BBC RADIO 2: THE MICHAEL BALL SHOW
SUNDAY, MARCH 19, 2023
For most of us, our relationship with our mother is a special one. We are connected to them in ways that defy definition. Is it because they had us to themselves for the first 9 months of our existence? We learned to rely on them for everything early on. As we grew, they filled every role for us: Caregiver, personal ATM, short-order cook, maid, chauffeur. They even served as our spell-check advisor and math tutor. Despite this, we thought we were so much more clever than they were, but very little got past them. They saw right though our machinations and attempts to outwit them. Just imagine an ornery little Michael Ball trying to outmaneuver his oh-so-smart mum Ruth. I’ll bet she has some hilarious stories to tell.
“I’ve got a lovely show for you,” Michael opens the program with familiar words. “Are you ready? Let’s crack on with it then.” And we’re off on another Sunday morning adventure. “Happy Mothering Sunday,” he adds. He wants to hear all about your mums. And he reminds us once again that this is OUR show, not his show. Michael does a big shout out to his mum, hoping she got the flowers and the card, and telling her he loves her.
After Ste played today’s choice of theme music from HAWAII 5-O, Michael was exhausted and needed a lie-down! Well, okay, maybe that music kind of does get your blood pumping.
On the Ball. First contestant is Alex who is the head of drama at a secondary show – which Michael adores. They part company however when it comes to the gym. Alex gets up at dawn to work out. Working out is not high on Michael’s list, especially early in the morning. The second contestant is Alex’s husband, Steve. Michael is rooting for Steve because of what Alex has to do if he loses. Our man can be oh so vengeful!
Orna has a bad cough. Apparently, lots of people are getting sick around Michael. He has a leg of lamb waiting at home, but Emma just came down with COVID, so it will have to wait. Michael then complains to Orna about all the road work going on around London. About how it took 2 1/2 hours – 2 1/2 hours!!! – to get into the West Ends because of road work. There’s too much roadwork! Too much! Orna interrupts, wanting to continue her traffic report, asking, “Can I tell you about a breakdown?” Michael’s response: “I’m having one.”
Michael’s first guest is so interesting I don’t know where to start. To begin with, Sam Neill lives on a 12-acre farm & vineyard in New Zealand, and he names his animals after his co-stars in past films. For example, he has a cow named Helena Bonham Carter, a ram named Jeff Goldblum & a pig called Anjelica Huston. Today Michael discusses Sam‘s autobiography DID I EVER TELL YOU THIS? This book is a memoir of Sam Neill’s amazing life both onscreen and off. In it he surprisingly reveals he was diagnosed last year with Stage 3 blood cancer (T-cell Lymphoma). While undergoing treatment he had nothing to do, so he began writing this book, and it got him through, talking about the extraordinary moments in his life. He wasn’t sure anyone would even want to publish it, but 3 publishers leapt at the manuscript, as anyone would expect. As for his illness, Sam Neill is now in remission, which is great news. This interview is rich with information and emotion and straight talk – It’s not to be missed. I’m a long-time Sam Neill fan, and I learned so much from Michael’s brilliant questions. I absolutely MUST read his book! Michael says he tells such fascinating stories in it.
Michael’s next guest, Samantha Barks, is currently starring as Elsa in FROZEN in the West End, a role she calls a dream come true. She’s been in the show a year and a half and still loves every moment of it. This lady’s list of credits is endless, including the film of LES MIS. She’s also a part of The Big Night of Musicals (as is Michael), which is coming up. AND she’ll also be performing a special show at London’s Theatre Royal Drury Lane on 30th May when she’ll sing tracks from her album “Into the Unknown.”
Michael Ball has always revered the women and mums he’s worked with on the stage. But Michael – I’m now talking about the regular guy, the one who comes to the BBC RADIO 2 microphone every Sunday – cherishes the mothers in his personal life, beginning with his beloved Gran whom he still speaks of with great emotion. His mom Ruth, his sister Kat, his soulmate and partner Cathy and his stepdaughter Emma have always meant the world to him, and he puts them before everyone and everything else in his life. Our guy wears his heart on his sleeve, one of the things we adore about him. He’s not afraid to show his love for and devotion to his family.
Today we honor all UK moms, but I want to give a tip of the hat to Michael and his lovely mum Ruth. Also to the bevy of mums who populate his life. He’s lucky to have them, and I can only imagine how much this complex and fun-loving man must mean to them. And before anyone criticizes me for calling Michael complex, think about it. All men are complex, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
As he closes the show, Michael reminds us to cherish those who are our mother figures. And he lovingly mentions those whose mothers are no longer with us. The tenderness in his voice got to me, along with the quote he cited. I freely admit it. He got to me.
Happy Mum’s Day to everyone out there …