Tag Archives: theatre

Play Time

Hi there, how are you doing? I hope you have had a really good couple of weeks. Mine have been pretty busy and lots of fun. I must confess I always enjoy my night’s out at the theatre. I will pretty much go along and watch anything.

As I just love the experience of seeing a live performance. And the food and drink that normally accompany an evening of this kind. I may have accidentally broken my own show’s to week’s ratio this last fortnight. As I have been to to see three West End productions, since I spoke to you last.

Bat Out Of Hell
Bat Out Of Hell

The first of these was the musical The Girl From The North Country. Which was written by Conor McPherson and features the songs of the legendary American Bob Dylan. It originally had a successful run at The Old Vic before moving to the Noel Coward Theatre in the West End. Which is where I saw it last week. I purposely did not research anything about it in advance. As I like to be surprised. Although I did know it featured the lyrics of the Nobel Prize winning singer. I had however heard nothing but great things about it.

For the people who may have an interest in this sort of thing. I can confirm that the house Rioja served at the theatre was very nice, which is not always the case in theatre land. The quality can range a lot but the price rarely does, so a success here I believe should be celebrated.

The show itself was brilliant. It is set at a Guest House in Minnesota in 1934. It focuses on a struggling family and a multitude of guests and some local residents, who visit the place. It very cleverly tackles a lot of different issues and situations. Which were prevalent at the time and to be honest a lot of them in many ways, still are today. It is a very clever story line. Which asks a lot of questions, making you think about the characters, their circumstances and futures. These are then all tidied up and then revealed pretty much right at the end of the play.

The whole cast are exceptional with some very powerful performances on display. Also the beauty and skill with which the songs are performed is breathtaking. While very much keeping to the feel and time of the story. There will be some Bob Dylan songs you know well and recognise. Then some you do not, but all of them are sung perfectly. I really enjoyed it. It is a very slick and well put together show with a great deal of comedy moments.

Which baring in mind that a lot of the subjects in the story are very dark is clever and works well. As humour in my opinion at least, is an important part of everyday life even during the bad times. Having seen it, I can see why this show has had a lot of five star reviews. If you get the chance I would go and see it while you can.

The Girl From The North Country
The Girl From The North Country

Recently it occurred to me, that although I was aware of the man. I had never been to an Oscar Wilde play. I noticed that there was an Oscar Wilde Season on in London, so I thought that would be a good excuse to put that right. I went and watched Lady Windermere’s Fan at the Vaudeville Theatre on The Strand.

It was directed by the brilliant Kathy Burke. It starred Jennifer Saunders, Kevin Bishop and Samantha Spiro. The cast also included none other than the excellent Joseph Marcell. Who played the Butler, Geoffrey in The Fresh Prince of Bell Air with Will Smith. I had no idea he was going to be in it. Me and my mate I was with both worked out who it was during the first half. Then excitedly confirmed this news with each other at the interval.

The play was excellent. It was not a story I was familiar with. But I was pretty impressed with how quickly I worked out the main plot details of who was hiding what secrets from whom. It did contain a few of the well known Wilde phrases or sayings. That I was already aware of. Including the sublime “I can resist everything except temptation. The story is clever and well constructed with lots of comedy and jokes thrown in to the mix. As well as some real drama and tension.

The cast were excellent and played it all perfectly. The staging and the costumes were pretty spectacular to. Jennifer Saunders was sensational and gave a comedy masterclass during her scenes. You cannot buy class, in her case you just have it. She comes on to do a skit song. While they are changing the scenery. And pretty much steals the show with it. Brilliantly entertaining.

Now having seen this performance much like when I saw my first Shakespeare play last year. I would be more than happy to see more of Oscar Wilde’s work. I might even see what the next play they are doing there in the series is and go along and see that. If you would like a red wine report. It was a limited selection, perfectly drinkable but not as nice as or up to the standard of that served at The Noel Coward Theatre. The cast received a well deserved encore at the end. And the audience left with a nice warm buzz. Just as you should after a top quality West End Show.

Lady Windermere's Fan
Lady Windermere’s Fan

The theatre fun continued last Thursday evening, When I went and saw the long running musical Wicked. Lots of people including my sister had been telling me how good this show was for years. I have to say they were all right. It is currently on at the Apollo Victoria Theatre. Which funnily enough is in Victoria, right next to the underground station. I did have a rough idea what to expect. As people had already given me a few clues as towards the plot. And the fact that it is kind of the story of how Oz from The Wizard of Oz came to be how it was. While supplying the back story of some of the characters. We meet in that classic film.

It is a big spectacular production with brilliant sets, scenery and costumes. It is performed by a large cast, so there is often lots of things going on up on the stage and makes for some excellent and lively group dance routines. The two lead actors Alice Fearns who played Elphaba and Sophie Evans who played Glinda were fantastic. Their vocal performances were out of this world. The Story is very clever and messes with the how situations we are in shape us and opinions of others categorise us. Which is still very much a big part of the world now, as it was when this production was first released.

