Michael Ball faces backlash and pleads with BBC Radio 2 listeners amid controversy over Steve Wright replacement

Richard Bevan
Richard Bevan
4 Min Read

Michael Ball, singer and West End star, has found himself at the centre of a storm following the announcement that he will be taking over the reins of BBC Radio 2’s cherished Love Songs show on Sunday mornings. The decision to replace the late Steve Wright with Ball has ignited a fiery backlash from disgruntled listeners who have threatened to boycott the show altogether.

Wright, who tragically passed away at the age of 69 in February, left behind a legacy that many believed should have been succeeded by fresh talent rather than celebrities. This sentiment was echoed by several vocal critics who voiced their dissatisfaction with the BBC’s choice.

Michael Ball addresses the angry backlash

In response to the mounting criticism, Ball finally broke his silence, acknowledging the weight of the task ahead of him. He told The Sun “It’s an appointment piece of radio, isn’t it?” Ball mused during a recent TV appearance. “It’s Sunday morning, you get up, you make your coffee and breakfast and start pottering around, and you listen to Steve and to those incredible songs and heartwarming messages that would come through.”

Legendary Radio host Steve Wright sadly passed away in February, aged 69.

Expressing his affection for Wright’s show, Ball conveyed both his excitement and apprehension at the opportunity to continue the late presenter’s legacy. “I loved listening to [Wright’s show],” Ball confessed. “I knew Steve very well, obviously, and loved his show, so to have this opportunity to carry on his legacy is quite scary and very heartwarming, and I hope he’d be pleased.”

However, despite his optimism, Ball’s appointment has been met with scepticism from listeners who fear that he may not be able to replicate Wright’s show’s magic. Sally Nugent, a BBC presenter, raised concerns about the challenges and scrutiny Ball may face, suggesting that he may be hesitant to make significant changes to the format.

The much-loved entertainer determined to honour Wright

In response, Michael Ball emphasised the importance of maintaining the essence of Wright’s show while acknowledging that he brings his own unique style to the table. “Those stories and those instances – that mustn’t change,” Ball asserted. “I have a different style, of course, although I’m trying to copy him as much as I can, you copy from the masters.”

Despite the backlash, Ball remains hopeful that he can win over the sceptics and deliver a show that resonates with listeners. “I want people to tune in on a Sunday and go, ‘Yeah, this isn’t Steve but this is nice to listen to. This is a good way to start our Sunday’,” Ball pleaded. “And I hope I can find that style to do that. I’m nervous to do that and I’m going to work very hard to make that happen.”

Michael Ball was awarded an OBE back in 2015.

As Ball prepares to embark on this new chapter of his career, he is determined to honour Wright’s legacy while putting his stamp on the show. With the support of his fans and listeners, Ball is optimistic that he can rise to the challenge and continue to share the love on BBC Radio 2’s Love Songs.

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