Tag Archives: television

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

Happy New year 2019

Hi there, how are you doing? I hope you had a fantastic Christmas period. You ate, drank and were merry. And found joy in the giving and the receiving of presents. I had a lovely and quiet Christmas. It was the first one for a couple of years. That I had not been working.

I will never admit to getting older but in previous years I have been desperate to go out on Christmas Eve and to party. This year I just stayed in listening to music and having a few glasses of red wine. And you know what. I really enjoyed it. It is the simple pleasures in life. That are often the best.

On Christmas Day itself. I went round to my parents first thing in the morning. It is a family tradition to start the day with a nice big fry up. And there was no way I was missing out on that. Once the kitchen is tidied up and a cup of tea has been enjoyed. It is then time to move in to the living room for the exchanging of presents. This year with the added bonus of a nice glass of champagne each. To help us with the proceedings.

Neil Quigley

We are pretty clinical in our present buying. We each make a list of what we would like in November. This then gets passed around to the other three. We then liaise to get each other things from the list. The plus side of this is you generally get what you want. The down side is there are rarely any surprises. I was delighted with my gifts. Which included a new alarm clock, thermal socks, a tie with horses on it and some leather gloves.

After the presents have been given out. I then get ready to head to the pub. This has been a sacred family tradition for as long as I can remember. As a child I remember all the adults going there and then coming back slightly merrier. I have been every year since I was old enough. The venue has changed over the years. So now me, a couple of my uncle’s and a few of my cousin’s all meet up at The Red Lion in Whiteleaf at Midday. We have a few drinks. Then we return home to our own homes ready for dinner.

We always have a full traditional Christmas lunch with turkey and all of the trimmings. I love a Christmas meal with the stuffing, pigs in blankets and brussel sprouts. Things I do not normally have at any other time of the year. This is washed down with some nice red wine. The meal is then topped off with a delicious pudding. That must be accompanied by cream. We then have a little bit of a brief rest and a chat. To let the food go down.

Once we are all ready the afternoon of fun and games begins. This year we started off with some Karaoke. This is my annual apology to my parent’s neighbours. Or anybody walking past the house at the wrong time. Who may have heard me trying to sing. Sorry.

Dog joining in with the Karaoke

I then hosted a Pop Quiz. Which I have to say the rest of the family were rubbish at. Lastly we played a game of Charades. Although this was not your usual version. It was a risque variation on the normal theme. That my dad had found. Which did make for a few awkward moments in front of the parents. But it was all good fun!

We finished the day by watching Michael McIntyre. While enjoying some cheese and biscuits with a nice glass of port. It was another fun family Christmas. Which I thoroughly enjoyed. Just as I was sitting at home reflecting on the day. Before I went to bed. I had a small bottle of Baileys. That a very good mate and his wife had very generously got me. Well it was the birthday of our lord and saviour. The only day of the year. When it is acceptable to drink as many different drinks, as you possibly can.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Before Christmas Stoke Mandeville Hospital Radio celebrated its 40th Birthday. They had a small party. Which was attended by the station’s Patron Ken Bruce, singer Tony Hadley and the voice of the X Factor Peter Dickson. I would like to say huge congratulations to the station for what it has achieved during the last forty years. And for the hours and hours of entertainment that it has provided to the hospital’s patients and staff.

I was a member there for around seven years. I had a fantastic time there. And met some lovely and amazing people. It was lots of fun. I am happy to say that I am still really good friends with many of the people I met during my time there. I did my first proper radio show on the station. It was in their studios that I got to practice, grow and improve. It definitely helped me to launch my radio career.

Neil Quigley back at Stoke Mandeville Hospital Radio
Neil Quigley back at Stoke Mandeville Hospital Radio with Martin Kinch

It was volunteering at the Hospital Radio. That enabled me to get my first paid radio work at my local commercial station Mix 96. Based in the town I was born, Aylesbury. I started off reading the local sports results on the Sports Show. Ringing around all the grounds and then delivering the scores on air.

I then got to present the sports show. I did some weekend shows. I then covered the evening show. Before eventually getting to present both the Drive and Morning shows on the station. None of which I would have achieved without Stoke Mandeville Hospital Radio. I wish them all the best for their next forty years of broadcasting.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I managed to get a ticket to see Sir Paul McCartney play the O2 Arena in December. I had seen him in concert three years ago in Birmingham. And as you would expect he was fantastic. I was a bit undecided about if I should go and see his latest tour. But I did like his latest album Egypt Station. And he only really tours the United Kingdom every three years. So in the end I made sure that I was there.

