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Edinburgh Fringe

Hi there, how are you doing? I hope you have had a really good couple of weeks. I spent one week recovering from my epic trip to America. Learning to live in England again. While getting used to working and not spending all day sightseeing. Then once I was in the groove again. I went up to Scotland for the weekend.

I had wanted to go to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival for a long time. I managed to find a gap in my schedule. That fitted in with the month long event. Well a few days of it at least. When I was considering the idea. I stumbled across what I thought was some reasonably priced accommodation. So I booked it up online there and then. And the decision to go was made.

I then had to work out how to get there. I was thinking of the train at first. But I only had a few days. And that mode of transport would of have eaten in to my time. In the end I decided to fly from Luton to Edinburgh. I managed to find a suitable return flight with Easy Jet.

I knew a few people who were performing there. Who I had met through the Comedy Night. I did as part of the Tringe Festival, six years ago. That is the point where my interest in going to Edinburgh increased further. But it still took me all this time to make it happen.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I flew out from Luton late on the Thursday afternoon. Thanks to a small delay with the flight. I did not arrive in Scotland until after six.  As I wanted to get to the Bed and Breakfast. As quickly and easily as possible. I had ordered a meet and greet Taxi.

He was meant to be there waiting with my name on a board. When I got there. He wasn’t. It took me a good ten minutes to find him. Mind you when I did. He was holding the board with my name on. I will be honest it was not as magical, as I Imagined. I thought it might be a bit like Love Actually. But it very much was not.

Anyway we got through the Edinburgh traffic. He dropped me off at the Bed and Breakfast. That I had blindly booked on price alone. I did think it looked possible to walk to the City Centre from there. Once I did a little bit more research on the place just before I went.

I was met by the owner. Who was brilliant. He checked me in. And then offered to run me in to town in his own car. I cannot see Basil Fawlty doing that. I dumped my bag in the room and off we went. It was possible to walk there in about twenty minutes. But this was my first night. And as time was very tight. I wanted to get things going a soon as possible, so I accepted the lift.

He dropped me just before the Royal Mile. I needed some food. The first place I saw was a Pizza Express. So I was straight in there to get myself a table. A few days before I left I had made a list of a few acts I would like to see, if I possibly could. I wanted to see one show on the first night. I chose to see Gary Delaney from my list.

While I was waiting for my food. I ordered a ticket online for his show. The more well known comedians tend to sell out. So turning up at the venue and hoping for a ticket is risky. It is easier to book it online. There are several places where you can print out and collect your tickets. One of them was near me on the Royal Mile. I finished my Pasta dish. Then went to find it.

Edinburgh Fringe
Edinburgh Fringe

My first experience of the Royal Mile during the Festival was crazy. It was packed with people, street performers and littered with small stages with things happening on them. I located the ticket place and went in. A very helpful lady showed me what I needed to do to print out my ticket. She also gave me a handy map featuring all the venues. And she scribbled the route on it. That I needed to get to where Gary Delaney was playing later.

He was at the Pleasance. Which is one of the main venues. Of which there are about four or five. They all have multiple rooms of differing sizes at the same location. They are all surrounded by their own little village’s with bars and food outlets. Plus seats and tables to meet people at. I got there in good time for the gig. So I thought I would try a pint of the Edinburgh Festival Ale. Which was actually pretty nice, to be fair.

Pleasance
Pleasance

The show was in the Pleasance Beyond. The ticket gets you in. Then depending on where you were in the queue. It will determine where you sit. Before the show started. He had some music playing. With jokes from his Twitter feed displayed on a giant screen on the stage. These were already making me laugh. So I knew I was going to be in for a good time.

I had seen him a few times of various television shows. I was also aware of his work from other shows that he has written for. He is married to Sarah Millican. And he wrote for her TV Programme. He is  a teller of short, smart and snappy jokes. So reels off a lot of very funny and clever one liners.

He breaks them up a little. By using the screen on stage for a few bits and pieces. He had an actual paper pile of gags. That he had removed from the show for being potentially borderline in taste and decency. Every time a joke got a big ooh from the audience. He selected one of these jokes to read at the end. We were having such a good time. We were just reacting in that way for fun. And to hear some more jokes at the end.

The show was very funny. He admitted himself that he used to be a dead pan comic. But now he is enjoying telling the jokes so much. He even makes himself laugh on occasions. Which I think is great.

It was an excellent start to my first Fringe. I just happened to be outside having another pint of the Fringe Ale. When he left the venue to have a well deserved drink with some friends of his in the courtyard. It is not all rock and roll this comedy.

I saw quite a lot of comedians walking about. While I was there. Most are only doing one or two shows a day. So they have lots of time on their hands. Plus all comics love comedy. So they are also trying to see as many shows as they can. And catch and support all their mates performances.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I saw Marcus Brigstocke, Sarah Pascoe, Nina Conti, Lucy Porter and Hal Cruttenden to mention but a few. I just saw the one gig on the first night. I thought I would ease myself in gently. So after I had finished my beer. It was back to the B & B to grab some sleep.

