Hi there, how are you doing? I hope you have had a really good couple of weeks. Mine have been nice and busy with loads of fun things going on. I once again managed to do something I had not done before. I went along to this year’s National Television Awards at the O2 Arena. It is something that I have watched on television from home for many years. It was great to actually get the opportunity to be sitting there in person to watch it all unfold.
The place was looking very glittery and sparkly. When I arrived it was getting fairly close to show time. I just had chance to grab a quick drink before I had to take my seat ready for the ceremony. There was definitely a buzz and an air of excitement in the place.
With around five minutes to go before we went live to the nation our Arena MC the brilliant Andy Collins came on to get the audience hyped and ready for action. And also to tell us what was going to happen right at the start of the programme. While he is doing this all the celebrities are filtering in to their seats, so that they are all sat down ready for when the proceedings begin.
The opening sequence was pre-recorded, so the first thing we actually witness live is the pay off to the opening gag. Which is Piers Morgan being lowered from the roof. Before Dermot O’Leary re-appears to save the day and remove the Good Morning Britain presenter from view. Then we get live music from last year’s X Factor winners Rak Su.
Once their song is over and after Dermot’s opening monologue. It is down to business. The night follows a pretty standard pattern. The people presenting the awards come on, give us the nominations. Then they announce the winners. And they come up to give their speech. In the arena like the people at home, we see the clips and the faces of all the nominees in turn on the big screens.
It was nice to see Ant & Dec pick up another three awards. I was also pleased to see This Morning get one as well to. I have seen the Geordie duo, Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby present various different studio based shows. They are all brilliant and at the top of their profession. It is one of those disciplines that looks a lot easier than it is. Especially when the aforementioned foursome are the ones doing it.
It was a really good night and fantastic to see so many talented performers and writers all in the same giant room. It just reminded me of the high standard of television from all the different genres. That we have access to on our screens. Everyone was actually very well behaved. And the night went pretty smoothly. I thought Dermot did a great job of hosting it. In the main the guests reading out the nominees did what they had to do. Plus most of the thank you speeches were short and to the point. Which is what you want.
I thought it was nice to see Toff coming up for the I’m A Celebrity Award and doing a bit of back stage presenting. I do like her, she is upbeat, happy and positive. Plus I can tell she is keen to learn more about the trade of presenting. She did a great job handling Stanley Johnson, when they presented an award together.
It was nice to see Andy Collins on stage doing his thing during the ad breaks. While you at home got sold holidays and hoovers. He entertained us. Another one of his jobs seemed also to be wrangling the celebrities, keeping them in order and in their seats ready for when they were going to be in the next segment. I have met him a couple times. He is a top man. As well as being very funny.
It was good also to see another familiar face as the Stage Manager for the evening was Alan Conley. Who does pretty much all the big shows. He is on Strictly Come Dancing, Britain’s Got Talent and Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Take Away to mention but a few. He is a man at the top of his particular game and very well respected within the industry.
After the awards were over. I stayed for a couple of drinks before heading home and calling it a night. It was a brilliant experience. I really enjoyed myself. It was a fun event to be at. I got chatting to some younger people just before I left. We were talking about our stand out moments. Most of them said it was Blue Planet 2 getting its award for highlighting the issue of plastic in our oceans. If that is the thing that struck the biggest cord. Despite what some people might think about the youth of today. I do think the future looks like it is in very good hands.
As I always turn up for everything very early because I hate being late for anything. I arrived at the O2 before the NTA’s with more than enough time to have a look around the latest Elvis Presley Exhibition they have there. I went to a huge one all about his entire life, that was there a few years ago, which was amazing. This new one is quite a bit smaller and focuses solely on his touring days.
They have lots of his old stage and tour costumes on display, a few precious personal items and lots of footage of him on stage in various locations. They also have a recording of a press conference he did to promote one of his tours. Which is an interesting watch. If you are a fan of the man and have the time, it is worth a quick look round, I think. I certainly enjoyed it.
I was lucky enough to be able to go and watch an episode of the new series of Upstart Crow being filmed at the London Studios on the South Bank. It is a show I really like a lot. The subject matter is great. Ben Elton is an amazing writer. I really like how even in his history based comedies. He still manages to get social comment and a bit of politics in to them. He does it brilliantly with this programme, specially with Shakespeare’s always long and awful commutes between London and Stratford Upon Avon. It is also so clever how each episode is basically all about the writing of a different Shakespeare play. That in itself is genius.
Not only is the writing brilliant but the cast are all fantastic. It is a star studded line up to say the least, with a lot of comedy experience between them. Everyone is so good in it and play their parts so perfectly. But a special mention does have to go to David Mitchell, who is the only one who has to appear in pretty much every scene. So he by far has the most dialogue to learn. And thanks to the writing of Mr Elton. Some of his speeches are not only long and complicated but often tongue twisting challenges. He has to be one of the best comedy actors, we have at the moment. In fact he is just a very funny man. As he proved during short breaks between some of the scenes.
It was the first time I had been to a filming of a classic studio based sitcom with four different sets to move between and the actors playing out the whole scenes with about six cameras pointing at them to record all the dialogue and reaction in real time. It was such a funny night. This series I think could be even funnier that the previous two and I thought they were great.
