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Martin Ballard (born in Derby) is an English radio presenter for the BBC in the East Midlands with more than thirty years of broadcasting experience. He is also a writer, an actor with three decades of theatre work, and voice-over artist. He can be seen in professional pantomime every Christmas and heard on BBC Radio Leicester 104.9FM and as the matchday announcer at the Leicester Tigers in England's Rugby Union Premiership.
Broadcasting, Announcing & Hosting
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. He has now been the announcer at Welford Road for more than a decade and has also announced at the Premiership Sevens and several games at the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
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 'DNA of a killer' about the murder of two teenage girls in the 1980's, 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 a look back 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. In 2016 he appeared in the ITV drama 'Code of a Killer'.
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. He has done some travel writing, scriptwriting and after-dinner speaking.
Ballard is currently presenting various programmes at BBC Radio Leicester. He was voted best drivetime presenter in the region in 2011 by the users of the Merrykova website.
Ballard studied for a Performing Arts degree at De Montfort University which 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 has been a member of Equity for more than 30 years 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 and is a director of the not-for-profit company 'Applause'.
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, Sgt Pong (Aladdin), Ugly Sister – five times, Baron Hardup (Cinderella), Bill Jukes (Peter Pan), Nanny (Hansel & Gretal) Dame Trot (four times)and Sam Shiley (Jack & The Beanstalk) Joy, Dame Dorothy Doo It (Beauty & The Beast), Nurse Nanny Norah (Sleeping Beauty), Mother Goose, Billy Goose(Mother Goose) Sarah The Cook (twice) (Dick Whittington)Dame Dolly Mixture (Snow White).
Personal highlights include working on stage alongside famous names including Sam Bailey, Sherrie Hewson, Brian Blessed, Liz May Brice, The Blockheads, Atomic Kitten, The Proclaimers, Hildegarde Neil, Danny La Rue, Hardeep Singh Kohli, Jocelyn Jee Esien, Kristian Schmid, Louise Redknapp, Alfred Marks OBE, Dean Friedman, K. T. Tunstall, Sean Maguire, Rebekah Elmaloglou, Moby, Mark Rattray, Wendy Craig, Steve McFadden and Gladiator, "Hunter" James Crossley.
Ballard returned in Pantomime for Imagine Theatre at the De Montfort Hall, Leicester in 2016 to play Dame Trot in 'Jack and the Beanstalk - his 27th season overall.