Tag Archives: theatre

No Place Like Home

Here we are then still trying to overcome this nasty virus as a nation. We have been afforded a little more freedom with caution it seems. I am still in the lucky position where I can work from home currently. Therefore to be honest I have been continuing to do the same as I was before the lock-down was relaxed slightly.

I hope you and your friends and families are keeping safe and well. I have settled into this new routine and way of life. Happily I am at the moment at least coping with it fine. Obviously there are things that I am missing that I would like to do. But as these things are not on at the moment like football and the theatre there is nothing I can do. I do subscribe to the do not fight what you cannot change theory and I accept these current issues and will make them work for me the best I can.

I am not a scientist or an expert but it does look like all of the crucial figures are on the decline. However I would feel happier I think if the testing was more easily available and the tracking app was up and running. This would surely give us a better idea of where we stand and will help with opening up the country going forward.

The news from the rest of Europe who were ahead of us in the cycle is it seems encouraging. But if we are sensible and take care of ourselves and others, things will return to “normal” hopefully sooner than was may be originally expected. However this next stage during the next four weeks will I think be crucial to determine if this is the case.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

As I said one of the things I am missing is the theatre. The National Theatre is still showing weekly plays from their archives. While it is not the same as seeing a show live it is the closest thing currently on offer. Therefore I am dipping into these now and again to keep my hand in when it comes to the performing arts. The latest offering was “A Street Car Named Desire” by Tennessee Williams. It made its debut on Broadway in 1947. Like a lot of his plays it is pretty dark in places but it is gritty and real to.

The production they showed on their YouTube channel was the 2014 version performed at The Young Vic Theatre starring the brilliant Gillian Anderson and Ben Foster. I had not seen the play before so was not totally sure what to expect, although from the knowledge of the writer I had I suspected it may not be for the faint hearted. The staging was quite odd in that it was on a square stage in the centre of the audience. It is basically a one scene show as all the action takes place in the same building.

I enjoyed the play, it certainly makes you think. I felt sympathy for all the characters at points as we discovered their stories and worked out their outlooks and flaws. Gillian Anderson was fantastic in the lead role. It was nicely done with a slick and polished performance from the whole cast. I think it is fair to say it is not exactly a feel good play but it is dramatic and gripping. It is not a murder mystery as such but there is quite a bit to unravel as it goes on. If you are a theatre fan to, keep an eye out for what the National Theatre is showing every Thursday night online.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Unbelievably despite being pretty much housebound I am still not watching that much television. One thing I have been seeing though is The Ranganation. I like Romesh Ranganathan and have done since I saw him quite early on in his career when he used to host the BBC Radio 4 topical comedy show Newsjack. He is very funny and quick witted but also has a nice way about him, which although it does not sound like it is meant to be a compliment.

I think the programme works really well. They have a nice selection of members of the general public including Romesh’s mum which helps shape the feel and dynamic of things. They always seem to get really good guests on it to. This is the second series. The first one was of course in a TV studio with everyone there in the same place. The latest one is obviously being made in lock-down. Romesh is doing it from his garage with the Ranganation members and the guests on Zoom and Skype.

Weirdly I think this actually works pretty well with this format. It is almost better than when they were in the studio. I am not sure why possibly them all being at home gives a Goggle Box feel to things. It has not suited a lot of programmes but it suits this one. This series has been very funny so far. It is topical but it is also very laid back and relaxed in its subjects, which is sometimes needed at the minute. I would quite like to be one of The Ranganation. It looks like a right laugh.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I am currently still doing my weekly Pop Quiz on a Tuesday night at 8.30pm on my Facebook page. I enjoy putting it together and people seem to be enjoying it. As long as there is still nowhere for us to go out to in the evening I will keep doing it. I try to make it as fun as possible, while also making it quite challenging. It is tough and I will put your musical knowledge to the test, but only in the name of fun!

