Radio Recap – 21 April 2024

SUNDAY, APRIL 21, 2024
Last Sunday night, Michael was asked to present The Gillian Lynn Award for Best Choreography at the Olivier Awards. Now you might ask, “Michael & choreography? That’s odd.” Michael DID work with Ms. Lynn on several occasions. Still … It would make more sense for him to present Best Actor. Or Best Musical. But Best choreography? The reason became clear when his turn as a presenter arrived during the show. Michael strode onstage in a midnight blue tux with black lapels – Sorry, Orna. No strapless heels! – his black dress shoes polished to a high sheen. He beamed at the thunderous applause, his dazzling grin deepening his dimples. He looked trim, tanned, meticulous, every curl in place, his blue eyes sparkling. With the winner’s envelope in his hands, a whimsical look on his face, he began to speak in that rich, mellifluous voice audiences everywhere adore. He took his time, FEELING every word, caressing the consonants, elongating the vowels … “Graceful … Athletic … Sensual … Inspirational … All words that Dame Gillian Lynn—“ the whimsy switched to amusement “—never ONCE used to describe my attempts to replicate her fearless choreography on the many occasions I had the joy of working with her!” The audience roared with laughter, Michael clearly enjoying it all. This was SO Michael Ball, his self-deprecating humor taking over. Michael does things HIS way, always choosing to ‘be himself’ …
“Thank you, Claire (Chapman, who hosts ‘Love Songs,’ the previous show). Nice hug.” Big sweet sigh from Michael. “Hello, my lovelies. How are you this Sunday? Spring has sprung. Although it was nippy this morning.” After the opening song, Michael comes back high-energy. This man sounds HAPPY these days!
Michael has a bit of fun with some Sunday boasts and the song he plays afterwards, “Disco.” He is in an ORNERY mood! I love it when he gets like this. Fasten your seatbelts …
On the Ball. The first contestant is Ian, who normally saves his bacon sandwiches for listening to On the Ball. Ian compliments Michael by saying he likes talking to him more than eating his prized bacon sandwiches. Michael’s reply? “I can’t think of ANYONE I like more than bacon sandwiches!” There is some very witty conversation between these 2, really funny. And one of the questions (which is quite bawdy, the way Michael asks it 😂 Leave it to Michael to “go there” 😂) – I can’t even type it here, laughing too hard – sets Michael off on a fit of giggles!! He can barely get through asking the question because he’s laughing so hard. As I said, ornery! Next up is Jen, Ian’s wife. They talk about competitive relationships, which Michael says is a staple. And Jen is OBSESSED with Declan Donnelly, which is part of the forfeit between husband and wife. You can hear Michael giggling (constantly!) throughout the ‘Declan’ conversation. And giggling throughout the questions. And giggling …. Ornery! And the song Ste Softley plays afterwards? Hilarious! Well done, Ste! What an absolutely delightful On the Ball, one of my all-time favorites!
And on comes Orna to follow up on the earlier hilarity. Perfect timing. “Here she is,” Michael says, “bringing sunshine. You’re lucky I’m here. You know where I should be – pounding those streets in the London Marathon!” After this laughter-inducing statement, Michael morphs into a 10-year-old, giving Orna trouble as she tries to read the Traffic Report. It’s hopeless as the airwaves are filled with their giggles and acerbic asides. It ends with them dissolving into a puddle of non-stop laughter. These 2 are particularly BAD today! And I loved every single minute of it! DO NOT MISS THEM! There’s a sweet moment at the end, when Michael tells Orna how much he’s going to miss her on the new show. We all will, Michael. We will miss the fun between the 2 of you, the laughter and the camaraderie, how she brings out your inner child. Orna Merchant is a gem.
Mark Knopfler OBE, a British guitarist, singer, songwriter, and record producer, is best known for being the lead guitarist and singer of the rock band Dire Straits until 1995 when the band dissolved. Since then, Knopfler has had a solo career, producing many albums and written the music (also produced) for many well known films. Mark just debuted his tenth solo album, “One Deep River.” Michael opens the segment by playing Dire Straits’ “Walk of Life.” Michael is a huge fan and lists Mark’s credits over his 50 year career. They discuss how you know when a song is right, how it can take on a life of its own. He gives a magnificent example of how the musicians in a band LISTEN to each other and adjust. You must hear this tidbit for yourself – I couldn’t do it justice. And they talk about Mark Knopfler’s recording studio, a place he built from the ground up, where Michael has recorded tracks in the past. A fascinating conversation between 2 recording artists, taking us behind the scenes. I continue to be in awe of the wide variety of interviews Michael does – His vast background and natural curiosity makes him the perfect person to chat with anyone and everyone, especially in the arts. He is SUCH a good interviewer! The segment ends with Michael playing “Two Pairs of Hands,” from Mark Knopfler’s new album.
Ellie Leach is an English actress, best known for her 12-year portrayal of Faye Windass on the iconic soap CORONATION STREET. This was capped by winning the 21st season of the BBC series STRICTLY COME DANCING. She is also making her stage debut as Miss Scarlett in the UK tour of CLUEDO 2 – THE NEXT CHAPTER. Ellie comes on, her energy just as bubbly as Michael’s is today. She talks about CLUEDO, a murder mystery that is also a comedy. And she discusses what stage work is like, this being her first, how much ‘bigger’ the acting is from what it’s like in front of a camera for TV. And then they talk about STRICTLY – Michael says he knew she was going to win, that her growth from beginning to end was such a wonderful story. He gets her to talk about her debut dance on STRICTLY, how scary it was, being live on TV, never having danced before! She’s so charming, and you can tell Michael is impressed with her.
And then it’s over. From ornery to witty to childlike giggling to intelligent and insightful conversation, Michael Ball has given us 2 hours of his very best.
Michael Ball will always do things his way. On a recent morning TV show, Michael spoke about his upcoming events, including the new radio show. But he spent the whole segment cuddling with a white lab puppy named Buddy who’s training to be a service dog. Michael couldn’t resist reaching out and holding that dog, kissing him, even feeding him a treat from his pocket. His entire focus was on the dog as the interview took place – and to his credit – it was a great interview! When a ball of fur looks his way with soulful, loving eyes, Michael-the-star disappears, replaced by Michael-the-kid-who-loves-dogs. No matter the circumstance, it’s impossible for Michael Ball to deny who he is at heart. It’s refreshing. And honest. And such a delight. And that’s what he did at the Oliviers. He laughed at himself, something Michael does so well, never mean, a little sarcastic, a grin of mischief on his face. Michael is a far better dancer than he thinks he is. What he accomplished in CHITTY with “Me Ol’ Bamboo” took real dancing chops. Yes, he cut dance class in drama school, making up a heart disease to aid in his clever and devious cause, but onstage the musicality that lives in his head dictates what his body does, and he moves instinctively and beautifully, despite his insecurity. Michael Ball may have gotten older, as we all have, but someone forgot to tell his agile and rhythmic frame. I thought Carol Burton summed Michael up perfectly (both his humor and his agility) when she said on the MBFC forum last week: “I love the way Michael giggles/laughs at himself and the audience when he gets a rousing reception for doing his sexy hip thrusts and grinding. It’s as if he can’t actually believe his raunchy moves still recieve positive reactions from his audience. It’s lovely when he says he’s too old for this lol. You will never be too old lovely man. If you’ve got it flaunt it.” I couldn’t agree more, Carol. Michael definitely still has it, and he will always do it HIS way.