BBC RADIO 2: THE MICHAEL BALL SHOW
SUNDAY, MAY 7, 2023
In 2015, Michael Ball was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his contribution to musical theater. He received this honor from Queen Elizabeth, but it was Charles who actually presented it to him in January, 2016. Charles. the man whose coronation is being celebrated this weekend across the UK. This morning Michael, the same man with that OBE, sits at Wogan House, a BBC RADIO 2 microphone in front of him, interviewing people about their impressions of the coronation. The irony is astonishing. Who else can be both a legend across the UK, honored by the Queen and future King, and at the same time be an everyday guy on the radio, one who talks about last season’s bad crop of Brussels sprouts and how he can’t keep his dogs from playing with their droppings? Who complains about traffic and dissects the latest series streaming on TV? How does he keep his dual lives separate? The answer is simple. He doesn’t. Both contribute to the other. That everyday guy who is Michael spills over into Michael Ball, the professional, and is why actors, singers, directors, producers, etc, love him. He makes life fun. Also, he stays grounded because of his family. He knows what’s important.
“Yeah, my lovelies, Happy Coronation Week.” Michael opened his show by singing along with the BBC theme song. Which tells us he’s in a GREAT mood! So get ready for a jolly good time (to use some English vernacular in honor of the new King). Michael is exuberant, and then he switches gears quickly, using an ultra-dramatic voice – truly “Shakespearean” – in telling us about today’s show. Oh, yes. Michael is ON this morning! At the top of his game. Having a “ball!” His high spirits are incredibly invigorating. He’s always positive, but this is something special. Hmm … In keeping with Shakespeare … Methinks Michael’s high spirits may pertain to a particular West End show opening soon.
On the Mall. First contestant: Claire is literally on the mall, and of course Michael goes straight to the “horse droppings” and whether they’ve cleaned the streets yet. Um, Michael? What is this obsession you have with “droppings?” Claire is a member of the Rock Choir, which Michael adores, as is Bernie, contestant number two. All the questions deal with King Charles or the coronation. With Bernie, Michael gets to practice his Italian accent and talk about how impressive the coronation was. Also, here’s a teaser: The regal pineapple takes the spotlight. It’s a great contest and tons of fun.
Orna brought Michael presents from the coronation, including dry skin cream. “Dry skin cream?” Michael asks with sarcasm. “What are you trying to tell me?” Their discussion of this “cream” (or their ATTEMPTS at a discussion) creates a MAJOR giggle-fit! They both go OFF, something they haven’t done in months. Oh, how I loved it!! But when it’s time for her next broadcast … Where’s Orna? … Michael starts to laugh. “Orna? … Orna? … Oh, it’s all gone horribly wrong …” More laughter. When she shows up, more and more and more laughter … Orna, you rock!
Michael speaks to Amanda in Clayton who’s hosting a special party for the coronation. The featured appetizer? “Hot Corgies in a Buckingham bun.”
Michael’s first guest if Gina Yashere, who created and is featured in the CBS sitcom BOB HEARTS ABISHOLA. She and Michael are a hoot together, laughing and talking about her TV show (just picked up for Season 5). And they discuss her book, “Cack-Handed: A Memoir” in which she describes her journey from the streets of London to Hollywood.
Michael talks to Tina at a street party where the featured food is Coronation Quiche (the choice of the King & Queen). Michael gets into a discussion of “cream or jam first,” something that eludes me, but he sounds VERY authoritative. Maybe someone can fill me in?
Next up is Christine at a street party in Yorkshire. Christine was 6 when Elizabeth was crowned Queen. Today she’s dressed in red, white & blue, including a dyed curly wig. And she’s invited to the very first garden party hosted by the King & Queen at the Palace on Tuesday!
So that’s a wrap for Coronation Weekend. Michael’s OBE was well-earned. His contributions to the musical theater are already written in the history books. And he’s not finished by any means! According to his recent Times interview, after ASPECTS he’ll be doing a solo album and a solo tour. He also mentioned there’s a TV version of “The Empire” in the works. And maybe, one day, he’ll be knighted by King Charles. Anything and everything is possible for Michael Ball.
We won’t have Michael on the radio for the next few Sundays. His focus will be and must be on ASPECTS OF LOVE, as the show goes into previews. On May 25th, opening night, I’ll raise a glass to him (sadly, across the pond) as he steps onstage in the musical that made him a household name. There isn’t a doubt in my mind that it will be a triumph and that Michael will once again be the toast of the West End.
If you’re feeling low or a bit down, Michael’s show today will lift your spirits. He chased my “early morning grumps” away in a heartbeat. He’s in extremely high form today, bubbling over with laughter and over-the-top joy. What a wonderful send-off for both him and us!