Tag Archives: theatre

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

By Royal Appointment

Hi there, how are you doing? I hope you have had a really good couple of weeks. Mine have been busy and fun. It was my Mum’s birthday at the start of September. Her present this year was a day out with me in London including a visit to Buckingham Palace. Over the years I have been up to the front of the Royal house to admire it and watch the changing of the guards several times. The first time I would have been about seven, I think.

For many years now the Palace has been opened up to the public when the Royal Family are away on their summer break. Having a nose around the place is something I had been meaning to do for a while. So when discussing what my mother would like to do for her birthday this year. The suggestion to do the tour there was made. I booked the tickets and we went along to do it the other week.

Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace

There were three parts to the option that I purchased. The first was a look around the Queen’s Gallery. In this display area they put on a different exhibition every year. Which features various items from the Royal Collection. This is made up of the many gifts the family has received over the years. As well as items purchased by some of the Kings and Queens from the past.

The theme for this year’s exhibition in the Queen’s Gallery was the Splendours of the Indian Subcontinent. This included manuscripts, paintings, diamond encrusted jewellery and some very elaborate weaponry.  Some of the items on display are amazing to look at. And impossible to put a price on. Interesting pieces from world history. It makes you think how talented people were back in the 1600’s or so to create these amazing things. Using the tools and the technology that they had at their disposal.

The second part of our Royal Day out included a nice look round the Royal Mews. Where the horses, carriages and some other modes of transport are looked after. Luckily as we arrived a free guided tour was about to start, so we jumped on the back of that. It was great to learn about the history and the current workings of the Mews. They were the idea of Queen Victoria. Who was actually the first Royal to use Buckingham Palace as her official residence.

There were a couple of horses in the stables. Including one of the famous Windsor Grey’s. Which are the horses that always pull the carriage that the Queen is in. Talking of which they do have lots of the carriages on display. Including the one our current Queen went to her Coronation in. The one Princess Diana went to her Wedding in. And the one used by both William and Harry after their big day’s.

Royal Mews
Royal Mews

They do look spectacular and amazing close up. There is a new one that is a few years old and has only been used a handful of times. It has wheels on it designed by a Formula One engineer. And features wood from HMS Victory inside the cabin.

Once the tour ended we were free to have a look around ourselves. They give you the chance to dress up as one of the Queen’s footmen for a photo. Which I did. There is one of the official cars on display. The family always have a car ready to go. And a chauffeur on duty. Should they require to have to go anywhere.

Royal Neil
Royal Neil

The last part of the experience was the thing I was looking forward to most. The chance to actually step foot inside Buckingham Palace. They give you the opportunity to visit the State Rooms. You get an audio guide. Which tells you some information about every one of the fifteen rooms you get to visit. These include Dining Rooms, Ball Rooms and Drawing rooms. All of which are sensational. The look and feel of the place is amazing.

You do get a sense of the occasions and the importance of the people who would have graced these rooms at big state events. There are also a few secret doors and passages from the private living quarters. So the Royals can appear in certain places and not have to see their guests until they want to. The furniture is brilliant. Including of course a couple of rooms that do include thrones.

Another room we got to see was the one where the Investitures take place. This is what it is called when people visit the Palace to receive their honour from a member of the Royal Family. Having visited the place. I now know exactly where to sit and to walk to get my OBE or Knighthood from the Queen. In the future when I get one. Plus of course I will be familiar with the surroundings there. Which should help with any nerves on the big day.

Having been for a good look around the house. I would love to go to one of their dinner party’s. A lovely meal followed by a nice brandy with some good conversation in one of the drawing or music rooms. Would be an ideal evening out for me. Specially if Her Majesty then lent me a carriage and some horses to get home.

The tour ends in the Garden. So you get to walk out down the rear steps and see the area where the Royal Garden Parties are held. To get out you then get to walk around some of the garden to. It is so  picturesque and huge.

Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace

There are lakes, orchards, flower beds and I suspect nice areas for barbecues. It would certainly be a pleasant space to go for a morning walk. The only thing is the exit from the garden. Does put you miles away from where you started. And a fair way from any underground stations.

It was a lovely day out. I found it fascinating looking around the Palace. I could see myself living there. But there is no way that can happen. I still would like to get invited back there for some sort of official occasion with some Royals in attendance. Just in case anyone from the House of Windsor stumbles across this.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I have had a little bit of a break from the theatre over the summer. Mainly as I was busy swanning off around America. Then having a laugh in Edinburgh. One show that I have been wanting to see for a while is Everybody’s Talking About Jamie. The music for which was composed by Dan Gillespie Sells. The lead singer with the band The Feeling. Who I think are brilliant. That was the initial appeal of it for me.

