Tag Archives: Yeovil

Theatre of Life

Hello again. The last two weeks have flown by. I am starting to think Ronan Keating was right. And that Life is a Roller Coaster. Not just for the ups and downs. But for the speed it seems to travel. I hope you are good and avoiding the lurgy. That seems to be everywhere at the moment. I am starting to think that may be Michael Jackson had the perfect idea with his oxygen tent bed.

Talking of which it was the Brit Awards in London the other Tuesday. The aforementioned King of Pop’s performance at the event was once gate crashed by an apparently drunk Jarvis Cocker. I recently discovered that when he was apprehended by the Police backstage after. He asked for Bob Mortimer to be his legal representative. Crazy and wild times. This years awards ceremony were a bit more low key.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

It was held at the O2 Arena and hosted for the second year running by Jack Whitehall. I think he did an excellent job. It is a really tough thing to present. As basically no one in that room is really listening to you or paying any attention to you. Therefore his plan was to more or less focus on the people watching at home. Which I think mainly worked. There were a couple of odd and awkward chats that he did with Bros and Little Mix. But you get that sort of thing most years. The whole place is basically a drunken madhouse.

There were some really strange pairings to present awards. It looked like they were chosen using the same template. That led to Sam Fox and Mick Fleetwood hosting the 1989 Brits. I will be honest I am a little out of touch with some of the current artists. But I am pleased to say I was at least aware of all the winners. Nice to see George Ezra win an award. I think he is extremely talented and a very nice bloke.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

There were as ever some good and interesting performances. I am a big fan of Jess Glynne. I could see what they were trying to do and it tied in nicely with the song. But watching a stage full of girls remove their make up was weird. Not helped by the fact that the singer she was performing with refused to remove hers. And she had plenty on. The Greatest Showman opening was pretty spectacular to be fair.

I was delighted to see Pink get the special recognition award. I think she totally deserves it. For her success over the years in Britain. She always puts on a fantastic show. Also I do really like her as a person. She is always real and honest about her life. Plus personally I think she has a beautiful voice. I liked the way they gave her the award. Then gave her plenty of time after to perform. To close the show. They have learned from when they had to abruptly cut Adele’s acceptance speech short. When running out of time one year.

Overall I thought it was nicely done. I have said this before and I do appreciate you can get so many people in the 02. But I think that it would benefit from being held in a smaller venue with a more select audience. It would make the atmosphere better and possibly lead to more rock and roll excess and “incidents” like in the past. I enjoyed watching it. And I was pleased for all the winners on the night. Even if it was possibly a little bland.

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

I had my first ever immersive theatre experience recently. It was suggested to me by a friend. So we booked a couple of tickets. Not really knowing what to expect from it. But we thought we would give it a try. It is called The Murder Express. And is currently on at Pedley Street Station in Bethnal Green, London. As well as the performance itself. The night also includes a top quality four course meal. Which has been devised by the 2016 Masterchef winner Jane Devonshire.

We arrived at the venue, which is aptly under some railway arches. When you walk in there is a little bar where you can get drinks. And the train carriage where you sit down to enjoy your “journey” and have your food. From the minute you arrive the actors are moving around and chatting to you. One of them stitched me up by selling me a fake drinks voucher. But I had the last laugh in the end.

They call you on to the train and show you to your seats. They are set up in tables of six. Then the actors do the first part of the play. While the starter is being served. Then they set the scene a bit more before the next course. As you have probably guessed from the title of it. It is a bit of a who done it affair. Where the audience get to try to work out what has happened.

The food, which was amazing by the way, comes out in breaks in the action. The fake drinks voucher I had purchased became apparent as we were “travelling”. Thankfully they still honoured it. And I still got my two glasses of red wine. My friend ended up playing a doctor at one point. They have video screens on the wall. So there is scenery going past throughout with train sound effects to.

Obviously I am not going to give away any plot spoilers. But it was all very cleverly done. The food was fantastic. It was a lot of fun. With a fair amount of laughter. There is a comedy theme running through proceedings. I worked out what had happened in my head. But I did not say it out loud. So no one would believe I cracked it. Which to be fair is perfectly reasonable. It is worth doing if you fancy something a little different in London.

