BBC RADIO 2: THE MICHAEL BALL SHOW
SUNDAY, JANUARY 21, 2024
“I do all the cooking at home and love it,” Michael Ball has said repeatedly. Whenever Michael talks about going home and cooking a roast after his radio show or mentions his perfect potatoes which accompany that roast, my mouth waters. There is nothing more appetizing than a Sunday roast. I can literally smell it’s aroma wafting from the oven. Sprigs of rosemary? Cloves of garlic? I can see this perfectionist of a man fussing in the kitchen, making sure everything is exquisite. Once his feast is laid out on the table, I see him opening a fine bottle of wine, filling the glasses … and digging in! And then his job is over. Clean-up duty is for the others. He did the hard part, creating an artistically scrumptious meal that’s both gorgeous and delicious … Oops. More later. I believe I hear our man at the microphone now …
“Hello, my lovelies. Let’s have a bit of madness to kick off this Sunday, shall we? Welcome to my House of Fun!” And he plays the song by Madness. What a great wake-up call! “Nice to have you with me,” Michael continues afterwards. “We’re all about sharing the good news here, so come on, share it. If it makes you smile, it makes me smile.” It’s always heartwarming to hear these opening words. They confirm we’re off on our Sunday jaunt with Michael. And bravo on the music so far, very upbeat, the kind that gets you moving! After playing ABBA, Michael says he took the family to see their show again because he loved it so much. And they told him they listen to his radio show every week, which so thrilled Michael that he gives a shoutout to them this morning. It’s moments like these when Michael becomes that regular guy, forgetting he’s a celebrity himself. ABBA becomes the star, and Michael becomes the fan. Absolutely enchanting side of him!
On the Ball. The first contestant is Miriam, who has a life-size cutout of Alfie Boe. Her cat is also named Boe. She confesses to being a massive Alfie Boe fan, and of course Michael must tease her about this. She is also a Dr. Who fan, which thrills our host. For the interval between contestants, Michael says since Miriam is SUCH an Alfie Boe fan that he’ll play a special song for her by … Elton John! Oh, Michael, you can be such a little boy when it comes to competition with Alfie. You DO make me laugh. Miriam is playing against her husband Mark. Like Miriam, he’s a musician – also a singer. Mark has been growing his hair since lockdown, and if Miriam wins he’s going to have to cut it. If Miriam loses she has to go with Mark for a curry, which she hates. Mark calls her a “waste of taste buds,” which sets Michael to cackling. And his giggling continues throughout the segment. This is another fabulous On the Ball segment. I won’t give away the winner’s name. You have to listen for yourself and enjoy.
When Orna comes on, Michael tells her he’s proud of himself because he built a garden storage shed, and he did it all by himself. His description of this escapade is sooo funny! I’m guessing construction is not one of his special skills. Orna then talks about a massive storm which is about to hit the UK tonight. Sounds scary. When she mentions a street named after someone he doesn’t know, Michael asks her who the guy is. Orna tells him he’s a rugby star – to which Michael announces, “I want a street named after me!” I can just picture Michael, stomping his foot, folding his arms across his chest and pouting, “I mean it. I want a street named after me!” (I am smiling broadly at this image!). Sounds right to me, Michael. Someone out there should get the ball rolling on this endeavor.
In the second hour of the show, Michael welcomes back Mitch Lane, a Wolverhampton father of 3 who started making TikTok videos of his cooking for fun during the shutdown, but now has a following of over 800,000. His specialty is making budget conscious meals that are also incredibly appetizing. He has a brand new book out, “Feed Your Family for a Fiver in 30 Minutes!” What a great conversation between these 2 foodies. Michael even calls out Cathy, telling her to listen to what Mitch is saying, which is amusing. Mitch has a 9-5 job on top of his specialty cooking, and he loves having both lives. They talk about the cost of food now, especially meats, and how hard it is to keep a meal under a fiver. Mitch has sound advice. A fascinating, smart man. And being a smart chef himself, Michael has a few tips. Also some great questions.
Bonanarama, a British pop group formed in 1980, have been listed in the Guinness World Records for being on the charts more than any other all-female group. Their hit songs and records are FAR too numerous to list, and their success has been documented everywhere. It would take paragraphs to list all their achievements. Last November, the group released “Live in Stereo” – ‘An Evening With Bananarama,’ recorded at Manchester’s Gorilla Club. And they’re about to embark on a tour, celebrating their 40 years of success. Michael opens the segment with their song “It Ain’t What You Do, It’s the Way That You Do It.” And he tells them he rolled out the red carpet for them, “Pop Royalty.” Ironically, Michael is also celebrating his 40th year in the business. Michael connects with them beautifully, for obvious reasons. The conversation is easy and funny and colorful. They talk about how they started and how their children feel about their success and where they’ve lived and just so many fun and interesting things. Michael says they were the ‘cool’ girl group, not cheesy, which is an important reason they’ve lasted. They all talk about how thrilling it is to see the germ of an idea for a song grow and end up on the radio. What an absolutely lovely interview/chat. In closing, Michael plays their new single “Supernova.”
“I say it every week,” Michael tells us as he closes this week’s show. “Be safe. And I know at times it’s hard, but be kind. I’ll see you next week.” We’ll be here, Michael. You can count on us.
“I’m a fairly traditional British cook, as my partner Cathy doesn’t enjoy spicy food, although I like to experiment myself.” Of course Michael likes to experiment. He’s an actor with creative juices flowing through his veins. The creativity gene keeps actors on the prowl for other ways to express themselves, and cooking is often a primary choice. Michael jumps at the chance to do a cooking show, all cooking shows, and he seems to be an ardent fan of all chefs. By the same token, chefs adore Michael and his enthusiasm for food. Cooking segments with Michael Ball guarantee a lot of laughter and a few surprises for the presenter/chef – Michael knows what he’s doing and always impresses. But he’s also humble, happy to have an opportunity to learn new tricks of the trade. And another thing – Michael never shies away from trying new cuisines. His taste is diverse. “The only thing I won’t eat is swede – I can’t bear it.” Okay, I’m with you on that one, Michael. In the US, swede is a rutabaga, and if I was served rutabagas at a dinner party, I would politely pick them out and hide them in my napkin. Finally, Michael takes great pride in his home garden, evidenced by that shed he just built. Growing his own veggies makes for tastier and healthier meals.
Women adore a man who can cook, a man who knows his way around a kitchen. It’s sexy, watching a guy create the perfect meal, slicing a standing rib roast with expertise, tossing a salad with a casual touch, filling the serving dishes with an artistic flair. Yes, Michael is talented. Immensely talented. He sings. He acts. He hosts a radio show. And I get the sense he can create a meal like a seasoned chef. We know how carefully Michael guards his privacy at home, but maybe one day – if we’re lucky – he’ll share a photo of one of his famous Sunday roasts. My mouth is bone dry from drooling over the images he conjures up when he talks about them!