Add to that the amazing reviews the show has had. Plus the amount of theatre awards it has won since it opened in the West End in June 2017. Everything I heard about it was positive. It is such a modern and progressive musical. Set in Sheffield within the last ten years. Based on a real life story. That was actually featured in a television documentary.

Everbody's Talking About Jamie
Everbody’s Talking About Jamie

Finally I went to the Apollo Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue to see it. All I can say is everybody was right about it. It grabs you right from the start. The songs are catchy and brill. The story line is honest and real. The cast are all excellent. It is such a well performed and slick show.

It is quite a long show with a running time of two hours and forty minutes including the interval. But when you reach the half way point. You can’t believe it has arrived so quickly. Time flying by is of course a good sign that it is an entertaining and enjoyable show. It is also a bit of an emotional roller coaster. In many ways it is, I suspect quite an accurate representation of school and home life in the area.

I also like the fact that a lot of the actors who performed in the first version of it that opened in Sheffield moved with it. And got to be in the West End version. It also featured a familiar face from the world of Soap Opera. Shobna Gulati is in it and needless to say she is great.

This is another show that is worth seeing if you can. There is some choice language in it, so it is not suitable for children. That said it is all in context and what you would expect to hear for real in the scenarios that they are re-creating. See it if you can.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I had to venture up to Manchester recently for a meeting at Media City. I got an early morning train from Buckinghamshire to the rainy city. They have a really good tram network there. You can get one from Piccadilly Station straight to Media City. I quite enjoyed the journey there via the various Quays.

I got there a little bit early, so I had time to have a little bit of a walk around. The place does exactly what it says on the tin. As the area contains BBC television and Radio Studios. ITV have some studios and facilities there. In fact Coronation Street is now filmed at newly built studios and sets there. They even offer you tours of the famous cobbled streets. Sadly I did not have the chance or time to do that while I was there.

Media City
Media City

Several independent radio and television companies have facilities there as well. There are also quite a few bars and restaurants in the area. Well media professionals and creatives need to be fed and of course watered. Just like everybody else.

I bet they would be quite good places for Celebrity spotting specially if you are a soap fan. I had a meeting in one of the BBC buildings there. It was in the Sports Personality of The Year meeting room, as it happened.

When I had finished I did plan to do some more investigating in the area. But it was tipping it down with rain. So I just decided to get the tram back to  the station, have a quick bite to eat and then get the next train home. I have had a few decent nights out in Manchester over the years. I have not had one for a while. May be I need to try and put that right soon.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Things have not been going that well for my team Tottenham. I went to my first game of the season at Wembley. To see Liverpool beat us. The best bits were trying the Vegetarian Burger. Which was curried beetroot and parsnip in a green bun.

Then randomly sitting next to someone who was a couple of years below me at school. The match itself was not so good. Let us just leave it at that.

Tottenham Hotspurs
Tottenham Hotspurs

Then of course came defeat in injury time away to Inter Milan. That was not ideal either. I have my ticket and I am looking forward to the Tottenham v Barcelona game at Wembley Stadium this week. It will be good seeing Messi in action. It was a relief to return to winning ways at Brighton in the Premier League last weekend.

I made my first ever visit to MK Dons Stadium in Milton Keynes to see Spurs play Watford in the Carabao Cup. It is a nice ground. But it was a bit weird watching my team there, as the home side. Plus it is a little harder to get to than Wembley. Parking the car is a nightmare. At least Tottenham won, albeit on penalties. Still in the cup though!

Stadium MK
Stadium MK

I had a brilliant time at my mate’s surprise Birthday Meal. His wife had arranged it all. He had absolutely no idea. We met in a pub. And as he was not expecting me to be there.

I was actually standing right behind him for about five minutes before he noticed me. It was good fun. Although I did have to leave early as I had a very early alarm call the next day. But that’s show business.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

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

No Business Like Showbusiness

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. A few months ago now I went to see my first ever Oscar Wilde play. I really enjoyed it. The Vaudeville Theatre in London this year are staging a season of his plays. The other week I treated myself to another one of his masterpieces “An Ideal Husband”.

Like the previous one I saw “Lady Windermere’s” Fan. Again this production featured a fantastic cast including Edward Fox, Freddie Fox, Frances Barber, Sally Bretton and Susan Hampshire. Having now seen two of his plays. He does appear to have had a fascination with the establishment and politics. Which he liked to explore and play with in his work. He was almost doing topical satire in his plays before it was invented. If he was still with us today. I reckon that he would be a regular guest on Have I Got News For You.