Murder Express

I finally got round to seeing the musical Blood Brothers at the Swan Theatre in High Wycombe the other week. Everybody I had spoken to about it said it was excellent. And were amazed I had not seen it. Of course they were completely right. It is a wholesome and thought provoking show. It is real, gritty and tackles a lot of taboo subjects that theatre shows of this nature rarely do.

I have over the years spent quite a bit of time in and around the city of Liverpool. Therefore I found the back drop to the story familiar. The cast were sensational. The two actors who play the brothers. Have to portray them from the age of seven into their twenties. Which is a big ask and really very impressive. It was a slick show. It is quite hard hitting stuff. But an intriguing, eye opening and ultimately sad and tragic story. I am really glad that I have finally seen it. It was fantastic.

Blood Brothers

I am a massive fan of Fawlty Towers. I have watched all the episodes so many times. I know exactly what lines are coming. But still always laugh out loud. When they are delivered. It is just such a perfect and in my opinion funny comedy. And you would not believe how happy I was when John Cleese once replied to me on Twitter. I do still have a picture of that tweet. It is my love of the original show. And the fact that I know Mr Cleese is very anti them. That has really put me off attending one of these Fawlty Towers experiences.

Well until now that is, anyway. As I actually went to one in London. It was on at the Radisson Blu Edwardian Hotel in Bloomsbury Street. You arrive and check in. Before being shown in to the dinning room area. Then Basil, Manuel and Sybil appear to introduce themselves. After which Basil and Manuel then sit you at your table. Which is an experience in itself.

Fawlty Towers

You need to buy any drink in the bar before you head in and bring it in with you. We were sat on a lovely table. With a man celebrating his birthday with his wife and son. A man treating his mum to a night out. A young couple. And a man out honouring the anniversary of his mum’s death. Plus me and my friend.

As I am sure you can imagine our three hosts put on a manic night of madness, craziness and fun. While we enjoy a three course meal. It is performed in parts. And thankfully they do have some professional help from real waiters. Or the food would never get delivered or the plates never cleared. The whole thing lasts around two and an half hours. I would say it is a nice tribute to the show. All done in a very respectful way.

Fawlty Towers

Although the programmes co-writer and star does not get any money from this franchise. Which is why he is not a fan. And I totally get that. What I would say though is from what I saw. All the people there seemed to come to this event out of a love for the show. And the memories they have of it. Which I think is perfectly fine. Plus it is laugh out loud funny!

Sarah Parish started the Neil Quigley Fan Club

This February it was ten years since I left Midwest Radio in Yeovil. Which was actually the six month old Ivel fm. When I started at the station in the April of 2004. To celebrate this big landmark occasion. Last weekend I went back to the Somerset town to see some of the people I used to work with. During the five years I spent there.

I started off just doing the odd weeks worth of holiday cover there. Then my now good friend Andy Holmes decided to leave. And I then moved down there full time to do the Drive Show. I did that one for a few years. Before I moved to the morning show. Finally finishing my last six months there presenting the Evening Show. I also did cover the Breakfast show occasionally. Plus I did a weekly Saturday Sports Show. The whole time I was there. I pretty much hosted every slot at the station at some point.

Neil Quigley & Andy Holmes
Neil Quigley & Andy Holmes

I had a fantastic time down there. I met a lot of great people. Many of whom are still really good friends of mine now. One of these is my former boss Steve Carpenter. I met up with him on the Friday. He is currently hosting Breakfast at a new radio station in Yeovil called Nine Springs. I met him at their studios. He gave me a mini tour of the place. They actually have the same desk that I used to do my shows at Ivel fm on. It was nice to see it again, We had spent a lot of hours together.

Then me and Steve went to the local Wetherspoons for a drink and some food. That was a place I used to find myself in quite often when I was living and working there. On the way back to my hotel I popped into a few of the old bars I used to go in. I will be honest they were either quieter than I remembered or in one case now a restaurant. I stayed at the Manor Hotel. Which has become my regular choice. When I to go back there to visit.

