Artisteer

5 Minutes .... with Michael Ball

~ Wales Online - 18/08/2010 ~


Michael Ball, 48, is one of Britain's best loved entertainers. He was born in Bromsgrove, and has appeared in a string of stage hits, including Hairspray, for which he won an Olivier award.

He currently hosts The Michael Ball Show, which can be seen weekdays on ITV1. His Radio 2 series, Michael Ball's Sunday Brunch, returns on September 5.

YOU'RE BACK ON THE BOX WITH DAYTIME CHAT SHOW THE MICHAEL BALL SHOW. WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM YOUR RADIO 2 SERIES THAT CAME IN HANDY?

The thing that is so good about the radio is people are not self-conscious. There's no live audience there; there aren't cameras and lighting breathing down your neck; you're not worried about how you look and blah, blah, blah. It's just a chat, a conversation, and I want as much as possible to make it that relaxed.

I don't know how it'll work, but that's the aim. Relax! I don't want people to be up tight during it, and I want to have fun elements in there that bring out the best in people. It's what the job is. To bring out the best in the guests that you have, whatever they're doing in whatever capacity, so that people at home want to share time with you.

YOU'VE OBVIOUSLY LOVED RETURNING TO HAIRSPRAY FOR THE UK TOUR. IS IT LIBERATING BEING A CREATIVE FORCE BEHIND THE SCENES AS WELL?

Yes. I'm associate producer on this, so even though I'm not in all the shows, I still take a huge interest in it. It's very important that the standard is maintained and that we give the audiences a show that's as good, if not better, than we had in the West End.

DO YOU HAVE ANOTHER STAGE SHOW WAITING IN THE WINGS?

Yes, I'm also producing a new musical at the end of the year. We open November 27 with Love Story, based on the film and the Erich Segal book. I saw it in Chichester earlier in the year in its first incarnation, and it's beautiful, and it's new and it's British and it's what we should be encouraging.

WHO'S STARRING IN IT?

It looks like the lead couple, one will be Emma Williams, who I was in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang with, and who did my last tour. She was one of the ensemble who came on and we've sung together. She was 18 when we did Chitty together, so I've watched her develop and grow into a fabulous actress and a lovely singer.

Michael Xavier is the young man, who's a very experienced, although new West End talent, and their work together... their chemistry together was so exciting. The music is beautiful, the story is... although it's sad, it's so uplifting and life affirming. It's an amazing piece. We're going into a small theatre, The Duchess Theatre; it's not an epic. It's not big grand sets or anything. It's just a beautiful piece of theatre.

AND AFTER THAT YOU'RE STARRING IN A STAGE VERSION OF STEPHEN SONDHEIM'S SWEENEY TODD.

That'll be next year, with Imelda Staunton.

A GOOD CHOICE FOR MRS LOVETT?

Name anyone better. I think she's perfect.

SO YOU COULD MAKE A PIE ON THE TV SHOW . A GREAT WAY TO GIVE THAT STAGE OFFERING A PLUG.

What a great idea! That is a good idea!

IF YOU COULD HAVE ONE PERSON ON THE CHAT SHOW WHO WOULD IT BE?

Everyone always gasps when I say this, and then they think about it. It's Camilla Parker Bowles. With A-list celebrities from a movie that's coming out, they're on a junket. They don't talk well. We know everything that they're prepared to share. It's kind of, 'whatever'.

Someone like her, she's funny, she's had an extraordinary life. I think she'll be fascinating for people to listen to. You just know that would be slightly out of the ordinary. You wouldn't expect it. I have no agenda when I'm interviewing. I'm not trying to stitch anybody up. I just want them to be comfortable and to be interesting.

FINALLY, YOU SEEM PERFECT FOR A POST-WATERSHED CHAT SHOW. IS THAT SOMETHING YOU'D LIKE TO DO ONE DAY?

Yeah, I wouldn't mind. The six weeks I'm doing this is to see if it is something I'd like. Also to see if it's something people like me doing. There would be no point me doing it if nobody's interested. It's not a career path I anticipated when I started doing this. You never know what you're going to be doing, and I do love a challenge. Maybe it'll turn into something bigger.

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