There are six rounds each with five questions in. I will ask them and supply the answers. Then how you play along is completely up to you. Some people play in teams, some people play individually and some households play against each other. There is no right or wrong way just whatever way gives you the most satisfaction. If you have not tried it yet why not join me and have a go? We will have a giggle and the whole thing only lasts about thirty minutes.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

You can catch me every Saturday afternoon on Radio Ninesprings between 2pm – 4pm currently. It is the station for Yeovil and South Somerset but you can of course listen online wherever you are. http://www.radioninesprings.co.uk

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

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

Star Wars A Solo Story

Hello there, I hope that you and your families are safe and well. It is a very unusual situation we still find ourselves in, I trust that you are dealing with it the best you can. I am still somehow coping with it all much better than I thought I would. I am finding plenty of things to keep myself amused and entertained. I might be going a little bit stir crazy but it is hard to say as I was quite inventive and productive before this all began.

Alan Partridge and Neil Quigley

Last Monday it was Star Wars Day, as it is every year on the 4th of May or as the Americans say May the 4th, which makes it fit much better with one of the movie franchises catchphrases and supportive salutations. I am a massive Star Wars fan, so I do always try to mark this occasion in some small way. This year I produced a video of me on a Star Destroyer pretending to be a Jedi on a fact finding missing, as you do. I assure you this is perfectly normal behaviour for a man in his forties.

Star Wars Exhibition
Star Wars Exhibition

I have watched all of the Star Wars films and enjoyed them, although the three prequels that were made in the middle not quite as much as the others. I think that is more to do with the fact that the original characters are ingrained in me from that first film I saw as a Kid, so they resonate with me more. Plus the final three were shot more in the same style as the initial trilogy. I wanted to be Luke Skywalker but fear in reality I am probably more of a Han Solo.

When I was a child I had a huge Star Wars toy collection including all the main characters, a Millennium Falcon, Jabba the Hut’s Throne, a Speeder Bike and an AT AT. I sold them all at a Car Boot Sale about ten years ago, just before they announced a new movie featuring some of the original cast. It is all in the timing, if I had waited a bit I probably could have sold it all for a lot more. But it went to a good home and let us face it I was getting a bit too old to play with it.

I own a Star Wars T-shirt with all of the main original characters on it. A few years ago there was a big Exhibition at the O2 with lots of items from the films like costumes, models and other memorabilia. It was ace. I had a brilliant time. I had never been that bothered about going to Disney World before. But now that they own the franchise and have a Star Wars themed area called Galaxy’s Edge where you can go on board the Millennium Falcon, I now have to go there!

Star Wars Exhibition
Star Wars Exhibition

I am missing the live theatre at the moment. Sadly it looks as if it may not be back-up and running in London’s West End until next year at the moment. Andrew Lloyd Webber is streaming some of his shows on his YouTube Channel every Friday Night at 7pm. I have seen a few of them and while it is not the same as actually being there. It is the closest experience to it we can get at the minute. If you are a fan of musicals I would recommend watching these, they are all great to be fair.

School of Rock
School of Rock

I mentioned this last time but The National Theatre is also showing some of their productions on their YouTube Channel. Last weekend I watched their version of Frankenstein starring Jonny Lee Miller and Benedict Cumberbatch. There were actually two versions to choose from as they alternated the two lead parts between them. That is not only unusual but meant they both had twice as many lines to learn. I saw the performance with Jonny Lee Miller as the Monster and Benedict Cumberbatch playing Dr Frankenstein.

I am not normally a fan of horror but this is very nicely done and not too scary or gory. What I did not realise is that it is more of a story about society, perceptions, responsibility, accountability and love. Than it is a creepy and frightening play. It does really make you think and lots of the dilemmas and misconceptions that exist within it are sadly still relevant today. I found it very interesting and I am glad I watched it. The cast were great. It is well worth seeing if you have a couple of hours spare at the moment.

Young Frankenstein
Mel Brooks funny take on the story.

I have just started reading Timmy Mallet’s new book. It is a diary of a cycling pilgrimage he did in memory of his brother combined with an autobiography of his life story. He has a degree in History and The History of Art therefore it also contains a lot of interesting historical facts. I discovered that the supposed mummified hand of St James, one of Jesus’s Apostles is actually at St Peters Church in Marlow, which is just down the road from me. It is also near to him to, which makes things a bit strange when you know that the final destination for his trip is to see the burial site of St James in Santiago in Spain.