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

The next morning I met another friend of mine for a cup of tea and lovely catch up. Before I had to head to the pub to watch my team Tottenham play Burnley. That was a bit disappointing in the end. As we lost. But it was nice to visit another familiar pub to see it in. Next on the agenda it was food with another fellow radio presenter Scott Temple. He is currently working at Pirate fm in Cornwall. It was him and I who had this idea of a mini Ivel fm re-union. When we met up in Windsor last summer.

The plan was to meet everybody else at the Chicago Rock Cafe in Yeovil at 7.30pm. When I was there it used to be open all day. Scott and I arrived slightly early to find that it was closed. And after some frantic research. That it did not open until eight. We found a hotel bar around the corner. And managed to contact everyone to meet there instead. So the night did not start exactly how we planned it.

We ended up going to the Chicago Rock Cafe just after eight. The reason I chose that venue for these drinks. Is that the Ivel fm studios were above it. There was actually a back staircase that could get you from the station to the bar. Which was useful on several occasions over the years.

Neil Publicity Shot 2008

I also used to DJ at the bar. I had a regular Thursday and Tuesday Night. Occasionally they would let me loose on a Friday or Saturday. I often hosted their Wednesday night guest appearances. Along with my colleague Chris Criddle. It was great to see him for a bit. Before he predictably had to head off to DJ somewhere else that night. He is always working that bloke. He never stops.

There was a nice group of us. It was brilliant to see everyone. I must say everyone is looking great. We have all aged brilliantly. It was a fun night. Talking about old times and having a right giggle. It did get a little messy towards the end. Scott came back from the bar with a bottle of Hooch each for the last drink of the night. I had no idea it was even still being made. Still tasted far to sweet for the record. But it would have be rude not to drink it.

Ivel fm

It was a lovely weekend. Marking ten years since I left a place. In which I had a lot of fun and good times. I had a brilliant time at the radio station there.

The people of Somerset were always friendly and made me feel very welcome. Plus the five years I spent there is still the longest time that I have ever worked in any one particular place. Thanks to everyone who made the effort to come along.

Ivel fm

As ever it has been a bit up and down recently supporting Spurs. But I would not swap it for the world. I am not going to lie. I was gutted when we lost to Chelsea in the week. But we move on.

I will be at Wembley today for the North London Derby. Hoping that we can beat Arsenal. As that is a highlight of any season. Then we head to Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League in the week. The big games just keep coming at the moment. Come on you Spurs!

Tottenham Hotspur
Tottenham Hotspur

I have been back at the BBC doing a bit of work recently. It is a fun and cool place to be. It has been lovely catching up and working with a lot of good and talented people.

It can be pretty random at times. I found myself in a studio with Ian Wright and Chris Sutton. And in a lift with Simon McCoy. I did not bring up any Royal stories with him of course.

BBC
BBC

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

A Right Old Laugh

Hi there, how are you doing? I hope you have had a really good couple of week’s. Mine have been very busy with lots of fun things going on. My run of recent trips to see TV programme’s being filmed continued. This time an episode for the new series of the DAVE comedy computer games show  “Go 8 Bit” at the Elstree Studios.

It is presented by Dara O’Briain. He is joined by team captain’s Steve McNeil and Sam Pamphilon. Who came up with the idea for the Edinburgh Festival, a couple of years ago. Plus comedian and former computer games journalist Ellie Gibson. Who acts as the oracle for all the games. And as co-commentator with Dara for all the high octane action.

Dara O'Briain
Dara O’Briain at Tring picture courtesy of Adam Hollier Photography

Steve was joined by comedian Russell Kane and Sam’s team mate was the comedian Lolly Adefope. The teams go head to head in a wide range of new and classic computer games. One of which was Lemmings. I had completely forgotten about it but I loved the game as a kid. I am not sure if it was just the way they were playing it. But it certainly looked a lot harder than I remembered.

For the final challenge they played a new virtual reality game. Where you work in a burger bar. And have to make and serve burgers. It sounds rubbish but it actually looked like fun. And it also proved to be pretty difficult. Who knew? The new series will be shown later this year, so keep an eye out for it.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

The other weekend I went to Cheshire to see one of my oldest friends and his family. The purpose of my visit was to celebrate his wife’s fortieth birthday. I got there on the Friday evening. He has a two year old daughter. Who insisted on showing me all of her toys. Then on us reading some books together. While watching the Shaun The Sheep Movie.

