Hi there, how are you doing? I hope you have had a really good couple of week’s. Mine have been busy with lots of fun things going on. Two weeks ago today on Saturday 10th December. I turned forty. To celebrate I organised a big party for my family and friends.
As I figured such an important event was well worth marking in a memorable way. And I do like a party. I had previously thrown one for my twenty-first and my thirtieth birthday’s. So this was the next logical big birthday. That I felt definitely required one.
At each of my previous do’s there has always been some form of entertainment. At the first one I had a singer and at the next one it was a comedian. I have been trying to step it up each time. For this latest one I really went for it. I decided to put on a full variety type show featuring a collection of acts. Who I had worked with in the past. And me as the main host.
I loosely based it on the Live At The Palladium show’s. But I would like to point out that legally my show was completely different of course. And any similarities were purely coincidental.
I had tried to keep the show a complete secret. So only a handful of people knew it was happening at all. And even less knew the performers that were taking part. Now most of my family and friends had never actually seen me do any of my Stand Up comedy. So I thought that it would be a good time to put that right.
I opened the show with about five minutes of my best material. Thankfully, as they all knew me. They were a very supportive and a nice audience. Who laughed in all the right places. Know your audience, literally.
My first guest was a brilliant singer called Nickita. I first worked with her about seven year’s ago. When I booked her to play at the very first Christmas Light’s Switch on. That I organised for Mix 96. She came on and did three disco classics. Which were so good. She sounded and I must say also looked amazing. I am just thankful that our outfits did not clash or that could have been embarrassing.
It was lovely to see her and work with her again. She was telling me she has been signed up as a writer for a major record label. And it looks like one of her compositions may be given to a huge girl band. Which would be pretty cool, to say the least.
I then came back on and did a few more quick jokes. As basically it was my party and I just wanted to build my part up. I then introduced the next act. Who was a fantastic comedian I know from the Brighton area. He was on the bill of the first proper comedy gig I did. For Laughing Badger Comedy in Hemel Hempstead. I thought he was hilarious. So when the chance came for me to book him. I jumped at it. His name is Flange Krammer. And he is a German Skiing sensation. Who is very funny.
It is such a clever and polished act. I was so pleased that he agreed to come and perform for me. He even had me up on stage with him for part of the act. Which was great fun. He is a hugely talented and lovely man. And a fellow Spurs fan to.Which is never a bad thing. He was great. I really loved seeing him in action again.
Then it was time for a little more of me. Just a few thank you’s and a bit of general messing around. I really do enjoy being on stage and hosting stuff. It is something I really want to return to and do more of next year. The last act on the bill was a friend of mine. Who I met while I was working down in Yeovil at Ivel fm.
He was putting on a show at the brilliant Octagon Theatre in the town. And came in to have a chat and promote it. We got on well and I went and saw him in the show. Which was fantastic. And we have kept in touch ever since. When I planned to do this special birthday show. He was always my first choice to close it.
He heralds from Wales. He finished second on the ITV Show New Faces beaten by Joe Pasquale on the night. Since then he has gone on to have such a successful career in the world of musical theatre, theatre and music. To give you an idea of just how good he is. He has starred as The Phantom of The Opera in London’s West End. Where he also played the lead role in Les Miserables. So it is very fair to say. He can sing and act a bit. In fact he has one of the best voices I have ever personally heard sing live. And my favourite fact about him. Is that he played one of the Italian soldiers in the TV comedy Allo Allo.
The singer in question is Mike Sterling. And I was so happy and honoured when he agreed to come along and sing at my special party. He very kindly did a sensational thirty minute set. Showing his versatility with some rhythm and blues, some swing and ballads. Plus of course he did the main songs from the two big musicals that he was in. Which were just breath taking. It was such a pleasure to stand there and watch him sing these amazing tunes so perfectly. I really enjoyed having him perform there. He blew the whole audience away. It was stunning.
Then I returned to the stage for one final time. To thank all of my guests and close the show the way that every variety show should end. I am a big fan of comedy, music and generally just having fun. For me Morecambe and Wise were the masters of just that. So therefore I ended Live at Neil Quigley’s 40th Birthday Party with a sing-a-long version of “Bring Me Sunshine” led by me and Mike Sterling.