The book is excellent you do get an insight into Timmy’s upbringing and career, you discover more about his love of art and history. But it is actually more than that. It is quite philosophical and inspiring. I am really enjoying reading it. I have been lucky enough to meet him a few times in the past. He is such a friendly and lovely man who is happy to chat to anyone. Yes he is a bit for want of a better word wacky but he is a really good guy. You always feel better for having run into him.

I ordered my copy directly from his website and got it personally signed with a message from the great man himself. While I was on there I noticed he also had Pinky Punky’s available, his little Mallet friend on Wacaday. At that point the big kid in me took over and I had to have one! Therefore I got myself one along with the book. When it all arrived the first thing I did was take a picture with it. In fact I also made a video pretending to be Timmy at the start of a game of Mallet’s Mallet. In my defence we have all been stuck in our homes a lot at the recently. I am really looking forward to finishing the book.

Neil Quigley

For the last couple of Tuesdays I have been hosting a Pop Quiz live on my Facebook page. I was just doing it for a bit of a laugh and to give people something to do of an evening. I delivered the questions and then the answers just leaving people at home to play along how they wanted to. They could use my scoring system of one point for every correct answer or create their own. The idea was that it was a bit of fun for people to get involved with.

I had fun writing, producing and presenting it. I called it Quigger’s Plays Pop and even made a theme tune slightly ripping off the old Chegger’s Plays Pop theme, thank you Keith. They are still available on my Facebook. Each one lasts around thirty minutes. The idea was for them to be short, sweet and amusing. I am not sure if I am going to do anymore or not. I think I might continue doing them during the rest of lock down, if people want me to.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Yesterday was 75th Anniversary VE Day. I still find it impossible to truly imagine what it would have been like to live through and be involved in the Second World War. Not to mention the feeling of joy and relief when Victory in Europe was achieved. I hope you marked the occasion in any way you could and saw fit to. We to will be able to party and celebrate when this particular situation will currently face passes, which it will.

VE Day 75th Anniversary

I am currently presenting on Saturday afternoons between 2pm- 4pm on Radio Ninesprings. It is lovely to be back on the air in the Somerset area. You can listen online at www.radioninesprings.co.uk

Neil Quigley Presenter
Neil Quigley Presenter

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

Home With A Phone

Hi, I hope you and your loved ones are staying safe and being good responsible members of the community by following the guidelines and new rules currently in place. It is quite strange spending so much time at home at the moment. However I have settled in to it better than I thought I would. Mainly due to modern technology which like many people means I can do most of the things I need to do from the house anyway.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I appreciate not everybody has this luxury currently. I would like to thank the amazing NHS staff who are doing a tremendous job often in stressful and testing situations, we all appreciate what you are all doing for the country. Thanks of course to all the other key workers and volunteers who are helping to keep elderly and isolated people safe as well as food supplies maintained for the rest of us. These are odd times but together we can and will get through this.

I am a big supporter of the Royal Family and in particular the Queen. I think she is an amazing person. She has lived through and dealt with so much during her reign. Like most of the country I watched her one off special address to the nation. She spoke with so much authority and compassion, delivering a concise, honest and positive speech. A lot of high profile public figures could learn a lot from her. I do not know about you but I felt calm, positive and even a little bit emotional when she finished talking.

The Queen

She is of course not the only person to make additional appearances at the moment. A fairly large number of celebrities are doing either live broadcasts or home videos on social media. These range from them chatting to fans, to running quizzes, to doing exclusive live performances, to fitness classes.

In fact at the minute you can I think pretty much take any class or hobby you can think of live via various apps and social media platforms. I have resisted the urge to start my own daily Instagram videos so far, but these may start to happen in the future depending on how long the lock down continues.

Neil Quigley & Russell Brand
Neil Quigley & Russell Brand

I am a massive fan of the theatre and obviously I cannot go at the minute. A lot of theatres and production companies are starting to put out certain already recorded performances of shows online. For example The National Theatre is showing a new one every Thursday night at 7pm on their You Tube Channel. The first one was the other week. As it happened it was one that I really wanted to see when it was actually on. But sadly I missed it when it was on in London and also when it was performed at the Waterside Theatre in Aylesbury.

