Radio Recap – 26 May 2024

SUNDAY, MAY 26, 2024
“It’s a mantra I’ve lived by for as long as I can remember. Nothing lasts forever.” Michael Ball
Saying goodbye is never easy. For an actor, it’s a way of life. Musicals and plays close. Movies finish filming. Television shows go off the air. So do radio broadcasts. Michael has had many goodbyes over his career, but I bet the finale of THE MICHAEL BALL SHOW is a tough one for him. Michael has seen this show through many ups & downs, including COVID. Taking over for the iconic Terry Wogan couldn’t have been easy, but Michael, Ste Softley & their brilliant technical crew built this show into a hit for the BBC. Now Michael has been asked to once again step in and fill some sizable shoes – those of Steve Wright, who was very much loved by his devoted audience – and very much loved by Michael. I’ve tried to imagine the kaleidoscope of emotions Michael felt as he prepped for today’s show … the phrase that had to repeat in his mind … my last On the Ball … my last ‘chat’ with Orna … my last Sunday boasts … my last, my last, my last. Actors are sentimental creatures, especially when it comes to endings. And we know sentimentality is part of Michael’s DNA – it was on full display when his recent solo tour wrapped. So get out your tissues. Here we go …
Michael opens the show with Keane’s, “This is the Last Time That I Will Say These Words.” Then we hear the voice we wait for each Sunday, ”Hello, my lovelies. That song seemed appropriate. This is the last Michael Ball Show.” Okay, Michael, my eyes are already getting watery with this opening.
Michael confesses he’s broken his toe before getting on with the Sunday boasts. No details. I guess we’ll just have to wait … He also encourages everyone to get in touch for his first LOVE SONGS. He wants to hear about your special day, special moment or a special person in your life. Is this the beginning of Michael making LOVE SONGS more interactive than ever before? I hope so.
For the final On the Ball, Michael brings back the legend, 6-year champ Nic Matchett and opens with a replay of his initial meeting with her – absolutely hilarious!! I’m talking laugh-until-you-cry hysterical! And then he plays last year’s round, which again has them both giggling non-stop and laughing through their tears. Nic knows how to tickle Michael’s funny-bone. Going up against Nic is Jen McConville, who is the highest scorer of 2024. I remember her well from only a few weeks ago – playing opposite her husband, Ian. For a twist, Michael gives Jen the same questions he asked Ian when they competed. And in another ENORMOUS twist, the answer to the first question is the MIDDLE ONE!! Oh, Michael, you enjoyed that, didn’t you? 😂 As he plays “Let’s Get Ready to Rumble” between contestants, Michael sighs and says wistfully, “Oh, I love this show.” So do we, Michael. So do we. Next up is Nic, reigning champ. They greet each other like old friends. “Did you hear about my throbbing toe?” Michael whines to Nic. Then Nic pays the loveliest tribute to Michael on behalf of all his listeners “Thank you for bringing sunshine to us on rainy days and making us laugh with this show.” Thank you, Nic. Beautifully said. In Nic’s twist, Michael asks Nic many of the same questions she’s answered over the years. With the very first question, Nic sees through Michael’s second twist and chooses the middle one, to the utter delight of our host. The contest ends in a tie, so both had to answer a question earlier in order to break the tie. Jen ends up winning, but Michael honors them both equally, allowing them to thank anyone and everyone. “Nic, I blooming love you, kid,” Michael gushes, “you’ve been a legend on this show.” And he praises Jen as the 2024 champion. What an extraordinary way to end On the Ball! At the close of the segment Michael plays Queen’s “We Are the Champions, My Friends.” So perfect. And yes, I’m again weepy. “Thank you to everyone who’s played On the Ball all these years,” Michael adds.
Orna’s first appearance is brief because of time, so they save their good byes for the next segment. But Michael manages to complain about his broken toe before Orna reads the Traffic Report at a rapid pace. Men can always find the time to whine! When she returns for her 2nd segment, she tells Michael they’re going to have to drag her out, she’s going to miss him that much. She has trouble speaking to him, a bit emotional, so she quickly does the Traffic Report. “Seriously, I’ve just loved our banter,” Michael says. “Everything I’ve thrown at you, you’ve taken with such grace.” And he honors her by playing “It Takes Two.” The comedy duo of Michael Ball & Orna Merchant has been a stand-out feature of this Sunday broadcast. Orna has bantered with Michael each week, standing toe-to-toe with him when it came to one-liners, giving as good as she got, inciting his giggle-o-meter, making him say things without thinking, always hilarious, bringing out the little boy in him. Orna, you are a gem. With your rich speaking voice, class, smarts and rib-tickling sense of humor, I look forward to one day listening to you present your own radio show. We all wish you the best, lovely lady. We are going to miss you more than words can express.
