BBC RADIO 2: THE MICHAEL BALL SHOW
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 11, 2024
This week we celebrate Valentine’s Day, a time when we show our devotion to those we love. The history of Valentine’s Day goes back centuries, but the romantic association with it can be traced to the English poet Geoffrey Chaucer. Romantic. That magical word which symbolizes Valentine’s Day, a word that evokes memories for so many of us. Michael Ball, another Englishman (also Welsh), has been considered a romantic heartthrob since he first set foot on a stage in “Pirates of Penzance” in 1985. Four decades later, women still drool over Michael’s looks and talent (I’m a sucker for his wacky sense of humor). How appropriate for us to celebrate this particular holiday with Michael a few days early, in the studios of BBC Radio 2 …
“Hello, my lovelies. How are you this Sunday? All right, I hope. Welcome to the show.” Michael’s voice is mellow and relaxed as he opens with a song by Texas. And of course we hear the iconic words “Tell me what makes you smile, because if it makes you smile, it makes me smile. It’s not MY show. It’s OUR show.” And we’re off on another 2-hour adventure with the always entertaining Michael Ball.
On the Ball. The first contestant is Christine, who has a Parson Jack Russell dog, which of course tickles Michael. He teases her about playing against her friend of 54 years today – they met when they were 9 years old. During the questioning, some of Christine’s answers set off Michael’s giggles – always a delight! Michael then reveals that a sloth may be his spiritual animal (This seems to come out of nowhere, as do a lot of things today!). Um, yeah, I see where you’re going with this. Next up is Jackie, who talks about her imminent trip to South Africa, which includes a safari. Michael raves about Cape Town and says she’ll enjoy it. Out of her questioning, Michael brings up ‘Hedgehog potato crisps’ from yesteryear. He says they tasted like chicken. Ooookkkkaay! This was a fun but eclectic On the Ball!
Michael reveals to Orna that he’s not an attractive sleeper and that he doesn’t wear pajamas – just a boxer. Wow, Michael, did you really go there? He quickly changes the subject (Good idea!) to the weather, talking about the flooding that is still everywhere. And Orna keeps it going, reeling off the many, MANY road problems, which go on and on and on and … Michael’s response afterwards? “Blimey!” When she returns for the 2nd segment (after the Ben Fogle interview), he talks about how different he is from Ben. “Can you imagine me rowing across the Atlantic?” he asks her. “No! Stick to your lane!” Is her reply. Amen!
‘Michael the Chef’ emerges during one of the Sunday boasts. “I blooming love my air fryer,” he raves. “Give it a go. It’s a game-changer.” I’ll say it again: Michael either needs to produce his own cookbook or his own cooking show one of these days. We know he loves a challenge. So go for it, Michael!
Jay McGuiness is a British singer, songwriter, actor and author best known as a vocalist with boy band The Wanted. In 2015 he won the 13th season of “Strictly Come Dancing.” He’s had quite a career in musical theater, including the starring role in “Big, The Musical.” He’s currently touring the UK in “2:22. A Ghost Story. His debut fantasy novel BLOOD FLOWERS was also just released, which he’s VERY excited about! He describes how the book came about, which Michael totally gets because of his own novel. They share how much fun it is to see a seed that was floating around in your brain come to fruition on the page. And they talk about the circumstances in which they write, which somehow evolves into how they sleep. Michael reveals that he needs a bit of noise to go to sleep (So do I after all my years in noisy Manhattan – and I’m still teased about it – so thank you, Michael). Jay also talks about his turn on “Strictly,” which Michael laps up because, as we know, he so ADORES that show! Jay then moves on to talk about his tour, and he says he’d like to keep on writing AND acting/singing simultaneously. Sounds like he has a great deal in common with Michael Ball. It’s a wonderful interview, full of lovely tidbits on both their parts – with a great many laughs!
Ben Fogle is an English broadcaster, writer and adventurer, best known for presenting with British television Channel 5, BBC & ITV. His TV show, NEW LIVES IN THE WILD has been on the air since 2013. In it, Ben visits those who have chosen to live unconventional lives among wild surroundings. Michael and Ben open by talking about how similarly they’re dressed and move on to talk about Ben’s mother, English actress Julia Foster. Ben discusses his evolution to where he is right now, visiting people who live humbly, who live with less – and which is shown in his new TV show “Wild” – and he sees how much happier they are than he was when he was “chasing more.” So now he spends half his year away from his family (whom he passionately loves) in the wild. Michael asks so many pertinent questions, questions that had formed in my own mind. It’s a very revealing interview between 2 very different men.
Sadly, the show comes to a conclusion far too soon. It seems like we just got started …
Michael Ball has earned his stellar reputation over the years with a heart as big as the world. He gives generously of his time to so many worthwhile charities, his friendships are lifetime commitments, and he makes sure he takes care of his fans. His family has always and will always come first with him, and he protects their privacy fiercely. Onstage and off, Michael Ball wears his heart on his sleeve, symbolizing both a brilliant actor and a loving man. Happy Valentine’s Day, Michael. May you feel the affection of family, friends & fans every day of 2024, not just on this special holiday.