For those of you who may have not seen it. I can recommend it, it is very amusing. She is a big fan. I think I must have seen it at least three times while I was there. After the little one had gone to bed. We had a few beers. And watched one of the grown up’s DVD’s.  The latest one from the ace Sarah Millican. Which was hilarious. Very clever and simply laugh out loud funny.

Saturday was the party day. In the morning we went for a walk in a local park. While there, none other than the mother of One Direction’s Harry Style’s walked past us. When we got back to their house. We were all blowing up inflatable guitars and microphones. Plus lots of helium balloons. Which was actually much harder work than it sounds. And we had pumps.

We had about an hour to get the venue ready before the guest’s arrived. Which we did. Strangely they had a few electricity issues and the lights in the toilets were not working. So they had put lots of candles in there. Which actually gave them a very romantic and seductive feel. Which was odd but weirdly relaxing.

Neil Quigley TV Radio & Live
Neil Quigley TV, Radio & Live

The party itself was fantastic. I had a few drinks and some tasty food. Including the birthday cake that my mate had baked and decorated himself. It looked and tasted amazing. I had a dance with the Birthday girl. Then thanks to the aforementioned inflatable instruments. Me and my friend recreated the glory of a live Gun’s N Roses stage show. With Slash and Axl Rose during Sweet Child O’ Mine. He was on the guitar. I had the mic.

Thankfully as far as I am aware there is no video evidence of this incident. The next day along with her parents. We all went out for a slap up Chinese Meal. Which was a fitting end to the weekend.

I recently made my first visit to the Comedy Store in London for about eighteen years. I was not purposely avoiding the place. I had just not got round to going back. But I did put that right a couple of Monday’s ago. I went to a Gala Comedy Night in aid of a children’s charity. It was fronted by Tim Vine. Who was great with his quick fire jokes and silly visual gags. Plus I got to see pen behind the ear live.

Also performing we had Tom Lucy, who has recently been supporting Shappi Khorsandi. Elliot Steel, who is the son of Mark Steel. Charlie Baker who is a top comedian and an excellent singer, who has appeared in a few musicals. Angela Barnes who is of course the current host of Newsjack on Radio 4 Extra. And the headline act Adam Hills. They were all on top form. It was a very funny night. And I will definitely not leave it so long until I return there again.

Comedy Store
Comedy Store

I do like a trip to the theatre to see a musical. This show had been on my radar since it opened. So I was very happy the other week. When I managed to get a ticket to see the new version of Half A Sixpence at the Noel Coward Theatre in London’s West End.

I was familiar with the film version that starred Tommy Steele in the lead role. A role he also played on stage. And one that he very much made his own. So I knew the songs and the story line already.I did however absolutely love this latest version. The cast were all fantastic.

Half A Sixpence
Half A Sixpence

The three lead females are all quality performers with amazing voices. And for me they nearly stole the show. But the man who had the biggest shoe’s to fill by taking on the part of Arthur Kipps was Charlie Stemp. And he does not disappoint. He totally makes it his own. But at the same time possibly due to the time and geographical area that it is set in (which remains the same.) There is, I felt at least a nod to the original star in his performance.

I thoroughly enjoyed the show. I would recommend you go and see it. As always with classics, the stories and dilemmas the characters face are still relevant today. Plus there are some great show stopping songs in it. Another successful night at the theatre. Which left me dancing and singing on the way home.

Half A Sixpence
Half A Sixpence

Last Wednesday I went to a specially refurbished theatre in the Holborn area of London. To witness a run through of a new entertainment show. That ITV are currently in the process of developing called The Nightly Show. It is due to start at the end of this month. It will be on five days a week at ten o’clock at night. For around a month at first.

It will be presented by a different presenter each week. The plan is for it to feature up to date topical jokes, some great guests and some fun games. So they are doing some practice shows to get used to the theatre. And to work out exactly what they will or will not be able to achieve in thirty minutes of fast paced television.