I was up reasonably early the next day. After enjoying a full Scottish Breakfast. Which appears to be an English fry up. Just in Scotland. I went back to my room to plan my day. I wanted to see Silky’s show called Zuiq. Plus fellow former Tringe Rover Olaf Falafel’s “There is No I in Idiot. And the man behind the Tringe Festival himself Ben Moorhouse. Who is there putting on intimate gigs in his vintage cinema van called Audrey. Under the guise of the Reel Comedy Club. See what he has done there.

I booked tickets for Silky and Reel Comedy via the Edinburgh Fringe website. I also got one for Matt Forde for that evening. I had seen him do a very small warm up gig in Berkhampsted about five years ago. Since then he has got his own television and radio shows. So I thought it was time for me to see him again. Olaf’s show was part of the Free Fringe. No tickets are required. You just arrive at the venue and hope there is room to get in.

I messaged Silky before I left the hotel to tell him I was coming to the gig. He suggested I see Alex Love perform at a venue right next to his. Before his show began. I had the time to do it. So I left for the City Centre. This time taking the lovely walk through the park to get there. I picked up all my pre-ordered tickets for the day. From my now usual box office along the Royal Mile. Then went to where Alex Love was playing.

I managed to get a ticket for his gig there. His show was called “How To Win A Pub Quiz.” The first half was his tips on how to achieve this. With plenty of jokes of course thrown in. The second half. He put us in to teams. And did a little fun Pub Quiz. My team finished fifth. The whole hour was good fun. It was nice to see someone new.

I had about five minutes to get to Silky’s gig. However that was just over the road. So I made it in plenty of time. I have seen him perform quite a few times in Tring over the years. He is always brilliant. I have been lucky enough to have a pint and chat with him to after gigs. He is a top fella. The show he is doing “Zuiq” is a lunchtime reverse Quiz.

He gives the audience Trivial Pursuit Cards. Puts them in to teams. There are then several funny rounds. Where people read out their favourite answer from their cards. While Silky either has to give the correct question or make the audience laugh with his made up one. If he achieves either. He gets a point. Every team can get points. It is in a way the whole room against him. He won!

It is all done in such a fun, inclusive and extremely entertaining way. The atmosphere is so relaxed. He also plays the guitar and sings. So there are some musical interludes.

It is basically just lots of fun. And I must admit it was educational to. I actually learnt a few things. If you are in Edinburgh before the end of the Festival. You must check this out. It is on everyday 1.15pm at The Stand Comedy Club.

Silky is also doing a full stand up show at night. I really wanted to see this to. But annoyingly I simply ran out of time. I really cannot stress how many different and brilliant shows are on up there. You cannot possibly get to see everything you want to. Either because they clash time wise. Or as you cannot get between the venues in time because some of them are so spread out.

Silky at Roving Comedy Night
Silky at Roving Comedy Night

Talking of which I only got the chance to have a really quick chat with Silky at the end of his show. Before I had to dash off for the twenty minute walk. To see Olaf Falafel perform at the Pear Tree. I saw him do his previous Edinburgh Show at the Museum of Comedy last year.

So I was looking forward to this new one. It did not disappoint. I have been lucky enough to gig with him a couple of times over the years.  He always goes down well with the audience. He has a very good act.

His latest show is funny, amusing, entertaining and surreal. There are some very good and clever actual jokes in it to. He does seem to always manage to get one of his jokes. In the best jokes lists of the Festival.

He is such a confident and assured performer. Which is great to see. I really enjoyed it and would recommend seeing it. If you fancy some silly and joyful fun. I managed to grab a quick word with him after. It was really nice to catch up, albeit very briefly.

My Dead Funny Badge
My Dead Funny Badge

Next there was just time to grab a bite to eat in Bella Pasta. Before strolling across Edinburgh to The Assembly Rooms. Where Audrey the Vintage Cinema Bus was parked. I arrived there and grabbed a quick drink. Before seeing its proprietor and curator of comedy Ben Moorhouse. It is a lovely little cosy venue. Their were four comics and a MC on the bill. For the comedy gig that I had booked.

It was basically comedians doing about ten minute set’s. As a bit of a teaser for their full solo comedy shows. They are doing elsewhere.  Like everywhere at the Fringe. The atmosphere was fun and friendly. Apart from one bit of good natured heckling from a gentlemen in the audience towards the end. Heckling is actually quite rare at gigs.

I had a catch up with Ben. He was looking very dapper in a stylish waist coast. He was really enjoying the Fringe. And having a great time. Seeing so many comedians come and play in his lovely little mobile venue.

Audrey
Audrey

Finally for my fifth and final gig of the day. It was back again to The Pleasance. To see Matt Forde’s “Brexit Through The Gift Shop”. It was a hilariously brilliant show. He is an excellent comedian. And a really good impressionist of Politicians and World Leaders.

His take on Donald Trump. Is truly a thing of wonder. I was even more impressed. As everyday now there is a new political scandal seemingly. So to keep a show like this topical and up to date. He must have to re-write bits of it every other day.