The play in question was “One Man, Two Guvnors” starring James Corden. I always like to support Buckinghamshire talent. He grew up in Hazlemere just outside High Wycombe and went to Misbourne School in Great Missenden. When I see a new play for the first time I never read anything about it. I like to be completely surprised by and oblivious to the story line. Therefore other than the title I had no idea what to expect.

It did seem a bit odd watching a full theatre show at home on my computer, but I was actually quite excited when the curtain went up and it started. It is a farce comedy play with a few musical interludes. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole performance. It is just silly fun with a lot of comedic set pieces. There is a plot and a story line to it, which is easy to follow and makes sense. The cast are excellent and all play their individual roles perfectly.

Personally I thought James Corden was fantastic in the lead role. It involved a lot of physical comedy, accents, audience participation and of course perfect comedy timing. It was a pretty demanding part which he truly put his own stamp on. There were some laugh out loud moments and a couple of nice unexpected twists.

It was almost three hours long, so it was a whole evening’s worth of top quality entertainment. It was not quite the same as actually being there at the theatre but at the moment it is the closest thing to it. Therefore I will definitely be watching some of their future online productions.

Neil Quigley

Last weekend I would have normally been up in Liverpool for the Grand National Festival. But it like many other events this year did not happen. However for the previous two years ITV have done a Virtual Grand National on the day before the actual race. As there was no race they moved this to the Saturday and showed it in place of what would have been the real race, if it had gone ahead.

You could bet on the virtual race but all the Book Makers agreed that all the money made from it would be donated to the NHS, which in the end was more than £2.6 Million.

Aintree Race Course

I watched it and must say the graphics and the work that went into producing it were astonishing. It looked amazing! I did have a bet on it but my horse did not win, which was totally fine as my money went to a very good cause. I am quite in to my horse racing and do follow a few jockeys and trainers on Twitter.

One of the best things about the race was the humour and jokes from the racing community. It was all computer simulation but during the race some horses and jockeys fell. The Jockeys were explaining what happened and confirming they were alright and the trainers were all doing the same with the horses. It was just a bit of light-hearted fun that led to a bit of good-natured banter, which was very amusing.

Neil Quigley and Paul Nicholls OBE

Obviously due to the current situation it is difficult to make new TV Shows as they would normally be put together. For example Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway, which would normally have been live with a studio audience, for the last two week’s has been them in their own homes introducing some great moments from its archive. It does give the show a very different feel but that is the only way it could have happened under the current restrictions. Luckily it was still funny and entertaining, if thirty minutes shorter than usual.

Today they return in the new already recorded before the lock down Britain’s Got Talent auditions. If you do happen to watch keep an eye out for any familiar faces you might see in the audience of any of the London auditions. You never know who you might spot. It is set to be another wild and wonderful series with a huge variety of acts of all different abilities shall we say. But rest assured I am not on the stage performing, I promise.

Britain’s Got Talent

Have I Got News For You feels very odd at the moment. The host and the panellists are all at home basically on their computers. It is fair to say some of their cameras and microphones are not really of a broadcast standard. Conversation and chat comedy does not sadly I feel work as well in this way as interaction is stunted and they spend a lot of time talking over each other. Also of course there is no studio audience to punctuate things with laughter. It is great that they are keeping it going but it does not quite work well enough for me, sadly.

The Mash Report was also produced in this way and in my opinion it worked much better as it is mostly scripted comedy. Therefore they can just record their lines individually. Then put it all back together in the edit. However again it does feel pretty odd with no audience, but there is nothing we can do about that at the minute. I almost did not recognise Nish Kumar after he had to shave his whole beard off after a home trimming incident. Television like radio is still carrying on the best it can. I still believe laughter is still one of the best kinds of medicine, even in times like these.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

After an eleven year break I have recently started doing a radio show in the Yeovil area again. My old boss at Ivel fm and Midwest Radio Steve Carpenter is now at Radio Ninesprings 104.5fm.