It really does put a very different slant on how you view Oz and the people that we met there. There are also some very clever nods to the original story and it is all linked up and tied together very nicely. As with most of these sorts of shows it is uplifting with some nice moral messages. But most importantly is very entertaining, with a mixture of drama, happiness, sadness and laughter, like of course life itself. It is a fabulous show and well worth seeing. Just do not leave it as long as I did to get round to doing so. To continue the refreshment theme. The red wine at this theatre came with limited choices but the Merlot was perfectly drinkable and did the job.

Wicked
Wicked

I had a brilliant time at Wembley Stadium last Saturday afternoon watching Tottenham Hotspur beat Arsenal in the Premier League. It is always the biggest league fixture of every season. This was the first one that I had ever been able to get to in person, so even before the game I was massively excited. But also terrified, as I did not want to lose. It was a great performance from my team.

We looked in control for most of the match and should have scored more goals. That nearly cost us right at the end. When they had two great chances. Thankfully they missed them both. The atmosphere inside the ground was sensational. It was a great moment celebrating the goal and the win with all my fellow Spurs fans. I now have an one hundred percent record of seeing us win this derby. So I think the club should personally invite me to see this fixture next season in case I am a lucky omen.

Spurs v Arsenal
Spurs v Arsenal

I have finally finished reading David Jason’s latest book Only Fools and Stories. It was brilliant. Funny, entertaining and hugely interesting. He should definitely do one of those one man show things.

I would certainly go and watch him sit on stage and talk about his career and tell all the funny stories.It is great to see him back on television in Still Open All Hours. He is as brilliant as ever in that.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I have started a new podcast this year. Which is a combination of  stories from my past, observations from the present and a selection of some of the interviews I have done with various people over the years. Just follow the link to the latest episode. And if you like what you hear you can catch up on the previous ones and subscribe to I-tunes, so you get them delivered straight to your device when the latest one is released.

This weeks features details of a TV Dating Show that I had an audition for plus chats I once had with Jason Manford and Myleene Klass. https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/the-neil-quigley-radio-podcast-ep3/id1236437663?i=1000402179391&mt=2

Neil Quigley Presenter
Neil Quigley Presenter

It is always interesting and fun at work. Recently I met former Radio One and current Five Live Presenter Nihal. It is always good meeting a fellow Spurs fan. Although he did make me really jealous. As that afternoon he was off to meet and interview Mauricio Pochettino the Tottenham manager. I was so close to asking him, if may be I could tag along. But I had things to do already.

I was also in the work canteen a few Sunday’s ago when the leader of the Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn walked past me. You really never know who you might bump in to walking around or in the lifts. Which certainly does make the workday more interesting some days.

BBC Radio Theatre
BBC Radio Theatre

I am looking forward to heading to the BBC Radio Theatre tomorrow to see some live comedy. It is the second series of a programme that I saw being filmed last year. It is simply called Live at the BBC. It features new and break-though comedians. Giving them chance to appear on television.

Then normally a slightly more well known comic will headline the show. The recording I watched last year featured Felicity Ward, Spencer Jones and James Acaster. I am hoping for a similarly brilliant line up this time. I am sure it will be a good laugh. Which for a comedy programme is let us face it essential.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

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

Frankly Good Fun

Hi there, how are you doing? I hope you have had a really good couple of weeks. Mine have been fairly busy and lots of fun. I went to the Theatre Royal in Haymarket to see The Rat Pack Live from Las Vegas Show. I had already seen a version of this at the Waterside Theatre in Aylesbury around six years ago, so I kind of knew what to expect. They have a full orchestra on stage. Led and conducted by the pianist. All to help recreate the famous Las Vegas Show that Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Junior did at the Sands Hotel.

I have seen video footage of the original performances from the actual Rat Pack. And this production does capture all the humour, interaction and chemistry between these three legendary entertainers. Who were all very good friends. The cast are great. They all look and sound exactly like the artists that they are portraying. The outfits are spot on. Plus they all have exceptional voices, so as you would expect they belt out those huge numbers perfectly. The songbook for the night is of course top quality.

This version features a special appearance by Ella Fitzgerald and again the actress playing her was brilliant. It is a very slick re-enactment of a golden time for music and performers. There are quite a few funny moments and the cast look like they are having a good time doing it. It is a nice tribute to these iconic characters. Brilliant though it all is, it just makes you wonder what it would have actually been like being there to see those shows for the first time live, as they were happening. Another good night out at the theatre. If you are a fan of this kind of thing. I would say it is definitely worth going along to see this show.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I got given David Jason’s new book Only Fools and Stories as a present. I have started reading it and as you would expect it is very amusing and interesting. Especially as a big fan of Only Fools And Horses. As the title suggests it features behind the scene stories and anecdotes from the making of the programme. Detailing the secrets behind some of the best known scenes and lines, plus some of the things they used to get up to during breaks in filming. I am really enjoying it and looking forward to finishing it soon. So I will know all the stories behind the making of one of the all time best ever television comedies by then.

I am a big David Jason fan. Although I have never met him. I have been in the same room as him a couple of times. Which was still good. One of these was at a Pantomime Press Night. A radio colleague of mine Adam Morris, (who did the Breakfast Show at the time) was actually talking to the great man. His daughter used to listen to him on her way to school, so I think she wanted to meet him. Which led naturally to a conversation with her dad. You know when you are trying to make eye contact with someone and using your eyes trying to beg to be introduced. Well it didn’t work. But I kept my cool by not gate crashing things. I will get to meet him one day properly, hopefully.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I had a great catch up with a friend and former boss of mine Steve Carpenter. A few Friday’s ago he was the DJ at a big event at The Hilton in Park Lane, London. I did see some of the pictures from the night and it looked amazing. The day after I met him outside the hotel and we made our way to my favourite pub in London for a few drinks.