I am not the worlds biggest political expert. But I understood everything he was talking about. And most importantly found it very funny. It was a top hour of entertainment. I am glad that I made the decision to see it. As it is fair to say that there was quite a bit of competition in that time slot. Great fun!

Edinburgh Fringe
Edinburgh Fringe

At this point I decided I had probably had enough comedy for one day. Therefore I went to find a couple of bars with some live music. I had a drink in a pub on the Royal Mile. That had a guy playing guitar and singing in. Then I stopped off at the Grey Friars Bobby Pub for one. To see another singer in there on my way “home”.

I am a big fan of Frank Skinner and he used to do a very funny routine. Questioning the loyalty of Grey Friars Bobby. When I was in the pub having my drink. That is the first thing that sprung to mind. After a full day of enjoying live performances. I decided it was time to call it a night.

My first mission on the Saturday was to find a Sports Bar. That I could watch Newcastle against Tottenham Hotspur in. I managed to find one. Which was no easy feat bearing in mind that Hearts were playing Celtic at the same time. Luckily I found a place. That had at least two of their televisions showing the English game. I was very happy with the three points away. We rode our luck but a win is a win. It was a great start my day.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

After my Sporting interlude. It was back to the comedy. Before I went to Edinburgh, as I said. I had picked out a few shows. That I would like to see, if I got the chance to. One of these was from a comedian and impressionist. Who also does parody songs called Naomi McDonald. I spotted her gig somewhere. It seemed a bit different. Therefore I tracked down the venue she was playing at and caught her performance.

I thought she was brilliant. Her impressions were spot on. She does a fantastic Fearne Cotton and Katie Price. Plus she does talking and singing Adele impressions. Both of which are amazing, It was a fun and entertaining show. I will definitely keep an eye out for her in the future.

I had about an hour before my next show. So I popped in to a London favourite of mine. And went to Bryon Burger. The service in there is normally very quick. But as they were so busy. It was a bit slower than I was expecting. Which meant I was tight on time getting to my next location.

To make it on time. I had to jog there. It was on the way there. That I decided to get into the spirit of the Fringe. With some Performance Art of my own. As I was running I tripped on the pavement. Shouted “penalty”, for a moment it looked like I would recover and stay on my feet. But then I went crashing to the ground. Somehow I managed to break my fall. And get away with a slight bruise on my hand. All those years watching The Fall Guy, as a kid must have paid off.

I jumped straight back up and continued on my way to see a show. I had been wanting to see for ages. It did a long run in the West End of London. But I never managed to see it there. It won an Olivier Award to. However in Edinburgh. I finally got a ticket. And made it there for the start of the performance.

It was Show Stopper – “The Improvised Musical”. And it was brilliant. It does exactly what it says on the tin. They take the title suggestions from the audience. The audience also get to say where it is set. And they can give four different musical styles that the songs the show contains have to be performed in.

Then it is over to the amazing cast. Who have to improvise a whole sixty minute musical. Making up dialogue and song lyrics on the spot. The one I saw was based around an Australian Hen do. It was ace. I have watched less entertaining musicals. That have been written and produced. The actors are top quality. Super talented people. It is another one well worth seeing. If you do ever get the chance.

Next it was Pete Firman with his latest comedy and magic show. That was brilliant. He is a really funny and likeable performer. And a top quality magician. Prior to this I had not been to a magic show for  years. And with this one there was the added bonus of the laughs along the way to.

I grew up seeing Paul Daniels on television. This is possibly the closest I have seen to that. I hope that Pete Firman takes that as the compliment. It is meant to be. It is a feel good show. He is taking it on tour later this year. And it is one you should try to catch. The tricks are great and you will have a good laugh.

Fringe Arty Shot
Fringe Arty Shot

Finally I went to The Gilded Balloon. To see the late night Set List Show. This is where four comedians come on to perform a brand new act. But they have no idea what it will include. Until they walk on stage. The subject of each routine. They must do. Is flashed up on the screen behind them on stage. They see it at the same time as the audience do. Then they must try to come up with jokes about it.

It is obviously a little hit and miss. But that is the whole point of the game. It is a challenge for them. And fun for the people watching. The best two on the night were Carl Donnelly. Who opened the show. And Marcel Lucont who closed it. I am not sure if it is something I would like to try. It looked pretty stressful for all of them. But it was a good giggle. And a fitting way to end my first Edinburgh Fringe experience.

There were so many shows that I wanted to see. That either clashed with each other. Or the venues were so far part. That I could not get between them on time. But you cannot go wrong. The chances are anything you see will be entertaining. Plus there is something nice and rewarding in taking a punt on something or someone new and enjoying it. There is so much talent in that City for the month.