I watched what will be the first episode. When this latest series is shown on the BBC in the Autumn. I had such a quality time laughing out loud with a group of very happy people. They record each scene all the way through twice. Then do any pick ups before they move on. There was a guest star on this one to. I do not want to give anything away but let us just say this person has previously worked with the writer.
Talking of which it was great to see Ben Elton there. He was on hand and on mic to introduce each of the cast to us, give us some background details about the characters and the plot. He did also point out the main idea is based on historical facts. Well from the six or so facts only, that we know to be true about the exceptional play write. He also told some jokes and brilliant stories in true Ben Elton style. He still has the same energy, he had when he appeared hosting Saturday Night Live.
When he introduced his old mate Harry Enfield, he did a Stavros impression. The cast seem to have a lot of fun making it. They were focused, professional and wanted to get the job done. But when the time allowed it, they were happy to mess about and add even more value to the recording. It was a fantastic evening. I cannot wait to see the whole series later this year.
I have mentioned Logan Murray a few times before. I attended one of his brilliant Comedy Courses a few years ago. Which means I have something in common with Josh Widdicome, Greg Davies and Rhod Gilbert to mention but a few. The latter mentioned Logan during an interview with Simon Mayo on Radio 2. Which led to the comedy guru himself Mr Murray being on the next day talking a bit about his course and the basic set up of it.
It was nice to hear him on and it brought back lots of great memories from my time in his company. I did my course as part of the Roving Comedy Night at the Tringe Festival. Which is just a fantastic experience. They are looking for people who would like to do it this year. I would urge anyone to give it a go. Follow this link for all the details. http://www.get-stuffed.biz/tringe/2018/06/roving-comedy-night/
I spent another hilarious night in the Phoenix Pub in London at The Old Rope Comedy Night. Which is a new material evening for the cream of comic talent to come along and try out new jokes. It is the run by Tiff Stevenson along with her parents, who manage the door. Which instantly gives the place such a friendly and inclusive feel to it. Tiff was away in New York this week. So the night was hosted by the brilliant Lou Sanders. I have seen her a few times before. She is very funny. She did a wonderful job of moving the fun along while keeping us entertained between the acts. It is fair to say we learnt a lot about her during the evening, some of which I can never unlearn.
It was another amazing line up. As it always is at this place. You get a rough list of comedians advertised before the gig but normally you get a few special guests just popping in unannounced. This time I saw Tom Ward who was ace. Jasper Cromwell- Jones, who I had not seen before but who is a character act based around a very posh adventurer. Which I feel we may see a lot more of.
Geoff Norcott was on next, who you might know from the excellent Mash Report. He has got a pretty definite style and was brilliant to. Then the last act in the first half was Lloyd Langford, who I really like. He had been out for lunch with fellow comedian Matt Forde. Which was meant to be just food but turned in to a bit of a session. So by the time he got on stage. He was around eight pints to the good. Mind you he held it together fine and was still very funny. Although I think he might have been slightly relieved when it was all over. Top work all round during part one.
Part two kicked off with the always great Tony Law. The man who headlined my first ever Stand Up gig. I got to spend the whole evening with him as we performed. He was once again great. He is another who has his own very distinctive style. Then it was Marlon Davis. It was great to see him back on stage after recovering from a very nasty car accident.
Then there was a surprise appearance from Simon Brodkin. Possibly better known as his alto ego Lee Nelson. I actually had met Simon before because I played a Press Officer at a football club in the pilot of The Lee Nelson Well Good Show. But I was cut from the show, when it was eventually shown. That is show business kids! He was doing some new material as himself and was also very funny.
Next up was the always fantastic Eleanor Tiernan. She was as ever brilliant. It is such and fun and funny night. Which is even more astounding when you remember that a lot of the gags are all brand new. The headline act for this visit was the excellent Hal Cruttenden. Who was on fantastic form. He was so good and assured. As you would expect from a man of his standing and experience. He rounded off the evening perfectly. If you are ever in London on a Monday night and not sure what to do. I would always say go to the Old Rope. You really cannot go wrong.
My team Tottenham Hotspur are very lucky to still be in the FA Cup after nearly getting knocked out by a valiant effort from Newport County. We could really do without another game with the Champions League about to restart. But I will happily take that replay all day long to still be in the competition.
I went to see the Manchester United match Wednesday. Which was a very pleasing night. I think scoring in the first eleven seconds did help us out a lot. But it was a great performance and a crucial win. Bring on the rest of the season!
This week I have launched my brand new podcast. This will be available weekly. It contains lots of stories from my past, thoughts on everyday situations that I and everyone else find themselves in. Plus a selection of interviews that I have done in the past with various interesting people.
If you sign up and register with i-tunes then you will get it delivered to your phone or tablet automatically when the latest episode is released. Why not get involved and give yourself a nice new treat for 2018. It will basically be like a radio show but without the music. Sign up here. https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/the-neil-quigley-radio-podcast/id1236437663?i=1000401179310&mt=2
Have fun and we will catch up again in a couple of weeks. Cheers Neil