Which I thought was a fitting way to end things. It was great to have everyone joining in to. Mike very generously said later that he was impressed that I was trying to sing harmonies with him. But I pointed out, that it was more likely just me singing out of time.
I enjoyed the whole show immensely and really hope my friends and family that were there did to. I also had a disco. Which provided the music for the rest of the night. Thanks so much to James. Who was brilliant.
Not only for the disco but for also sound engineering the whole of the gig for us, so expertly. In the process definitely going above and beyond his duty. It all came together nicely. I spent the rest of the night chatting and dancing. And having an ace time. Seeing in my fortieth year on this planet in style.
The next day I was feeling a little jaded. Possibly mainly due to the fact that there was an after show party back at my mate Jeff Nolan’s hotel room. So the night did not end for me until around two-thirty in the morning. Proving that I might be getting on but I am still rock and roll.
I did happily get to catch up with my oldest school friend and his wife over a lovely fry up. Which was really nice. Thanks to all my family and friends for coming to the do. And thanks for all the birthday wishes, cards and presents. I really do appreciate it. It was great to see everyone there.
Last Saturday I did manage to get a couple of pints of Pre-Christmas Guinness at my favourite bar in London “Waxy O’Connors.” I really do feel so at home in there. It is almost frightening. That was the first time this year, what with all the birthday celebrations. That I actually started to feel at least a little bit Christmassy.
They had a guitar based trio playing live. Who were really good. They started off with a cover of Shakin Stevens big Christmas song. Which they followed with a great version of George Ezra’s Budapest. It was a fun evening. In a place I can almost guarantee you, that I will be in on the seventeenth of March next year.
I am pleased to say that I have completed all my Christmas Shopping. So there will be no last minute mad dashing around today from me this year. I followed the same tried and tested formula, as I do every year. I made a list of exactly what I was going to buy everybody. Decided on a day and a place to go. Then went there and did all my present shopping in a couple of hours. It is the only way to do it, I think.
Strangely it turns out that the singer Jamelia also does it like this. Which led to a brief Twitter exchange discussing this last weekend. Although she seems to suggest doing it this way is a man thing. While I made the point that it is an efficient and organised way of doing things. Either way it means I am sorted for my gifts this year. Keep Christmas simple. That is what I say.
Last Saturday night it was the final of this year’s Strictly Come Dancing. This series has almost been perfect with the celebrities and professionals all on top of their game. I have no idea how they are going to improve on this for next year. Especially as head judge Len Goodman will not be in his seat. Having left the show now. Surely Anton Du Beke must replace him. He really does seem to be the obvious choice, right? The entertainment value of this latest season was off the scale. And personally I do think the three best couples made it through to the final. They all fully deserved to be there on merit.
It was just going to come down to who could give the best performances on the night. As there was so little to choose between them. It was for me the tightest ever contest and a very tough one to call. But congratulations to Ore Oduba and Joanne Clifton on winning the Glitter Ball this year. I do think that their dances were the best on the night. So they are deserved winners.
You have to feel a little bit sorry for Kevin Clifton. That is the fourth year in a row that he has got to the final and not won. In fact since he joined he has always made every final. And to make this latest defeat a little bit more of a bitter pill to swallow. His younger sister Joanne has won the competition in only her second attempt. Having a younger sister myself. I appreciate how annoying that will be.
Now the dancers and the production team can have a well deserved rest. Before they start getting ready for next year’s offering. They have got their job cut out. As for a total Saturday Night entertainment show. This year it has been perfect. The right celebrities, amazing professional dance’s, fantastic guests, great band and live singers and much more besides.
I have thoroughly enjoyed watching it all. As it happens Joanne Clifton is the only one of the Strictly professionals that I follow on Twitter. So may be I had a feeling that she would triumph in the end.
I have got a fairly busy week coming up work-wise. The media world does not stop for Christmas. It very much keeps going. Although I have got most of Christmas Day off. So I will be able to have the traditional meal with the family.
Recently while at the BBC. I have been in a lift with Annie Mac. And a few days later with Huw Edwards. Plus Doctor Who himself Peter Capaldi walked past me the other day. Never a dull moment. And lots of fun to.
Have fun and we will catch up again in a couple of weeks. Happy Christmas! Cheers Neil.