Tag Archives: theatre

Radio Go Go

Everything is still a little bit strange and more and more issues are arising as a result of the ongoing fun and games. If you have received your exam results I hope you got what you were expecting, which seems very unlikely, if you feel that you have not been treated fairly do speak up and fight your corner. It is such a long time ago now that I got my A Level and G.C.S.E results I can barely remember how it felt. They have never been any direct use in helping me get any of the jobs I have had as an adult, so far at least.  

If you are determined enough to pursue what you want to do, you will get there no matter what setbacks arise. I have still got over fifty rejection letters from various radio stations that I received before I even got my first paid gig in the industry. It took me until I was twenty-five to get my first full time presenting job. Therefore you have time on your side, you have got this and good luck for the future!

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I have been trying to be a bit more social but I still favour outside meetings with people. That is just my own personal choice in the unusual constraints that are currently placed on our normal lives. A few weekends ago on the Saturday I went to a barbecue at a friend’s place just outside Reading.

It was only a small gathering with five of us in total enjoying the sunshine in his garden. The host fed us with a huge selection of traditional Jamaican dishes, which were amazing! They included a few things that I had never tried before. It made me want to go back to the Caribbean for another holiday.

St Lucia
St Lucia

I had a great time eating too much good food and chatting while also enjoying a few drinks. I had booked a hotel in Reading for the night. It fulfilled my current requirements for these things. The following morning I had breakfast in a well-known coffee shop. They were also on top of the ongoing extra demands. That was the first inside food or beverage place I had visited since this lock down thing began. On the way back I stopped in to see a really good mate and his wife and their children in their back garden. I was not driving the person I was with was fortunately for me in charge of our transport.  

My pal offered me a beer which would of course been very rude to refuse so I politely accepted. We were just planning to stop in for a little bit of a catch up as I had not seen them for over five months. It was a lovely warm and sunny day. We were all having a brilliant time chatting and laughing away. Anyway six hours and a few more beers later we finally left. But not before my friend’s wife had fired up the barbecue and cooked us a tasty dinner. It was a wonderful afternoon spent in fantastic company, the time just flew by.

I had really missed seeing them. I cannot wait to see them all again at some point soon hopefully, probably in similar circumstances. It is so nice to be able to see your friends in person again. You realise how important they are to you and how they can instantly lift your mood. If you can and it is safe to do so I would totally recommend it. Things are getting better and you can start doing more as long as you follow all the rules and you are sensible. One thing we can take from this is that if you invite me round to your place there is a very good chance that I might overstay my welcome.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

A friend of mine is an actor and a singer so he is not exactly having a great time work wise at the moment. Most of his jobs for this year have already been cancelled sadly. It must be really tough when all your income is stopped suddenly through no fault of your own.

He is an amazing performer and such a lovely person. His name is Mike Sterling and he actually sang at my fortieth birthday party. He was due to be in Spain now working out there for the next month but like seemingly everyone else this year all his gigs were postponed and he could no longer go there.

Mike Sterling and Neil Quigley
Mike Sterling and Neil Quigley

This is proof of what a nice bloke he is last Friday he did a special online gig to raise money for a charity in Spain that he would have been working with if he could of made the trip. It was on Facebook and came live from his house. He had set it all up perfectly with a nice stage backdrop featuring some of the huge musicals that he has starred in. It looked and sounded great as did he in his suit.

He did an hour show, singing a mixture of songs from the musicals and standard classics. His voice is spectacular. It did feature a guest appearance from his youngest daughter. She must be about eleven or twelve now. I remember when she was born which I must confess makes me feel very old. She was absolutely brilliant doing a bit of Ed Sheeran with her dad. I watched it online with a nice cold bottle of beer. I really enjoyed it but I am looking forward to hearing him sing live in a theatre once again at some point.

Mike Sterling
Mike Sterling

I first remember becoming seriously interested in radio when Fox Fm launched in Oxford. There were adverts and news reports about it on television. I saw inside a radio studio for the first time and guess it switched on a light inside my head somewhere.

Fast forward a few years later to when I was attending Aylesbury College. A brand new radio station launched in the town I was born in Aylesbury. For me it was exciting and I started listening to it from the start. It was called Mix 96.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

At this time I was doing a Travel and Tourism Course and an A Level in Physical Education, while also thinking that I could still become a Professional Footballer. When I realised I was never going to make it as a footballer I then decided that I wanted to be a radio presenter. I wrote to Mix 96 to enquire about Work Experience. To my surprise they got back to me and offered me a week there. I am not sure who made that decision but whoever it was, thank you very much.

I somehow managed to convince my lecturers to let me do it even though it did not relate to my course at all. I had a great time there everyone was so nice and helpful to me. They all took turns to be stuck with me for a bit so I could see every aspect of the station. I learnt a lot. I even got to sit with Jon Earley during the evening show. I thoroughly enjoyed my first real taste of radio.

This was during the first year of Mix 96’s existence. Thanks to my work experience stint I did end up going along to the Mix 96 first birthday party at Stoke Mandeville Stadium with Jon and Max Hailey. I remember there being some live music and a bar area. I must confess it felt really cool hanging out with all the presenters at such a big event.

On the suggestion of the presenters at Mix 96 I then joined Stoke Mandeville Hospital Radio to get some presentation experience with the aim of one day getting on Mix 96 myself. I used to send regular demos to the Programme Controllers at Mix. If they got fed up with me they never showed it, which was very decent of them.

Stoke Mandeville Hospital Radio
Stoke Mandeville Hospital Radio

Three years later thanks to Colin Morton and Pete Simester I had an in at the station at last. I came in as a volunteer to collect and read out all the local football results on the Sports Show with Colin on a Saturday afternoon. This led to me going to my first fireworks night that the station used to be involved in at the Aylesbury Rugby Club, but more on that later. I was so happy to be on the radio in my home town even though it was for about one minute a week at that stage.

