Michael Ball to pay tribute to Steve Wright in first show as his replacement

Michael Ball will make his debut as the late BBC radio host Steve Wright’s replacement on Sunday (2 June), and has vowed to dedicate the first show to his memory.

Wright died suddenly at the age of 69, earlier this year. The veteran presenter was one of BBC Radio’s most beloved and longest-serving employees having fronted shows on both Radio 1 and Radio 2 for over 40 years.

Shortly after his death, Ball, 61, was announced as his replacement for Sunday Love Songs.

“I’m going to end the show every week with a last dance,” he told BBC Breakfast ahead of his first programme.

“And this last dance that we have in our (first show) is going to celebrate Steve, I want to pay tribute to Steve for the legacy that he’s left me to carry on with.

“So one of his favourite songs, “Wichita Lineman” [by] Glen Campbell – he used the music as background for his show – and that’s how I’m going to celebrate Steve and say thank you for passing on this incredible show to me, under tricky circumstances, but I’m going to go for it.”

Ball called Wright the “master of broadcasting” and said he was “nervous” to take over.

 (BBC/Getty Images)
(BBC/Getty Images)

“You can imagine how nervous I am about it. I want it to be right. I want people to be happy and I’m really excited for the challenge,” he said.

The presenter rose to fame in 1985 when he made his West End debut as Marcus Pontmercy in Les Misérables.

The singer and author hosted his own Sunday slot on Radio 2 at the time, and was deemed a natural replacement for Wright, although he admitted he was “scared” of taking over the late DJ’s role.

Nikki Chapman has been presenting Sunday Love Songs in the interim following Wright’s death and before Ball’s start on the show. Ball’s previous 11am to 1pm Sunday slot will now be hosted by Top Gear presenter Paddy McGuinness.

Both shows will debut on Sunday June 2 on BBC Radio 2 and BBC Sounds. Sunday Love Songs will air every Sunday at 9am on BBC Radio 2.