Radio Recap – 18 February 2024

Michael Ball’s intelligence renders him a curious man. His mind absorbs information like a sponge, evidenced by his excellence as a contestant on trivia shows. Because of his curiosity, he possesses a working knowledge of a wide variety of subjects. We know Michael wasn’t keen on school when he was growing up. Being a student wasn’t for him (except acting school!). His voracious love of books over the years replaced his indifference in the educational department. Books, all books, are knowledge, quietly teaching as the reader enjoys a gripping non-fictional account or a captivating fictional plot. The same is true for the telly and movies, and we all know how Michael adores those mediums, a major choice of relaxation for him. Hence, he invites a kaleidoscope of guests from all walks of life to be on his radio show, probing their careers and backgrounds with great insight. Michael’s innate curiosity is part of what brings him to the BBC Radio 2 microphone every Sunday …
“Thank you, Lisa and everyone, for a beautiful tribute,” Michael says at the opening of his show, referring to the special 2-hour tribute to Steve Wright hosted by Lisa Turbuck, which just finished airing. For those who don’t know, the world and BBC Radio 2 lost Steve Wright when he passed away unexpectedly this week. Steve’s SUNDAY MORNING LOVE SONGS always preceded THE MICHAEL BALL SHOW, and Steve was so gracious in promoting Michael and his guests on his own show. “Steve, I’m going to miss you, friend. This song is for you.” And Michael plays Charlie Dore’s “Pilot of the Airwaves.” So perfect, Michael. So, so perfect. “The words are so appropriate. I’m going to play a tribute at the end of this show, but right now I’m going to do exactly what you’d want me to do. I’m going to do the show.”
On the Ball. The first contestant is Nicolette, and they talk about the rainy weather. Nicolette works at a wild life rescue, which she says is currently flooded and overrun with hedgehogs. Michael confesses he loves hedgehogs and has a hedgehog run through his home garden. Michael loves all creatures, great and small. As for Nicolette’s questions … Oh my! OH MY! Not a good start. On her first question, Nicolette picks THE MIDDLE ONE!!!! And as the questions continue, Michael lets loose with, “That was terrible!” Then he cheers when she gets one right. As she continues to hesitate with her answers, he humorously ad-libs, “These are a real struggle for you,” and he giggles away! When he helps her with an answer at the end he actually ends up singing it. 😂 Oh, how he laughs when she finishes. Nicolette is playing against her husband Guy. Guy is head of technology for a robot lab. “They’re like robot dogs?” Michael asks. “Yes.” Michael points out how different husband and wife are, one working with animals, the other, with robots. The forfeits for both are quite funny, having to do with Ghostbusters being painted on the side of a van and eating a spoonful of Marmite. Guy struggles as much as Nicolette did. (Scratch that – He struggles MORE!). At one point Michael’s celebration of Guy’s getting one right is OVER THE TOP. This whole contest with Michael and the diverse couple is ABSOLUTELY hilarious – Michael’s laughter at times goes on and on and on … and is SOOO contagious! What a fabulous On the Ball, a Michael Ball giggle fest! Michael is still laughing as he signs off from these two! You can tell he loved every minute of it.
On comes Orna. Michael asks her what she would tell her younger self. “I would say … anything you worry about, put into strategy.” Michael responds with the innocent intonation of a little kid, “I don’t understand.” Laughing, Orna explains we waste too much time worrying. They then shift moods, admitting,that being back in the studio has driven home the reality of Steve Wright’s passing. After Orna reads the traffic news, Michael shrieks, “They’re fixing the potholes? Did I hear that right?” And he wails about the size of the potholes in his neighborhood. It wouldn’t be a show without Michael grousing about something. Potholes? Good choice.
