BBC RADIO 2: THE MICHAEL BALL SHOW
SUNDAY, JUNE 18, 2023
“This was a seminal moment in my life – my dad took me to see the original production of JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR at the Palace Theatre in 1973. I thought it was just amazing, so powerful. The idea of using rock music to tell the story of Jesus was incredible.” Michael Ball
Tony Ball originally wanted to be an actor, but fate had greater plans for him. His son, Michael, fulfilled his father’s dream and received an OBE for his services to the musical theater. Ironically, one of Michael Ball’s most emotional and intense songs is “Gethsemane” from the musical that hooked him all those years ago. Life has a way of making things happen, of guiding us down the path we’re supposed to follow. Tony Ball loved the theater and took his son to see a show he thought they’d both enjoy. And the rest, as they say, is history. Today we celebrate both Tony and Michael on Father’s Day, a dynamic & loving father/son duo.
“Hello … my … lovelies on this Father’s Day,” Michael says breathlessly. “I hope you’re spoiling them.” He’s upbeat, starting the show with Madonna. It’s going to be a great 2 hours!
The Family Album today is by the MBFC’s own Sue Fiers. So very touching. Michael reads the story of Sue’s father with such emotion, his voice rich, every word full of meaning. And then Neil Diamond’s beautiful “I Am, I Said,” plays. When the Family Album resumes in the 2nd hour, Michael plays Luther Vandross’ “Dance With My Father.” Oh, Sue. I can only imagine what you’re feeling as you listen. Michael ends this beautiful segment with a quote for all who are missing their fathers: “Death leaves a heartache no one can heal. Love leaves a memory no one can steal.”
On the Ball. First contestant: Bill Williams, PE teacher. Michael adds with a chuckle, “my nemesis.” Michael and physical activity mix like oil and water! (I commiserate, Michael). Bill’s daughter, Emily, competes against him, saying her dad passed on his love of the theater to his daughter (Sounds like Tony & Michael). “There’s only one thing better than being a father,” Michael says, learning Bill has to look after Em’s children for a few days if he loses, “and that’s being a grandfather.” Michael would know. He’s both. It’s a lovely On the Ball, full of father/child love. He ends the segment with the song, “The Greatest Day of our Lives.” Michael knows how to stir the emotions, that’s for sure. It’s hard to type with water in my eyes.
Orna. Michael saved his giggles for his sidekick. And she’s in studio. As usual, Michael is “at sixes and sevens” when she’s around. Also because his dad is in the house. Orna talks about seeing AOL this week with great enthusiasm, about the magnificent electricity of seeing a live show. He asks her to watch after his dad until he can take over, warning her, “He’s got a twinkle, Orna. He’s got a twinkle.” When she returns later in the show, she asks if she can adopt his father.
Michael’s first guest is Neil Morrissey, well known for his role of Tony in “Men Behaving Badly.” He’s about to star in the West End’s THE CROWN JEWELS. Michael and Neil must have had a few mishaps leading up to their segment because they’re laughing hysterically at the beginning. Anyway, Neil goes into great detail about the play, a modern take of a Renaissance play, set during the reign of the current King Charles, but done in Renaissance gear. It’s quite a comedy, he says, and his enthusiasm for it is over the top. As always, Michael is at his best when interviewing a fellow actor, and these 2 are great together! Michael admits he loves period costumes and says he’s been told he’s got the calves for it. Um, yes, Michael, you definitely have the calves for those period tights. You have the calves for just about anything. This interview is fascinating, informative and hilarious!
Is there anything better than eavesdropping on a conversation between Michael and his dad, Tony, who is Michael’s second guest? And what a guest he is! “This is lovely,” Michael says with emotion to his father, sitting across from him. The whole family came down to London for the weekend and saw AOL last night. And his sister Kat pointed out (correctly, according to Michael) that he based the role of Uncle George on his dad. When pressed, Tony proudly admits to being 89 soon. And he talks about launching the Mini car, one of his proudest moments. Michael reflects that Tony found his calling, that he wouldn’t have been happy as a performer. “You’re a producer,” he proudly declares. There is just SOOO much in this conversation – it’s hard to encapsulate it. This is something you have to listen to in order to catch it all. DO NOT MISS IT. It reveals so much about the family atmosphere in which Michael was raised. Also, what a father/son relationship SHOULD be and CAN be about when it’s at its best. More tears flowing now. Wow. What a morning.
A father comes in many forms. Michael Ball is a father figure not only to his own family, but to so many kids out there. One of the unique ‘aspects’ of Michael is that he never lost his childlike wonder of the world around him. His ability to always see the glass as half-full, his rat-a-tat-tat giggle, his innate curiosity, his penchant for making others laugh – all are part of why he so easily connects with children. Michael Ball becomes their contemporary, the big kid inside him relating to their fun-loving spirit. More importantly, however, Michael’s nurturing instincts, his big heart, his passion to help any child in need, his fierce protection of his family and his determination to keep his celebrity out of his home all add up to the very definition of a good father. “I have my family life and I think it’s important to be able to shut the door and keep the door shut, and that keeps you grounded. You stay in reality,” Michael said at one time. Michael Ball is a good & decent man and a remarkable father. Here’s to you, Michael, on this Father’s Day.
Happy Father’s Day to ALL the dads out there. It’s one of the toughest jobs in the world, but when you get it right, oh does it pay off!
*CopyrightDeborahFezelle2023* This material is the exclusive property of Deborah Fezelle, Michael Ball & the MBFC.