Edinburgh
Edinburgh

After a final night in the Bed and Breakfast. It was time to head to the airport and fly home. I chose to take the Tram there. Which was only six pounds. And actually quite a fun and relaxing way to get to my plane. I had a brilliant time at The Edinburgh Fringe and would love to go back there again. If the opportunity ever arises.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

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

By Royal Approval

Hi there, how are you doing? I hope you have had a really good couple of weeks. Mine have been busy and lots of fun. Two weeks ago today then I went to my second Royal Ascot. Last year, as I was just dipping my toe in. I went in the Windsor Enclosure. Which was brilliant. But this time I thought I would upgrade slightly and just see what it was like in the Queen Anne Enclosure.

Ascot 2018
Ascot 2018

I went there with a good showbiz friend of mine Mike Sterling. We met up at Waterloo on the Saturday morning. After grabbing some water for the journey. We then braved what I suspected would be a packed train to Berkshire. However it was actually not that bad and we managed to get a seat together. Which meant we could catch up and have a nice natter. Which made the travel time fly by.

Ascot 2018
Ascot 2018

We arrived at the racetrack around twelve forty-five. Sensibly we decided to grab some food first. There were plenty of options. But in the end we opted for a chicken wrap. Which I must admit hit the spot and tasted pretty damn nice to. After a stroll round the place. Just to get our bearings. We decided to have a quick drink before the Royals arrived. It is a marathon day not a sprint at Ascot, so we just started off with an half of lager each. You really cannot buy experience.

Then it was time to head off to get a place in the Parade Ring. Ahead of the arrival of the Queen. To get the space I wanted we had to get in there a bit early. But we did find a cracking spot. Right next to the area set aside for people who were in the Royal Enclosure. Before she arrived Mike managed to nip out and get us another beverage to toast her arrival. Which with the crowds growing was quite a feat to be honest.

Ascot 2018
Ascot 2018

I am a big fan of the Royal family, so I enjoyed Her Majesty arriving in her carriage pulled by those famous grey horses. And her waving to the crowd. I waved back of course. I like to think that she did see me and acknowledged me. Then once she had shaken hands with the selected elite welcoming party. She headed off to her private box to enjoy the day’s racing. While we made our way to the track to do the same.

Ascot 2018
Ascot 2018

I had a little bit of success in the first race. I was as a child and if I am being honest am now still a fan of the television show The Dukes Of Hazard. The famous car in it is called the General Lee. There was a horse in the race called General Hazard.

It was a bit of an outsider. But on the name alone. I backed it each way. It came in third. Which meant I acquired some money back from that one. I only had one other winner during the afternoon. That however really did not spoil my enjoyment of this fantastic event.

Ascot 2018
Ascot 2018

Midway through the afternoon. We took a lunch break in The Band Stand Kitchen restaurant. We sampled the Tex Mex Platter and a Coronation Chicken salad. I have to say it was marvellous. It was all very tasty and the portion size was huge. Which is something you do not always associate with these kind of venues and events. If you know what I mean.

Ascot 2018
Ascot 2018

There is a Band Stand in the Queen Anne Enclosure with a full brass band and a singer. After the day’s racing is over. There is a traditional sing-song around it. Therefore Mike and I grabbed ourselves a glass of Pimms each and headed there to get involved. Lots of people do stay on to enjoy it.

They did play a whole host of old and relatively new top party songs. Basically everybody there joins in. To make it even easier they put all the words up on the big screens. So it is a bit like a giant karaoke. We did every song from the classic Sweet Caroline to We’ll Meet Again and everything in between. It was brilliant fun.

Mike Sterling is a West End performer. Who has starred in The Phantom of The Opera and Les Misarables. So it was amazing to be standing next to him, while he was singing. I was happy to just to sing backing vocals and fill in with some harmony’s. It is all so British with flags waving, champagne being drunk and everyone joining in. I must say I loved it!

Ascot 2018
Ascot 2018

Rather than rush off. We decided to wait for the train traffic to die down a bit. So we went for a few drinks in a couple of pubs in Ascot. On the way to the first one. We bumped in to a former Jockey that Mike knew called Karen Wiltshire. As well as having a successful riding career. She has also done some presenting on various racing programmes. It was fascinating to talk to her and get some of the inside stories and secrets from the world of racing. It was lovely to meet her.

After having a drink at the pub right next to the train station. We decided to catch the train back to London. It was much quieter than on the way there, so we easily found a seat. We randomly got talking to a couple of Italian ladies. Who had been at the races. Mike speaks a little bit of Italian. Plus he is a trained Opera Singer. Who knows a few big Italian songs. He ends up serenading the ladies with a couple of songs in their native tongue.

I was sitting next to him and let me tell you it sounded beautiful. They were loving it. One of them was filming it on her phone, so she could send it to all her friends in Italy.  We had people walking down the train to get closer and enjoy the impromptu performance.

It is a shame neither of us were wearing Top Hats or we could have put them down and made a few quid. To have such a talent must be amazing. He absolutely made the two girls day. It also made the train trip back to London very enjoyable.

Once we were back in Waterloo. We went to a nearby bar to have a nice glass of red wine to toast a successful and fun day. It was such a good occasion that I am already planning next year’s trip. I will again choose the Queen Anne Enclosure. Mainly just for the access to the Parade Ring and the Band Stand singing at the close of the event.