That pub is Waxy O’Connor’s just off Leicester Square. Where in my opinion they serve the best pint of Guinness in the Capital. While we were chatting about the old times in Somerset and updating each other on our latest projects. We did enjoy a couple of pints of the black stuff. I mean it would have been rude not to right? It was nice to see him and a fun couple of hours in one of my preferred relaxation venues.

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

I like sampling new places to eat and trying new dishes and different foods. Last weekend I ended up in the Chinese Restaurant Ping Pong for the first time. If you have not been it is like a Chinese Tapas place. You order a large selection of dishes. Which all come in small portions. I was looking through the menu and I had decided that was the best way to explain what the deal was. When the waiter used that exact same description. It is good to know my observational skills are still spot on. They had quite a wide and varied selection of dishes. The person that I was with and I decided to pick three options each. Then just share everything. That way we could both get to sample more of the food on offer.

I was very impressed with the quality. Between us we managed to pick a very nice combination of the dishes. Which as it turned out complimented each other very nicely. We ordered this duck dish. Which was basically the roast duck, spring onions, cucumber and plum sauce, like what you would get from a take away. But instead of a wrap it came with this very strange sort of bread roll thing. The likes of which I have never seen before but it tasted fine. I enjoyed my first experience of the place. I would happily go back there again to sample some of the other options they have on the menu.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I have been to Wembley a couple of more times recently. Firstly to witness the start of Tottenham’s FA Cup Campaign. A third round three – nil win over AFC Wimbledon. The Premier League is all ready out of reach this season.

I would obviously like to see my team win a trophy, so I am really hoping that we have a very good go at trying to win this competition this year. Next up we have a tricky away tie at League Two Newport County. Which is one of those games you should win but strange and weird things can happen in this cup. As has been very well documented in the past.

Spurs v AFC Wimbledon
Spurs v AFC Wimbledon

My next Wembley visit was to see Tottenham play Everton. A fixture I always enjoy. As I have a lot of friends who support the team in blue from Merseyside. Therefore there is always plenty of banter before and after these clashes. My enjoyment is also enhanced by the fact that recently we have done rather well in this match. And have now won the last three meetings in a row. It was a great game from mine and Spurs point of view. As we ran out as four nil winners. And it honestly could have been more. It was yet another enjoyable evening at the home of football for me.

After the game I met up with one of my best friends and his son. Who are both Everton fans and who had both been at the match. I was very controlled and only gloated for a bit about the victory before hardly mentioning it for the rest of the night. We had a walk round waiting for the crowds to die down. While finding somewhere to eat. Which it turns out is not the easiest thing to do after a big match at the Stadium.

We eventually ended up in a chicken place. Where they managed to fulfil our needs. Despite being a fast food place. It was actually not to bad. We had a bite to eat and a chat about the game. Then we got the train home together. It all worked out well. The next two games I am going to see Spurs play are Manchester United and Arsenal. Both of which I am really looking forward to.

Spurs V Everton
Spurs V Everton

I went to see the Dream Girls musical at the Savoy Theatre in London. It was a massive success on Broadway when it was originally launched in the eighties. It was then made in to a film starring Jamie Foxx, Beyonce and Jennifer Hudson in 2006. And now it is on in the West End. It is loosely based on the story of the Rhythm and Blues groups and singers trying to achieve success and fame in the late fifties, early sixties. If you vaguely know the history of that time in music in America. You can very easily work out who some or the main characters are seemingly based on. And you can also see why certain people may not have been overly happy with the comparisons. When the show was first released.

It is a very slick and entertaining show featuring all original Soul and Motown sounding songs. That were written specially for it. The cast are fantastic. The leads have great vocal ability. Which they really get to show during the course of the performance. The story is moved along quickly and cleverly. But it is very easy to follow and to keep up with what is going on.

The big song from the show is probably One Night Only.  Which does actually play quite a pivotal part in the plot, as it happens. Having been on the outskirts of show business, the situations and dilemmas faced are pretty true to life. But ultimately it is a feel good and uplifting show. Which is certainly worth seeing. Had a fun time watching it and there are some pretty powerful performances from the cast to admire.

Dreamgirls
Dreamgirls

The latest Celebrity Big Brother is happening now on Channel 5. I have not seen any of it currently. And I have no plans to change that situation. Although I have noticed that the former Boyzone singer Shane Lynch is in the house. I met him once many years ago now. It was during the time that the Irish Boy Band were taking a break. He was part of another music collaboration. In which he was rapping, so it was a bit of a departure from his previous musical direction. He and his new band were headlining a charity music event. That I was helping to host in Great Missenden.

I got to meet him before the gig and he was great. He was very friendly, chilled and happy to chat to everyone. There were several other musical acts on the bill. But Shane was the big star on display. I cannot recall his name but the man who was the stage manager had recently come from fulfilling the same role for the last Steps tour.