I am now delighted to announce that I am on the station on Saturday afternoons between 2pm- 4pm. It is great to be back on air in the Somerset area. You can listen online www.radioninesprings.co.uk

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

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

The Return From Oz

Well I thought I would give you a bit of time to soak up my four part Australian adventure. I had a brilliant time there but obviously since I have returned to England things have become a little bit strange. I have certainly never experienced anything like this in my life before. The shear global scale and impact on the United Kingdom of the new Coronavirus pandemic is quite hard to comprehend.

I think personally that we have to listen to the experts and all of the people on the front line battling this thing and do as they say. There are so many mixed messages and incorrect pieces of information on the social media networks. I actually find that scarier than the actual virus. If we do what is asked of us we can all get through this thing together in the shortest possible time.

The plan at the moment is basically to try to control the number of cases in the country. In the hope that we can give the NHS a chance to give the required treatment to anybody who needs it. I appreciate staying in when you feel fine seems ridiculous but no one is exactly sure how long before symptoms show that you can transmit it. We know it spreads very quickly and is a nasty thing as it attacks the respiratory system. That as an Asthmatic is obviously something I am quite concerned about.

We just need to be sensible, follow instructions, social distance and look after each other. The aim of the game is to ease the pressure on the health service so if you or anybody you know requires their help. They will be in a position to be able to treat you in Hospital how you would expect if taken there in an emergency. If this thing continues to spread at the rate it has been they may struggle a little to achieve that, so let’s stick together and help each other out.

Stay at home if you can. If you are a key worker keep doing the brilliant job you are doing. We all really appreciate it. We can win this with a bit of common sense and some big self discipline. Stay safe and more importantly keep joking and having a laugh to.

Neil Quigley Presenter
Neil Quigley Presenter

Right that is the serious bit over but I felt I could not really ignore it and pretend that it was not happening. I would like to also point out that the things I am writing about and the things I have been to were actually a minimum of three weeks ago now before everything was cancelled. I have been closely following the government advice since it was made. Even though I find it slightly difficult to take someone who used to host Have I Got News For You and who got stuck on a Zip Wire seriously but sometimes needs must.

Neil Quigley

I went out for dinner in Berkhamsted about a month ago now. I was invited to a Turkish Restaurant there by a friend. We both wanted to have a few drinks. Initially I was going to get a taxi from where I live to Tring get the train to Berkhamsted and then do the same journey in reverse at the end of the night. However as it turned out the taxi would cost the about same amount as staying at Pendley Manor Hotel, which is within walking distance of Tring Railway Station. It seemed like a complete no-brainer to me, so a night away it was.

I had been to a few works parties and conferences at Pendley Manor but I think this was the first time that I had stayed there. It is a very regal looking building set in beautiful grounds. I cannot think of to many places where Peacocks wander around freely. I am not sure why I see that as a big selling point but for some reason I do. Once I was checked in I did the first thing I always do when I walk in to a hotel room I checked the bathroom to see if it was a shower or bath. I rarely have baths at home now so see this as a hotel room treat. It had a bath which I did take advantage of during my stay.

I walked from the hotel down to the station, which I will confess was slightly further than I thought and caught the train to Berkhamsted. It is only about an eight minute journey. I arrived at the restaurant a bit early but went in and got our table which was booked for six. My friend then arrived we ordered some wine and got the menu. It was the first time I had been to a Turkish restaurant. It is a bit like Tapas in that you order a selection of dishes to share. I must confess as a general rule like Joey from Friends I do not share food but I do make exceptions for these occasions.

Neil Quigley

The food was amazing. The variety of the dishes was fantastic. We had delicious Chicken, Lamb, Halloumi and Butternut Squash dishes. All washed down with a little more wine. I am not saying the portions were generous but it is very rare that I am too full to have dessert. It was a place called Tabure and I would certainly recommend it. When they gave us the bill my friend and I both double checked it as we thought that they had undercharged us. It was not cheap as such but I would say very reasonable for the standard and the amount of food plus the drink prices were fair to.

We left the restaurant about eight o’clock and went down the road to the Kings Arms. We were just chatting and having a few more glasses of wine when suddenly it was one in the morning and they were closing the bar. That is the sign of a good night by the way, if you can suddenly lose five hours in the same pub with no gaps in the conversation.