Ascot 2018
Ascot 2018

I had a brilliant time at this year’s Tringe Roving Comedy Night. I did the course and performed at it in 2012. Then last year I got to do it again. Which was so much fun. I was watching all the action at The Kings Arms. A venue that I played during my debut year. There were twelve brand new comedians and four professionals. One for each of the four groups, that each perform in four different pubs around the town.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Congratulations to all of the Logan Murray Course Graduates. Who performed on the night. You were all great. You got up there and did you stuff. I hope you enjoyed it and will keep doing it. If you now have the taste for it after this introduction. I would recommend doing the comedy course and this event to anyone. It is lots of fun and you will get a lot out of it. The people behind the Tringe Festival are all ace.

The professional comedians were all brilliant. They included Steve Best, who really does have his own unique style. I enjoyed seeing him for the first time. Rich Wilson, who was another new one on me was also very funny. Then there was the brill Laura Lexx.  Who I had seen before doing the warm up at a recording of Upstart Crow. She is fantastic.

Rich Wilson
Rich Wilson

Finally there was the guy who I once gave a lift home to. The always hilarious Silky. He was quality as ever. It helps the whole night along. When you know that you are never more than three comedians away from a seasoned and polished act. As a new comedian. I was delighted with this. As it made the audience more patient knowing that a comedy treat was on the way very soon.

Silky at Roving Comedy Night
Silky at Roving Comedy Night

I did manage to briefly catch up with Silky after the show. For our annual chat. He is a top bloke. I did also grab a quick word with the very funny Olaf Falafel. Plus I spoke to the man behind the whole brilliant festival Ben Moorhouse.

I am hoping to bump in to all of them and see their full shows. When I am up in Edinburgh at the Festival in August. Sadly though I did not get to see the comedy guru himself Logan Murray. I had to dash off before he arrived at the after show drinks.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

The football World Cup is reaching its big finale. I have been trying to watch as many matches as I can. There have been plenty of goals and excitement and that was just the England against Panama game.

Not to mention the high drama of the penalty shoot out against Columbia. With three Spurs players scoring in it. Just saying! Today we face Sweden in the Quarter Finals. Come on England!

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

My Dad’s cousin lives in Australia and has done for many years. He was in Russia supporting his country at all their group games. He is now visiting England. Which was always the plan. I am not sure if it would have changed if Australia had got through to the knock out rounds. Or he was realistic about their chances. When all of this was booked.

I am hoping to see him today to find out what it was like in Russia. And actually being there at a World Cup supporting your nation. I would love to be able to do that myself one day. Now that the chance of me representing England in one of these tournaments has may be passed. Also I quite fancy a visit to Australia, so I may have a chat to him about that to. It will be really nice to meet up with him.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I am very excited about my upcoming holiday. I am going to America to do a bit of a musically inspired tour of the place. Which includes visits to the home of County and Western Nashville, the place where Elvis Presley made his home Memphis and the area where Jazz and Blues exploded New Orleans.

It is going to be extremely interesting and a lot of fun. It does mean the blog will be taking a little bit of a break. But I will of course tell you all about the trip, when I return.

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

Have fun and we will catch up again soon. Cheers Neil

Fantasy Comedy

Hi there, how are you doing? I hope you have had a really good couple of weeks. Mine have been busy and fun. I do spend a lot of time in London. Therefore I am very often on the train to and from the Capital. As I was about to get off one at Marylebone Station a few weeks ago. I randomly bumped in to somebody, who I had not seen for a ages.

On the second ever series of Big Brother. There was a gentlemen from Oxfordshire in the house. He was only in there for a couple of weeks and was voted out fairly early on. But he did still make a bit of an impression with his regular work outs and his tendency to wink at people quite a bit. His name was Stuart Hosking.

I was at the time working at Mix 96. When he came out of the house and the series was over. He ended up getting a Sunday morning show at the radio station. I produced the programme for the first two or three weeks. Which was great fun and a good laugh.

Neil Quigley

I think on show two. We had somebody who had been on Blind Date the night before in for a chat. It was interesting to get the inside track on how it all works from someone who has been through it. We all went for a quick drink afterwards. Which was normal practice for our post programme meeting. Well it was, while I was producing.

I seem to meet up with Stuart at various things over the years. I once went with him to an Industry Magazine Party. And fair play to him he managed to get us in to the VIP section. Which meant we upgraded from free beer to free champagne.

I also went with a mate of mine to a big birthday party. That he threw at a very nice hotel a few years ago. That was a brilliant evening. The entertainment were the Rockoakie Band. Who are amazing. They are a live band. Who then give you the chance to perform songs with them. My friend did a few numbers on the night. As did the Birthday boy himself. Chris Moyles often booked them for his live theatre shows.