We were also joined on hosting duties by a young female television presenter from the children’s Saturday morning show Diggit. It was a fun event and I remember there being quite a good audience there to see it. If I am honest I cannot recall too much about Shane and his bands performance, so let us just say they were really good. I personally think he must stand a decent chance of  winning this latest series of Celebrity Big Brother.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I am looking forward to the year ahead. I am in the process and working on a new Podcast. Which I hope to be able to give you more information about soon. I do plan to do some more Stand Up Comedy at some point in the next six months.

Plus I would like to do a bit more radio. So watch this space and we will see what happens. Whatever happens in the next twelve months it is going to be fun, exciting and an adventure. Which is exactly what life should always be like, I think.

Neil Quigley Presenter
Neil Quigley Presenter

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

Happy New Year 2018

Hi there, how are you doing? I hope you had a really nice festive period. Mine was pretty busy but great fun. I was actually working all through Christmas this year, so my celebrations were a little bit disjointed. The company I am working for currently, the BBC, are very much a twenty four hour, seven days a week operation.

I was working nights from Christmas Eve right through to the day after Boxing Day. Therefore I had to work within that fairly big parameter to fit in my Christmas. On the Friday before Christmas Eve. I managed to pop round to see one of my mates and his family at their house for a cup of tea and to hand out a few presents, which was great. Then later that night I went for some festive drinks in London. My Christmas party in effect.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Christmas Eve morning itself I went and met another good friend at a Coffee Shop in Marlow. To give out some more presents. As well as enjoy a cup of tea and a nice catch up with him. Then I went to work. I finished Christmas Day morning arriving home at about nine o’clock. I went and saw my parents and my sister and we exchanged gifts. I did very nicely once again, getting pretty much everything that I asked for. Including the new book by David Jason, a classy new hat to wear out, nose/ear hair trimmers plus some much needed new slippers. Once the presents were opened. I then went to bed for about an hour or so.

Before getting up, having a shower and then heading up to a local pub at lunchtime to meet a couple of my Uncle’s and Cousin’s. As is the tradition in our family. I had one pint with them. Bearing in mind by this point I had only had barely two hours sleep. I was just about there with them. But it was fun and good to see everyone. I then went back to my parents for the full Turkey Christmas Dinner. Which I enjoyed with a single glass of Red Wine. As always it was up to the normal high standards with all of the trimmings.

When we had finished eating we then retired to the living room to chill and talk for a bit. Before my Dad got the Karaoke out. We then spent the next ninety minutes taking it in turns to do songs either individually or in pairs. I would like to apologise to the neighbours or anybody who just happened to be walking too close to the house. When I was singing, and I use that term loosely. I then left them to it before grabbing a couple more hours of sleep. When I woke up there was just time to see a little bit of the big Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special before it was time for me to head back in to work. Christmas Day was a bit of a blur for me but I am glad I got to see everyone and do everything that I did.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Boxing Day was a lot more low key. I split my sleep up during the day, so that I could get up to see Tottenham beat Southampton on the television. Which was nice. Then I just got on with working through the remaining nights. I did then get a few days off between Christmas and New Year. On my first full day off. I did treat myself to a glass or two of festive fizz. That somebody very kindly gave me. It was good fun working over Christmas. We had a lot of fun and spirits were high. We did a Secret Santa to ease the pain.

I got given the book “Get Started in Stand Up Comedy Make ’em Laugh” by a certain Logan Murray. Which did amuse me. As I know Logan. I did one of his comedy courses and have done a couple of gigs with him. Which obviously the person very generously and thoughtfully buying me it probably did not know. Anyway it will not be to hard for me to get my copy signed. It is actually a book I had been thinking of getting for ages. Since I did the course. Therefore I am really looking forward to reading it. Secret Santa had clearly done his or her research on my interests and what I like. May be he or she really is omnipresent.

Logan Murray
Logan Murray

I am a massive fan of the theatre and in fact any live performance. I am also a big kid and I do love to see a Pantomime every year, if I can. Last week I got the chance to go and see Dick Whittington at the London Palladium. Which itself is such an iconic venue. As you can imagine a performance at a theatre like that in the capital can attract a very impressive cast. Therefore appearing in the show were Julian Clary, Elaine Paige, Ashley Banjo & Diversity, Paul Zerden, Nigel Havers, Gary Wilmot, Charlie Stemp, Emma Williams and Lukus Alexander.

It was absolutely brilliant. With that much talent in one play, you really cannot go wrong. It is a very funny show, which moves along at quite a pace. It also gives everyone the chance to shine and show off their skills. I will be honest I have seen more in-depth versions of it with more details of the story in the script. But that is not a moan, as it does not matter, we get the gist of what is going on. Just with lots of laughs along the way.

Julian Clary is fantastic as the Fairly. I am not being derogatory. That is the part that he plays. He is wickedly funny and risque. With the devil to try to put off and wind up the rest of the cast. Elaine Paige is the evil Queen Rat who plays it perfectly. She does play evil very well. But there is also lots of scope for her to show off her amazing voice. Singing versions of her biggest songs. And with a voice as spectacular as her’s. It is very hard to boo her. The show is produced by The Really Useful Theatre Group, which is owned by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber. So this gives them very easy access to a lot of big tunes.