Michael speaks briefly to Paddy McGuinness about taking over this time slot next week and about the plans for his new show. Not a lot of details at the moment, as Paddy is working on it now. Michael then plays “We Are Family” for him. You’re a class act, Michael Ball.
Richard Madeley is a television presenter and writer. With wife Judy Finnegan, he hosted ITV’s “This Morning” for almost 15 years, then the chat show “Richard & Judy” until 2008. Since 2017 he’s been one of three relief hosts on “Good Morning Britain.” An author of both fiction and non-fiction, Richard’s seventh novel “Father’s Day” just debuted. Described as a “revenge thriller” it has been receiving rave reviews. Richard immediately tells Michael he’ll miss him in this time slot as he listens to him every week. When he asks why he’s moving to a different show, Michael responds that he “loves new challenges.” As they begin to chat, Richard describes his new novel in great detail (quite a creepy, scary plot!). It deals with a man (actually, a troll) who goes on the internet and develops a relationship with young girls, getting them to ultimately kill themselves. This is the story of a father’s revenge. “What’s going on in your mind, Richard?” Michael shouts, laughing, “That you’re writing this kind of story! Trolls?” Richard then talks about his passion for writing, about the life of a writer, which is absolutely fascinating. What a wonderful guest for Michael’s final show.
Alfie Boe needs no introduction to Michael Ball’s fans. Michael and Alfie’s collaboration over the years is well known, their concerts and recordings always a hit. Their friendship is legendary, Alfie described by Michael ashis “best mate.” So it makes sense Michael would want his friend to be his final guest on the final broadcast of THE MICHAEL BALL SHOW. The segment begins whimsically with Michael playing “What’s it all About, Alfie?” Michael introduces Alfie with some very funny descriptions of their friendship. And they’re off, bantering away, laughing, talking over each other. Alfie, too, pays a lovely tribute to Michael, talking about the journey he’s taken on the radio, talking about the journey the 2 of them have taken together. Michael then becomes the ultimate interviewer, getting Alfie to confess his love of rock music, that as a kid he dreamed of being a rock star. They discuss the tour of LES MIS at the end of the year and how much they’re looking forward to playing Valjean and Javert together. Michael closes the segment with Alfie singing “Open Arms.” Lovely.
Michael talks about his new show a bit, how he gave it a great deal of thought before saying yes. He’s honored to take over for Steve Wright, and he’s looking forward to it. And then Michael does something that is completely out of character for him, for this show, and for BBC Radio 2. He plays his own early recording of “Love Changes Everything.” Bravo, Michael. And thank you. We never get tired of hearing you sing, especially that song, your legacy.
In closing, Michael plays “I’ve Had the Time of My Life,” adding, “I really have.” And then those iconic words … “You be safe. You be positive and try to be kind. God bless, my lovelies.” Michael was quite emotional as he said this. Quite emotional. And so was I.
So that’s it, my friends. The final MICHAEL BALL SHOW is now in the history books. And what a send-off it was! As always, Michael gave his listeners a memorable show, one he can be proud of. I’m shedding quite a few tears as I type this. I’ve loved listening to the broadcasts and trying to capture all the intricacies of Michael Ball these past 2 years. But now it’s time to leave the tears behind and look to the future. Goodbyes are easier when there’s something exciting looming on the horizon. And that’s MICHAEL BALL LOVE SONGS. Ste Softley and his production company Mostest will again produce, so the working relationship these 2 men have shared for over ten years will continue, ensuring success. As for me, I will also be moving on to LOVE SONGS, trying to once again encapsulate Michael within the format of the new show. It’s a new beginning and a new challenge for Michael, for Ste, for all of us.
Michael’s enormous personality, his hilarious sense of humor and his kind heart will still be on full display, just with a new show at a new time. As I’ve said before, I defy anyone to try to contain Michael Ball! He faces every new challenge head-on and with ingenuity. He will again with LOVE SONGS. Life is about change. Let’s follow Michael’s shining example and embrace it.
See you next Sunday @ 9 AM for the debut of MICHAEL BALL LOVE SONGS …