Stuart Hosking Sings
Stuart Hosking Sings

It was nice to see him and have a quick chat. As we headed up the platform. He is still keeping nice and busy and up to some fun and interesting things. He is still good friends with a few people in the entertainment business. Personally I think that the first three Big Brothers were the best. Then it started going down hill from there.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Frank Skinner has been one of my favourite comedians, since I can remember. I have read both of his books. I have watched from the studio, as he hosted an episode of Room 101. Plus over the years spent hours watching Fantasy Football. And I even watched his sitcom Blue Heaven. The one thing I had not seen him do was stand up comedy live.

Happily I finally managed to put this right a couple of Saturday’s ago. I found out he was doing some work in progress shows at the Soho Theatre in London. I managed to grab myself a ticket. As I have said before it is a nice venue for comedy. He was playing the down stairs room. Which is set up like a lounge bar with tables and chairs. It is a little bit like a cabaret place similar to the London Hippodrome set up.

Soho Theatre
Soho Theatre

Needless to say the gig was a sell out. As I was in the bar beforehand I saw the unmistakable figure of Mr Skinner arrive and make his way down stairs to prepare for his audience. The title for this appearance was “The Man With No Show” Therefore the idea was he would just come out chat to the audience and hopefully find some stuff. That he can then polish into comedy gold. Probably for a big tour.

He is for me one of the funniest and most quick witted comics around. His brain does just seems to process things much quicker than us mere mortals. Bearing in mind he was on stage with no pre-prepared stuff. He was hilarious. I have not laughed that much at a comedy gig for ages. He has such a calm, warm and relaxed way of talking to people. Even when he is having a bit of a go at people. He does it in the right  way and makes it feel inclusive. Like he is still on their side.

I had a brilliant night. It is always pleasing when your hero’s do not let you down. He is doing some more work in progress gigs at the same place in August. I certainly have not ruled out going again to see him. As it will actually still be a completely different show. Frank Skinner is quality.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I started my radio career at Stoke Mandeville Hospital Radio twenty three years ago. I met some wonderful people there. Many of whom I am still friends with all these years later. Two of the first people I met and worked with back then are now both living in Yorkshire. I started working with them producing their shows before I got my own programme on the station.

Stoke Mandeville Hospital Radio
Stoke Mandeville Hospital Radio

Last weekend I went up to visit them. I was staying with one of them at their house in Castleford. On the Friday night we stayed in to watch the football. Had an Indian take away and a nice bottle of red wine. While of course having a good chat about the old times and our current lives. A really fun and yet relaxing evening.

During the day on the Saturday we went and had a look around an Armed Forces Day event. That was taking place at Pontefract race course. My mate was in the RAF, so has an interest in this venture of course. It was basically like a classic County Show with charity stalls, arena displays and a wide selection of various refreshments.

They had a stall there for the Vulcan plane. As they are trying to build a special hanger for it in Doncaster. Which will include a coffee shop viewing area. So visitors can see the plane sat there in all its glory. While enjoying a drink and a piece of cake. It was nice to visit a race track and leave without losing any money for a change.

We then headed to Sheffield, so we could all catch up with my other friend and his wife. We went to his house and sat in his garden for a bit. Before heading in to town for a really nice meal and a couple of drinks. I have been out in Sheffield a few times over the years. I also went through a spell of spending some time just down the road in Worksop. Therefore I do know the area a little.

My mate had booked us a table at The Botanist. The table they gave us was right in the middle of the restaurant. Kind of in a sort of glass band stand. It was really not a place to be if you prefer keeping a low profile. Luckily none of us there fell in to that category. The selection of drinks there was fantastic. I chose to sample a few of the German beers they had on offer. The food there was really good to.

I had a homemade scotch egg for starters. Their famous hanging chicken garlic kebab with sweet potato fries for my main. Then for dessert I had the sticky toffee pudding. It was a really enjoyable meal. The company was fantastic. It was a wonderful night talking and catching up. While winding each other up and chatting about the glory days. When we regularly used to all go out and do discos together. Fun times!

Yorkshire
Yorkshire

I travelled home on the Sunday after first enjoying a massive brunch with my friend and his wife. The perfect end to a lovely weekend. I decided to treat myself to first class train travel on the way back. It was only about ten pounds more than the standard ticket. It meant that I got a comfier seat. Plus free tea, biscuits and water during the trip. Worth every penny as far as I am concerned. I could get used to it.

World Cup
World Cup

The World Cup in Russia is very much up and running. I am trying to watch as many matches as I can. I did of course make sure that I saw the England against Tunisia game. I was delighted for Captain Harry Kane and the whole team. The first game of any tournament is very tough. We are on the whole a young and inexperienced side. It was not a classic. We left it late but most importantly we got the three points.

Harry Kane will score goals in this tournament, He loves scoring and is very driven. I would not rule him out being there or thereabouts for the Golden Boot. If we can get the win against Panama tomorrow then we will be through to the knock out rounds. At that point really anything can happen. Good and bad. You just never know. Looking forward to getting behind the team and supporting the country. Come on England!