Then there is Ashley Banjo and Diversity. Their dance routines that are thrown in are just unbelievable. I was also pretty impressed with Ashley’s acting to. As he does have a few lines to deliver. A friend of mine Ben Langley was on tour with Paul Zerden a few years ago now. And I remember meeting him before a gig that they were doing in Chesham. That was before Paul went to the States and won America’s Got Talent. Since then I have seen him perform at one of the “At The Palladium Shows”. For me he is easily the best ventriloquist around at the moment. This show gives him chance to show off his considerable talents. His individual bits were very funny.

Nigel Havers is simply Nigel Havers. A British institution, who is just along for the ride and to have a lot of fun. Happy to send himself up, join in and just have a right old laugh. A brilliant performer having some fun on stage. Simply playing and messing around. Gary Wilmot is the dame. And brilliant he is to. I do remember watching him regularly on the television show Copy Cats as a child. I have always been a fan of his work. He played his part perfectly. And he deserves special praise for singing a song containing every single London Underground Station in its lyrics. What a memory that man must have.

I saw Charlie Stemp play the leading role in the most recent production of Half A Sixpence and thought he was brilliant in that. Needless to say he is fantastic as Dick in this. He is clearly going to be a leading man for years to come. He makes everything, acting, singing and dancing look so effortless. Which more than explains why he will soon be heading off to star in Hello Dolly on Broadway. I have seen Emma Williams before in Mrs Henderson Presents. She was fantastic in that, as she was in this. Finally Lukus Alexander who played the cat Eileen. He really does bring it to life and make it a noticeable part of the story. He can really bust some moves.

As with all Pantomimes there were plenty of parts for the kids to enjoy. But in this one there seemed to be lots more aimed at the adults. In fact I do not think I have been to one where there are so many adults and so few children in the audience. But the production, the outfits, the slapstick set pieces, the effects are all there to keep the children entertained. Yet with Julian Clary around it delivers plenty of cheeky fun for the over eighteens to. Simply such a fun, silly and joyous show. Which as far as I am concerned is exactly what a pantomime should be.

Dick Whittington
Dick Whittington

Happy New Year! I really hope you have a fun, positive and happy 2018. I also trust you enjoyed your New Year’s Eve celebrations. I went to a little family gathering at my Auntie’s house. My Mum, Dad and Sister were all there. We reckon that is the first time we have all spent this evening together for well over twenty years. Normally down to me, as I was often Dj’ing in the past on this night. Also attending were a few more Aunties and Uncles and some of my Cousin’s.

It was a lovely evening with people that I had not seen for ages. My Cousin’s Fiancé had set up his Dart board. So we had a few games of that. He is really good and plays regularly. I had not played for about three years. In our first match I beat him with the flukiest double fifteen out shot you will ever see. I then went on to beat my Dad in the next game. Which never stops being fun, by the way. Before then being thrashed for the rest of the evening by pretty much everyone.

Blues Brothers
Blues Brothers

We then went on to play a couple of games using the Twelve Days of Christmas song. We paired up and each had a couple of day’s to sing each. Every time it was your turn you had to jump up and sing your bit. The further you get into the song, the faster and more fun it gets. Then we played a second version inspired by a Pilates class one of my cousin’s had been to. Where they did different moves for each of the days. This time we had to sing our piece while doing the relevant move. I got landed with ten Lords A Leaping. Which was and I was not sure how and argued against this but it was lunges. I had to do ten of those every time my bit came round. Therefore I am now starting the New Year with thighs of steel. It was all a good laugh, though.

Then we saw in the New Year by watching the Fireworks from London’s South Bank on the television. It was another impressive display. Then I headed home to bed. As I was working the next day. Start 2018 as you mean to go on. I hope you have a wonderful twelve months and achieve everything you want to and a lot of things that at this time you probably did not know that you wanted to. As well as being focused on goals and plans. Do remember to laugh, have fun and enjoy the company and support of all your family and friends.

New Years Eve
New Years Eve

I will be continuing my quest to see as many Tottehnam games as possible this year. While they are at Wembley. I was at the West Ham game the other night. And I will be at the FA Cup game against AFC Wimbledon tomorrow.

I am hoping for a quiet January transfer window and a great end to the season. Plus I am also looking forward to catching up with some good friends at the Everton game next weekend to.

Spurs v West Ham United
Spurs v West Ham United

Happy New Year. Have fun, We will catch up in a couple of weeks, Cheers Neil

Drinking In A Winter Wonderland

Hi there, how are you doing? I hope you have had a really good couple of weeks. Mine have been very busy with loads of fun stuff going on. I finally got round to seeing the musical version of Aladdin the other week. Ever since I went to a recording for last year’s Children In Need and saw the cast perform a couple of the songs from the show. I had been meaning to go. It has only taken me just over a year to make that happen. It was however well worth the wait and it did not disappoint at all. It is a fantastic show.

It is produced by Disney. As it is their version of the story, adapted from the cartoon film they made in 1992. With it being by Disney that means it is all done to the highest possible standards, the sets, the props and the staging is all spectacular. The whole cast were fantastic. They did an amazing job. But there is one man who really does steal the show. He is Trevor Dion Nicholas and plays The Genie. He really provides the fun, lots of comedy and the brightest most flamboyant costumes on display. You cannot help but smile when he is on stage. It is worth seeing for him alone, I would say.