We said goodbye I got the train back to Tring and then strolled back to Pendley Manor for a good night’s sleep. It is a grand hotel but might be getting a little bit old now. It was a wet night and they had lots of buckets around catching water from the leaks in the roof. However it is still a nice place to stay, it has a cool look and feel to it.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Again several weeks ago now I went and saw my mate Mike Sterling do a show at the Kenton Theatre in Henley on Thames. I always like to catch his performances when I can. It was a bit of a mad dash to make this one as I was watching Tottenham play Wolves at the Spurs Stadium that afternoon. (Yes it was that long ago Premier League football was still being payed). I made it to the theatre about fifteen minutes before curtain up. That gave me time to order a beer before it started and the same again ready for the interval.

It was a new show he was performing for the first time. He was celebrating the music of Rodgers and Hammerstein and more. He was joined on stage by his long time friend and musical director Toby Cruse, who accompanied him on the piano. It also featured Joanne Pullen who was his “Christine” when he starred in The Phantom of The Opera. They performed versions of these great songs produced by the legendary composers and lyricists as well as explaining a bit about the history of the songs and the relationships of the people behind them.

Mike Sterling

There was also a cameo appearance at the end of the first half from the superstar that is Vince Hill. He did a few songs including the big hit song he had his version of Edelweiss, which was stunning. He is eighty-five years old but his voice, stage presence and mic control is still first class. What an amazingly talented and very lovely man. The whole show was excellent. It is a while since I have been to a concert featuring just a piano and the singers. It does produce a very raw and real feel to proceedings.

I managed as ever to catch up with Mike for a quick chat and a drink after the show at a little bash at one of the wine bars in Henley. I had a busy day the following day, so could not stay to long but it was nice to see him. I also got to have a brief conversation with Toby who had been working the hardest by far as he was playing the piano all night. He is another extremely talented and nice fella. I now look forward to seeing them both perform later in the year, when it is safe and acceptable to put such things on once again.

Mike Sterling and Neil Quigley

I had been to the Globe Theatre during their summer season in the past and always had a thoroughly enjoyable time. I also had a tour around there once I got to see everything apart from one small part as there was something going on in there.

That missing piece of the jigsaw was The Sam Wanamaker Playhouse at The Globe. It is a smaller inside version of the main theatre in the same style and modelled on a venue of the same era. It is very compact, made of wood and candlelit. The room itself looks stunning!

Sam Wanamaker Playhouse

I went and saw William Shakespeare’s The Taming of The Shrew. I never studied the “Bard” at school so I am slowly getting around to seeing some of his plays in later life. The Wanamaker Playhouse is a great setting to watch these productions in to get a feel of what it might have been like seeing them the first time that they were performed. The Staff there are lovely and you can bring drinks in with you, which is handy as the first half of the play was an hour and fifty minutes long.

It is bench seating inside no individual seats so you will have to be a bit close and cosy with your fellow audience members, also there is nowhere really to stick your coats. I ended up sitting on mine. It is worth it though as it is such a lovely setting. The play was brilliant, the cast were amazing. I think it is a good sign that when the near two hour long first half ended I was like is that the interval already? The time flew by. It is a comedy so there were plenty of laughs to.

Sam Wanamaker Playhouse

The second half was equally as good. I can also confirm for the wine connoisseurs amongst you that they serve a very nice large glass of Rioja in there. It was a wonderful evening, the show, the location and the company I was with. I would happily go back and see something else there in the future.

The night out was rightly rounded off with another drink around Baker Street before we headed home. I fear this looks like the last show I will be seeing for a while, so it was nice to go out on a high.

Neil Quigley

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

Entertainment Mask

The longest month of the year is now over. Although it has the same amount of days as March, May, July, August, October and December. January does always seem to drag a little bit. It may be as a result of a post festive season lull, the fact that it still gets dark pretty early or because a lot of people are on health or fitness drives during it. If you are not drinking alcohol or eating meat that could make the days go by more slowly, I guess. I have by my standards had a fairly low key start to 2020.

I did manage to complete my own mini health challenge. I succeeded in going the whole month without eating any bread, cheese or crisps. As part of this I did step up my daily exercise routine slightly, adding in a few extra routines and extending the time of some sessions. This sacrifice did not make any massive difference to how I felt or looked. But I have toned up a little bit, which was the plan and my reason for doing it. I am really looking forward to a cheese and crisp sandwich.