I met up with a mate of mine and his girlfriend. Who were also going. We had a few drinks around the Greenwich area. Before we made our way to the venue. We had a quick drink at the Arena. Then it was time to make our way to our seats. There were however, still a few people filtering in. When there was suddenly a light in the crowd and some scrambling in the floor seat area. As it was the last night of the UK leg of the tour. Paul had lots of family and friends in. And he had popped out quickly to see them before the show.

The stage erupted when his band started to make their way out on to the stage. Then the place went totally ballistic. As the main man walked out and put on his guitar. Before launching into the Beatles classic “A Hard Days Night”. Which is a sensational way to kick off any performance. He then spends nearly three hours effortlessly playing Beatles, Wings and his own solo stuff. Seamlessly moving between several different guitars and pianos.

Sir Paul McCartney

The pyrotechnics they were letting off during Live and Let Die were astonishing. I thought they were actually trying to blow the place up. It was an amazing spectacle. He then follows that with the immortal Hey Jude. During which he has the whole audience in his hands. And has us singing along to every note. As he stands there conducting us. What a moment! At that point you thought this gig could not get any better. But it could.

Not only does he come back on for an eight song encore. But before the third song in this section. He brings on two special guests. Firstly the Rolling Stones guitar legend Ronnie Wood. And then much to everyone’s surprise his Beatles band mate Ringo Starr. At which point the whole place goes crazy. Ringo takes his place behind the drums. And the three of them perform Get Back. I could not believe it!

Paul, Ringo and Ronnie

That is the closest I am ever going to get to seeing the Beatles play live together. For obvious reasons. This was a huge deal. This has not happened in this country since the band split up. Even Paul as Ringo was walking off said “let’s just take a minute to soak up what has just happened”. My mate who is a massive McCartney and Beatles fan was literally in tears when Ringo appeared. It meant that much to him. The three of them sounded great together.

Paul then goes on to play another five songs. Brilliant as they were. It could not top that version of Get Back featuring half of the members of arguably the best band we have ever produced. He finished the show with The Beatles song “The End”. I am hoping this does not mean that it may be his last UK arena gig. It is just a sensible song to end any performance with if you have it in your repertoire. Although in the unlikely event that is his final gig on home soil. I am so pleased that I was there to witness it. Sir Paul McCartney you are a legend!

Sir Paul McCartney

During that really odd period between Christmas and New Year. Where you eat what you like for Breakfast and have no idea what day it actually is. My sister and I went to see the pantomime at The Swan Theatre in High Wycombe. It was Snow White. Which was the same story that I saw at the London Palladium just before Christmas.

The Buckinghamshire version starred former Strictly Come Dancing dancer Brendan Cole, Mandy Muden who was on BGT, Jason Sutton and the ventriloquist Kieran Powell. It did share some of the script and skits with its London sister production. So I did know what was coming a lot of the time. But that is my fault for seeing the other one and not theirs.

It was fun and entertaining. Everyone got time and a bit of space to showcase their talents. Mandy did a few magic tricks. Keiran got to do some stuff with his “friend”. And Brendan had the opportunity to display his amazing dancing prowess. Plus a bit of his singing to. Fair play to him. They worked him hard on the dancing front. They had him doing pretty much every kind of dance move you can imagine.

It was a good and proper family pantomime with nothing missing. I am glad I went and saw it. The cast were great. Nice as ever to see the children getting involved and shouting at the characters, when required. Pantos will be a lot of kids first experience of the theatre. Therefore I like to see them have a great time. As they are then more likely to support live shows and go to the theatre more often when they are older.

Panto

It was generally quite a good Christmas period for my team Spurs. We had good wins in the game before Christmas away at Everton. Then on Boxing Day at home to Bournemouth. But then things did go a little wrong last Saturday at Wembley. When we lost to Wolves. But then we beat Cardiff away in the next match. This week we have the first leg of the League Cup Semi-final against Chelsea. And play Manchester United in the league next Sunday. A win in both would be very nice.

