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Zoe Ball

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Zoe Ball
Ball at the 2014 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards
Zoe Louise Ball

(1970-11-23) 23 November 1970 (age 53)
Occupation(s)Presenter, broadcaster
Years active1993–present
PartnerMichael Reed
Parent(s)Johnny Ball
Julia Ball (née Anderson)

Zoe Louise Ball (born 23 November 1970)[1] is a British broadcaster and presenter. She was the first female host of the Radio 1 and Radio 2 breakfast shows for the BBC, and presented the 1990s children's show Live & Kicking, alongside Jamie Theakston from 1996–1999.

Ball was a contestant in the third series of Strictly Come Dancing. Following this, in 2011 she replaced Claudia Winkleman as host of the BBC Two spin-off show Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two until her departure in 2021. Ball also hosted the Strictly Come Dancing Live Tour in 2011 and 2015.

In 2018, Ball was announced as the new host of BBC Radio 2's flagship breakfast show and took over from Chris Evans in January 2019.[2]

Early life[edit]

Zoe Ball was born in Blackpool, Lancashire, and grew up in Farnham Common, Buckinghamshire. She is the daughter of the children's TV presenter Johnny Ball and his wife Julia (née Anderson). The couple divorced when Zoe was two,[3] Zoe was raised with her father.[4]

Ball was educated at Heston Junior School in the district of Hounslow between 1975 and 1978. Her family then moved to Farnham Common in Buckinghamshire. She attended Farnham Common First School and Farnham Common Middle School before moving to Holy Cross Convent School in Chalfont St Peter and Amersham College of Art and Technology[5] for a "City & Guilds in radio and journalism".[6][7][8]

She also attended the Young Theatre at Beaconsfield where she trained as an actress. Her first TV appearance was as a child in the studio audience of the 1980s Saturday morning children's show, Saturday Superstore, on which her father was appearing as a guest.



Ball began her television career as a runner at Granada Television and researcher for Cool Cube (1990–1994),[9] a children's Saturday afternoon magazine show, lensed at Granada's studio in Manchester, produced by Clear Idea Television, and broadcast on the on British Satellite Broadcasting channel Galaxy.[10][11] She then worked as a researcher for quiz shows for two years.

In 1994, Ball presented SMart with Mark Speight and Jay Burridge until she left in 1996. In 1995, Ball hosted Fully Booked for the first series. Between 1996 and 1998, she was a regular presenter on Top of the Pops, usually alternating with fellow presenters and DJs Jayne Middlemiss and Jo Whiley.[12][8]

Between 1999 and 2001, she was a co-host with Jamie Theakston on the Wednesday night chat/music show The Priory,[citation needed] which was commissioned by Chris Evans's then production company Ginger Productions.

Her presenting jobs have also included hosting The Big Breakfast[citation needed] and The Priory[citation needed] on Channel 4,[13] BBC One's Saturday morning children's programme Live & Kicking in 1996,[14][15] and the pre-school programme Playdays[citation needed].[12]

Ball co-hosted the 2002 Brit Awards with Frank Skinner,[16] In 2005, she co-hosted the BBC reality show Strictly Dance Fever.[17] In 2006, Ball co-hosted the ITV programme Extinct, alongside Trevor McDonald.[18]

In January 2007, she presented the second series of ITV's Soapstar Superstar,[19] taking over from Fern Britton and Ben Shephard, who hosted the first series. In March 2007, she hosted the ITV talent search Grease Is the Word.[20]

Alongside Jamie Theakston, Ball presented Channel 5's quiz series Britain's Best Brain in 2009.[13][21] Ball has guest presented several episodes of The One Show as a stand-in for Alex Jones.[22]

On 4 August 2013, as hostess of a special entitled Doctor Who Live: The Next Doctor, she revealed Peter Capaldi as the incoming Twelfth Doctor and hosted his first interview in that capacity.[23]

In November 2013, she co-hosted the BBC One Children in Need telethon, alongside Sir Terry Wogan, Fearne Cotton, Nick Grimshaw and Tess Daly.[24] In 2014, Ball presented a BBC Two spin-off from The Voice UK called The Voice: Louder on Two.[25] The show aired for one series of ten episodes.

In 2015, Ball hosted EastEnders: Backstage Live, a spin-off show during the EastEnders live week.[26] She co-presented the BBC Young Dancer competition with Darcey Bussell on BBC Two.[27]

She also narrated two ITV Specials, The Nation's Favourite '70s Number One and The Nation's Favourite '80s Number One as well as the BBC One series Don't Tell the Bride.[28] In 2016, Ball co-presented Can't Touch This, a Saturday night game show for BBC One, alongside Ashley Banjo.[29][30] She also narrated The Nation's Favourite Carpenters Song.

She guest-presented an episode of Film 2016.[12] In 2017, Ball co-presented The Big Family Cooking Showdown with Nadiya Hussain on BBC Two.[31]

Since 2020, Ball has appeared alongside her son Woody Fred Cook on Celebrity Gogglebox.[32]

In 2021, Ball appeared on The Masked Dancer, masked as Llama. She was the sixth celebrity to be unmasked.