It is certainly not a new thing to say that he was ahead of his time. But some of his comical observations about society and politics are still relevant and applicable today. In fact some of the lines from this play could literally have been written about the last couple of years.

An Ideal Husband
An Ideal Husband

His plays seem to reflect everything that he was himself clever, witty and flamboyant. It is fair to say he is no Agatha Christie in the way he sets out the plot. You can fairly easily work out what is going to happen. But he certainly makes you laugh a lot more than she does.

He was also writing strong female characters in to his plays at a time when I would guess that was not necessarily the fashion. The cast were brilliant and the performance faultless. It was all done in a very traditional and vintage way. With a violinist coming on stage to play to the audience. While the scenery was being changed. As I imagine they would have when these plays were originally staged during the Victorian times.

I had another thoroughly enjoyable evening at the theatre watching this play. There are still more to come in the series. I am certainly not ruling out seeing another one. Any man who can go through customs claiming “I have nothing to declare but my genius” is alright with me. Although obviously set in the eighteen hundreds. The main story line of the play is a situation that could have possibly arisen in the last few years. Which does I believe make it a timeless classic.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I do watch a lot of live comedy but there are still loads of comedians that I want to see perform. But have not quite managed to yet. I did  tick another one off my list last week. I have liked Shappi Khorsandi since I saw her on Live at The Apollo. I interviewed her several years ago. When she was doing a gig locally to me. That I could not get along to unfortunately.

She was great to chat to back then and of course recently she has been on the latest series of I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here. Which is one of my favourite television programmes. Finally I got the chance to see her in action the other Thursday. She was doing her latest tour show Mistress and Misfit at the Soho Theatre in London.

It is such a great little theatre. The bar there is almost a bit of a meeting place for comedians. You will generally see faces you recognise. Either there supporting their mates or just relaxing after their own gigs there.

The show was brilliant, funny and smart. Plus it is not often you see a comedian walk out to “In The Navy” by the Village People. The great thing about the Soho Theatre. Is it is a place where people who really love their comedy go, so the audiences are friendly, respectful and well behaved. Therefore the comics can just relax and do their thing. I am glad I finally got round to seeing her. It was well worth the wait. A very entertaining evening spent laughing lots.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I was delighted and excited to see someone I know performing on Britain’s Got Talent last Saturday Night. I knew he was going to be on, so I tuned in especially. He did not disappoint. I thought he was absolutely brilliant. His name is Ben Langley. If you saw it, he did the act with the songs and cue cards featuring some genius misheard lyrics.

I first met Ben around fourteen years ago. When I was working at Ivel fm in Yeovil, Somerset. He was in pantomime at The Octagon Theatre, playing if my memory serves me right Buttons. He came in to the radio station with several other members of the show’s cast to be interviewed about it. Incidentally that cast also included the ace Jodie Prenger. I wonder what happened to her.

Ivel FM Studios
Ivel FM Studios

I got on with Ben straight away. He was lovely, polite, cheeky, silly and very funny. We also met up again at the Christmas Lights Switch on and did a bit on stage together. Then after the Pantomime Press night. I went out for a few drinks with the whole cast. Which was fantastic fun. They were all a really good laugh.

This cycle was repeated every year during the next four years. So once a year I would get to catch up with Ben. Have a chat and a good laugh with him. Then watch him be totally brilliant as the comic lead in the Panto every single year. One year I ended up seeing the show twice. In fact after press night drinks one time. He and his lovely wife Sarah ended up back at my flat for some after, after show drinks.

When he was not in Pantomime, he could often be found in Covent Garden in London working as a Street Entertainer. Or appearing in other plays and shows around the country. While also working on his very own stage plays and writing projects.

He decided to write a series and known stories in his own style and perform them in his unique way under the “Ha Ha” heading. The first of these he debuted at the Octagon Theatre in Yeovil.  This original version also featured yet another talented actor I had met through Panto called Charlotte Milchard. The show was called Ha Ha Holmes and was his comedy take on the story of Sherlock.

I thoroughly enjoyed this show and thought it was brilliant. Luckily I was not the only one. As a West End producer was there to see it. And on the back of what he had seen wanted to take on the project and put it on a national tour.

Fast forward a few years later and I had the pleasure of watching a updated version of Ha Ha Holmes now also featuring Joe Pasquale at the Wycombe Swan. And then making a very brief but fun cameo appearance in it. When it was on at the great Waterside Theatre in Aylesbury.