Tottenham Hotspur
Tottenham Hotspur

A friend of mine is a big train enthusiast. For the last six months from my local station. They have been running weekly Steam Train rides. I despite this attraction being so close. May never have got round to it. But the mate in question said he was coming down from London to take the trip. And he asked me if I fancied joining him on New Years Eve afternoon for a ride on the Steam train. So I did.

As it happened they had a special offer running . Which meant if you lived in a certain postcode area. Which I did, that you could get the ticket for half price. And this deal also included a cup of tea and a mince pie. You cannot argue with that kind of value. The train runs between Princes Risborough and Chinnor. It uses an old route, That has not been in operation for many years. But that the society who run the steam train managed to get restored.

The journey there takes about twenty five minutes. It is a lovely experience. As you can hear the engine and see the steam pushing you along the countryside. It is actually quite serene and relaxing. When we got to Chinnor we walked to the nearest pub and had a quick pint. Before catching the next train home. But this part is of course purely optional.

The journey back is actually by Diesel train. At the moment they have no way of turning the train around. So the Steam Engine pulls all the carriages to Chinnor and then the Diesel Engine on the other end returns you to Princes Risborough. It was a fun experience. I would say give it a try, if you get the chance. It is a nice flavour of how train travel used to be.

This New Years Eve my good friend and I, Andy Holmes went to my local wine bar in Princes Risborough called Dukes. I have been in there a number of times, since it opened. And always found it to be a wonderful place to enjoy a drink. It was an all ticket event. It started at 7.30pm. And as it happened Andy and I were the first to arrive. I had no idea how busy it would be. So I thought the best plan was to get there early and secure a table. Which we did.

It was a great night. Everyone there was lovely and friendly. And of course rightly in good spirits. They kept bringing around nibbles. I must admit I had a few every time they did. I find it impossible to turn down food. They also had live music. Just a bloke with a mic and a guitar. But he was fantastic. He had a great voice and played all the right songs. He had us all dancing and singing along by the end.

The whole night was washed down with several glasses of a very nice Rioja. The perfect way to see out the old year and welcome in the new one. Here’s to a healthy, happy, positive and fun 2019. A very Happy New Year to you. I hope it brings you everything that you want it to.

Have fun. I will be taking a mini-break from the blog. And it will be back in a month. If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram you will find out why in the next week or so. Cheers Neil

Happy Christmas 2018

Hi there, how are you doing? I hope you have had a really good couple of weeks. Mine have been pretty busy but lots of fun. I am a massive fan of comedy. And I must admit I do like going to see work in progress style shows. To see top comedians putting together new routines and trying out new jokes. I am also aiming to see as many of them live as I can. 

Handily a couple of weeks ago these two goals collided nicely. As I managed to get a ticket for an Eddie Izzard Work in Progress gig. He had been someone that I had wanted to see for a while. He was on at the famous comedy pub in Islington The Bill Murray. It is a place that I had been aware of for a while. But never been to. The main bar area is quite small. But there is a really cool and creative vibe to the place. Which I liked. 

I was standing at the bar having a drink. Waiting for the comedy room to open. When Eddie Izzard suddenly walked right past me on his way to the dressing room area. The venue there holds about fifty people. I found a seat in the second row. So I had a great view of the action.

He was amazing. Even though he was trying out completely new bits. Plus also trying to add ad-libs and extra jokes to existing stories. He is so captivating. His story telling ability is great. He is super intelligent. My mouth was hurting from laughing. It was that funny.

He of course does have a great stage presence. And total control of the room. He started off as a Street Entertainer in Covent Garden. He was dressed as ever in a suit with high heels, bright red lipstick and painted nails. But that is all irrelevant really. He could be telling those jokes wearing a Panda suit. And would still be hilarious.

He has already performed warm up gigs for this Wunderbar tour in French. And was off to do the same in German. After the show I was at. This means every time he adds something in whichever language. He will then have to translate it into the other two. He really does not seem to like making things easy for himself. If you can, go and see the finished Wunderbar Tour. As I can already tell from what I have seen. That it is going to be sensational.  

Neil Quigley Stand Up Comedy
Neil Quigley Stand Up Comedy

I went along to have a look behind the scenes at Build TV a couple of weeks ago. They are a Social Media company who broadcast regular interviews with lots of different people. They do this via Facebook and by You Tube. Therefore you can either watch them live or you can catch up with them at a later date. When the live feed ends the recording is instantly available to watch online. 