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Obviously working at Broadcasting House in London. I do often see some recognisable faces around. Recently I found myself in the lift with new Radio One Presenter Maya Jama. Who as well as being an excellent broadcaster. Just happens to be going out with a certain gentlemen known as Stormzy. I saw the lovely Reverend Richard Coles. Who was dressed in his dog collar. And as you would expect he was just chatting to everyone and being generally lovely.

BBC Studio
BBC Studio

Tomorrow night I am off out in Tring to enjoy The Roving Comedy Night. I have performed at this event myself twice over the years now. But I am looking forward to seeing this year’s trainees do their stuff. And make their stand up debuts. I remember the nerves I felt before I did my first one. And the feeling of pure joy and exhilaration at the end of the night. I was walking on air for the next week or so.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I will be there laughing, clapping and cheering on all the first timers. As well as enjoying all the professional comedians accompanying them. It will be great to catch up with a few people. I know and have met through this wonderful event. Especially the comedy guru and my teacher himself Logan Murray. It will be my annual catch up with them. Although I am hoping that I might see some of them, when I go to Edinburgh for the festival in August.

Logan Murray
Logan Murray

The Roving Comedy Night signals the start of three weeks of gigs during the Tringe Festival. With lots of top comedians coming to Tring to do warm up shows for Edinburgh. I am going to see Marcus Brigstocke a week Sunday at the Court Theatre. If you like your comedy and are local it is well worth a look. Here is a link to their website http://www.get-stuffed.biz/tringe/

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I am really looking forward to going to Royal Ascot today. I went for the first time last year. And I enjoyed it so much. That I have decided to make it an annual event. I will be in the Queen Ann Enclosure. Which means I will get to have a sing-song at the famous band stand after the day’s racing has finished.

I will tell you all about it next time we speak. I will be wearing my lucky suit, so I am hopeful of picking up a few winners. I may also sip a few glasses of champagne. It is a brilliant event. Plus as a bit of a Royalist I am hoping once again to catch a glimpse of the Queen.

Royal Ascot
Royal Ascot

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

Check Mate

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

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

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

Ben Langley
Ben Langley

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

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

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

Ha Ha Hood
Ha Ha Hood

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

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

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

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

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

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

Chess
Chess

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

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

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

Museum of Comedy
Museum of Comedy

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

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

Neil Quigley Stand Up Comedy
Neil Quigley Stand Up Comedy

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

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

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

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

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

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

Neil Quigley in Car
Neil Quigley in Car

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

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

Neil Quigley Presenter
Neil Quigley Presenter

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

Copy That

Hi there, how are you doing? I hope you have had a really good couple of weeks. Mine have been pretty busy as ever and lots of fun. I managed to get myself along to a television recording at the newly re-opened studios at Television Centre recently.

The building was sold by the BBC. A lot of the old building has been turned in to really expensive flats, as well as shops and restaurants. However two of the original studios have now been brought back in to operation. Therefore once again some shows are starting to be made there.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Which personally I think is fantastic. It is a shame that it is no longer how it originally was. As so many great and very popular shows were produced there over the years. Not least the iconic children’s show Blue Peter. Which was probably the first, what you might call real TV programme, that I watched. The front of the place has been changed a bit. However it does still have a ring of familiarity about it. But it  does not look as iconic, as it once did.

It was a brand new ITV show that I was there to see being filmed. It is the idea of Jon Naismith. The man behind such radio comedy shows as The Unbelievable Truth and Sorry I Haven’t A Clue. He claimed he came up with the idea. When he worked with Rory Bremner on the radio several years ago. He was just waiting for the right opportunity and ITV have given him it. To produce it and make it for them.

It is called the Imitation Game. I watched the last one of the six episodes that are being made. It is hosted by the brilliant Alexander Armstrong. It also features, as the team captains the truly amazing impressionists Rory Bremner and Debra Stephenson. Each week they are joined by some other top mimics. At the show I was at, they were the top quality Jon Culshaw and the brilliant young American Christina Bianco.

During the show they play a whole host of fun and sometimes silly games. Which of course all involve impressions of lots of different famous folk. Therefore giving the impressionists the chance to prove just how good they are. All four of them on the night were amazing. Some of the voices were indistinguishable from the actual people. For example Jon Culshaw’s Ricky Gervias and Christina Bianco’s Jennifer Aniston were both perfect.

It was a very funny evening, Everyone was on top form. Rory was magnificent. Not just when the cameras were rolling. But he was wonderful during breaks with extra impressions and stories to keep the audience entertained and amused. While certain things were set up. They also have a live house band to because there are a couple of music based rounds.

It will be on ITV later on in the year. If you fancy some silly fun with top quality impressions. I would urge you to keep an eye out for it. It is definitely worth a watch in my opinion. Even Alexander throws in a few of the voices he can do in one of the rounds. It is astonishing how many different voices four people can actually do. And how diverse and different they are.

Television Centre
Television Centre

The year before last I took my Mum on a sight seeing tour of London. She was really taken with St Paul’s Cathedral. Which we just looked at from the outside. She decided that she really wanted to see inside it and have a good look round it. Last Christmas I said I would take her on a tour of the place. As one of her presents.

