When Michael signed off on his radio show last week, his voice was soft, gentle, almost tender. “I’ll see you next week, my lovelies … Christmas Eve.” There was a sense of wonder in his voice, like a small child who looks forward to Christmas all year. I often speak of the little boy in Michael, in all men, and it’s definitely charming. But there was more to the way Michael said “Christmas Eve” than that of a small boy. There was a reverence in his tone, a respect for the holiday and all it means. Christmas is about family, and we here at the MBFC are a family, granted a dysfunctional family at times, but still a family. Well, now it’s here. Christmas Eve. And lucky us, we get to spend part of it with the head of our family. Michael Ball …
“Hello, my lovelies. It’s Christmas Eve. I’ve got a cracker of a show lined up for you!” It’s high-energy Michael greeting us on this special day. He then plays ‘Merry Christmas, Everyone’ (Shakin’ Stevens). Great lyrics: “Every day is Christmas. What a nice way to spend the year.” Michael adds, “It’s Christmas Eve. We made it. For the next 2 hours you’re mine, my lovelies.” And you are ours, Michael. Not only is Michael’s energy bouncing off the walls, he’s in fine voice as he reads off some of the Sunday boasts. I could listen to that silky smooth tone all day.
On the Ball, Celebrity Special. Jane McDonald vs Beverley Knight. Michael calls Jane “the UK’s Mariah Carey.” She’ll be doing a show on BBC Radio tomorrow afternoon which Michael will listen to as he cooks Christmas dinner (“the sprouts take hours”). He also let it be known he’s a dictator in the kitchen. Why doesn’t this surprise me? Michael decides the forfeit between these 2 women has to be singing “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” REALLY badly! (“Karaoke-really-drunk-kind-of-bad!”). And it goes into the MB Christmas archives to be played every year. Oh, Michael, you are so cunning! It’s a great segment between Michael and Jane because it mostly deals with food and movies! Between the 2 contestants, Michael plays Jane singing “Believe in Christmas Eve.” So beautiful. Next comes Beverley Knight, whom Michael dubs “The UK’s First Lady of Soul.” Michael reminds the audience what a year Beverley has had, including winning an Olivier. I love how he praises his fellow performers, and with such gusto! Beverly will be doing a ‘Great British Christmas Gospel’ show on BBC Radio tomorrow night. When Michael reminds her what the forfeit is, she starts to laugh, and she has such a great laugh, infectious, getting Michael going – and me, too! Michael is hilarious with her, such an electric connection between them! Giggles, giggles and MORE giggles. Oh, such FUN! AND MORE GIGGLES … This is one GREAT segment! And then … the forfeit … oh, the forfeit … You CANNOT imagine!!! This is an On the Ball not to be missed. In fact, it should be listened to repeatedly!!!
Orna is in the house! They’re so happy to be together that they speak over each other for the first 20 seconds. And they’re both in giggly moods. Michael’s broadcast today is definitely “The Giggle Show.” No complaints here – I love it. “Santa’s on the way,” Michael sighs with enthusiasm after Orna’s traffic report, the little boy wonder in him matching his little boy giggles. This man is simply adorable today.
Noel Fitzpatrick is an Irish veterinary surgeon well known for the TV show “Supervet.” Michael refers to him as “The Bionic Vet.” In 2009, Fitzpatrick became the first veterinary surgeon to successfully apply an amputation prosthesis to a cat who lost both hind feet. Michael, himself, brought his Tibetan Freddie to Noel when he was hit by a car – with great success. Noel has now written a book called “Keira and Me,” about his life with his soulmate canine Keira. The promo for it says, “It promises to break your heart and put it back together again – even better than it was before.” At this time last year, Noel’s confident, his dog Keira passed after an accident. Devastated, he sat down on Christmas Day and wrote 80% of this new book, his feeling of loss and love for her pouring out of him. Michael knew Keira and said she literally ran Noel’s clinic. Noel admits this book led him from the darkness of losing Keira back into the light, living in the aura she left behind. Michael understands the loss Noel feels. We all know the great love Michael feels for his dogs. Noel had Keira on the operating table, her heart in his hand as she passed. You have to hear him describe her orb of light. This conversation is so moving, it’s hard to type because my eyes are watery. It’s beautiful. Absolutely beautiful for anyone who has that one animal who is so connected to you, that pet where words aren’t necessary. You just “get” each other. “Noel … I blooming love you,” Michael says in closing. “I love you, too, Michael.” I keep thinking this broadcast can’t get any better, but Michael continues to prove me wrong.
As if to prove my point, on comes Tony Ball, Michael’s lovable dad. Michael says he’s had some impressive guests, but none as important as his dad. Tony is full of jokes, bringing on Michael’s giggles again. I won’t even TRY to tell you the jokes – I’d murder them! – you have to hear father and son laughing together and reminiscing. You can hear the pride in Tony’s voice when he speaks of Michael. It’s heartwarming to witness. Michael brings up ‘B&Bs’ (Brandy and Benedictines) they used to drink long ago at soccer games. There is nothing better than listening to these 2 talk about their lives and devotion to each other. Michael closes with, “I’ll call you after the show like I do every Sunday so you can give me my notes.” And they both laugh heartily. So, so lovely.
At the close of the show, Michael takes a moment to speak to those who are alone at this time of year or who are missing someone special. This is quintessential Michael Ball, always remembering those who may be hurting. He says he heard a Bob Hope quote this week that is appropriate: “My idea of Christmas is simple: loving others.” He then plays Joni Mitchell’s “I Wish I had a River.”
They say Christmas isn’t a day, it’s a feeling we should carry throughout the year. Being kind and generous of heart should be part of our everyday life. That’s what Michael Ball says and does. He approaches everything and everyone in his life with a desire to spread a positive attitude. “Try to leave people feeling better for having met you,” Michael has said. He signs off on the radio reminding us to “always be kind.” And he signs off everywhere, every radio broadcast, every concert, even his discussions about his books with “God bless.” Michael doesn’t spout platitudes. He means what he says. He IS the Christmas spirit. He is always uplifting, always inspirational, his laugh or giggle always just around the corner. So Happy Christmas, Michael. Have a beautiful holiday with your lovely family and adorable pups. Eat too much, drink just enough and fill your house with laughter. Oh – and one more thing – God bless you, Michael.
I also want to wish Gill, Maureen, James, Ste, Orna and all of Michael’s fans around the globe a very Happy Christmas from my little corner of the world …
*CopyrightDeborahFezelle2023* This material is the exclusive property of Deborah Fezelle, Michael Ball & the MBFC.