BBC RADIO 2: THE MICHAEL BALL SHOW
SUNDAY, JANUARY 28, 2024
We see the fruits of Michael Ball’s labors on a regular basis – his performances in the West End, his musical tours, his radio broadcasts and his books. What we don’t see is the hard work that goes on behind the scenes, the hours Michael puts into a project to get everything right. He developed an impressive work ethic at a young age. “When I was starting, I was working with actors who came up through the rep system, and they understood the discipline required: you were never late for rehearsal, you were never not ready to go on, you were always prepared; it was about showing respect to the rest of the company.” After all these years, Michael is the epitome of a good company leader. He genuinely cares about his audience and respects the fact that they deserve his best always, be it in a play, a concert or on the radio …
“Hello, my lovelies. Let’s kick off. Let’s start moving.” And he opens with Maroon 5’s “Moves Like Jagger,” a thumping, up-beat piece that certainly jump-started my heart (I needed it!). “Hello, get the biscuits open. I have.” Michael is in a GREAT mood! So fasten your seatbelts, it promises to be an exhilarating 2 hours. The music alone is exhilarating – eclectic and wild and fun. The Sunday boasts come in, and it seems everyone is doing this ‘cold water swimming.’ Michael isn’t – He says he had a tepid shower this morning and that’s about as close as he’ll get to it. Then he teases us with what he’s going to cook later today: Roast gammon with potatoes and cauliflower (There were fancy sauces with each that I didn’t catch in time to write down, but they sounded yummy). You just HAD to tell us this, didn’t you, Michael? Now I’m hungry. He also says it’s really cold in the studio, that he’s all bundled up. He says this week after week. Can’t they do something about the heat in that building? We can’t have him getting sick. He has a tour coming up.
On the Ball. The first contestant is Laura in Scotland who’s thrilled she’s finally getting married. She describes the craziness of the marriage proposal aboard a cruise where everything went wrong, which brings on a fit of Michael’s giggles. And he gets Laura’s assurance that Haggis will be served at the wedding. The second contestant is Laura’s fiancée Amy, an American, who gives us her take on the proposal fiasco. Amy works as a coffee quality tester, which Michael finds fascinating. MIchael shows his smarts by pronouncing ‘espresso’ correctly. It’s a fun and competitive On the Ball this week. A side note – Michael makes fun of how Americans make tea. Okay, now I have to object here, Michael. I make the perfect cuppa! But then, I had an English boyfriend for 8 years so I learned a thing or two.
Orna and Michael discuss “The Traitors,” something I know nothing about! Michael confesses to binging the American “Traitors,” the Australian “Traitors,” etc, etc. He really is obsessed with his telly series. Am I now going to have to look into this series? Probably. He’s rarely wrong. Well … he’s never wrong. Orna adores the series also, which says a lot. He again discusses his Sunday Roast Gammon with her, trying to decide on the perfect wine to accompany it. Oh, Michael, stop! I’m starving now and it’s not even 7 AM here in the States. I wonder if I can reach the blueberries with my headphones on …
Michael does a great recap of Saturday’s “Big Night of Musicals.” And then he plays “Seasons of Love” from RENT, which he says stopped the show last night. Such a fantastic song, performed beautifully! Now it will play repeatedly in my mind all day long, not a bad thing at all.
Matt Willis & Charlie Simpson are 2 of the 3 members of the original pop-punk band BUSTED which was formed in 2000. After having numerous hit number-one singles, releasing 4 albums and winning numerous awards, the group split up in 2005. Each of the 3 went on to careers with other groups before reuniting in 2015. In 2023 they went out on tour, celebrating their 20th anniversary to great success. Michael opens the segment by playing Busted’s “That’s What I Go to School For.” They discuss both the tour and recording all their old songs again, how they knew years ago they could perform them better. They’re off to L.A. soon, so BUSTED is back on the road with new music. They also talk about “The Masked Singer,” which all 3 of them love and which BUSTED has been on. Their conversation takes so many twists and turns, with much laughter. It’s a magnificent interview/chat, Michael leading the 3 of them down so many paths/subjects. The segment closes with Busted’s “One of These Days.”
Dame Kelly Holmes is a retired middle-distance runner, double Olympic Gold winner, mental health champion, Panto star and author. She founded an organization called The Dame Kelly Holmes Trust which pairs champion athletes with young athletes who need help or encouragement. She just finished a Panto run in Plymouth of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears, and she recently penned her revealing memoir UNIQUE. She brought her gold medals into the studio today, which Michael just LOVES. She also talks about the moment when she won those medals. Despite her wins, there was a part of her that wasn’t happy because her sexuality was hidden. She kept so much to herself, which brought on depression. She and Michael discuss how the times have changed in terms of this subject, and now being out has changed everything for her. She came to the decision to tell the truth about herself during lockdown, when she was faced with a choice of living or dying. In that moment she decided she wanted to live – and live the truth. Now she’s out there, inspiring others. Brava to her!
And that’s a wrap. We’ve had our dose of Michael for this week. These 2 hours simply goes by too fast. Michael closes with his usual, adding, “I’m sending you my love.”
We’ve become accustomed to long stretches when we don’t see Michael or hear much about what he’s doing. These long silent weeks are when he’s working tirelessly to prepare for a performance. We’re going through one of those periods right now as he rehearses for his solo tour and works on his second novel. We know he’s always busy. This is a man who doesn’t do “idle” well unless it’s watching a favorite telly series. He thrives on work, and preparing for a tour is something he loves. “I will always tour, it’s hard work it really is hard work, but the feedback and the buzz you get back from it is worth it.”
Other things we know about Michael Ball? He’s a perfectionist. He’s not satisfied until everything in a show or tour is up to his impeccable standards. He’s also intent on pleasing his audience, never forgetting how fortunate he’s been, how Lady Luck has touched his career. “How many millions of times have I sung ‘Love Changes Everything?’ But when I see how it matters to people, it gives me the impetus to rediscover it and remember how lucky I am to have a song like that.”
So now we wait, happy in the knowledge that very soon Michael will again grace a stage. He’ll make that long-awaited heart-stopping first appearance, the spotlights zeroing in on him. With microphone in hand and a dazzling smile on his face, he’ll once again bring all his talent and his bottomless well of joy to packed houses and standing ovations across the UK.
Hang in there, my friends. Good times are coming!