Tag Archives: theatre

Who’s Zooming Who?

We are still in Lockdown in England then but on the plus side we are nearly through January, which is historically the longest month of the year. I am all about the positives. This latest round of restrictions is slowly starting to have the desired effect of easing the pressure on our fabulous NHS. The key vaccination programme is now being ramped up meaning the most vulnerable are continuing to get their jabs.

Nobody is enjoying the situation but it is a means to an end. We will get past this and the good times will return. I am looking forward to what will be our version of the roaring twenties around a century after the original post Spanish Flu madness. We just need to still be responsible and sensible in our current choices to protect those we love and our communities as a whole.

Talking of which, I developed a bit of an annoying cough the other week. I did not have any other symptoms but I thought I better get myself tested just to be sure. I went on the NHS COVID website and managed to very easily book a test later that same day. I decided to use the drive through test option. They do give you a choice of that or a walk up option at different locations.

The Staff there were brilliant. It was all nicely organised and well run and most importantly completely safe. I had to do it myself in the car. They hand you the kit and the instructions through your window on the way in. It is a little tricky at first and to be honest not that much fun but it is also simple and straightforward. I mean I managed to do it despite thinking that I had messed it up twice. Side note, it would seem that I have quite the gag reflex. You have to take a swap from the back of your throat and then from up your nose.

Then you carefully follow the simple instructions and package it up as required. That is quite key and important. You hand it to someone on the way out. It is all linked together using a unique QR Code you get when you make the appointment. I got the results back via text and email within eighteen hours. Happily it was negative, so I was fine and the cough disappeared in a couple of days but I felt better for getting it checked out. This is not a virus to take any chances with in my opinion.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I have joined in with another couple of Zoom Games Evening’s that are organised by a friend of mine. I have mentioned these before. We all connect on Zoom so we can chat and have a laugh on that while we play. He uses this American website that offers some interactive games that you can play on a mobile phone or tablet. He sets the main page of the site up on Zoom for us to see. At the start of every game it flashes up a unique code which we enter to enable us to join in together to play.

It has an odd selection of slightly strange and weird games loosely based on more familiar games you might recognise. However they are all of course legally different to these so therefore not quite as good, to be fair. But they are perfect for a group of lads to virtually meet up and mess around with. In the last get together we played one that was a bit like “Would I Lie To You”. And another one that is a little bit like Dingbats.

We also played this new one where each player firstly has to draw a design on a T-shirt, which is not easy just using a finger on a mobile phone, even more so when like me you have no artistic talent at all. You then get to enter as many different slogans as you can in a set time. In the first round the game randomly selects which go with which. That was quite amusing but then in the next round you get to choose a design and slogan for a T-shirt using your competitors offerings.

It was all very childish I will happily admit that but there was one particular combination that almost had me in tears of laughter. It is far too rude to repeat here sadly but the picture and words worked perfectly for me. At the end of the game it gives you the chance to actually order the T-shirts you made. I was so tempted to order this one. But in the end I was strong and didn’t. It was a good giggle while still in the comfort of my own home, which is ideal at the minute. It is not the same as meeting up in person obviously but messing around with people on video calls can be great fun!

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I went to see “The Play That Goes Wrong” one afternoon about seven years ago. I still think it is the most that I have ever laughed in a theatre. It was my introduction to the Mischief Theatre Company. I have been following them closely since. I have managed to catch all but one of the new shows they have done. I have always seen them early enough that they have the main members of the company in. Over the years I have talked to a few of them after performances.

They have a very unique style and flavour to all of the things that they do. It borrows from a lot of traditional comedy elements but they put their own stamp on it. I am a big fan of theirs. In the last couple of years they have been doing stuff on the television. That has been ace and provided some very funny moments of madness. Like all theatre companies at the moment they cannot perform as they would normally do.

The Comedy About A Bank Robbery
The Comedy About A Bank Robbery

They are doing a series of online live stream improv movie nights at the moment. I watched one of these last Saturday Night. It costs ten pounds for a ticket. They email you an individual link to be able to see it. You log on at 7.30pm for the pre-show countdown. This is when you can put forward your suggestions for what sort of “Movie” they will be making. For example what type of film it is, where it is set and even suggestions for some of the characters in it.