My plan to only drink on nights out that were already booked in my diary did not go quite as well. I think I ended up having at least one alcoholic drink on five more occasions than I was planning to during the month. In my defence, if you cannot enjoy an impromptu drink with some friends, what is the world coming to? I never said I was doing dry January. It was always going to be more of a damp one. Normal service will now be resumed for the rest of the year.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I got a lovely mention on the Early Breakfast Show on BBC Radio 2 recently. Nicki Chapman was sitting in for Vanessa Feltz at fairly late notice. It just happened to be her birthday. She was asking for weird ways people had spent their special day in the past. Many years ago when I was working at Ivel fm in Yeovil I ended up doing a gig with the Drifters on my birthday. It was for a Christmas Party Night at The Westlands Leisure Complex. The guests had a sit down three course meal. I was the DJ for the evening and the Drifters were the group.

BBC Radio
BBC Radio

Therefore I spent most of the evening hanging out backstage with the band. I went on first and did half an hour or so to get the crowd warmed up. I then got to introduce the legends on to the stage. They were as you would imagine brilliant. I had a wonderful time watching them from the wings. They did all their big hits, naturally. When their set was over I came back on and finished the night off, so technically I headlined for The Drifters.

It was a great way to spend my birthday, it was great fun! Anyway that is the story I sent her, which she then read out. I have been on the radio myself for years but I will be honest I still get a huge thrill from hearing my name read out on air. It was nice to at last make my Radio 2 debut as well. I will forgive you if you missed it as it was on the wireless just after five o’clock in the morning. It does just go to show though you never know where I am going to pop up next.

Sarah Parish started the Neil Quigley Fan Club

For my birthday this year my sister bought me a ticket to see Frank Skinner. I love comedy and like a lot of comedians but he is still my favourite. The ticket was to see his latest tour show, which is on in the West End for a limited time at The Garrick Theatre. I went to see it the other Friday. Fair play to my sister as the seat she had got me was on the second row. Therefore I had a brilliant view of the great man but was also perfectly safe as he only normally chats to those in the front row.

Waiting for Frank Skinner

It was a classic London theatre trip for me. I got there nice and early to get to the bar before there is a queue. I ordered a pre-show glass of wine and the same again ready for the interval. I can never see the point of waiting to buy a drink during the break, when it can already be poured and waiting for you. Feeling refreshed and slightly giddy I took my seat. He had a warm up act with him, who I must confess I had not heard of before. He was called Pierre Novellie and came on and did around twenty minutes, He was really good, as you would expect anybody supporting the “Don” for an entire tour would be.

Then before the main attraction we had the interval. I politely went past all of the people queuing at the bar to collect my glass of wine from the side, before returning to my seat ready for Frank Sinner. One thing I will say about his audience is that he clearly attracts a nice mixture of polite and friendly people to his gigs. That is a bit surprising bearing in mind some of the topics he covers on stage. Needless to say he was hilarious from start to finish. My jaws were aching from laughing so much by the end. He is so quick and razor sharp, great to see a full show of his live for the first time. I had a totally brilliant evening.

Frank Skinner

It was all very last minute but I ended up going to see one of the BGT Audition sessions at The London Palladium. I got a decent place to watch the proceedings from. There is quite a bit of waiting around before the warm up man Stuart Holden appears and gets the crowd ready for what is ahead. Then the atmosphere is ramped up when the show’s hosts’ Ant & Dec are introduced coming on to Let’s Get Ready to Rumble. They have a quick chat on stage. It is really the only time you see them as of course during the auditions they are mainly back stage interviewing all the acts’ before and after their performances.

BGT

The judges then arrive. Simon Cowell gets on the microphone and addresses the audience. Then they get started. It is a bit strange as all the acts just randomly wonder on to the stage. The judges then chat to them before they do their thing. Obviously I do not want to give away any spoilers, but needless to say there were the normal combination of great and terrible acts, as well as a smattering of interesting back stories. All pretty classic reality television show stuff.

