Michael, who played the immensely popular window cleaner for 16 years, has gone on to play a range of likeable everyman characters, from Coronation Street to The Royal.
But the actor, who's starring in musical comedy Sister Act in Glasgow this week, reveals his career kickstart came from the moment he dressed as a member of a beat group.
"I had joined Liverpool Lunchtime Theatre group," recalls the 54-year-old, "and I was desperate to make it in the business, having a go with the amateur theatre groups, doing anything.
"And while I was doing the lunchtime shows, writer Jimmy McGovern came along and saw me. Jimmy was a writer on Brookside, which at this time had been on the go for a couple of years, and he watched me perform and said he'd like me to meet a couple of directors.
"So I did the show I was in, playing a member of a beat group, and then went to the audition in costume.
"And I guess I looked a sight but thankfully, the directors thought it was funny - and as a result I was offered the role of Sinbad."
And he hasn't looked back. The workshy character became one of the most popular in the soap.
"I had great years in Brookside," Michael recalls.
"I worked with some fantastic people and Sinbad made me incredibly well-known.
"These days I still get recognised as that character."
Michael always wanted to act, as he said: "I was one of those show-off kids at school, but we didn't come from a wealthy family. And most of the people I knew went to work at Ford's, Halewood.
"But I can remember when I was 14, I told my careers teacher I wanted to be an actor.
"He then rhymed me off a list of 10 Liverpool actors who'd gone on to be famous, people such as Rex Harrison and Leonard Rossiter, and said to me 'Michael, they did it. Why can't you?'
"He gave me all the bumph on how to get into drama school.
"I couldn't afford to go. So I took jobs anywhere I could and joined am-dram and then a comedy showband, which is how I got my Equity card."
Michael loved the life.
He said: "I was young, free and single, and performing. But then I knew I wanted to get into some serious acting and that's when the lunchtime theatre chance came up."
Michael has rarely stopped working since, whether on television or theatre. At the moment, he's revelling in the chance to play Monsignor O'Hara in Sister Act, co-produced by the original star of the movie, Whoopi Goldberg.
"It's a great show, with original music, and a great story," he says of the show, that tells of a gangster's moll taking sanctuary in a convent.
"She's pressured by the gangsters, which gives it the drama, and from that comes comedy."
Michael said: "When I was at St Anne's infant school, the head was a nun, Sister Veronica, and she told my mum, 'If he's not a comedian when he grows up I'll eat my hat.
"I liked the nuns. They had a real sense of humour."
He wowed audiences with his role of Edna Turnblad in wacky stage show Hairspray.
"That was the best time of my life," he says of the comedy role.
"Michael Ball, who also played Edna, told me the real challenge was not to play Edna as a panto dame, but as a woman.
"But I pulled it off - when I walked out for that first night in Liverpool the reaction was amazing."
He is hoping for a similar reaction in Glasgow.
"I love the city," he says, "There's a real synergy with the two cities. We're the same people, really."
l Sister Act, the King's Theatre, until September 22.