From here I then ended up there on a Sunday morning producing the Phil Angel Show from the studio. It was a recorded show so I had to play everything in myself. Another step forward! It was a slight bit of confusion that led to my first live show on Mix 96. Pete Simester agreed to let me cover for Phil one week when he was away. He thought I was going to record the links and play them in like I did for Phil. I thought differently and did the whole two hours live. It went alright and I had made my debut doing my own show.

As time went on I ended up presenting the Sports Show myself for several years. I also did the Saturday Night Party Show for a while. It then got to the point where I was covering the evening show when the regular presenter was off. I really enjoyed doing that and it was at that point that I finally felt I was starting to establish myself at the station at least a little bit.

Neil Quigley

From there and thanks to one of the presenters shall we say leaving a bit sooner then we and even they were expecting I got six months presenting Drive Time on Mix 96. Seven years after first walking into the place for work experience I had now made it to presenting a regular show during the day. Glory Days! Dreams do come true!

I then moved to the morning show for another six months, which was a lot of fun. At that point a reshuffle put me back to just the sports show, which I had continued to host. This ultimately led to me leaving for Yeovil to work at Ivel fm. After five years in Somerset I then returned to Buckinghamshire. Thanks to the legend that is Danny Cox I managed to get a weekly Saturday Afternoon show back on Mix 96. I felt I was home. It was brilliant to be back. This led to me hosting the Evening Show for a couple of years and being in charge of the events team.

Neil Quigley in a still from the Mix 96 behind the Scenes Video

As head of events I had to organise and produce the Fireworks Night at the Aylesbury Rugby Club and the Christmas Lights Switch On in the centre of town, as well as many other events and occasions. I was also covering the Morning and Afternoon Shows when people were off.

I had such an amazing time and lost count of how many shows I presented from the famous Friars Square Studios. I was lucky enough to work with so many talented and fantastic people at the station over the years.

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

I had an absolute blast. I was honoured to be on my hometown radio station for in the end quite a long time. From work experience to presenting most of the programmes on the station at one time or another it was all great! The laughter, the fun and everything that went on behind the scenes that were often actually more amusing than what was happening on air.

Why I am suddenly reminiscing about my time at Mix 96 you might very well ask? It is because from next month Mix 96 how we know and love it will in effect be no more. Firstly my thoughts are with all my friends at the station who will be losing their jobs. It is so sad. My mate Nathan Cooper has been there for over twenty years, he is basically part of the furniture. I think he might be like the Ravens at the Tower of London.

Neil Quigley at Mix 96 Tour De Vale Bike Ride
Neil Quigley at Mix 96 Tour De Vale Bike Ride

From next month the station will become Greatest Hits Radio and the name Mix 96 will be no more. It will still be on 96.2fm but the presenters will all be different. This has happened to a lot of other radio stations I have worked at already.

But Mix 96 as far as I was ever concerned was my local station. Thanks Mix 96, I will miss you. All the best for the next chapter in your life! To quote my favourite Spice Girl from one of her solo hits “Never Be the Same Again”.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Last Sunday 16th August was the forty-third anniversary of the death of Elvis Presley. He was just forty-two when he died at his Graceland mansion in Memphis. I am a big fan of “The King”. A few years ago I was lucky enough to visit Memphis.

I did the VIP Tour of Graceland. It was amazing to walk through his house and see all the spectacular rooms. I am not a believer of these things at all but there did appear to be a presence in the place and a special feel to it.

Graceland
Graceland

He had a Racket Ball Court and Gym area built away from the main house. There is a piano in there. The day he died he returned from a drive and played a few songs on it including “Blue Eyes Crying in The Rain” That was the last time Elvis ever sang.

Right at the end of the tour I had to put on some white gloves for the chance to hold one of Elvis’s own personal microphones. That was a big highlight for me.

Graceland
Graceland

While in Memphis I also went to Sun Studios where he recorded his first ever record. Originally as a present for his mum as they offered the chance for people to come in off the street and pay to record.

A long time after this the owner Sam Phillips invited him back in to record a few other songs and as they say the rest is history.

Sun Studio
Sun Studio

As part of the trip I also went to Nashville and Studio B which is where Elvis recorded a lot of his best known songs. He installed different coloured lights in there and he would alter them to get the right mood for the song he was recording.

He could not find the right atmosphere for “Are You Lonesome Tonight” so in the end he ended up recording it in the dark with all the lights off. He suffered from insomnia so his recording sessions were often overnight starting around 6pm and finishing at 6am!

Studio B
Studio B

The voice, stage presence and the way he inhabits each song in my opinion makes him the best singer and performer there has ever been. This really shows when he has the full TCB Band behind him. He is the one conducting everything from the front.

He had the best musicians and backing singers in the business, which all added to the overall quality. I would recommend you watch some of his early seventies stage performances. They are as close to perfection as you can get.

Elvis Presley
Elvis Presley

I have now managed to get fully up to date with the Netflix show After Life. Series Two for me was about the same as the first one in that it was easy to watch and it had a nice mixture of sadness and comedy. Ricky Gervais seems to be on a mission to make legends of comedy say the worst swear words he can think of on screen.

It is not a laugh a minute programme but there are lots of big laughs in it. I guarantee you there are jokes in there that you would not find risked in any other sitcom. I just need to wait for him to finish writing and then film series three. Although I reckon it will not be released until next year at the earliest. But it will be worth waiting for though, when it finally arrives.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

You can listen to me still on Saturday afternoon between 2pm – 4pm on Radio Ninesprings https://www.radioninesprings.co.uk/

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

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

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