BGT

It was good to see Floor Manager supreme Alan Conley running things. As a rule he seems to work on all the biggest programmes in the country. He always seems to be jolly with a big smile on his face. That is quite an achievement in itself with the conditions in which he is working. Next time you watch a high profile programme look out for the titles at the end. There is a decent chance that you will see his name there. Also if you think his surname is familiar his brother is Brian Conley.

I do not view myself as a harsh or even tough person but I do always seem to agree with Simon Cowell when he is commenting on all the acts. This was again totally the case on this occasion to. Even more worryingly on the afternoon I was there we were both pretty much wearing exactly the same outfit. I have no idea when the latest series of BGT goes out but it is only fair to warn you to keep an eye out for my face, just in case it appears on screen, apologies in advance.

Blues Brothers
Neil Quigley

While we are on the subject of crazy television shows I am still a fan of The Masked Singer. It is totally mad I will grant you that, not much of it really makes any sense but I am desperate to know who all the people in the costumes are. I have not guessed any of them correctly as yet. But I am taking great comfort in the fact that I am at least a lot closer than Ken Jeong. I must watch the American version as if you go by his guesses the line-up and quality of stars they get must be amazing.

I think I might have worked out who the Fox is but then half the UK also seems to have cracked that one. It has to be Denise Van Outen right? I still think the more clues they give you about each person actually make it harder not easier. It does appear to be the only thing Rylan is not in at the moment unless he is in one of the outfits. (I am just joking, I like him, he is ace!). The only thing about it though is I really do not care who wins it, I just want to know everybody who entered it. And also who makes the costumes in case I get invited to any really good fancy dress parties this year.

Sun Studio
Unmasked Singer

For her Christmas present my sister wanted to go and see Sandi Toksvig perform her current live tour show. Therefore I took her to the Wycombe Swan last Thursday to watch “National Trevor” Both my sister and I first became aware of Sandi when she presented the ITV Saturday morning children’s programme No 73. Therefore we have known of her for a long time. She is now of course the host of QI. I have been to a couple of the recordings of it and she is fantastic.

Her stage show is a mixture of comedy, great stories, amazing facts and audience interaction. It is of course excellently and intelligently put together. She has such a lovely way of talking to you, which is inclusive and friendly. But she can still be quite cutting when she needs to be, years on the comedy circuit around the world will do that to you. The show does give you a good insight into her life and also how technology and our lives have developed over the years. Not always for the better.

It is a funny show with plenty of laughs. It is expertly crafted and put together. You leave feeling like you could sit down with her and have a really good chat over a cup of tea. It is also a positive and uplifting performance. You will not believe some of the titles of books that she has in her collection. They are hilarious! It is educational as I said earlier, she gives out lots of facts. This is a good one I think, out of all the people that have ever lived 95% of them are dead. We are in the exclusive 5% of people actually alive at the minute. This I believe is a good inspiration to live life to the full and enjoy every single minute. We really are only on this planet for a very brief amount of time.

Sandi Toksvig

Tottenham Hotspur’s season continues to flatter to deceive. Every time it looks like we have turned a corner the next game makes me think otherwise. Somehow there are lots of teams around us in the league with similar issues. We are still sixth, six points behind fourth place and that coveted Champions League spot. That it would seem we still have an outside chance of claiming. That seemed a ridiculous notion a few weeks ago. I will however be at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium to see us play Manchester City tomorrow, which obviously will not be an easy match. It would be great to win it though.

We are still in the FA Cup just, after drawing away at Southampton. The replay is this coming week. It would be great to keep the season alive with an extended cup run. It will be a tough one. But if we can win it would be nice being able to dream of Wembley at least for a few more weeks. I think we are overdue a win in the competition. I am not saying it was a long time ago but I was only fourteen when we last won it!

Neil Quigley with FA Cup
Neil Quigley with FA Cup

In other big Spurs related news we have an actual brewery at the ground (insert your own jokes). It is owned by the local beer maker Beavertown. Their beer is already served there of course. But in the last couple of weeks they have launched a new exclusive Tottenham Hotspur beer created solely for the club. It is called “One Of Our Own”. I have sampled it and I can confirm it is a decent pint. I am sure I will enjoy some more of it between now and the end of the season.

Tottenham Hotspur Beer

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