In Depth

Five things you didn’t know about Zoe Ball

The popular presenter is the new BBC Radio 2 breakfast show host - but what else has she done?

More than two decades after becoming the first woman to host the BBC Radio 1 breakfast show, Zoe Ball has won rave reviews with her debut performance as the presenter of the Radio 2 equivalent.

The 48-year-old was unveiled as Chris Evans’ replacement in October after he announced his departure from the long-running show, and wowed critics and listeners alike with her first episode this morning.

“The really good news is that Ball was sparky and friendly, and not at all cheesy, braggy or shouty,” says The Daily Telegraph. “Her conspiratorial tone of voice made for a truly refreshing change from the louder Evans era.”

Here are five things you may not know about the new Radio 2 host:

Not the only broadcaster in her family

Zoe Ball was born in 1970 to Johnny Ball, a TV presenter who worked on scientific and mathematic programmes for children in the 1970s and 1980s.

In a recent interview with the Daily Mirror, the proud father said he was expecting her to be a hit on the breakfast show - but admitted he would be sticking to Radio 4.

“I do tune into her things. You don’t follow each other religiously,” he told the paper. “It’s just her career and it’s wonderful. When I listen to the radio, it’s Radio 4.”

Strictly Come Dancing record

Prior to her stint as host of the Strictly Come Dancing spin-off It Takes Two, Ball was a contestant on the third series of the dancing show, in 2005.

In her first dance with dance partner Ian Waite, she scored 35 - still the best debut ever achieved on the show. Even so, Ball describes her dancing style as “like Auntie Sylvia at a wedding”, the Daily Mail reports.

She and Waite finished the series in third place.

Raised £1m for Sport Relief

Last year Ball completed a 350-mile bike ride from her city of birth, Blackpool, to Brighton, where she currently lives.

The BBC reports that she took on the “Hardest Road Home” challenge for Sport Relief in order to raise awareness and funding for mental health issues after her partner, BBC cameraman Billy Yates, took his own life in 2017.

Her bike ride fundraiser made £1,198,012.

Not paid as much as Evans

Ball has spoken openly about the fact that she will be earning less than her predecessor.

The Daily Telegraph reports that Ball was offered a salary in the region of £1.2m by the BBC - which despite making her the highest-paid woman at the broadcaster, is still short of Evans’ £1.6m salary.

When she got the job, Ball said she was “not expecting the same” as the breakfast show veteran but was “very, very happy with what the BBC are paying me”.

Proud to be breaking new ground

During a 2013 interview, Ball told the Daily Mail that the greatest achievement of her career was “being the first female DJ to host The Radio 1 Breakfast Show”.

“I didn’t realise at the time quite how big a deal it was. I still don’t know whether I did it justice because the whole time I was just larking about and having fun,” she said. “But it’s lovely having youngsters come up to me now saying I was the one who got them interested in music. That’s incredibly fulfilling.”

She left the show in 2000 after two-and-a-half years, having amassed more than seven million regular listeners.


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