Johnny Ball

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Johnny Ball
Born Graham Ball
(1938-05-23) 23 May 1938 (age 76)
Bristol, Gloucestershire, England, UK
Occupation Presenter
Children Zoë Ball

Johnny Ball (born 23 May 1938) is an English television personality, a populariser of mathematics and the father of BBC Radio 2 DJ Zoë Ball.

Early life[edit]

Born as Graham Ball in Bristol, Gloucestershire, he spent his primary school years there and later in his childhood moved to Bolton, Lancashire, where he attended Bolton County Grammar School. He left formal education with two 'O' Levels, one in Mathematics[1] and one in Geography. He then signed on for three years in the Royal Air Force, worked as a Butlin's Redcoat, and was an entertainer in northern clubs and cabaret.

Television and radio career[edit]

He was a regular fixture on children's television in the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s, presenting several series of popular science and technology programmes intended for children (including Think of a Number; Think Again; Think Backwards; Think...This Way and Johnny Ball Reveals All). He was also one of the hosts of infant education programme Play School beginning in 1967 and continuing throughout the 1970s and beyond. As well as appearing on screen Ball wrote jokes for some shows including Crackerjack.[2] All of these shows (except the ITV programme ...Reveals All) appeared on the BBC. Ball's shows were renowned for presenting scientific and technological principles in an entertaining and accessible way for young people.

In 2003, he appeared on The Terry and Gaby Show in which he answered viewers' questions. In July 2004, he was named in the Radio Times list of the top 40 most eccentric TV presenters of all time.[3] In July 2012, he presented a Horizon special on ageing on BBC Four. He has recently starred in ITV and Channel 4 television adverts as well as radio adverts for the Yorkshire based firm Help-Link.[4]

In 2012, the 74-year-old Ball was announced as one of the 14 celebrities who would take part in the Strictly Come Dancing TV show. He was the first celebrity to be eliminated from the competition[5]

Series guide[edit]

Think of a Number

  • Pilot: 2 April 1977
  • Series 1: 6 editions – 12 April 1978 – 17 May 1978
  • Series 2: 6 editions – 12 September 1979 – 17 October 1979
  • Series 3: 6 editions – 10 September 1980 – 15 October 1980
  • Series 4: 6 editions – 15 September 1982 – 20 October 1982
  • Series 5: 6 editions – 4 January 1984 – 8 February 1984
  • Series 6: 6 editions – 26 September 1984 – 31 October 1984

Think Again

  • Series 1: 5 editions – 9 January 1981 – 22 April 1981
  • Series 2: 6 editions – 8 January 1982 – 12 February 1982
  • Series 3: 6 editions – 7 January 1983 – 11 February 1983
  • Series 4: 6 editions – 13 September 1983 – 18 October 1983
  • Series 5: 6 editions – 10 September 1985 – 15 October 1985

Think!Backwards

  • Five editions shown over one week – 28 September 1981 – 2 October 1981

Think! This Way

  • Five editions shown over one week – 28 March 1983 – 1 April 1983

Think It ... Do It

  • Series 1: 6 editions – 11 March 1986 – 15 April 1986
  • Series 2: 6 editions – 27 February 1987 – 3 April 1987

Knowhow

  • Series 1: 6 editions – 8 March 1988 – 12 April 1988
  • Series 2: 6 editions – 25 October 1988 – 29 November 1988
  • Series 3: 6 editions – 2 January 1990 – 6 February 1990 (does not feature in series 3)

Johnny Ball Reveals All

  • Series 1: 7 editions – 14 June 1989 – 26 July 1989
  • Series 2: 6 editions – 3 August 1990 – 7 September 1990
  • Series 3: 7 editions – 18 March 1992 – 29 April 1992
  • Series 4: 7 editions – 5 July 1993 – 16 August 1993
  • Series 5: 5 editions – 8 August 1994 – 1 September 1994

(source: BBC)

Other activities[edit]

  • Ball is in favour of nuclear power and has given speeches arguing for its development.[6][7] and has rejected the notion of man-made climate change, arguing that carbon dioxide has been unfairly victimised in the debate. On 15 December 2009, Ball was booed off stage at a show "in celebration of ... science" in London for suggesting that climate change is not anthropogenic.[8]
  • In November 2006, Ball voiced his opposition to the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act, which would require any adult working with children to be vetted by the Criminal Records Bureau. In an interview with The Sunday Times, he said: "It is like George Orwell's 1984... a quarter of adults will have to be checked... The fear we are instilling in [children] is abhorrent."[9]
  • Ball served as Rector of the University of Glasgow from 1993-96.
  • Ball is a declared supporter of the FatallyFlawed campaign against the use of plug-in socket covers.[10]
  • In April 2014, Ball donated his time and talent as voice-over in an educational animated video for the Raspberry Pi Foundation, a Cambridge-based UK charity who's aim is to get children interested in taking up a career in computer programming.[11]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Ball, Johnny (2005). Think of a number. Dorling Kindersley. ISBN 1-4053-1031-6. 
  • Ball, Johnny (2005). Go Figure!. Dorling Kindersley. ISBN 0-7566-1374-4.  (American edition of "Think of a Number")
  • Ball, Johnny (1982). Johnny Ball's Think Box. Puffin. ISBN 0-14-031545-4. 
  • Ball, Johnny (1987). Johnny Ball's Second Thinks. Puffin. ISBN 0-14-031819-4. 
  • Ball, Johnny (1983). Plays for Laughs. Puffin. ISBN 0-14-031548-9. 
  • Ball, Johnny (1979). Think of a number. BBC. ISBN 0-563-17755-1.  (different from the 2005 book of the same name)
  • Ball, Johnny (2011). Ball of Confusion. Faber and Faber. ISBN 978-1-84831-348-4. 
  • Ball, Johnny (2009). Mathmagicians. Dorling Kindersley. ISBN 1-4053-3727-3. 

References[edit]

  1. ^ Johnny Ball – "Past Imperfect, Future Fantastic" – Wrexham Science Festival 1 of 4 on YouTube
  2. ^ http://www.screenonline.org.uk/people/id/1092313/
  3. ^ Eccentric TV Presenters
  4. ^ Johnny Ball Productions: News & Appearances
  5. ^ Strictly Come Dancing: Full line-up confirmed
  6. ^ "A climate of fear". Science & Technology (BBC Manchester). 24 October 2007. Retrieved 27 December 2007. 
  7. ^ "Johnny Ball Potted Biography". iTeach. November 2006. Retrieved 27 December 2007. 
  8. ^ Kenber, Billy (16 December 2009). "Johnny Ball booed by atheists over climate change denial". The Daily Telegraph (London, UK). Retrieved 7 May 2010. 
  9. ^ "The 'toxic wall' around children"The Sunday Times interview, November 2006
  10. ^ "FatallyFlawed website". Retrieved 16 September 2012. 
  11. ^ "Raspberry Pi Foundation blog entry". Retrieved 10 April 2014. 

External links[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by
Pat Kane
Rector of the University of Glasgow
1993–1996
Succeeded by
Richard Wilson