BBC RADIO 2: THE MICHAEL BALL SHOW
SUNDAY, JANUARY 14, 2O24
I’ll be honest. I’ve had a REALLY bad week. Everyone tugging at me, me trying to please everyone, and ultimately pleasing no one. Suddenly it was Friday night, and I’d written nothing for Michael’s Sunday radio recap, not ONE WORD. I panicked. There wasn’t enough time! What would I write? What would be my theme? As my blood pressure rose, it struck me that I was being silly. After all, I was writing about Michael Ball, the man who always puts me in a good mood. Following a friend’s advice, I poured a glass of my favorite libation, sat down in my favorite chair and focused on the man. Closing my eyes, I could see Michael clearly, sitting behind the BBC Radio 2 microphone, dressed in his comfy clothes, curls askew, maybe a few sleep creases rivaling those dimples. He thanks Steve Wright for his earlier show, thanks the newscaster, his theme music plays, and I hear those glorious words …
“Hello, my lovelies. We’re going to kick off with a bit of Kool & the gang. To celebrate good times. I promise they’re coming. Any minute now.” And in an instant, all is right with my world. It’s Sunday morning, and I turn my fickle mood over to the always uplifting, always positive Michael Ball as I listen to ‘Celebrate Good Times.’ “We’re live in the BBC studios,” he continues, “and it’s blooming freezing in here. No matter. I’ll warm you up.” You already have, Michael. You have no idea how much. “I say it every week, and I mean it. It’s not MY show. It’s OUR show. And if you don’t email me I’ll have to speak a load of rubbish to myself between songs, and nobody wants to hear that!” Okay, I”m laughing now. It’s going to be a GREAT 2 hours!
On the Ball. The first contestant is Sally, who Michael says he should address as “Lady Sally.” She even has the title in a frame – She bought it and Michael teases her mercilessly. One of her passions is driving, and Michael says driving around London is one of the worst things ever. No, Sally likes driving around the coasts. Michael confesses whenever he and Cath go on holiday to the beach they pick up a stone and mark on it where they were to have as a keepsake. Michael, you’re a true romantic. The second contestant is Sally’s younger sister, “Lady Louise.” She likes magnet fishing, which is standing at the edge of the water, throwing in a magnet, dragging it back on a line and seeing what treasures you’ve discovered. Michael finds this hilarious, his giggles filling the airwaves. Louise also confesses that being called “Ladies” she and Sally get bonuses and upgrades when they travel. To which Michael replies, “I’m going to try this! You can buy anything on the internet, even a title.” Uh, Michael, you already have a title – You’re Michael Ball O.B.E., international star! And when the questions start with Louise, we see the return of the giggles. It’s a joy listening to this, my “Happy Meter” continuing to rise. A great On the Ball!
Next is Orna whom Michael calls a “California Beach Babe.” Apparently she looks great, she’s VERY blond, dressed in black, and Michael has definitely noticed. He tells her she looks like a babe right out of “Grease,” to which he plays “You’re the One that I Want.” I’m hoping Ste gets a photo of our lovely Orna today.
“There’s a sadness here at BBC Radio,” Michael informs us. “We lost one of our broadcasting pioneers Annie Nightingale, who had an unprecedented career. The first female presenter on BBC Radio 1.” Thank you, Michael, for always, always taking the time to pay tribute to the greats who have passed. “Annie Nightingale. We shall never see the like again.”
Sisters and authors Wendy and Anthea Turner have reunited and are relaunching their popular ‘Underneath the Underground’ series with a twist: the first in a series of children’s books, “The King’s Coronation and the Kohinoor Diamond.” The series takes place in a community of mice living beneath London’s tube stops. Michael immediately compliments them, saying how nice they look. He’s being SUCH a man today – I like it! The sisters go into great detail about their mice, which is adorable. They came up with this idea years ago, but put it away until recently when their mother died. They knew writing about the mice would cheer them up in their grief, and tying it into the coronation would make it timely. They give a bit of the plot of the book, but you have to hear this for yourself in the words of the 2 sisters. Michael adores the whole idea of it, as do I. I want this book! The sisters work closely with many animal charities, and they admit to preferring animals to humans, a feeling I tend to share. And you know Michael’s love of and affinity with all animals. This is a fabulous interview, funny, informative and touching. A side note: At the end, Michael says he just rediscovered a photo shoot he did in 1985. “Bad hair and the worst wardrobe!” I hope we get to see this eventually.
Robson Green is an actor, singer, musician, fisherman, author and songwriter. Known for playing roles in dozens of the U.K.’s telly series, including Dave Tucker in the military series ‘Soldier, Soldier’ and Dr. Tony Hill in the crime drama ‘Wire in the Blood.’ His TV credits are far too numerous to list, and his history as a singer is also impressive. He is now hosting ‘Weekend Escapes series 2’ on Prime Video. In the series, he visits cities and spots in Northeast England on the roads less traveled with family and friends. And tonight he returns in Season 9 of the popular series ‘Grantchester.’ I confess to being a huge fan of both this actor and the series. Michael opens this segment with Robson and Jerome Flynn singing “Unchained Melody” which was the bestselling song of 1995. Robson confesses he and Flynn didn’t want to be pop singers but they were offered one million pounds for recording the song, which came out of an episode of ‘Soldier, Soldier.’ Robson says he’s been blessed his entire career, to which Michael replies, “Hard work is what also makes a career.” Robson agrees, knowing all about hard work. He then talks about how much he loves being outside and his love of fishing. It’s where he feels at home. It’s his therapy. For Michael it’s a walk along the beach, seeing the scope of the ocean puts everything into perspective for him. Robson then moves on to talk about ‘Grantchester,’ “an absolute joy of a job to do.” He loves the series, the writers, the actors, just everything about it. What a great interview between 2 men who have a great deal of affection for each other.
Yes, Michael Ball is an extraordinarily talented actor with the voice of an angel. But he is also a man who is able to dispel a gloomy mood just by being himself. Listening to Michael sing always lifts my spirits. Listening to his banter and chatter on the radio elicits the same result. It seems every Sunday morning I sit down in a grumpy mood to write a recap, and it only takes a few minutes of listening to Michael’s rich voice or his infectious giggling to make my rotten mood vanish. Yes, Michael, you were definitely put on this earth to entertain the masses, which you do brilliantly, but you also have the rare gift of influencing all who come into contact with you with your positive attitude. I’m sure you have your moments when you’re angry at the world, just like the rest of us. But you never show it to your fans, and that, my friend, is a learned and esteemed quality. Thank you, Michael Ball, from all of us, especially this too-often grouchy lady across the pond who should know better by now!