They select a few of these ideas then they make up a play of a movie lasting about an hour or so off the top of their heads. They do have a “director” style character. Who can stop things and play with what is going on a bit to keep the actors on their toes and help them if they start heading down a comedy Cul-De-Sac. The night I saw it was an 80’s musical disaster film set in a library in America. It was brilliant! If you are looking for something reasonably priced to do during the evening I would totally recommend it. Just good old fashioned silly fun!

Mischief Theatre Company
Mischief Theatre Company

I have been watching quite a lot of comedy on television recently. I must admit I am partial to a good panel show. “Would I Lie To You” is such a simple yet effective idea, that is fun to watch and play along with. I love it anyway but it always seems to go up a notch when the great Bob Mortimer is on. He is so good at making the truth sound like a lie and a lie sound like the truth, scarily good at it in fact.

I like “Eight Out Of Ten Cats Does Countdown”. That is usually good value for a laugh. You cannot help but play along with the numbers and the words rounds without feeling as thick as you can do if you play along during the original version. It seems like most comedians have a similar level of intelligence to me. That does make me feel a bit better about myself and add to the feel good factor of the show.

I am not saying we have all been stuck at home a lot during the last year but I have just completed the whole of “The Big Bang Theory”. I was very late to the party with this one but I randomly managed to catch the pilot episode on a channel that was showing it daily at a time that coincided exactly with my lunch break. Every day while I was eating I saw one episode. I have now watched it all from start to finish.

Needless to say it is very clever and very funny with some great performances. Such a quality talented cast. They could do it all. I even eventually managed to get over the fact that “Blossom” was in it as a neuroscientist. The amazing thing is that Mayim Bialik is actually a neuroscientist in real life. That is very impressive. She left acting to study and then returned to play the role of someone who matched her qualifications. Genius!

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I am still doing my weekly Pop Quiz on my Facebook page every Tuesday at 8.30pm. Just for some lockdown fun. It lasts around thirty minutes and contains thirty music related questions. You can play along however you like in a large group as one team or on your own.

The way it works is that you are only really playing against and testing yourself, although some people play against each other using their own online chat groups. Here is last week’s quiz if you fancy having a look at it before you decide if you are going to join me live for it one week. https://www.facebook.com/796795590/videos/10164567407325591/

Neil Quigley

My football team Tottenham Hotspur are doing alright. We are still in the FA Cup having beaten Wycombe Wanderers this week. I used to watch the “Chairboys” when I was a teenager and played for their under sixteen team for a season. However there was only one team I wanted to win. I am one hundred percent Spurs. We play Everton in the next round. Another team and ground I know well as I my mate Jeff supports them and I have been with him to Goodison Park quite a few times over the years. That will be a fun contest with plenty of banter flying around I am sure.

In the Premier League we are still hovering around the Champions League places. I am not convinced we will win that competition. But I am hopeful we might be able to be successful in one of the cups that we are still in and lift a trophy this season. That would be brilliant. It did used to be lucky for us when the year ends in one, although the last time this was true was 1991, so it has been a while since that has been the case. I am enjoying watching the team on the television. It is a nice distraction from things, although I am looking forward to being back at the ground when allowed.

Tottenham Hotspur
Tottenham Hotspur

You can listen to me still on Saturday afternoon’s 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.

Forty-Four Is The New Twenty-Five

It was my birthday on Thursday 10th December. I am just putting the full date here in case you missed it so that you do not make the same mistake next year. It is often difficult to know how to mark an occasion like this when it is not a landmark age. This year I decided to stay in and spend the day at home. Annoyingly this was exactly what I did last year to. Hindsight is a wonderful thing and if possible never waste an opportunity to go out on your special day. That said I did have a lovely time.

The morning was exactly the same as any other day, apart for me opening my cards over breakfast. That is a once a year occurrence. I must say I was very lucky and extremely fortunate to receive all the cards I did. I appreciate the world is not normal and a simple thing like buying and sending a card could be more complicated depending on your circumstances. There were some very funny ones, which I am a big fan of. Yes being all sweet and nice is lovely but what can I say I just love a laugh!