They have a fairly small studio. It is pretty basic. But is well lit and the set they have looks good on screen. I was impressed with how many cameras they had. It was in total a five camera shoot. Which for a twenty minute online show is impressive. They have room for a small audience of around fifty people. The brand is quite big in the United States. This is the London version of it. 

I watched two of these live to the internet interviews. The first one was with comedians Judi Love and Aurie Styla. They have recently each been given a radio show on BBC London. When the station revamped its weekday evening line up. They were talking about their careers.

Both of which were enhanced by their use of social media. In particular the use of videos on You Tube and Instagram. This got them more coverage and created an interest in what they did. To a broader audience. They also told us what we could expect from the new radio programmes they were hosting. 

Build TV

The next one featured the two men behind The Revolution Will Be Televised. Comedians Jolyon Rubinstein and Heydon Prowse. They spoke a little bit about how that came about. And some of the things that they experienced while filming it. But they were mainly there to plug their brand new Channel 4 show Ministry of Justice. Which has a similar format to their previous work. Except this time they are trying to expose crime rather than politics. 

They are two very interesting characters. They are clearly intelligent and clever guys. And they do talk a lot of sense about the state of the world at the moment. And maybe how we could all try to improve it. But that said they are comics, so do want to make you laugh as often as possible. The set up is such with in the studio. That they can play in clips while they are in conversation with their guests. So I got to see a bit of the latest show and it looked good. 

It is a nice little set up they have there. They are quite a small team. There are a selection of different presenters. Who come and host these webcasts for them. They do from time to time get some huge names on. As it is not television and just online. You do have a little bit more time to let things breathe. Plus there are no adverts during the broadcast itself. This visit has given me some food for thought for 2019. 

Build TV

 It was my birthday on 10th December. Historically I go over the top and really celebrate my special day. This year was by previous years quite low key. It was not a big or landmark birthday. I just had a very nice and relaxing day at home. Then in the evening treated myself to a tasty steak, some red wine and a chocolate cake. Living the dream! You know when you are getting older. When you ask for practical gifts rather than fun and crazy things. 

Build TV

These items included some thermal underwear. I seem to feel the cold more than I used to. And a Fit Bit. I go running three times a week. And I thought it might actually be fun to find out how far I travel every time that I do it. I had a lovely day. Thanks for all your birthday wishes. It was much appreciated. Once my birthday has been and gone. Then and only then do I allow myself to actually start thinking about and getting organised for Christmas. 

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

The day after my birthday. I went to my first Christmas Party of the year. It was at a lovely venue on Great Portland Street in London. It was with my former BBC colleagues. They are a talented bunch. For this Do every year. A group of them form a band for the night. This was the first time that I was able to go to it. They played for about one hour and twenty minutes. And I have to say, they sounded great. I was impressed with the wide and varied repertoire of songs that they performed. Including of course a couple of Christmas classics. 

Once the band had finished. A couple of other work mates. Then did a disco for the final ninety minutes. They were ace. Although at one point it did feel like they were doing the set that I used to play back in 2006. When I used to DJ at The Chicago Rock Cafe in Yeovil. A brilliant night! Great to catch up with everyone. It was a nice way the kick start my own personal festive celebrations. 

Happily I have managed to make a trip to Winter Wonderland an annual event. Over the last couple of years. It is held in Hyde Park. I went there last Tuesday. They have a massive funfair. Which I will be honest does not interest me at all. I hate rides. Just being me, gives me a big enough adrenaline rush. I do not need any extra help. That and I find the big ones scary. There are also lots of great food stands, bar areas and entertainment. 

The Band

The main reason I go is to visit the Bavarian Village. That they also have. I love it there. I have been to the actual Oktoberfest in Munich twice. It is brilliant fun. And this event in London reminds me of the time I spent there. The atmosphere is great. They do serve the beer in pint steins. Not the two and half pint steins they have in Germany. But you cannot have it all. They also have lots of live music. 

Winter Wonderland

This year they had a crooner style Sinatra and Dean Martin singer in one area. He has been there the last couple of times I have been. And I think he is great. Funny, as well as a decent singer. In another beer hall. They had a four piece German band. They were playing all the party hits. In the style that you would hear in all the massive Beer Kellers in Munich. During the festival. Where you would literally be dancing and singing on the tables by the end of the night. 