The next play I saw in the Ha Ha series was Ha Ha Hood. Which as well as the writer and creator Ben Langley. Also featured comedy legends Cannon and Ball along with Sue Pollard. I again saw this twice in Wycombe and Aylesbury. After the Aylesbury show I had drinks with the cast at their hotel. Where I got to meet and chat to Tommy Cannon. Which was amazing.

Ha Ha Hood
Ha Ha Hood

I remember meeting up with Ben for a cup of tea in Chesham one time. He was there to support Paul Zerdin on his UK Tour. Paul went on several years later to win America’s Got Talent. I am hoping may be this connection proves a lucky omen for Ben on BGT.

On the audition show last weekend he only got the chance to show a glimpse of what he can do. His whole act is very funny. He is a highly infectious and very likeable performer. Plus his show is the definition of Variety. I could honestly not think of a more suitable thing for A Royal Variety Performance.

BGT London
BGT London

I am really hoping he makes it in to the live shows. As although he did get four yes’s and a standing ovation from all four of the judges. They always put more people through than they have spaces for. We then have to endure that painful episode. When they keep talking about photos of people that we cannot see, as they try to whittle it down.

I am completely behind Ben Langley and I really think he should win it. Yes he is a friend and I know him. But I also now how hard he has been working and how much time and effort he has put into his act and career over the last twenty years. He is also a lovely man. Which I think is another important factor. Go on Ben!

Ben Langley
Ben Langley

I enjoyed a family theatre trip with my parents and sister to see a matinee performance of the current London production of Chicago at the Pheonix Theatre. We treated ourselves a little bit, so booked a package where we got a glass of Prosecco and nibbles in an exclusive room prior to the show. We also had some great seats, four rows from the front and right in the middle.

I had already seen a touring version of the show a few years ago and previously the film version. But it was completely new to the other three. It has some great songs in it and of course a very jazzy feel to it. In tune with the time in the American city that it is set. One thing I like about it is that the band are on stage with the cast and are very much part of things. There are no scene changes everything happens right in front of you on the same set throughout. It works perfectly with the story and the feel of the show though.

The cast as you would expect were amazing. I recognised a lot of the Ensemble from the touring version. They were all brilliant. The main stars are Sarah Soetaert (Roxy), Josefina Gabrielle (Velma), Paul Rider (Amos), Alan Richardson (Mary Sunshine) and a certain Oscar winning actor called Cuba Gooding Junior. Who was playing Billy Flynn. It is was also due to future musical legend Ruthie Henshall as Mama Morton. Sadly she was off for this performance. However her understudy Zoe Gappy was brilliant in the role.

Chicago
Chicago

Cuba Gooding Junior, as you would expect a man of his class to do puts his own spin on the Lawyer. While keeping the character and the attitudes of the man. He can sing, dance and really hold a note. I thought he was excellent. But a man with his ability and charisma could never be anything else. It was a very slick and entertaining production. And for anybody interested in my theatre wine updates they do serve a lovely glass of Rioja there.

After the show we went for a meal at the Ivy Garden in Covent Garden. The place was absolutely packed. But as I am well versed in organising these things. I had booked a table in advance. The food and the service was magnificent. I had their slow roasted lamb with some red wine and a Chocolate Bomb for pudding. Then me and my dad rounded things off with a champagne and beer cocktail. Which was a lot nicer than it sounds.  A wonderful way to round off a great day.

Family Meal
Family Meal

I went to Tottenham’s final Premier League “home” game of the season at Wembley Stadium. It was an odd game. There were nine goals. Spurs won the game five- four. It was great to end the season with a win. But it was quite a dull and boring game, unbelievably. I have been to much more exciting games featuring a lot less goals this year. It had an end of season feel to it and some of the defending was shocking. To quote Alan Hansen.

It meant Tottenham finished in third and qualified again for next season’s Champions League. Therefore at the end of the game we had earned the right to celebrate. I of course stayed to clap and cheer the players and management, as they did their lap of honour.

Tottehham Hotspur
Tottenham Hotspur

I have really enjoyed the season and seen more live Spurs games than ever before. I have enjoyed feeling more part of things. It has been fun being at Wembley. But you can’t beat your own ground, so I am looking forward to getting to as many games as possible at the new Stadium next year.

Congratulations to Harry Kane who has been named as the England Captain for the World Cup. What a great honour for the man who has yet again had another brilliant year for his club. I am not that excited about the World Cup yet. But I am sure that will change as our first match approaches.

England v Germany
England v Germany

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