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I got some great presents. One of which was Philip Schofield’s new autobiography “Life is What You Make It” wise words Phil. I think I have mentioned this previously I only read autobiographies and I am really looking forward to reading this one. Probably in January as I tend to make the first few months of the year my main reading time. I remember watching him as a kid and I have seen him present shows while in television studios myself and he is a master at it. I wonder if there will be any unexpected twists in it. Yes I know there will be. I do follow the news.

I got a new pen and a special book to put all my passwords in. At the minute I have them all written in an old diary in a random order and sometimes it can take hours to find the one I need. Why is it you now have to have an account for everything you use online? I swear even Johnny Five could not remember all my logins in his head. Anyway I am looking forward to becoming more organised on this front. I also got a special black book in which to log my horse racing bets to help in my quest to find a better system than the one Derren Brown used on his television show around ten years ago.

In the afternoon my girlfriend came over to basically chat and have tea. As I am proper rock and roll on my big day. She got me a Yoga mat that I had asked for by the way. It was not just a subtle hint from her. Not something I thought I would need before 2020 but I have started doing regular sessions online since April. I am quite literally out of control. She also got me an Elvis Presley Face Mask and Elvis themed card and cake. I guess constantly showing her pictures of my trip to Graceland and owning a white Las Vegas style jumpsuit may have led her in this direction for gift giving.

Neil Quigley

Then in the evening I had a Dominos take away, which I of course got delivered. That is the law if you order from them surely. I try to eat healthily in the week normally, so Pizza on a Thursday was a big treat for me. I washed it all down with a very nice bottle of red wine. For reference it was a Rioja Grand Reserva which I prefer to be six to eight years old, just in case you are ever in a position when you might need to buy me some wine. You are welcome!

Like we all do I over ordered on the Dominos front, so I was still eating the Pizza for lunch and dinner on the Friday. This may be an unpopular opinion but I think it tastes even better cold the next day. To top off my birthday Tottenham Hotspur won their final game in the Europa League and progressed as group winners. A wonderful end to arguably the second most important birthday in December! I had a great day and might have to stay in next year. Although I hope that will be more of a personal and free choice by then.

Neil Quigley

The Saturday Night before my special day I got given a pre-birthday surprise from my girlfriend. She had booked us an online Cheese and Wine Evening. It was organised by a Cheese company based in York. They send you the food and drink in advance. The cheese and wines are all numbered so you know which order to consume them in and which pairs go together. We set up all the cheeses and wines in the correct order. Then at 8pm the couple who own the company do a Facebook live. That you log on to.

Cheese Selection

They then take you through each of the Cheese and Wine pairings telling you what you should smell and taste from each, as well as a bit of background information about them. It is pretty low key and laid back. They just hold it from on the sofa in their living room. It does feel a little bit like you have gate crashed their evening but it makes it feel very inclusive. On the particular one that we were doing all the Cheese and Wines were from England. It was a varied wine selection. We had White, Rose, Red and a Port with Sloe Gin combination. The Cheese’s covered quite a spectrum to including soft and blue.

It was fun to eat and drink online with them. The portions are quite generous but we still managed to finish all of the wine and most of the cheese. The whole thing lasts about an hour and an half. It did feel a bit like having a night out yet while still being at home, which in the current climate is great. We enjoyed ourselves so much that we have signed up for another one at the end of January. The company that runs it are called Love Cheese. They are it seems quite a small business who started doing this for customers in York at the start of Lockdown. It has now built up and gathered pace from all around the country. Best of luck to them!

Cheese and Wine Tasting Online

I watched The Royal Variety Performance on the TV the other week. I normally watch it every year obviously things were a little different for this one. It came from a theatre in Blackpool which was in Tier 3, so they could not have an audience there. To get round this they had a Zoom audience and put them on big screens in the stalls, so that all the performers could see them and at least feel they were playing to an audience. Although due to the delay I suspect they all had to try to adjust their natural timing slightly. It looked a bit like a Science Fiction film where the machines had taken over and they were all performing to save their lives.

