Soanes in 2014
24 June 1976
|Occupation||Journalist, Presenter, Newsreader|
|Notable credit(s)||BBC Radio 4
Soanes was born in Lowestoft in Suffolk, the son of a Methodist minister. He is named after the Biblical fisherman Zebedee, who was the father of two of Jesus' disciples. Soanes has two sisters, Anna and Rebecca.
Soanes was educated at Northfield St Nicholas Infants School and then Harris Middle School in Lowestoft and then at Denes High School, a state comprehensive school in the town, followed by the University of East Anglia, where he read Drama and Creative Writing. He then taught drama and toured Britain as an actor.
Life and career
Near the end of his degree course Soanes appeared on a local BBC radio station, promoting a charity improvised comedy show in which he was taking part. He was spotted by one of the presenters and a few days later Soanes was called in to do some improvisation live on air.
Soanes was formerly a presentation announcer for the television channels BBC One and BBC Two. His was the first voice of BBC Four when the channel launched in March 2002 and was the channel's sole announcer for the first ten months.
In 2001 he began reading the Shipping Forecast, a weather report for the seas around the British Isles, which is broadcast four times a day on BBC Radio 4. For the 2008 Beijing Olympics he was asked to read the shipping forecast to a worldwide audience of over a billion. Describing the forecast in 2012, Soanes said: "To the non-nautical, [it] is a nightly litany of the sea... It reinforces a sense of being islanders with a proud seafaring past. Whilst the listener is safely tucked-up in their bed, they can imagine small fishing-boats bobbing about at Plymouth or 170ft waves crashing against Rockall."
He returned to BBC Four in August 2006 as a presenter for the BBC Proms. Soanes has been a newsreader for Today, PM and the Six O’Clock News, He has also appeared on The News Quiz with Sandi Toksvig and in 2013 accompanied the programme on its first visit to the Edinburgh Festival.
He acted with Toby Jones in the radio drama Beautiful Dreamers and has reported for BBC Radio's long-running series From Our Own Correspondent. He has also presented BBC Radio 3’s Saturday Classics, the first edition of which consisted of three hours of favourite sea-inspired music. In December 2010, Radio Times magazine placed Soanes in the list of the seven most recognisable voices in Britain.
In September 2012, at a dress rehearsal for his new show, comedian Julian Clary "married" Soanes at the end of the show. On 24 November 2013 he took the role of God in a production of Noye's Fludde on BBC Radio 3, the production being part of the station's celebration of Benjamin Britten's centenary.
In November 2014 he appeared again on BBC Radio 4's The News Quiz with Sandi Toksvig and participated in a concert by the vocal ensemble Opus Anglicanum at Wells Cathedral, featuring the poetry of George Herbert.
In a July 2015 poll of favourite radio voices in The Sunday Times, Soanes was voted as the favourite male voice. His voice was described, by the paper's radio critic Paul Donovan, as smoother than that of the favourite female Jane Garvey and as "evoking an earlier, more formal BBC."
The Soanes family’s presence in Lowestoft dates back to the 1700s. Interviewed in 2011, Soanes said, "I’m the only one of my immediate family who’s left the area, gone to university, and come to London."
Soanes has a love of classical music and used to play the piano.
- "For those in peril on the sea". East Anglian Daily Times. 16 December 2008. Retrieved 10 July 2014.
- "BBC Radio 4 - Six O'Clock News - Zebedee Soanes". Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 18 July 2015.
- Johnson, Richard (7 December 2010). "Heard But Not Seen: Seven Recognisable Voices". Radio Times. p. 20.
- "BBC Radio 4 - Six O'Clock News - Zebedee Soanes". Bbc.co.uk. 2014. Retrieved 8 July 2014.
- "#28 A Voice For Radio". Dining With Strangers. 10 May 2012. Retrieved 10 July 2014.
- "Biography". Zebsoanes.com. Retrieved 7 July 2014.
- Hudson, Alex (17 February 2012). "BBC News - The lull of the Shipping Forecast". Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 23 July 2014.
- "Heard but not Seen: Seven Recognisable Voices". Zebsoanes.com. 7 December 2010. Retrieved 23 July 2014.
- "Celebrity Big Brother 2012: Julian Clary premieres his new show tonight and Strictly Come Dancing fans want him as presenter". Unreality TV. 14 September 2012. Retrieved 8 July 2014.
- "Noye's Fludde - Britten Centenary". Zebsoanes.com. 24 November 2013. Retrieved 7 July 2014.
- "The News Quiz - BBC Radio 4". zebsoanes.com. Retrieved 23 November 2014.
- "Welcome to Opus Anglicanum". opus-anglicanum.com. Retrieved 23 November 2014.
- "Sunday Times Favourite Voices". Zebsoanes.com. 12 July 2015. Retrieved 18 July 2015.
- Paul Donovan (12 July 2015). "Radio Waves: Bedside manners". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 18 July 2015. (subscription required (. ))
- Dan Moe & Ruyman Rodriguez. "Awards for Young Musicians | Giving talent a chance | Zeb Soanes". A-y-m.org. Retrieved 10 July 2014.
- "British Association of Performing Arts Medicine | Zeb Soanes". bapam.org.uk. Retrieved 29 September 2014.