BBC RADIO 2: THE MICHAEL BALL SHOW
JANUARY 8, 2023
“Wake up. It’s a beautiful morning.” The opening song sets the tone as the Master of the Airwaves returns, giving us two hours of witty banter, intelligent conversation and a few trademark giggle-fests.
During the first On the Ball of the year we see and hear Michael’s outrage (all in good fun) with Maggie when he explodes: “IT’S NEVER THE MIDDLE ONE!” No explanation needed, right? We also learn Michael’s gone clay pigeon shooting with Elaine Paige, who he says is excellent at it. Now THAT I would have loved to see! This is followed by several laughing fits with Fran, the second contestant. I’ll say this much. She got stumped on filling in the blank after “Happy ……” Michael found this hilarious. So did I. It was a great On the Ball to open 2023.
In comes Orna, who says she had a quiet New Year, as did Michael. Of course they have some giggles. It wouldn’t be a normal Sunday if they didn’t. Oh, how they make me laugh! They discuss the merits of a fluffy & absorbent new towel (only Michael & Orna would do this!) and Michael confesses he has a few things to do around the house. “That black kettle won’t descale itself.” He admits life is quiet for him at the moment, and he sounds content.
Michael’s first interview is with All on the Board’s Ian Redpath and Jeremy Chopra, 2 TFL (Transport for London) employees. They’re the poets behind the inspirational messages on the London Underground customer information boards. Their poetry for the people began in 2017 at their North Greenwich station while listening to an elated crowd of Craig David concert-goers. The 2 men quickly came up with an inspirational poem using David’s lyrics, enchanting the crowd. The enthusiastic reception led to many more messages of recovery and inspiration. They continued it during the pandemic, giving people hope and encouragement. Eventually going viral as All on the Board, the 2 anonymous poets finally revealed themselves in 2020, and a book emerged with their much-loved poems. Many of their messages sprang from their own traumas, their own struggles, which connected with so many people. Their second book debuted recently, and is a huge hit. Michael read one of their poems about a smile – a simple smile and what it can do. Absolutely amazing. I must buy their books. “Let’s make kindness and peace a cultural phenomenon,” one of them says. What a stunning goal to have. Michael called it a “great loo book.” Is there higher praise?? I believe this is one of Michael’s best interviews ever because of how much he admires what these men are doing. You could feel how much they affected him across the miles.
His second interview is with Janet McTeer, an actress who’s won an Olivier, a Tony and a Golden Globe over her illustrious career. She’s currently rehearsing PHAEDRA at the National Theater. She goes into great detail about the rehearsal process and the script which is rewritten on a daily basis (Wow). MIchael commiserated. But she also says it’s Greek genius done in modern times and she’s honored to be part of this production. She recently starred in the film THE MENU, which Michael loved. And she just finished filming CHAOS, a TV series, and a MISSION IMPOSSIBLE movie with Tom Cruise. You could tell Michael had a great time interviewing her. Lots of laughter. Lots of finishing each other’s sentences.
As usual, the well-oiled machine of Michael Ball, Ste Softley, Orna Merchant & company glides by smoothly, each segment a little gem. I often wish Michael did more than one radio show a week, but where would he find the time? This is a man who never encountered a mountain he couldn’t climb, be it starring in a West End production or going out on a long concert tour or writing a book. Still, his enormous personality, contagious laughter, gift for gab and innate intelligence makes him a natural for the radio, and I, for one, can’t get enough.
Sunday morning with Michael is back. Meaning all is right with the world once again.