It also features the former UK Eurovision Song Contest entrant and one time Sugababes member Jade Ewen as the Princess Jasmine. It gives her chance to showcase her stunning  voice. Singing some of the brilliant songs in the show like for example “A Whole New World”. And just in case there was any doubt I can confirm the version that she and “Aladdin” Matthew Croke perform is way better than the Katie Price and Peter Andre version. It is a real feel good family show. It is definitely worth seeing if you get the chance.

Aladdin
Aladdin

I once again visited The One Show studio last Wednesday. To see another episode of the programme go out live. I actually walk past the studio pretty much every day and I do sometimes have a peer in the window to see who is on. But you really cannot beat being inside and watching all the action as it happens. As with most television sets they are actually a lot smaller than they look on television, when you are sat on the sofa at home. The One Show studio is very small and cosy. It is all very chilled and low key. In that you get in there only about five minutes before the show goes live to air. And it is standing room only.

Then Matt Baker and Alex Jones wander in, say hello and sit on the famous green sofa ready to start the programme. Then the evening’s guests are shown in. On this latest visit they were Alexander Armstrong and Alexandra Burke with a cameo appearance from her current Strictly Come Dancing partner Gorka Marquez. The show also had a Pantomime theme running through it. So there were lots of people dressed up in costume as various characters. In fact during the night I was at different points stood next to a Dame, a villain and a pantomime cow. Right before the show started we had a quick rehearsal for some Panto style interaction with Matt. Which if you saw it, you may have heard right near the start.

It is always a fun experience being there. There are the chats with the guests which are great but of course there are lots of films to. You do get to watch them on the screens in the studio. While the presenters and the guests are setting up for the next item. I am always fascinated about how television is made from camera angles to auto cue and everything that happens in and around the studio to make it all work seamlessly. The end part of the show saw us head out to the Piazza to see more Panto animals in a bit hosted by the man I once saw on a train between London and Slough Matt Allwright. It was a good laugh. The whole team including the presenters are always so nice and friendly when you are there.

The One Show
The One Show

Talking of returning to places that I have been to before and after not making it along there last year. I did pay my second ever visit to Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park on Monday. It is a massive event with lots going on, if you like your fairground rides, Christmas stalls and winter activities like ice skating.

Personally I have no real interest in those things. But having been twice to Oktoberfest in Munich. I do like Bavarian style Beer Keller’s. Which is something else that they have on offer to enjoy there. Entry is free to the actual site, so it costs nothing to visit these bars.

Winter Wonderland
Winter Wonderland

Therefore as you have probably already guessed as soon as I arrived I just headed straight for said Bavarian Village. You can buy pints in plastic glasses or you can pay a five pound deposit and get a handled pint sized stein made out of a tougher plastic. As you get your money back on the return of your glass when you leave. To enjoy the beer a little better this option was a no brainer for me. So I got myself a stein of Bavarian Gold. Which I have to say tasted great. It is a nice drop.

Winter Wonderland
Winter Wonderland

When I went a couple of years ago there was a singer performing all sorts of classic and Christmas style songs. Well he was back there again doing exactly the same thing. I mean pretty much exactly the same set to be honest.

He does a great job, though. I really enjoyed hearing him do his thing again. It all makes for a really good atmosphere.  There are also other bands and singers dotted around the place. But as I was enjoying his work and as I had managed to find a table. I stuck with him for the whole evening.

Bavarian Village
Bavarian Village

It does make you feel Christmassy being there. Everybody is there to have fun and have a good time. Pretty much everyone seems to be drinking to. It was busy enough on a Monday, so I imagine it is absolutely rammed during the weekend. It was a nice evening of music and beer. Which let us face it is always a winning combination.

I certainly think the place is worth an annual visit. If you have never been it is worth experiencing. Be prepared to queue for a bit on the way in and I would try to avoid the really busy periods or it could become a bit frustrating with waiting for drinks and food.

BBC
BBC

I recently spent an evening in the BBC Club. Which is just that, a bar for members of staff to relax in after work. I was there for a leaving do for someone who is heading back to his native New Zealand to host a new Breakfast Radio Show there. It was a top night, it was lovely to relax and chat with people that I normally only get to see in a work environment.

It is a venue I do not visit that often as I rarely seem to get the time. You never of course know who you might see in there. As it is open to anyone who is at the BBC. They do tend to have some decent beers on offer, whenever I have been in there. Which is definitely a plus point. It is very basic and simple. Like any social club you would see attached to a workplace.

BBC
BBC

It is the final of this years I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here tomorrow night. My choice to win did not even come close to happening as Shappi Khorsandi was voted out of the camp first. In her defence I thought she came across very well, was very amusing and did not do anything wrong. But that is show business. It has been another fun series and as ever on the whole they have all thrown themselves in to the experience. The surprise for me has been “Toff”. I will be honest I had no idea who she was before the show started. But she seems really nice and positive. Which is something I really like. She always sounds so upbeat and excited whenever she talks about anything.She coped well with everything that they have thrown at her.

