MICHAEL Ball has praised the "brilliant" Steve Wright ahead of his BBC Radio 2 Sunday Love Songs debut.

This comes after the sad passing of the "icon" earlier this year which saw huge names from across television, radio and music come together to commend his impact on their lives.

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

Steve Wright was previously the long-time presenter of the Sunday Love Songs programme, continuing to host even after stepping down from his weekday afternoon show in September of 2022.

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

Discussing his predecessor, Michael Ball described Steve Wright as an "icon" and said he wanted "to do the show justice".

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.”

He added that he hoped the show would make for a relaxing listen and that it would be like “a Sunday morning hug from the radio”.

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

While there will be some new inclusions to the show such as the reading of love letters and sharing special days, Michael 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 former colleague, he added: “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.”

Michael's former 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.

Recommended Reading: 

Tributes pour in after BBC Radio 2 presenter Steve Wright dies aged 69

New BBC Radio 2 Love Songs host revealed following Steve Wright's death

“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!”