go mind. Since the shall we say incident between him and his partner. Things and the atmosphere just seem a bit odd around them both. And the other cast members. It all just seems awkward. I am looking forward to the Halloween Special tonight. It will be another cracker for sure.

Evita
Evita

I had another fantastic night seeing the brilliant Evita at the Swan Theatre in High Wycombe. It stars Lucy O’Byrne, Glenn Carter and my mate Mike Sterling. It is a spectacular version of a classic old school musical. The staging is perfect. It is basically a touring West End production. It is that good.

It was wonderful to catch up with Mike both before and after the performance. He is brilliant in this show. It was opening night in High Wycombe, so I gate crashed the cast drinks for one with him after. He has been full on busy recently.

As well as the current tour. He has also performed in Swansea with the Moody Blues and in Sweden with some musicians who played with ABBA. Which is pretty cool to say the least. Great to spend time with him as always.

Mike Sterling and Neil Quigley
Mike Sterling and Neil Quigley

I have mixed views about the upcoming Only Fools and Horses Musical. I cannot really imagine anybody else playing Del and Rodney. Other than Sir David Jason and Nicholas Lyndhurst. That will just seem really weird.

However the fact that the additional sketches are written by John Sullivan’s son and Paul Whitehouse. Does give me hope that it will not tarnish the show. And it will be a nice homage to it. Plus some of the completed songs have been co-written by Chas Hodges. So they will be good. Despite my reservations. I will definitely have to go and see it. When it opens next February in London.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

As I have said before spending some time working at Broadcasting House. Can often mean seeing a few familiar faces around.

Recently I have found myself in a lift with Ian Wright and Evan Davis. Also in a studio with Danny Baker and Kirsty Gallacher. Plus I have seen Tom Daley, Scott Mills and Matt Forde just walk past me.

BBC
BBC

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