On June 16, 2023 she appeared as herself in Episode 1 of the BBC One comedy Queen of Oz. Ball is seen and heard on her radio programme questioning the outrageous antics of spoiled spare to the British crown, Princess Georgiana, played by Catherine Tate.

In 2024, Ball appeared as herself on the "New Year's Treat" episode of Taskmaster.

Strictly Come Dancing and It Takes Two[edit]

In October 2005, Ball became a contestant on the third series of the BBC One talent show Strictly Come Dancing, where she was partnered by Ian Waite. Ball and Waite were ranked in third place;[25] they also scored 38/40 (including two tens) for three dances in the series and one in the Christmas special.

In 2011, she took over from Claudia Winkleman as the host of Strictly Come Dancing's sister show It Takes Two,[33] airing every weeknight on BBC Two; in 2014, whilst Winkleman was on leave after her daughter suffered serious burn injuries, Ball co-hosted the main show.[25] On 17 May 2021, Ball announced she was leaving her role as presenter after 10 years.


Although known primarily for her TV work, Ball first worked in radio, after she became co-host of Radio 1 Breakfast on BBC Radio 1 in October 1997 with Kevin Greening.[8] She became the sole host, the first female DJ to do so. At this time, her hard-drinking, hard-partying lifestyle contributed to the identification of the so-called "ladette culture" of the late 1990s.[34] She was twice warned by the BBC for swearing on the radio.[35]

Ball left BBC Radio 1 in March 2000 to start a family and a new chapter. Her final show was on 10 March 2000;[36] she was succeeded by Sara Cox.

Ball returned to radio in mid-2002 when she joined London radio station Xfm, where she presented the weekday drivetime show until December 2003. In January 2004, she took over a Friday evening music show for the station. She also stood in for Ricky Gervais while he filmed the second series of The Office.[37] She left Xfm at the end of 2004.[38]

In September 2007, she returned to BBC Radio and co-hosted a show with Sara Cox, celebrating 40 years of BBC Radio 1 and BBC Radio 2.

From 2006, she provided relief presenting duties for BBC Radio 2, fronted specialist documentaries, sat in for Dermot O'Leary for three weeks in February 2006, and co-presented (with Danny Baker) the hastily conceived replacement for Jonathan Ross' Saturday morning show, in the wake of Ross's suspension due to Sachsgate in 2008.

In 2009, Ball became the usual relief presenter for Ken Bruce's weekday mid-morning show on BBC Radio 2. She also began hosting the Saturday breakfast show from 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. on the network from 6 June 2009 as part of a shake-up of weekend programming at Radio 2.[13] Ball left Radio 2 for a while as her last show was broadcast on Saturday 28 January 2012. Her replacement in that slot was Anneka Rice.[39]

Ball covered The Radio 2 Breakfast Show for Chris Evans on several occasions.[40]

From 4 March 2017 until 22 December 2018, Ball returned to Radio 2 on permanent basis where she presented the Saturday afternoon slot on BBC Radio 2 between 3–6pm, taking over from Dermot O'Leary.

On 3 October 2018, she was announced by Chris Evans as the new host of The Radio 2 Breakfast Show, which began on 14 January 2019. Rylan Clark replaced Ball in the Saturday mid-afternoon slot.[2]

Personal life[edit]

Whilst at BBC Radio 1, Ball began a relationship with the DJ and musician Norman Cook (also known as Fatboy Slim). The couple married at Babington House in Somerset[41] in August 1999. In 2003, the couple split up when Ball revealed that she had had an affair; they later reconciled.[42] The couple have a son, Woody Fred Cook (born 2000), and a daughter, Nelly (born 2010).[43][44] On 24 September 2016, the couple announced their separation after 18 years together, and divorced[45] in 2020.

In 2013 she started an affair with Billy Yates. He took his own life in May 2017 after a long battle with depression at the age of 40.

Between 2017 and 2023, Ball was in a relationship with fashion model and carpenter Michael Reed.[citation needed]

Ball celebrated two years of sobriety in 2018.[46]

Charity work[edit]

In 2014, she supported Marks & Spencer and Oxfam's Love Mum campaign.[25]

In March 2018, Ball took part in the 'Hardest Ride Home' challenge in which she cycled from Blackpool to Brighton to raise money for Sport Relief and mental health awareness. She set off on 5 March for five days.[47][48] Highlights of the challenge were broadcast in a one-off documentary, airing on 21 March 2018 on BBC One. She raised £1,198,012.[49]