It took us a while to find a suitable day that we were both free on. But finally last week we managed to achieve that. I had purchased tickets in advance. Once you have got them for entry, they do also allow you to book yourself on one of the tours, when you get there for no charge.

St Paul's Cathedral
St Paul’s Cathedral

We arrived there about half past eleven. Mainly so I could enjoy an off peak and relatively quiet train journey for a change. The fact that we had pre-paid tickets meant that we could go straight in via the fast track queue. We managed to book on to a tour starting at one. Which gave us an hour to investigate what was up the stairs, as the tour does not go up there.

There are three galleries that go up into the Dome of the building. The first of which is the Whispering Gallery. Which is around a two hundred and twenty step climb. From there you do get a stunning view of the painted dome roof. And a great birds eye view of the ground floor of the iconic church. It is called the Whispering Gallery, as you can stage whisper into the wall and somebody listening to the wall across the room from you, should be able to clearly hear it.

There are two more galleries that we did not visit on this occasion. They are both outside and involve quite small staircases. They do apparently give you great views of London. I will take a look at them when I go back in the Summer. As once you buy one ticket to visit St Paul’s it becomes an annual pass. That you can use to visit as many times as you like.

We then just had time for a cup of tea and some cake before our tour. There were about twenty of us in the group. We were all given headsets and the tour guide Fiona was wearing a mic, so we could clearly hear what she was saying. Above the basic noise of the place. Which worked very nicely and meant that she did not have to shout.

I found the tour fascinating, from what happened to the original, how long it took for the replacement to be built, to how much restoration has been required over the years. You forget how much history the place is steeped in. I mean just for starters, the actual architect behind the amazing place is buried there with his own shrine. As are both the Duke of Wellington and Lord Nelson. Three huge historical figures all laid to rest in the same place.

You can really feel the association with the military in the place. And some regiments even have their own dedicated areas. I had no idea the poet John Donne was the first Dean of the original St Paul’s. The man behind “No man is an Island” and “For whom the bell tolls. He was also buried there and has a memorial there.

The building is beautiful on the outside and the inside. It does have a really British feel to it. The paintings, sculptures and the statues are spectacular. I spent so long just staring up into the dome to admire the paintings and artwork. It is a Church and there is a prayer on the hour. Which means that every sixty minutes there are a couple of minutes of quiet contemplation to be enjoyed. We were there for nearly four hours and probably needed another two or so at least to properly see and read everything that was on show.

Going to St Paul’s and doing the tour reminded me of so much UK history that I had kind of forgotten. It triggered memories of the things I learnt when I was doing my History GCSE. There really have been some fascinating and amazing people who have lived before us. It turns out that Wellington was relatively low key and reserved in his outlook, while Nelson was flamboyant and loved the attention. I will let you decide which of them I am more like.

London
London

Afterwards we went for a nice meal to top off the day properly. An excellent steak with a glass of red wine and cheesecake for desert. We ate in Bills on Baker Street. It was my first time in there. I would certainly not rule out a return visit at some stage. We had a lovely  day. It was nice to be able to take my mum to do something she really wanted to do.

Neil Quigley in London
Neil Quigley in London

As a Tottenham Hotspur fan I am still smiling from us finally beating Chelsea at Stamford Bridge for the first time in twenty eight years. I am not saying it had been a long time coming. But before Dele Alli it was Gary Lineker who scored our last winner there.

The other great thing about it was that it really put us in a strong position to finish in the  top four and clinch Champions League football for next season. Which is so important to keep players and to start off at that level in the new stadium.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Well done to Declan Donnelly for presenting Saturday Night Take Away solo. He is a total professional and great at his job. As he has proved countless times over the years. But it must have been a bit tough not having his mate there for the first time ever. He just about held it together during the first link. Then after that he was flying. He did a fantastic job.

Although in music this is a pretty common occurrence. Somebody leaves a group or a duo and goes it alone. And often they have an equally. if not more successful career. It does feel odd when you first see them but you quickly get used to. If they are good enough. I do know this was an enforced move. Hopefully Ant will recover from his issues and return soon. But if not I am pretty confident Dec will still find plenty of work on his own.

BGT London
BGT London

In case you were wondering. Here is an update on the Nike Trainers that I ordered from Amazon. They have now sent me two of them in the same size. Which is a huge improvement on their first effort. I am now wearing them with the dark red body warmer and travelling around on a skateboard while hanging on to the back of cars. (If you do not get this reference, I suggest you read the previous entry).

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Just a quick reminder that I do a weekly podcast. Which is basically a radio show on the internet with no music featuring stories and old interviews from my twenty years working in radio. It is available on I-tunes, so why not subscribe to it? Then you will get every new episode automatically downloaded to your device. I would also like to point out that it is free. https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/neil-quigley-podcasts/id1236437663?mt=2

Neil Quigley Presenter
Neil Quigley Presenter

I am up in Liverpool this weekend for my annual pilgrimage to the Aintree Grand National Weekend. Which is always a lot of fun. I will tell you all about it of course the next time we speak.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

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