The Grown-Up test Michael Ball

~ Michael Ball host of his own show on STV for Daily Record ~

The singer and performer lives in London with his partner of 19 years former TV presenter Cathy McGowan. Currently on tour in the musical Hairspray, how much has the star of a string of stage hits learnt in his 48 years? and does he act his age? Paula Kerr gets the answers

Can you load an IPod?

Yes, that's no problem. Mine is loaded to listen to Paolo Nutini, Fleet Foxes, John Martyn, Melody Gardot and Alison Krauss.

What piece of music gets you on a dance floor?

Is This The Way To Amarillo, and I'm not worried whether it's the Peter Kay version of the original by Tony Christie.

When did you last stand naked in front of someone?

Last night, and I do every day, in front of my dresser at the theatre. Quick costume changes mean there's no other way and I have no fears about standing naked in front of people at work. There is never enough time to do anything else.

Can you still remember the lyrics of the first record you bought?

"There's got to be a morning after, if you can hold on to the night." - from The Morning After. it was the theme to The Poseidon Adventure sung by Maureen McGovern. I first heard it when I was nine years old and I thought it was the greatest song ever.

What's your favourite song at the moment?

It's the Scouting For Girls song This Ain't A Love Song.

In the last 10 years have you exercised at all?

Yes I go to the gym and use the bike and machines. Doing a stage show every night is a good work-out, too.

.... learnt how to use a new bit of technology?

Yes, my sat-nav, which I rely on a great deal. It's so much easier to load a postcode into it - instead of working out a journey on a map and having to keep pulling over to read it.

How do you feel about approaching your 50th birthday?

Not as thrilled as I was when approaching my 40th birthday. I'm hating the idea. So much bugs me about it and the worst of it is i've realised my body doesn't work as well as it did when I was younger. if I get ill or hungover, I don't recover as quickly and my eyesight has gone in the last three years. I can no longer read a book without glasses, which is really annoying because I forget to carry them with me and I lose them. I bought really nice ones which I lost in a week. I'm becoming a grumpy old man.

When did you last drink too much?

Last night. What's too much? I drink wine, either white or red, but I prefer a good red. When I drink too much I get a bit giggly. I get too loud, dance and then fall asleep.

What single thing would make getting older easier?

Getting younger, I suppose. Or failing that, having enough money to make travel more comfortable.

What do you do to conceal your age?

I'm afraid i steal Cathy's Crème de la mer every morning. This is an expensive admission which will get me into trouble, but it's a great face cream.

when and where were you happiest?

Christmas 2007. I't taken my first holiday from a long run of Hairspray in the West End. I was with my family in the Bahamas and It was just bliss. I specifically remember thinking I was happy with the work I was doing and my personal life. It was a moment of absolute clarity. I'm now old enough to appreciate those moments, when you feel you don#t want to change a thing.

What makes you grumpy?

So much! Travelling makes me really grumpy. there is no joy to be had in it, no matter what form it takes. It's always a pain.

Which latent talent might you have yet to discover?

Hopefully, writing. I'd like to explore the idea of story-telling. that or a talent for livingg forever.

What is your greatest regret?

I don't think I have any.

Who would you like to say sorry to?

No one at all. Ha ha ha!

What is your most prized possession?

My grandmother's wedding ring. She was named Agnes but everyone called her Lil, and she meant the world to me. She was from South Wales and I spent a lot of time with her. when I was at boarding school, where the food was terrible, she'd send me boxes of Welsh cakes.

Sand or snow?

Always sand. I like to feel the warmth of the sun on my face. It instantly makes me feel happier.

What would you prefer: your youth back or what you have now?

I very much like what I've got now.

What is your favourite book?

I like graphic novels and The Sandman by Neil Gaiman, is my favourite.

How do you relax?

I like cooking and I tend to do most of the cooking at home. Cathy's very good at clearing up after me. The first time I cooked to impress her, I roasted a leg of lamb and followed it with bread and butter pudding. It was proper old English home fare and her heart was mine.

What's the bad habbit you can't break.

I drive too fast. I've been caught a few times, but I've still got my licence. I also over-eat and I'm very impatient around people I know.

What's the best lesson your parents taught you?

I twas how I should accept on an equal footing, without social, class or cultural barriers, and to treat everyone the same.

When was your first kiss and who with?

It was at school with a girl called Helen. I was about 13 years old. she was the daughter of the housemaster at my boys boarding school, Plymouth College, and the only girl around, so she was very popular!

What's the worst injury you've caused yourself?

I've hurt myself loads of times on stage. In Hairspray I wear huge false boobs and high heels and, as a result, my neck and back are both a bit dodgy.

Who or what is your greatest love?

Cathy, because I can't imagine my life without her. She has always been there for me and she loves me unconditionally.

What is the main lesson life has taught you?

This too shall pass.

If you could see your 16-year-old-self, what would you tell him?

Save your money!


You're not going to like it, Butty Ball, but we're actually going to do you a favour. We reckon that if you have two years to get used to the idea, when you finally reach your half century you'll barely notice it. You can have a virtual age of 50.

Michael Ball will be hosting a 3pm chat show in ITV1 from mid-August until the end of September. He also appears on selected dates in the UK tour of Hairspray, which runs until May 2011.

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