It was hosted by Jason Manford. I thought he did a brilliant job. It was always going to be a bit strange and tough but the pitch and the tone of it was perfect. I interviewed him once and he was fantastic so friendly and easy to chat to. I also saw his last stand up tour and that was very funny to. The line-up as you would expect for such a show was top class. I enjoyed all of the acts. All things considered it all worked out really well. Even with people having to quite rightly make sure they socially distanced on stage, unless they were in a bubble. It was ultimately fun and uplifting which is something we can all use at the moment. Thanks and well done to everyone involved.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Last Saturday I enjoyed some online live streamed theatre. The Old Vic in London is staging a production of “A Christmas Carol” over the festive period. The classic story which surely is a staple part of most people’s annual celebrations stars Andrew Lincoln as Scrooge. It is very clever how they are doing it. There is obviously no audience in the theatre. All the cast are performing in a socially distanced way. They have lots of different cameras which are all mixed together to give the illusion of the actors being next to each other.

Obviously you know what happens it is a narrative that everyone is familiar with. They do it very well and even though it is on screen I must say they keep you captivated and it does have that live feel to it. To be able to watch it you have to purchase a ticket online. Then on the day of the performance they send you a link via email. You then watch it from your home on Zoom.

It is proving quite popular there were four thousand people seeing it from all over the world on the night we saw it. It was great and sadly the closest that I will get to the theatre this Christmas. My favourite version of this age old story is The Muppets take on it. That is the only version to my knowledge that has comedy rats it in.

A Christmas Carol

At the time of writing my team Tottenham Hotspur are still second in the Premier League. The one slight disappointment of this is that due to circumstances that I am sure you are aware of I cannot take my usual season ticket seat and cheer them on inside the stadium. Typical of Spurs to be doing better than usual with no fans in the ground! I do miss my days out at the football. It has not been all plain sailing. And I suspect there are still plenty more twists and turns to come yet.

This season so far has left me with that age old conundrum. We are possibly not playing as consistently exciting football as we were a couple of years ago but we are winning more games. Do not get me wrong we are playing some great stuff in patches and have so many amazing players. I have no complaints at all. But there is always that thought about if you would rather your team played brilliant football or were winning football matches. You think you want entertaining games but if you are honest you really just want them to win the match!

We of course have the busy Christmas period to come and there is still a long way to go this season but even to be in contention still is a huge positive. Personally I just hope that if we are at least still in the running for the title in April and May. That I will be able to safely go to see the last home games. I have admitted before that I had never really been a Mourinho fan prior to his appointment at Spurs. But clearly he does have something either top tactical knowledge or a philosophy that works, as he has definitely had a big effect on the squad and their attitude. I cannot believe I am saying it but he might actually be special you know!

Neil Quigley

This will be the last time we speak before Christmas. Unsurprisingly I am planning a quiet and low key one this year. It is what I feel is the most sensible and safest thing to do. Whatever you do and however you celebrate this year have a fantastic time. Do stay safe and look after yourself and each other. This year do make sure you call or text people who either you would normally see or who you think might be alone. They will really appreciate it and it will make you feel good and give you a nice warm glow.

It has not been the year any of us wanted or intended. We have all had things cancelled and been massively restricted in what we can do. However I have had as ever a good laugh, still done some cool and new things. For starters I had never even heard of Zoom and now I have an account and a green screen for my backgrounds. An example of taking something forced on you and making it fun and personalising it.

Things will improve and get better we are moving in the right direction. Look at it this way this Christmas will possibly be more memorable than most. However you choose to spend it. Have fun! Festive best wishes to you and yours!

Neil Quigley

My good friend Mike Sterling has a charity single out in aid of the DKMS, Anthony Nolan and The Aplastic Anaemia Trust charities. It is available at all major online music stores. In honour of a little girl he knows called Evie, who happily thanks to This Morning found the Stem Cell donor she needed. It is a cover version of Mariah Carey’s Hero.

Mike Sterling and Neil Quigley
Mike Sterling and Neil Quigley

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

Neil Quigley

A very Happy Christmas to you! Thanks for reading the blog this year. Have fun and we will catch up again soon. Stay safe! Cheers Neil.

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.