Ant & Dec were once again on top form. I think they are getting cheekier and more brutal when taking the rise out of the camp mates. While of course not taking themselves or the whole thing to0 seriously. They know what it is all about, simply entertainment. This series did bring up an interesting moral dilemma. When Amir and Ian won the Dingo Dollar challenge and ate the reward of Strawberries and Cream. Before they got back to the camp. Then initially lied to everyone by telling them they had not won it. What would you have done? Would you have eaten them? I would not have eaten them myself, as I am a team player. But if I had one thing is for sure I certainly would not have told them about it while I was still in the Jungle. That would have been a confession in the hotel bar of the luxury hotel afterwards, just after getting a round in.

I have been quite lucky in meeting a few of the winners and contestants from it over the years. My first ever live radio interview was with Tony Hadley. I interviewed Katie Price at one of her book signings. I worked with Kerry Katona at Truckfest. I once appeared on stage with Joe Pasquale. I have hosted an East 17 gig featuring Brian Harvey. I was in the same bar as Sid Owen in Tenerife once. I have worked with Blue a few times, so I have met Anthony Costa and Simon Webbe. I have interviewed Jenny Frost. I have chatted to Tommy Cannon in a hotel bar. I have spoken to Myleene Klass. I have met and interviewed the legend that is Christopher Biggins. I have met on a couple of different occasions the lovely Timmy Mallet. Many years ago now I met Britt Ekland at a pantomime press do. Finally I have met and briefly worked with Pat Sharp.

Neil Quigley with Christopher Biggins
Neil Quigley with Christopher Biggins

I was at Wembley this week for the final Champions League group match for Tottenham Hotspur. Before which we had already qualified in first place from the so called big group of death. Therefore it was a kind of odd game.

It gave us chance to play a few players who needed some match time and to introduce a few younger players in to the first team set up for a bit of experience. It was a very comfortable three nil win. It was nice to see a couple of players get their first goals for the club. So we now look forward to the knock out stages. Bring them on!

Tottenham Champions League
Tottenham Champions League

I had a brilliant celebrity spot in London recently. I was walking with a friend near Baker Street. Ahead of us I noticed a man step in to the road to try to hale a taxi as it was going past. It stopped he spoke to driver but then it drove off. By this point we were getting nearer to him. He stepped back on to the path pretty much right in front of me. Then as he turned round, we were pretty much face to face. I realised it was Noel Gallagher. I did not speak to him but gave him a knowing nod and a smile as I walked by. I have to admit he was looking well. He does just look so cool, though. Every inch the rock star.

School of Rock
School of Rock

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

Rock and Roll Lessons

Hi there, how are you doing? I hope you have had a really good couple of weeks. Mine have been fairly busy with lots of fun stuff going on. I have once again spent quite a bit of time at Wembley Stadium. But this time I was not watching Tottenham Hotspur. A friend of mine invited me along to the two recent England friendly internationals. I got to see England face Germany.

Which is always a decent fixture. And one which I have good and bad memories of from over the years. The big disappointment of losing that game in Italy in 1990 on penalties. Then there was the delight and amazement of the five-one win in Munich. When Michael Owen got a great hat-trick and even Emile Heskey got one. That was a great night. Not least because a week or so after it I was at Oktoberfest in Munich for the first time and it gave us the football bragging rights at the time.

England V Brazil
England V Brazil

The most recent game between these two world giants was exciting but goalless. It was end to end stuff but with few clear cut chances. We got to see a lot of young England players making their debuts. Plus we had brilliant seats. As we were sat in the Bobby Moore seats. They are the comfiest seats in the stadium and the view from them is ace. I like to watch games from a position around the half way line, personally.

It was nice to see a Spurs player, Eric Dier captain the team. It was an enjoyable evening catching up with a few people I had not seen for a while. It is always good to get behind the national team, I think. There was a decent sized crowd there. It was good fun and nice to clock up another cap as an England supporter.

I was back at Wembley a few days later sat in exactly the same seat to see England take on the might of Brazil. It is always a colourful occasion when they are in town. Those iconic yellow shirts and blue shorts are unmistakable. It is amazing that generation after generation they just seem to produce exceptionally talented footballers. Who are just so skillful and always great on the ball.

It was good to see Neymar in action and close up. Although this game also finished goalless, you could see in glimpses why he is the most expensive player on the planet. The England back four did very well against him. I will be honest it was not as exciting as the German game but it was still a good night at the home of football. If you cannot enjoy yourself when the Brazilian Samba band are playing. There is something wrong with you.

England v Germany
England v Germany

The England manager Gareth Southgate is being quite positive about the fact that we were not beaten by two of the best teams in the world. How much you can really base future performances on these kind of friendlies, I am not sure. World Cup Final games come with much more pressure and there is a long way to go till the summer. But I am happy to follow his lead. There is no point even turning up if you do not believe you can win it, so why not.

With a bit of luck who knows. And if not remember the final of the 2020 European Finals is being played at Wembley Stadium, so that is a great incentive for that tournament. I will hopefully get to at least one of the World Cup warm up games in the new year. Before we send the squad off to do battle on our behalf in Russia.