Neil Quigley at Winter Wonderland

In another bar they had a traditional Oompah Band. As the evening progresses, as you look round. All you can see is people swaying in time with the music. And singing along with the songs. I always have a good time when I go there. The day I went it was a bit wet. But the rain could not dampen my enjoyment of it. I will definitely be back once again next year. 

Singer Winter Wonderland
Winter Wonderland Band

A few weeks ago I spent a lovely Sunday afternoon at my Uncle and Aunties’s house. They held some pre-Christmas drinks. It was nice to catch up with some family members. Who I had not seen for while. These things are always a good laugh. Sadly not everyone could make it to this one. And then I was not available to go to one the following week. Where I could of caught up with the rest of the family. The festive period is always manic with lots going on. I am looking forward to a relaxing Christmas Day, though.

Neil Quigley Happy Christmas
Neil Quigley Happy Christmas

For the second year running I went to see the spectacular Panto at the London Palladium. This theatre has a huge history of putting on these festive shows. And always with a stunning cast. This one was no different. The pantomime just looks visually incredible. As unlike the ones around the country. This is a big old West End Theatre. So they can drop people in from the ceiling. And fly a massive Dragon out over the audience. Which is excellent. What an experience for the children. It is magical, just like Christmas itself.

The show this year is the classic Snow White. But as ever with these Pantomimes at the Palladium. It is performed in a slightly different way. When you have such an all star talented cast. You need to give them space and time to have their own bits. To show off their skills. So the plot is fairly straight forward. But what happens around it, is what makes it so special. The staging is a joy. The dance routines are truly a thing of wonder.

Talking of which it features former Strictly Come Dancing stars. The brilliant Vincent and Flavia. Who come on to perform two absolutely spellbinding dances. The Dame is the legend that is Gary Wilmot. He is ace. He can sing, dance and do comedy all equally effortlessly. He holds the whole show together. Paul Zerdin is totally hilarious. Both with and without his comedy partner the very fluffy Sam. You can see how this man deserved to win America’s Got Talent a few years ago. He really knows his craft. And like all the cast. He is given space to do his stuff and his own routines.

Snow White is played by Danielle Hope. Who won Andrew Lloyd Webber’s last television audition show “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”. Meaning she got to play Dorothy in a new production of “The Wizard of Oz”. She can sing and dance obviously. But she was fully involved with the fun and the devil fellow cast members have in trying to put each other off. She was fantastic.

The Prince was played by the wonderful Charlie Stemp. He is I think the best West End performer of the moment. He can sing, dance and act brilliantly. I have seen him in “Half a Sixpence” and he was great in that. He has spent the most of this year appearing on Broadway in Hello Dolly. Next year he is going to be playing Bert in a new version of Mary Poppins in London. I will tell you this now. He is going to be sensational in that show, no question.

Dawn French is appearing in what I believe to be her first ever panto. As the wicked Queen. She is as you would expect amazing. She is just a naturally funny person. The only slight problem with that, is that it does at first make it a bit difficult to boo her. But she is a top quality actress. Therefore the boos do start to echo around the auditorium pretty soon. She plays it brilliantly. There are lots of in jokes and digs between the stars. As regards to their careers and lives. All of course for comedy purposes only.

Julian Clary as ever, virtually steals the show. He plays the Man in the Mirror. He has a different costume every time he appears. And they get more ridiculous each time. Pantomime was made for him. It has always been a medium that works on two levels. The story and fun for the kids. And jokes for the grown ups aimed to sail over the children’s heads. Because of who he is and what we know about him from his career. It seems easy for him to do this. He really is the King or should I say Queen of Innuendo. It is joyously funny.

And finally Nigel Havers is back. Once again principally playing himself, sending himself up, joining in, having fun and just messing about. He is also Julian’s “understudy” which leads to some very entertaining moments. The show is Christmassy, laugh out loud funny and brilliantly entertaining. You will not find a bigger and I suspect better pantomime anywhere in the country. The whole cast are a joy to watch. I hope they are having a ball doing it.

