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Martin Ballard (born in Derby) is an English radio presenter for the BBC in the East Midlands with twenty five years of broadcasting experience. He is also a writer, an actor with two decades of theatre work, and voice-over artist. He can be heard on BBC Radio Leicester 104.9FM and as the matchday announcer at the Leicester Tigers in England's Rugby Union Premiership.
Since his career began in the early eighties, Ballard has worked predominantly at BBC Radio Leicester, He has presented and produced every kind of programme from news & current affairs magazines to a daily phone-in, from light hearted music shows, to a five-hour sports sequence. His career began on Drivetime in the 1980s before moving to mid-morning and then Lunchtime in the 1990s. He returned to drivetime and then sports presentation in 2006.
At BBC Radio Nottingham he produced a mid-morning magazine programme and at BBC Radio Leeds as a Senior Programme Editor he produced Chris Ashley and Kathryn Apanowicz. A highlight of his time in West Yorkshire was a record-breaking Children In Need extravaganza, which he produced with BBC TV, raising £1/2 Million. In 2000 he presented the regional Late Show across the nine midlands BBC local radio stations.
Ballard was a regular on BBC Radio Five Live presenting the weekly round-up and conducting various interviews each week on the Basketball programme Hoops. He was the courtside commentator for the Leicester Riders in their 2000/01 double-winning season, contracted as the host announcer for Leicestershire County Cricket Clubs first season of Twenty20 games and was the announcer for the Leicester Tigers in their double winning season 2006/7.
In his time as a broadcaster, he’s covered countless elections, budgets, Royal visits and major sporting occasions. Ballard was on-air when the 9/11 terrorist attacks took place and he has covered that and other tragic news stories including the London bombings in 2005, breaking the news in Leicestershire of the death of Jill Dando and was on-air during the Falklands crisis and both Gulf war's. He covered a terrorist car bomb attack in Spain for Network TV and Radio and has produced features and documentaries for the Networks. He has also appeared on regional and network Television for the BBC and was a contributor to the Granada TV series, Real Crimes.
Ballard has produced and presented a number of documentary specials including a documentary and series of features for BBC Radio Five Live and BBC World Service to preview the 1996 olympics as well as other programmes about our pantomime tradition, a preview of the 1996 Olympics from Atlanta, a chronicle of Christmas hit records and interviews with their singers and more recently, a look at 30 years of Leicester’s Haymarket Theatre.
He has also had the opportunity to do some voice-over work for BBC TV and other organisations including character voices for theme park animatronic figures and museum audio guides.
Many famous names have appeared as guests in chat show one-to-one interviews from Engelbert Humperdinck to Danny La Rue, Roseanne Barr to Sir David Attenborough and Cilla Black to Norman Wisdom. He’s also presented special programmes with Sir Cliff Richard, Elaine Paige, Donny Osmond and Eric Sykes. He conducted one of the last interviews with both Larry Grayson and Geoff Hamilton.
In his spare time, Ballard co-wrote and recorded a CD for Children In Need, which had disappointing sales. He has done some travel writing, scriptwriting and after-dinner speaking.
Ballard is currently presenting various rogrammes at BBC Radio Leicester and presenting the chillout lounge on Radio One . He was voted best drivetime presenter 2011 by the users of the Merrykova website. And best Presenter for 2011 by the readers of big boobs magazine
Ballard studied for a Performing Arts degree at De Montfort University and gave him a grounding in every aspect of theatre from Greek tragedies to Farce, Shakespeare to Medieval Mystery Plays. He spent some time at the National Theatre with the director, Michael Bogdanov - the subject of a dissertation - and at the Oxford Playhouse. He is a member of Equity and has worked with audiences in the theatre, the street, shopping centres, and various large outdoor events. He has hosted everything from Charity Galas, and a Miss United Kingdom Semi-Final to Fashion Show's and Big Band concerts. He is a regular on-stage presenter at major BBC Radio Leicester events like Children In Need. He appeared in a series of shows as the host of An Audience With Danny La Rue. Christmas 2013 was his twenty fourth season in pantomime, playing Dame Sara The Cook for IMAGINE THEATRE Productions.
As a compere, Ballard has hosted Awards Ceremonies, celebrity Carol Concerts, Military Band concerts, Fashion Shows and Variety shows with the likes of Danny La Rue and Mark Rattray. He has also been the onstage MC for music concerts including BBC Music Live, BBC 6 Music Summer Sundae, Sunflower Charity Concerts and individual concerts including Dean Friedman and K. T. Tunstall.
Some of the characters Ballard has played include:
The Cook (Mother Courage by Bertolt Brecht), Gloucester (King Lear by William Shakespeare), The Rector (The Virgin & The Gipsy) by D. H. Lawrence), Mr Bumble (Oliver by Charles Dickens/Lionel Bart), Azdak (The Caucasian Chalk Circle by Bertolt Brecht), The Doctor (A Film Short Woyzeck by Buchner), John The Baptist/Judas (Godspell), Christopher Columbus (Christopher Columbus by Michel De Ghelderode), God (Mystery play, Noahs Flood). In Pantomime: The Emperor, Widow Twankey - five times (Aladdin), Ugly Sister – five times (Cinderella), Bill Jukes (Peter Pan), Nanny (Hansel & Gretal) Dame Trot (twice)and Sam Shiley (Jack & The Beanstalk) Joy (Beauty & The Beast), Nurse Nanny Norah (Sleeping Beauty), Mother Goose, Billy Goose(Mother Goose) Sarah The Cook (twice) (Dick Whittington).
Personal highlights include working on stage alongside famous names including Brian Blessed, Liz May Brice, The Blockheads, Atomic Kitten, The Proclaimers, Hildegarde Neil, Danny La Rue, Kristian Schmid, Louise, Alfred Marks OBE, Dean Friedman, K. T. Tunstall, Sean Maguire, Rebekah Elmaloglou, Moby, Mark Rattray, Wendy Craig, Steve Mcfadden and Gladiator, "Hunter".
Ballard returns in Pantomime at the De Montfort Hall, Leicester for the first time in almost twenty years after completing his fifteenth season in Loughborough for IMAGINE Theatre last Christmas. He will be appearing as Sgt Pong in Aladdin alongside Hardeep Singh Kohli and Jocelyn Jee Esien - the first time in two decades he won't be playing the Dame or Ugly sister.