Radio Recap – 4 February 2024

Michael Ball is adept at keeping aspects of his life private. Too often, the public feels entitled to know everything about an actor, forgetting they have a right to privacy. People are naturally curious about the kind of lives celebrities live. What are their homes like? What’s a normal day like for them? Do they make their own beds or clean up after themselves? For the most part, celebrities are just like everybody else. We know enough about Michael Ball to know his life is pretty normal. He cooks, drives himself when possible, watches telly in his pants and walks his dogs. Sounds like a normal guy to me …
“Let’s get started with this feeling, shall we? Justin Timberlake.” And Michael opens his show with ‘Can’t Stop the Feeling,’ a great way to begin the morning. “Hello, my lovelies.” Michael releases a long sigh, almost musical, not sad. “How are you? Better than me, I hope. I’ve got a cold. The only thing that got me out from under my duvet this morning was seeing you lot.” You know he means it. Michael Ball loves doing his radio show.
On the Ball. The first contestant is Sophie, who also has a cold. “I’ve got the worst cold, and I want sympathy,” Michael murmurs after his voice literally cracks when singing “It’s on the b-a-l-l.” Michael is so jealous that Sophie is going to see Bruce Springsteen. I love Michael’s moments when he becomes a ‘fan,’ just a regular guy, complete with giggles. He also does a hilarious (and quite GOOD) impression of Scoobie-Doo, the cartoon dog! In between contestants, Michael teases the upcoming segment with “Who’s going to win? I don’t care. I’ve got a cold.” 😂😂😂 Oh, Michael! Sophie is playing against her sister Polly, who hates cruises, which would be what she has to do if she loses. Polly rescues labradors and has four of them, to Michael’s great delight. Polly is making her sister walk her dogs if she wins, which Michael says is NO punishment. He insists on adding all sorts of awful things to the forfeit, like horrible weather and poo bags. “Why am I being so mean?” he asks. “Because I’ve got a cold.” Oh, Michael. Sigh. The loser of this contest (I don’t want to give it away) says she doesn’t mind losing because she got to talk to Michael Ball. Michael is thrilled by the compliment, of course. I think he needed to hear that. We all need bucking up when we don’t feel well, whether we’re a celebrity or not.
Orna and Michael start their segment talking about birth (of all things!) and have a VERY long giggle! Michael tells her he’s “soldiering on” and “being brave” about his cold. Hmm. I wonder if she’s been listening before she came on the show! You can definitely hear Michael’s cold in his voice. It’s a bit scratchy and deeper than normal. When Orna returns, they discuss “The Apprentice.” Michael says the contestants were horrendous. Can’t have a Michael/Orna segment without a telly discussion. After she gives the traffic update, Michael compliments her. “Done with such style, dignity and aplomb,” Orna doesn’t know what ‘aplomb’ means. “Look it up. It’s a good thing.” Later, he reads the definition, which is indeed complimentary. “You see,” he says to her with a giggle, “it’s not a plum on the fruit stand.” Oh, these two!
Gregg Wallace MBE is an English broadcaster, media personality, writer and former greengrocer. He’s been a presenter along with chef John Torode for all incarnations of “Master Chef on BBC 1 & 2. He’s also a writer for “Good Food Now” and “Olive” magazines. Michael starts out by complimenting Gregg on how good he looks, which exemplifies his new podcast “Piece of Cake.” It’s not about eating cake, it’s about making everything we do to make ourselves look and feel better a ‘piece of cake.’ Easy-peasy. Gregg first went on this journey of getting fit because he didn’t like how he looked. Then his blood tests showed he was in danger of a heart attack. His biggest change? Stopping the snacks and take-aways and cooking more. He also says you don’t need to cut out the carbs. He says stick to the meals and stop snacking, eat proper food. He also says moving is important – not necessarily going to the gym – go for a walk or find something that you enjoy. Gregg tells Michael that his daily walk with his dogs is perfect for him. Michael talks about how he loves cooking, creating a meal that pleases others, taking the time for himself. And he mentions he made a lasagna last night. When he went back for seconds, it was room temperature and a bit congealed, but he ate it anyway! They then discuss the temps of the food on ‘Master Chef.” Michael confesses he’d love to do ‘Master Chef’ sometime. “I just can’t be criticized. I’m too sensitive.” Michael has always said this about some of the competitive shows and why he avoids them. This comes with being an actor. There’s enough criticism of your work onstage. You don’t need it in other areas of your life. This is an excellent interview, BTW – I learned a lot.
Susie Blake is an English TV, stage and radio actress. She’s best known for her portrayal of Bev Unwin in “Coronation Street, which she played from 2003 to 2006, followed by a brief return in 2015. She’s also played the snobbish TV announcer in “Victoria Wood: As Seen on TV and Hillary NIcholson in “Mrs. Brown’s Boys.” Currently she’s touring in “Murder in the Dark,” which sounds like so much fun. She plays a woman who live on a pig farm in North Yorkshire who takes a stranded family into her home on a snowy night – and scary things start to happen! Susie calls it a dark comedy. She’s loving every minute of it, playing a character between good & evil. Michael says what worries him is that she plays a pig farmer, and what that could mean. And she responds with humor, saying her fictional husband is no longer with her! Listening to her talk about this play makes me wish I lived in England. I’d love to see this one.
And all of a sudden, it’s over. Michael and his dastardly cold made it through these 2 hours, which flew by. Feel better soon, Michael.
Michael’s family shies away from the public eye (well, maybe his dad likes it, but he’s SO good at it and everyone loves him!). As for Michael, he’s said,“I just work so much and so hard that I love the idea of being around family, friends and my animals quietly at home, just chilling out.” Anyone who works hard feels the same way, celebrity or not. We all have our moments when we just want to be left alone. Or when we need our ego stroked, such as Michael did today. Or when we’re moody or cranky or down in the dumps. You can be sure Michael does, too, as do all celebrities. But they also become weary of always being under the microscope, of having their lives and moods and personalities scrutinized by the media and public. Sometimes they want to go home, shut out the world and just be themselves. And that is their right, what I call their zone of privacy.
In return, we get to enjoy Michael Ball on tour or in West End productions or on the radio or in guest spots on the telly. And that particular Michael Ball is just as real as the private Michael. “I play roles, but when I’m off stage, I always try to be myself.” In fact, Michael is one of the most decent and genuine human beings I’ve ever come across in the theater, and I’ve been in the business for over 50 years. If more celebrities (particularly in the U.S.) had his integrity, his ability to laugh at himself, if they approached life with his humor and heart, the world of entertainment would be a much better place. Those of us who have discovered this actor with the golden voice, this ‘normal guy,’ are very lucky indeed. Have a good Sunday, everyone. May Michael’s laughter ring in your ears all week long …