BBC RADIO 2: THE MICHAEL BALL SHOW
SUNDAY, APRIL 9, 2023
Easter is a day of celebration. But we have even more to celebrate: the return of Michael Ball to his radio show. Nothing can keep this man down for long. Not when he has such a long to-do list. Rehearsals for ASPECTS OF LOVE … Work on the sequel to his novel … Michael is the epitome of a Jack-of-all-Trades. Or a Mike-of-all-Trades. HIs years in the business have been jam-packed with a myriad of artistic ventures. This is a man who never encountered a challenge he couldn’t meet. Moreover, he not just accomplishes them, he excels at them. And on Sunday mornings, he owns the radio airwaves.
“Hello, my lovelies. Yeah, I’m back. Out of my sickbed. Oh, I missed you last week. But I’m all right now.” You can literally hear in Michael’s animated voice how happy he is to be back behind the microphone again.
The theme tune this week: KNIGHT RIDER. Michael admits he wanted a ‘Kit car.” What guy didn’t?? Great choice, Ste!
On the Ball. Michael’s confession this week is he’s avoided “Festivals” for years because he just can’t handle those Port-O-Lous! Me neither, Michael. They kept me from concerts in Central Park for decades. Debbie (the first contestant) and Michael have quite a discussion about Hugh Grant’s movies (You know how opinionated Michael is about TV & film – always fun to listen to). Michael has great fun with Alison, Debbie’s sister, when she picks – wait for it – THE MIDDLE ONE!!!! Lots & lots & lots of ‘Michael’ giggles in the second half. At one point he comes very close to losing it (Loved it). Oh, how I’ve missed that giggle! Sit back and just enjoy it, everyone. A fabulous On the Ball!
Michael brought Orna some Easter eggs. Sadly, she’s not in the studio this week, and Michael volunteered to eat them for her. On their second go-around, he says he just met a nun who wiped her nose on her sleeve, prompting Orna to admit she misses him! Michael also talks about the leg of lamb he’s going to make when he gets home.
Michael’s first guest is Jon Culshaw, Britain’s well-known impressionist. Culshaw talks about a tribute show he’s doing for Roy Hudd to raise money for a statue in the man’s honor. Hudd is another “Jack-of-all-Trades,” a man who seemed able to do anything. The benefit show will be on May 14th at the Sondheim Theater. Culshaw also does some amazing impressions, including a great Donald Trump, setting off Michael’s lovely laughter. Culshaw also talks about doing the audiobooks of “The City Watch,” part of the “Men at Arms” series, written by Sir Terry Pratchett, some of Michael’s favorites.
Richard Armitage, well-known actor of stage and screen, is Michael’s second guest. And he brought Michael both chocolate eggs and a proof copy of his new fictional novel, GENEVA. Armitage is currently the star of OBSESSION, an erotic series debuting this week on Netflix. He goes into great detail about the dark plot which is about physical obsession. He plays a family man who meets a woman & they both have an overwhelming physical attraction to each other which inevitably wrecks the guy’s life. He describes the full nudity and what it was like to film, which he compares to fight choreography. Armitage admits he began his career as a ‘hoofer,’ which paid his way through drama school. Michael completely connects with him. They both have a long list of accomplishments in so many artistic areas.
Actors and singers get bored easily, so they bravely “dare to fail” by trying something new. Michael is no different, constantly reinventing himself with great success. Besides earning 2 Olivier Awards for SWEENEY TODD & HAIRSPRAY, Michael is a star of the highest magnitude as a concert and recording artist. In recent years he paired with Alfie Boe for a series of popular concerts and albums. He’s hosted his own TV shows and starred in a 4-part series “Beautiful Wales,” sharing his heritage and the country he loves with a red hot passion. He’s brought his unique personality to his own BBC Radio 2 show for over 15 years, and he recently wrote his first highly successful novel – and is now working on a sequel. He’s taken his one-of-a-kind talent to the far corners of the world, including Broadway, amassing a multitude of international fans, but his heart has always remained true to his beloved U.K.
Michael has also defied the odds with his personal life. Almost all actors crave stability and a home, a cozy nest where they can shut out the pressures of the business, especially after a hectic tour or an exhausting run of a show. Over many decades, Michael has carefully built a life with Cathy McGowan, melding their families and creating a comfortable and loving existence he keeps far from prying eyes – a special talent in this world of a pushy media and curious fans.
Michael brings his history to the microphone each Sunday at BBC Radio 2. Does a star attitude ever creep into his voice? If it has, I haven’t heard it, and I listen closely. What I hear is a man who loves learning from his guests. Who enjoys bantering with his friends in the theater, always keeping them (not himself) in the spotlight. But mainly what I hear is Michael talking about the things that interest him with a radio audience he considers old friends.
Michael closes today’s show with a moving tribute to his good friend, Paul Cattermole of S Club 7.
For the last few weeks I’ve spoken a great deal about Michael Ball, ‘regular guy.’ But Michael is one more thing, something that’s easy to forget when he’s just being himself …
Michael Ball is a phenomenon.