(November 2004) ~
It's 20 years since Michael Ball left drama college with 2 burning ambitions.
One was to perform with the Royal Shakespeare Company and the other was to be in Coronation Street.
Within a year he'd achieved both, as Marius in the RSC's production of Les Miserables and tennis-playing Macolm Nuttall, Kevin Webster's love rival in Corrie.
After that Michael had to set himself some new goals.
Twelve successful albums later, he's established himself not only as one of the country's biggest names in stage musicals, he's a solo star in his own right, had two series of his own tv show and been a Eurovision song contest runner up.
That's why Michael felt the time was right to look back over whar he calls his eclectic career.
Last month he released a greatest hits double cd set, and followed that last week with a video/dvd release of a concert filmed live at the Hammersmith Odeon.
Both take you on a journey through those 20 years- which he wouldn't have dared imagine when he was busking in a subway for a few bob shortly after he left the Guilford School of Acting.
"It's gone pretty well" he admitted to the "Weekly News". "To be honest I don't think there's anything I would change."
Not even performing One step out of time as the British entry for the 1992 Eurovision in Malmo, Sweden?
"it's not the world's greatest song and, on the DVD I did say this was definitely the last time I'd perform it live," He said. "I regret saying that now. It works well in concert. So sorry, folks I lied!"
"I have really good memories of Eurovision. I wouldn't knock it for a second.IIt came at a time when I was trying to break out of the musical theatre mould, and what better exposure can you get than that?"
A Europe wide audience of 600 million saw him finish in second place to Linda Martin, singing Why Me?
"Even failing to win has worked in my favour." he said.
"Though the contest was great for me at the time, I don't think I would have liked to have been labelled 'Eurovision winner Michael Ball' all my life"
On Sunday ( Nov. 28th) Michael will be performing for the Queen at the opening of the Cardiff Millenium Centre.
"Performing for the Royals or even some celebrity can really lift your performance," he said.
"Of course, you give your all every time you go out. I can honestly say I've done that right from my first role, earning £85 a week in Godspell at Aberystwyth.
"But it does affect you when you know someone special is out there.
"I remember for one of the performances of Les Miserable, word went around that Paul McCartney was in the front row. he wasn't in the best seats, he was tucked away over on the left." So that night, we all went out and directed all our numbers at him. We were all singing to that side of the stage while anyone in the middle or over on the right only saw us sideways on!" he laughed.
More recently, Michael took the lead in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang for a gruelling 16 months.
"That was a wonderful show, too, but hard work" He added. "I was hardly ever off the stage"
"The car was £750,000 worth of high tech gadgetry and it worked like a dream throughout rehearsals, the 4 preview shows and the grand opening night.
"Then, on the second night, it wouldn't work at all." It just goes to show that money isn't everything. In fact, we used to have less trouble with the props when I did that run in Aberystwyth 20 years ago!"