Snow White at the London Palladium

It has been a good couple of weeks for Tottenham Hotspur. We have had a few good wins in the Premier League. Plus we have made it to the Semi Finals of the League Cup. After beating the Arsenal at their place. We still have not had a fully fit squad to pick from this season yet. We look unlikely to make any new signings in January. But I am still excited for the second half of the season. I think it will be fun and interesting!

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Have fun and we will catch up again in a couple of weeks. Happy Christmas, eat, drink and be merry. Cheers Neil

Simply The Best

Hi there, how are you doing? I hope you have had a really good couple of weeks. Mine have been busy and fun. I have to admit I have never really been in to Halloween. Even as a child I never dressed up or went trick or treating. It does not interest me in the slightest. And it never has. May be because I do not believe in ghosts or have never watched any horror films.

Every year I try to avoid it completely. By always going out for a meal at a local pub with the family. I am happy for others to enjoy it. But it is just not for me. It was a nice evening. It is good to actually sit down and eat together round a table. And talk to each other. Which you do not really do, if you meet up in a house. In the same way.

We went along to the Red Lion in Longwick. As it happened my dad’s cousin was doing the cooking. So it was nice to see him to. We went for a main and a pudding. As all of us have a very sweet tooth. I had a pint of the local Chiltern Brewery Ale. Which went down very well with my meal. By the time I arrived home all signs of Halloween had  disappeared. Therefore as far as I was concerned. It was yet another very successful night.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I did not end up going to any firework nights this year either. In the past working in radio. I have ended up attending, working and also organising a lot of them.

I have had some great times doing that. It was always hard work but lots of fun on the actual night. Plus there is something pleasing about leading the countdown to the start of the display. Which were mostly set to music and always spectacular.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley point’s the way on stage at the Mix 96 Fireworks.

Personally I prefer going to a big organised event, if I can. Although I think the really big displays seem to be in decline nowadays. When I was younger. I remember going to a few little family displays at my Nan and Gramps. With lots of my cousins there. The ladies would be in the kitchen making soup and Jacket Potatoes. And the men would be up the garden. Helping my Gramp set off the cheap rockets and traffic lights. That we had clubbed together to buy. And stored in a old biscuit tin.

I would normally just watch through the window or if I was feeling slightly braver from the door way. When I was a child. I was a bit scared of fireworks. I liked the pretty colours, just not the big bangs. I do remember once a rocket slightly misfired and a spark from it somehow managed to find its way into my Mum’s trainer. Which gave her a little burn. And did not help to ease my concerns about these multicoloured explosives.

I do enjoy going to displays and watching the fireworks. But then again if I do not go to any, like this year. I am perfectly fine with that to. The best display now seems to be in London on New Years Eve anyway. A couple of years ago I got to witness the whole thing. While I was standing on the roof of Broadcasting House. Which I must say was a brilliant and yet slightly surreal moment.

New Years Eve
New Years Eve

Last Thursday I took my mum, dad and sister to see the Tina Turner Musical. I had heard brilliant things about it. Since it had opened. So I was really looking forward to seeing it for myself. It is playing at the Aldwych Theatre in London. Which is a lovely venue situated just off The Strand. And for the record I can confirm that they do a perfectly adequate Merlot there. Which I sampled before the show and during the interval. Well that is all part of the theatre experience, right?

The show itself is amazing. We already know all the huge songs from her career. Therefore before it starts. You know the music is going to be great. It is a very fast moving production. A lot seems to happen to her in a very short space of time. And most of it is horrendous. I guess that in real life and real time. What she had to live through and deal with was even worse. When you consider how much they may have had to leave out.

Her life story is as amazing, as it is inspiring. It just shows what an incredible and strong women she is. Both parts of the show tug on all of your emotions. It really is a bit of a roller coaster ride. I must be honest I did not realise how much she was actually struggling before she properly launched her amazing solo career. It was a real fight to get to where she did. At times sadly, literally.

Tina The Musical
Tina The Musical

The cast were sensational and all brilliant. But special praise has to go to Jenny Fiztpatrick. Who was sublime as Tina. As I am sure you can imagine with it being her life story. She is always involved in the action. And by default has to carry the whole thing. Including belting out all of those huge classic hits. Which of course she does brilliantly. She has a truly sensational voice.  Plus she has all of the recognisable Turner mannerisms down to a tee.

