Culture Clinic: Michael Ball

~ The Telegraph by Kate Weinberg - 20/03/09 ~

Actor and singer Micahel Ball submits to a little light therapy

Name: Michael Ball

Age: 46

Job: Britain's leading musical theatre star and multi-platinum recording artist

Last book read: Days Of Atonement by Michael Gregorio.

Last film seen: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Last music heard: John Martyn – Solid Air

Last dose of live culture: Arthur Miller's A View From The Bridge with Ken Stott – a truly thrilling night out at the theatre

Patient examination

What, in human history, do you wish had never been invented?

Hard drugs – all of them because they create misery and suffering throughout the world. They've never contributed anything worthwhile to society (and I'm not talking about drugs that are administered legally via the medical profession).

What cliché most applies to you or your life?

The harder you work the luckier you seem to get. I work hard, I'm lucky and I have a great time doing what I do.

What would be your fantasy other job?

Quality control manager at Cadbury! I absolutely love chocolate in all its forms – it's my downfall!

If you could choose which century to be born in, which would it be?

In the 16th century, during the golden age of Elizabeth, Shakespeare, Marlowe, Webster and loads of others. It was the age of so many exciting things – discovery, travel, culture and amazing outfits. I could imagine being someone like Sir Walter Raleigh, dashing, famous, rich, clever; a writer, poet, courtier, explorer - until he fell out with the court and lost his head.

If you had to represent your country in international competition, what would it be for?

Sadly I have done – at the Eurovision Song Contest in 1992.

What is your definition of love?

The willingness to put someone or something else ahead of your own interests. Kindness, caring and compromise are a very big part of that.

If you could be stranded in one place in the world, where would that be?

Sydney – I love the wine, the food and the scenery, which is spectacular. I've performed at the Sydney Opera House, which is an iconic building in anyone's books.

How would you best like to be remembered?

As someone who did his bit in however small a way to make it a nicer place.

Who, in the whole of history, would you most like to sit next to on a long haul flight?

Scheherazade – she'd tell lovely stories and send me to sleep! I'm not much of a conversationalist when I'm flying so that would suit me perfectly.

What has been your greatest discovery online?

Some years ago we had a terrible fire at home and I lost a huge collection of archive material, music, films, programmes – personal and professional memorabilia that I'd collected over many years. So when I discovered YouTube and saw lots of my old performances online, I was chuffed to bits.

Which public figure do you think is most overrated?

Where do we start. Reality TV "stars" really annoy me; big business fat cats seem to be in the habit of letting us down with their spectacular lack of achievement and then costing us a fortune.

Name something you truly believe in?

The philosophy that this too shall pass.

Our diagnosis

You seem like a caring, hard-working guy, but somewhere in between the way you describe your job (the multi-platinum bit) and relate to Walter Raleigh, you sure do give the impression of being pleased with being Michael Ball. The following will remind you that, especially among the luckiest, modesty is the best policy.

Our prescription

  • Recommended film – Top Gun (1986)

Maverick (Tom Cruise) is a hot pilot, who feels even hotter when he is sent to the Top Gun Naval School. Here he preens with the best of the best, like Iceman (Val Kilmer) with whom he vies for top slot. But smugness comes before a fall, and Maverick crashes and burns with both his instructor (Kelly McGillis) and then his best friend Goose, before realising the importance of coming down a notch or two.

  • Recommended book – The Good Husband of Zebra Drive by Alexander McCall Smith

Amidst the crimes Mma Ramotswe solves and the bush teas she drinks, one of the focuses of this delightful series is her relationship with Mma Grace Maktusi (who never stops reminding everyone that she got 97 per cent in her secretarial exams). In this book Mma Maktusi's new rich fiancé means that she gets too big for her expensive shoes and is forced to eat some humble pie.

  • Recommended Music – The Law of the Playground, The Boy Least Likely to (Too Young to Die, 2009)

Following a delicious debut, the second album from the world's most humble band delivers the magic again. From the innocent plink of the glockenspiel to the sage melancholy of their lyrics, everything about this album will remind you why there's nothing bigger than talking small.

  • Past & Present – The Very Best of Michael Ball is available now through Universal Music
  • Next week: DJ/Rapper Goldie


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