BBC RADIO 2: THE MICHAEL BALL SHOW
SUNDAY, AUGUST 13, 2023
My intention for today’s recap was to frame it around Michael’s infectious laugh. I adore his giggle, always a bright spot on Sunday mornings. But as I wrote, my thoughts kept returning to this being the final week of ASPECTS OF LOVE. And then it hit me. Laughter and tears, the flip sides of the same coin, symbolizing the famous theatrical masks of comedy & tragedy. So this recap will be about both.
Michael’s giggle, his laugh, his titter, is one of his strongest signatures. When I think of Michael, I always picture him laughing or smiling. It’s why TV talk shows love to interview him. They know he’ll bring stories that charm the audience. His eyes twinkle, often previewing a cheeky remark, and he never disappoints. He carries that over to the radio, engaging his listeners weekly with his gregarious nature. Michael Ball loves to laugh, and he loves making everyone around him laugh.
“Me now for the next couple of hours. Could it be magic? I think it could be,” Michael says at the open of the show. His voice sounds a bit tired, but he seems high-spirited. Only one more week until he can rest.
I love listening to Michael tell the story behind the Family Albums. His voice is rich and full of emotion. It’s cadence always grabs me, inspiring me to listen closely. Ah, one of the greatest gifts of the actor in Michael Ball. The second song Michael plays for this segment is Elvis singing “The Wonder of You.” Which of course makes me think of how Michael sings it, always a tribute to his fans.
On the Ball. The first contestant is Rob, who has a landmark birthday coming up. He reveals he treated himself to a car – Michael calls what Rob is going through “Mena-Porsche” and admits he did the same thing at that time. “Scraped it in the parking lot. Couldn’t get the dogs into it. Got rid of it!” Michael laughs. And he continues to give us that fabulous childlike giggle throughout this segment. How I love to hear it! The second contestant is Morgan, Rob’s son, who still lives at home. When asked to list game shows, Michael teases that Rob mentioned only the “afternoon ones” which reveals Rob sleeps late. No mention, however, of how Michael knows when they come on. Oh, Michael, you really are a Telly addict! In the end, this match-up is a battle of low scores. Both unbelievable and hilarious. This is a rare On the Ball.
With Orna, Michael immediately worries that his tomatoes are ripening into huge pumpkins. Love hearing about his gardening. It reminds me that, away from the celebrity spotlight, Michael is just a regular guy with his gardening and cooking and Telly watching.
Michael’s first guest is Francis Rossi, the 73-year-old singer-guitarist of Status Quo. He’s embarking on a one-man Tunes & Chat tour, citing his enjoyment of quieter, smaller venues. He talks about his show, a combo of his favorite songs and a chat with the audience, including many stories about his dad, one very funny one he tells Michael. They discuss what it’s like talking to an audience, how when you make a mistake you simply own up to it, which is what people love, seeing the artist admit it when he stumbles. He was devastated by the death of fellow Status Quo band member Rick Parfitt, but he says you have to just get on with it. Which is the OTHER side of being a celebrity, keeping that kind of emotion private. The two tease each other, so much fun, as they talk about longevity and aging in the business. Michael closes the segment by playing Rossi’s “Spinning Wheel Blues” and follows it by saying, “I can’t believe I got him through that entire interview without using bad language!”
Michael’s next guest is Claire Richards, best known for being in the pop group “Steps.” This segment opens with Michael out of breath, Claire making him dance to the previous song. She talks about how “Steps” began as a line-dancing group, and it grew from there into enormous popularity. She reveals that after a 10-year break (where the group didn’t speak to each other), they came back in 2011 to even greater acclaim. Her second solo album “Euphoria” is about to debut, and she says the title says it all. On the album she pays tribute to the singers she’s admired throughout her life. Both Michael and Claire loved Karen Carpenter, both singing to her songs. I’m going to look for this album when it comes out, especially with Michael praising her voice so strongly. He ends the segment by playing Claire singing “I Surrender.” Absolutely STUNNING!
Michael signs off with “Be good. And if you can’t be good, don’t get caught!” Nothing like a dose of MB humor to keep us going while he’s away. Have a good rest, Michael. You’ve earned it.
Next Saturday will be the final performance of ASPECTS OF LOVE. This musical holds a special place in Michael’s heart for both professional and personal reasons. It was the play that saw him break out as a major star. It was also when he met his beloved Cathy. Come October, Michael will tell us the story himself in his memoir DIFFERENT ASPECTS.
The final performance of a show is always an emotional roller coaster for an actor. It will be an evening of “lasts” for Michael. The last time he’ll stand in the wings, waiting to make his first entrance. The last time he’ll play a particularly challenging scene. The last time he’ll sing “Love Changes Everything” in Uncle George’s unique way. The last time he’ll wear George’s robe or suit. His dressing room will be packed up, his mementos from this theatrical journey put into boxes and bags. And as Michael takes his final bow, he will smile broadly, touched as always by the outpouring of love from the audience. But while that smile is genuine, it will also be bittersweet. He’ll be saying goodbye to a company of friends he’s been with daily for months. Goodbye to a theater, a second home, where he was able to do what he loves. There will be a party afterwards, everyone promising to keep in touch. Yes, they’ll see each other, but it will never be quite the same. And as he heads off for a much-deserved holiday, he’ll wonder where the time went. How can ASPECTS OF LOVE have come and gone so quickly? But he’ll also look forward to what’s next on his agenda, because that’s who he is. “Always stay positive,” he tells us each Sunday morning. The glass is never half-empty, always hall-full in Michael’s world.
“Try to leave people feeling better for having met you,” is one of Michael’s mottos. Michael Ball, you are a rare gem, a beam of sunshine, and we salute you. I can’t wait to see what your theatrical future holds.
*CopyrightDeborahFezelle2023* This material is the exclusive property of Deborah Fezelle, Michael Ball and the MBFC.