I can totally see why it has been getting so many five star reviews. It is an excellent show. It is endorsed and supported by Tina herself. It is very dark and deals with a lot of issues and situations. But happily it is ultimately a success story. It finishes with a party style sing-a-long with the cast. Which is a fantastic way to end any theatre trip. If you can, I would say go and see it.

Tina The Musical
Tina The Musical

After the show we went for dinner at the wonderful Ivy Market Grill in Covent Garden. The staff and service are always top class. And the food is delicious. I personally think the place has a really nice atmosphere to.

While I was there I sampled a bottle of their 2011 Reserva Rioja. Which was very nice. My dad and I then finished the meal by having a Champagne Cocktail each. Which was a top way to round off a lovely afternoon/evening.

Cocktails
Cocktails

Tottenham Hotspur will be playing all their home games a Wembley until at least the end of December now. So I am going to have to wait till next year to see and sit in my season ticket seat for the first time. I am still getting to all the games at the national stadium. I was there to see us lose to Manchester City. We played well. But unfortunately one mistake and then one missed golden opportunity cost us a draw. Which I think we would have just about deserved. But alas it was not to be.

The pitch was not quite at its best having had three weeks worth of American Football games played on it. Including one the day before. After a very wet weekend. It was very bare and odd seeing the NFL pitch markings so clearly. I was lucky enough to play a charity match on the Wembley pitch a few years ago. At the end of the season. Just before the pitch was about to be relayed. I think it may have been in better condition for my match, than it was for the game against City.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I also went to the must win Champions League game against PSV Eindhoven. Which happily for Spurs we did. But for a long time it looked like it we would not. And it would just be one of those nights. It did not help much going one down in the second minute. Then we had lots of chances but they were not going in.  Finally Harry Kane managed to inspire us to two late goals and the three points.

That win keeps us in with a chance of making the next stage of the competition. If we basically win our last two games. One of which is an away trip to Barcelona. Fair play to the PSV fans. They were brill. They never stopped singing, bouncy and clapping all night. Mind you I did bump in to a few outside before the game. And I think that they were making the most of the London hospitality. The Dutch know how to enjoy themselves.

Tottenham Hotspur
Tottenham Hotspur

Last Saturday night I went to my cousin’s wife’s 40th Birthday Party. It was held at a pub in Towersey. Well it was in their function room. Which was a lovely little barn. It was a brilliant night. Great to catch up with some family members. Who I had not seen for a while. I do come from a pretty big family. And we do not get the chance to all meet up. That often nowadays. So it is always nice, when we do.

I was also pleased to discover that the pub served Rebellion IPA. Which is one of my favourite beers. That was a bit of a result. The disco was really good. Top music all night. Played at just the right volume for the size of the room. Which I know does not sound like a massive compliment. But that is an easy thing to get wrong. And this guy did not. He was spot on with it.

The birthday girl seemed to enjoy herself. She took lots of photos. And using one of the many apps you can get nowadays. She made a montage of them all. Which was set to music. She posted it on her Facebook page. For us all to see. Which I think is a brilliant idea. I might have to steal that idea for my next party. Which will not be for at least another eight years, I think.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

The other week I had my final day working for the BBC. There were a few of us leaving on the same day. So we went out for a few drinks and some food.

We actually found a pretty new and fairly cool bar. It is just along the road from the BT Tower. It describes itself as an US Dive Bar.

BBC
BBC

It serves American beer and Philadelphia style food. We had booked a table in there. And I must say the food and service was really good. I would certainly go back there again. It is not a very big place. So it can get quite cosy in there, quite quickly. Buy I really liked it. It is called Passyunk Avenue. I think it has only been open for about a month. But it is worth checking out. Specially if you like traditional style greasy American cuisine.

From there we moved on to a more traditional English Pub. Which was one of our normal go to “work” pubs. It was ace to see everyone who managed to pop along for a drink. I have had a great couple of years working there. It was fun, interesting and exciting. But now it is time to move on to my next big adventure.

BBC
BBC

For Father’s Day this year. I bought my dad a Red Wine tasting experience for two people. Today me and him are heading up to a posh hotel in London to partake in this. I am really looking forward to it.

As well as sampling the wines. We also get to enjoy some accompanying cheese and chocolate. It sounds like a perfect couple of hours to me. I will tell you what it was like next time we speak.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

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 this 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