England
England

I went to a great music gig a couple of Monday’s ago at Bush Hall in Shepherds Bush. A lovely little venue that has hosted quite a few big acts on their way up the ladder. In the toilets they have old gig posters plastered all over the walls. While I was in there I spotted Lily Allen, Adele, Amy Winehouse and Florence and the Machine to mention just a few. It is a very cool, classic and old fashioned building with a bit of a school hall feel to it. Which I actually think adds to its charm.

I was there to see a new American group called Cactus Blossoms. When we arrived at the venue me and my friend spotted a gentleman at the side of the room who looked scarily like the leader of the Labour party Jeremy Corbyn. I do not think it was him but my mate thought it might be the lookalike they use on the Last Leg. Whoever it was they were just casually dressed and blending in to the background.

Cactus Blossoms
Cactus Blossoms

The support act was an Irish guitar playing singer/songwriter called Louis Brennan. He was very good, played well and had a good voice. His songs are quite mellow and a bit bluesy. But one thing I will say the songs and the lyrics are very specific to him and his life. Which for me will not give them universal appeal, as I would suspect it would be difficult to relate to them. But I am happy to be proved wrong on this, if he does suddenly become a huge success.

Before doing one of the songs he did actually reference Jeremy Corbyn. I will confess at this point I did glance at our suspected look-a-like to see if there was any reaction from him. If only just to acknowledge that he himself was aware of his resemblance to the man in question. But alas nothing.

The main reason we were there the Cactus Blossoms were brilliant. They are a guitar led band with two lead singers who also play guitar. If that reminds you of any famous American groups from yesteryear. Then it should, as they are called the modern day Everly Brothers. A title that is well deserved when you hear them sing the harmonies to their songs. It really does sound amazing.

This is not meant to sound patronising or derogatory but they could easily be the greatest Everly Brothers tribute band ever. That is meant as a compliment. I would love to hear them do their classic songs. Their own songs are good but possibly not good enough for what their musical talents and their voices really deserve. They are really likeable people. It was a nice gig, very enjoyable. They are a band you should check out if you get the chance.

Cactus Blossoms
Cactus Blossoms

I went to see the brilliant School of Rock at the New London Theatre last Monday. It has been a show that I had been meaning to see for a while. As I had heard nothing but good things about it. Unusually for me I had actually seen the film starring Jack Black when it came out. Which bearing in mind I watch an average of two films a year that is quite a coincidence.

This version is based on the film. It is produced by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber. Who wrote the music for it. Proving that he can write some decent rock style songs. But on reflection I guess there was evidence of that from his first ever show Joseph. There is an announcement from the good Lord himself just before the show starts basically confirming that all the children are playing their own instruments during the performance.

School of Rock
School of Rock

From my memory it is fairly true to the film and the story line and situations are similar. As you would of course expect. It is a clever and uplifting experience highlighting the importance of emotional development and family life versus the need to be educated and learn as much as you can.

It is a classic when two worlds collide and both help each other out kind of scenario. Firstly the adult cast are great, they all do a top quality job and as you would expect from a West End musical the singing and dancing is as ever sensational. They really drive the show forward.

School of Rock
School of Rock

The stars of the show of course are the children. They were all amazing and so talented. The acting, singing and dancing was spot on. Then you come to the members of the cast who actually make up the band.

Those kids are super talented. The girl on the drums is just amazing, the bass playing girl is perfect, the lad on the keyboards was so good he could give Vince Clarke a run for his money. Then there is the boy who plays lead guitar. He is ridiculously good. I would guess they are all somewhere between the ages of eleven and thirteen.

School of Rock
School of Rock

Like all West End Musicals there is a band. Who you can see above the stage to the right. As sometimes there are songs when the kids do not have instruments. But I really cannot stress how good these kids are. They are so good that despite the announcement at the start you do wonder are they really playing. Then when they perform at the end the Orchestra are all standing up watching the kids play and clapping along.

They are all amazing. It is such a good fun show and well worth seeing. It could actually be launching the careers of several up and coming rock stars in real life for all we know. Another nice touch is that during the encore they say you can at this point take some photos as long as you tag the show in on social media. Which sounds like a fair deal to me. Brilliant fun and another triumph for the king of musicals Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber.

School of Rock
School of Rock

I was lucky enough to be able to go and see Harry Hill do a work in progress gig at the Soho Theatre in London. It is a great comedy venue with a really nice bar there to use before and after you watch the show you are there to see. It is the sort of place where a lot of comics catch up with each other in the bar or watch their peers new shows. So it is a good place to potentially bump in to your favourites.

Harry Hill was brilliant. He is well known of course for hosting television shows but he is a great live performer and joke teller. He does a lot of clever one liners and as you would expect there is plenty of silliness throughout it all. It was a top night seeing a great comedian in a small room trying out some great new material. I expect him to do a full tour on the back on these gigs probably in the second half of next year.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here is back on television for this year. I always say it, Ant and Dec for me are the best TV presenters we currently have. So great to see them back together where they belong. They dealt nicely with Ant’s enforced summer break. That is why we like them because as an audience we are always in on the joke.

I am looking forward to seeing how Shappi Khorsandi gets on in the show. I interviewed her a few years ago and she was lovely. I know we are only in the very early stages of this series but I would like her to win it. Here is a bit of the conversation I had with her around five years ago.
https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/shappi-khorsandi-interview/id1236437663?i=1000394847020&mt=2

Neil Quigley

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