Ed Balls swaps politics for musical theatre in festive radio programme

By Lucy Mapstone, Press Association Deputy Entertainment Editor

Ed Balls will delve into the fabulous yet increasingly political world of musical theatre for a BBC Radio 2 special as part of the broadcaster’s raft of festive programming.

The former shadow chancellor continues his journey from politics to showbiz in Ed Balls on Musical Theatre, which follows on from his surprising turn on the Strictly Come Dancing dancefloor last year.

His love of musicals began in his youth with the adoration of the Godspell soundtrack and, in recent years, the ex-Labour MP has seen West End show Wicked on several occasions.

In the two-hour episode, Balls will explore all things musical, including the recent spate of socially aware shows such as The Book Of Mormon and Broadway hit Hamilton, which opens in London in December.

He will also speak to his former Strictly co-stars and stage actors Lesley Joseph and Danny Mac, and former speaker of the House of Commons Baroness Betty Boothroyd, who was a professional dancer before she ventured into politics.

Balls said: “I’ve been a massive fan of every kind of musical theatre for as long as I can remember.

“And I’m looking forward to meeting up with friends old and new as we celebrate and discover more about this most popular and enduring form of entertainment.”

The programme will air on New Year’s Day from 3pm.

Other festive highlights from BBC Radio 2 include a Doctor Who special, hosted by Jo Whiley, a programme fronted by Strictly’s new head judge Shirley Ballas, and a look at Ronnie Wood’s infatuation with painting.

Doctor Who (Ray Burmiston/BBC)

The Access All Areas Doctor Who special, set to air on December 21 at 8pm, will see radio DJ Whiley go behind the scenes on the show’s set to catch up with its stars as outgoing Time Lord Peter Capaldi bids farewell to the sci-fi series.

She will speak to Capaldi, Pearl Mackie, David Bradley and Matt Lucas, as well as executive producer Steven Moffat, while also digging into the BBC’s extensive Doctor Who archive.

Ballas will present Strictly Shirley on Boxing Day from 5pm, a two-hour programme filled with her favourite music and stories from her decades-long dancing career.

BBC Radio 2 is also set to give listeners the inside scoop on Rolling Stone rocker Wood’s life as a budding artist as he meets with presenter Anneka Rice at his home to discuss their shared love of painting and music.

Paint It Black with Ronnie Wood and Anneka Rice airs on December 27 from 5pm.

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