Kate Butch is the stage name of Marcus Crabb, a British drag performer and comedian known for co-hosting the “Queers Gone By” podcast. She also recently competed in Series 5 of “Rupaul’s Drag Race UK. Michael opens the segment by playing Kate singing, “Running Up That Hill.” Kate Butch’s name comes from Kate Bush, his inspiration, someone Michael knows – which they discuss. Victoria Wood also inspired his drag persona – another celebrity Michael knows. Kate talks about the first time she put on a wig and dress – a time when it was needed at the last minute for a show – and she enjoyed it. Michael compares his experience with HAIRSPRAY. He points out that putting on that frock, wig, etc, for Edna gave him a freedom, gives a man the freedom to say things that he could never get away with as a man. There’s a lot of double-entendres and chatter that I will let you hear for yourself (ha-ha!). Very funny. Kate is currently doing an adult pantomime of “Alice in Wonderland.” It’s bawdy, to say the least, according to Kate, who has to be careful of what she says on the air (“It’s a family show here.”). You have to hear Kate’s story about when she did a character called Pepper Pig in 2018. This is a FUNNY interview, loose and easy and full of quips.
Yvette Fielding is an English TV presenter, producer, actress, and writer. She and her husband Karl Beattie created the TV series “Most Haunted,” followed by “Ghosthunting With …” deeming her the “First Lady of the Paranormal.” Her newest book, “Most Haunted Theatres,” just published, promises to be a page-turner for everyone who loves anything theatrical. The last time Yvette was on Michael’s show, they had a hilarious conversation about Yvette being trapped in a lift with her crew and a horrible smell that resulted in laughter with Michael that went on and on – Michael had trouble catching his breath, he was laughing so hard! The segment almost went viral, it was THAT funny. He replays it and their famous hilarity. What REALLY sets them off in the past segment is Michael’s famous line, talking about that awful inhuman smell in the lift, “You haven’t been with me after a curry!” “No,” she responds, “this smell wasn’t humanly possible.” He replies, “Ask Cathy!” And they’re OFF AGAIN! When today’s segment finally gets rolling, it begins with giggles on both their parts, and for a moment they’re close to losing it again.. Michael grabs the reins then and says he’s a bit of a denier when it comes to the paranormal, but he’s been in theatres where he’s gotten ‘feelings.’ They both have to work hard not to lose it with laughter – and they don’t always succeed! She says she saw a pair of unattached legs going up some stairs in a theatre. And she says there are a lot of photos out there of ghosts, but they can’t be proven. Yvette affirms you only believe when you actually see it, which has happened to her of course. They talk about coming back after death, which she definitely believes. And she discusses a time on America’s “Discovery Channel” when she was broadcasting – and was getting scratched, actually hurt by a ghost. She walked off the set, she was that scared. The segment wraps with their out-of-control laugher again. “Your face!” she exclaims. “You’ve got such a mischievous, cheeky look about you!” If you need to laugh HARD – this is the segment for you!
At the end of his show, Michael talks about Steve Wright. “We’ve tried hard to remain positive, to laugh, but it’s hard. We were all hit hard by the loss of Steve. He was part of my life forever.” Michael reminisces about being interviewed by Steve, how kind he was. “Then when I joined Radio 2, Steve was so helpful. We will never see his like again.” Michael close the show in tribute by playing Karen Carpenter’s “Good Bye to Love.” His final words? “Rest in peace, my friend.”
Today’s guests show the depth of Michael’s range when choosing people to interview. We learned more about the the paranormal and the life of a famous drag performer. Michael took us from one end of the spectrum to the other in 2 hours, his curiosity driving his conversations. And it was fun! This is what a radio show should do: inform and entertain. Michael continues to display his expertise and talent as a radio host, not easy, and certainly not a gig every actor can do. Like all great hosts, he becomes an old friend you can’t wait to hear from again. There’s something intimate, almost magical about the radio the other mediums lack, something about a rich voice going out into the void, tickling your imagination and creating colorful images. Every word has meaning, the laughter fills you up, and you disappear inside the music. I grew up listening to the radio late at night and then, somehow, got away from it, leaving this wondrous industry behind. No more. Michael Ball has made me fall in love with the radio all over again. ❤️
*CopyrightDeborahFezelle2024* This material is the exclusive property of Deborah Fezelle, Michael Ball & the MBFC.