Michael Ball hails Steve Wright as ‘icon’ ahead of Sunday Love Songs debut

Michael Ball has said he “wants to do the show justice” when he takes over a new Sunday Love Songs programme on BBC Radio 2, following the death of Steve Wright earlier this year.

Singer and West End star Ball, who currently presents on Sundays from 11am to 1pm, will host Love Songs with Michael Ball from 9 to 11am from June.

Wright was the long-time host of the Love Songs show on the radio station and continued to present it even after he stepped down from his weekday afternoon show on Radio 2 in September 2022.

Wright died in February at the age of 69 and Ball hailed him as “an icon”.

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Steve Wright died earlier this year (Ian West/PA)

He said: “When this opportunity arrived, I knew I couldn’t turn it down. I’m so nervous, but of course I’m also incredibly excited.

“I want to do the show justice because Steve was and still is such an icon. He showcased the best of what radio is and the enjoyment it could bring to countless people.

“I loved Steve’s Sunday Love Songs, I loved to listen to it when I woke up on a Sunday morning. It really was an appointment to listen, so I’m incredibly honoured and humbled that they’ve asked me to have a go.

“I’ve been at Radio 2 for almost 20 years now, and I can’t imagine not being on the station as I truly love doing my shows and connecting with the listeners.”

Ball said he hopes his new show will be “relaxing” and “a Sunday morning hug from the radio”.

He added: “I’ll wake you up gently with the music selection and guide you through your morning with the most wonderful, wonderful songs.”

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Michael Ball will host the new show from June (Ian West/PA)

While there will be some new features to the show, such as people reading out love letters and sharing memories of special days such as a wedding, a proposal, a first encounter, the birth of a child, or a graduation, he reassured listeners there will be no significant changes.

He said: “Ultimately, we aren’t reinventing the show. Steve Wright had it down to perfection, and if it ain’t broken, why fix it?”

Paying tribute to his friend and former colleague, he said: “We got on so well and we were really good mates. I was lucky enough that every Sunday he would hand over to me at 11am once he reached the end of Love Songs.

“He was so full of advice and there was no finer radio host. He lived and breathed it, and was bursting with creativity. He was truly brilliant.”

Ball’s previous Sunday slot of 11am to 1pm will now be hosted by Paddy McGuinness, who said: “I can’t tell you how excited I’ve been about joining the amazing BBC Radio 2.

Paddy McGuinness said the Radio 2 presenting family ‘have all been so welcoming’ (BBC)
Paddy McGuinness said the Radio 2 presenting family ‘have all been so welcoming’ (BBC)

“I’ve been having a lot of fun with the production team, thinking up great new features, working out what music we’ll play and, of course, how we’ll involve the brilliant listeners every week.

“I’m so proud to be joining my fellow Boltonians – Sara Cox, Mark Radcliffe and Vernon Kay – on the station, but the Radio 2 presenting family have all been so welcoming, they are truly the loveliest bunch of people.

“What’s more, I’ll be presenting my show just down the road in the studios at MediaCity in Salford. Can it get any better than this!”

Love Songs with Michael Ball (9-11am) and Paddy McGuinness’ new show (11am-1pm) are both starting on Sunday June 2 on BBC Radio 2 and BBC Sounds.