On the version I watched. They had a very experienced presenter in Eamonn Holmes. It was filmed as an actual show would be. Before it started he came out and explained what would be happening. The first part was the opening monologue. Then the guests were Right Said Fred and  Saira Khan.

The interviews were pretty straight forward with slight little twists. For example during the pop stars’ chat. They played a quick game with some audience members. And the last part of the Loose Women’s bit saw her and Eamonn being fed special love food ready for Valentines Day. Which basically involved the Irishman having a few Oysters and Saira having a chocolate banana.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

The most interesting thing for me was Eamonn discussing things with the director. Asking them how much time he had for each item. Advising what he thought was working or not. And making some suggestions of things they might like to look at. It was kind of like, say a Formula One racing driver test driving a new car and giving the mechanics feedback. To make it smoother and better.

It gave a nice insight in to things that need to be considered. For it all to work for the programme and the presenter. It was still early days. But they have got quite a bit to iron out before it all starts, I feel. It was interesting to be a part of. I cannot wait to see what the actual show will look like. When it goes out. Another fun evening spent in the world of television.

Sarah Parish started the Neil Quigley Fan Club

Last weekend I visited a town in Somerset. Where I spent five and an half years working and living. I went to Yeovil to catch up with some old friends and to see how much it has changed since I was last there. I moved down there in 2004 to work for the radio station Ivel fm. Which later became Midwest Radio.

I then left there in February 2010. In fact randomly last weekend was the seventh year anniversary of my leaving and returning to Buckinghamshire. Much of the town still looks the same.  As I took the taxi from the train station to the hotel. I felt quite at home there.

I visited the road where I used to live. And had a look at my flat from the outside. I actually lived about five minutes walk from the radio station. In a little Cul-De-Sac called Ivel Court. So yes that is correct. I was living there when I was working at Ivel fm. So I was certainly very much on brand when I was there.

Ivel Court
Ivel Court

On the Friday Night I went to a few pubs I used to drink in first. Then met my former boss Steve Carpenter and ex colleague Chris Criddle for a Curry in the Viceroy Indian Restaurant. Somewhere that was just around the corner from my flat and where I used to go regularly.

The food and service was as ever excellent. And the company to was delightful. I had a great night catching up on the current and talking about the past. It was great to see them both.

On the Saturday morning I met up with another mate for a cup of tea and a nice chat. Then in the afternoon I went and saw Yeovil Town play. In the past I have reported and commentated on a lot of their big games. Including a match that saw them win the league at home and a trip to Wembley Stadium for a play off final.

I also went to loads of press conferences. And regularly spoke to the manager and the players. I went to the game with the former Yeovil Town, Bristol Rovers and Hereford United player Tony Pounder and the former Yeovil Town and Torquay United defender Paul Thorpe.

Yeovil Town FC
Yeovil Town FC

It was great to catch up with them. They are top blokes. Who have loads of brilliant stories from their playing days. The Glovers were playing Leyton Orient. Both teams were pretty equally matched. So an one all draw was probably a fair result.

I mentioned I used to know the players when I was working down there. So I did find it a little odd seeing two players I knew from that time Darren Way and Terry Skiverton in the dug out as the current management team. Despite Yeovil Town not being able to hold on for the win. It was a very enjoyable afternoon at a lovely club with some brilliant company.

Yeovil Town FC
Yeovil Town FC

That night I met up with a few people in the establishment. That was actually below the Ivel fm studios. It was the place where we held the station’s first birthday party. And somewhere I used to DJ and spend a lot of my free time.

I also was a judge and host for lots of different talent competitions held there. The place was the Chicago Rock Cafe. Since I moved away it has had a few refits and changed its name several times. But it has reverted back to its original title again. It felt a little strange being back in there. And bought back lots of great memories.

Chicago Rock Cafe
Chicago Rock Cafe

Before returning home on the Sunday I met up with another former work friend of mine and her husband in one of the town’s coffee shops. It was lovely to see them both. We had a good chat about old times and some exciting plans for the future.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable weekend. In a place where I have so far spent an eighth of my life. I am glad I ventured down there. To coin an old radio station strap line Good times, Great Music.

Neil Quigley

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