Year Title Role Slot Station Notes
1997–1998 Radio 1 Breakfast Co-presenter with Kevin Greening 6:30–9:00 weekdays BBC Radio 1
1998–2000 Radio 1 Breakfast Presenter 6:00-9:00 weekdays
2002–2003 Weekday Drivetime Presenter 16:00–19:00 weekdays Xfm
2004 Friday evenings Presenter 19:00–21:00 Fridays
2007 Zoe Ball & Sara Cox Co-presenter with Sara Cox 13:00–16:00 Sunday (one-off) BBC Radio 1 Special 1-episode show
2008 Danny Baker & Zoe Ball 10:00–13:00 Saturday BBC Radio 2 4 episodes
2009–2012 Saturday weekend breakfast Presenter 06:00–08:00 Saturday
2017–2018 Saturday mid-afternoons 15:00–18:00 Saturdays
2019–present The Radio 2 Breakfast Show 06:30–09:30 weekdays


Year Title Role Notes
1994–1996 SMart Co-presenter
1995 Fully Booked presenter
1996 The Big Breakfast Co-presenter
1996–1998 Top of the Pops Co-presenter
1996–1999 Live & Kicking Co-presenter
1999–2001 The Priory Co-presenter With Jamie Theakston
2002 Brit Awards Co-presenter With Frank Skinner
2005 Strictly Dance Fever Co-presenter
Strictly Come Dancing Contestant Series 3
2006 Extinct Co-presenter 1 series; with Trevor McDonald
2007 Soapstar Superstar Presenter 1 series
Grease Is the Word Presenter 1 series
2009 Britain's Best Brain Co-presenter 1 series; with Jamie Theakston
2011–2020 Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two Presenter 10 series, final 2 co-presented by Rylan Clark
2012–2013, 2016–2017 The One Show Guest presenter 6 episodes
2013 Doctor Who Live: The Next Doctor Presenter One-off episode
Children in Need Co-presenter
The Nation's Favourite Elvis Song Narrator One-off episode
2014 The Voice: Louder on Two Presenter 1 series
Strictly Come Dancing Stand-in presenter 6 episodes
2015 EastEnders: Backstage Live Presenter One-off episode
The Nation's Favourite '70s Number One Narrator One-off episode
BBC Young Dancer Co-presenter Grand final; with Darcey Bussell and Clemency Burton-Hill
Hacker's Birthday Bash: 30 Years of Children's BBC[50] Herself One-off episode
Don't Tell the Bride Narrator 1 series
The Nation's Favourite '80s Number One Narrator One-off episode
2016 Can't Touch This Co-presenter 1 series; with Ashley Banjo
The Nation's Favourite Carpenters Song Narrator One-off episode
Film 2016 Guest presenter 1 episode
2017 Saturday Mash-Up! Guest 1 episode
The Big Family Cooking Showdown[51] Co-presenter 1 series; with Nadiya Hussain
2018 Zoe Ball's Hardest Road Home One-off
Zoe Ball on...Saturday/Sunday Presenter 1 Series + Christmas Specials
2020 The Big Night In Co-presenter
2020–present Celebrity Gogglebox Herself 5 Series; with son Woody Fred Cook
2021 The Masked Dancer Contestant Llama, revealed in Episode 5
The Wheel Participant Christmas special[52]
2023 Queen of Oz Herself 1 episode (Ep 1)
Mamma Mia! I Have a Dream Presenter Talent show


  1. ^ "Profile: Zoe Ball", Metro, Associated Newspapers, 8 January 2007, retrieved 21 June 2011
  2. ^ a b "BBC - Zoe Ball to host the new BBC Radio 2 Breakfast Show - Media Centre". www.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 3 October 2018.
  3. ^ Hannah Stephenson, "Johnny Ball: Children's TV and the lost years of daughter Zoe Ball", Chester Chronicle, 29 June 2009
  4. ^ https://www.brainyquote.com/authors/zoe-ball-quotes
  5. ^ "Romeo di Girolamo PPRBA, RBSA Hon. BAF Hon. WSA NDD. BAS Hon". 31 October 2022.
  6. ^ Sale, Jonathan (18 December 1997). "Education: Passed/Failed Zoe Ball". The Independent. Archived from the original on 7 May 2022. Retrieved 6 October 2011.
  7. ^ Rachel Sixsmith & Carla Delaney (6 February 2006). "Zoe Ball: 'Holy Cross was like movies'". Bucks Free Press. Retrieved 6 October 2016.
  8. ^ a b c Mesure, Susie (6 October 2012). "Zoe Ball: 'I'm quite loved up at the moment'". The Independent. Archived from the original on 7 May 2022. Retrieved 31 March 2018.
  9. ^ "BBC Radio 4 - Desert Island Discs - 12 things we learned from Zoe Ball's Desert Island Discs".
  10. ^ "TV Pop Diaries Articles - Take That". Archived from the original on 23 December 2017.
  11. ^ "Simon Davies".
  12. ^ a b c Anderton, Joe (22 October 2016). "Zoe Ball is confirmed as the first host of the new series of Film 2016". digitalspy.com. Retrieved 31 March 2018.
  13. ^ a b c Naughton, Pete (27 October 2009). "Zoe Ball: 'It'd be nice to get a lass on Radio 2 during the day'". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 12 January 2022. Retrieved 31 March 2018.
  14. ^ "Beyond the Title: Zoe Ball - in Conversation on Apple Podcasts".
  15. ^ Sheppard, Ciara (18 May 2017). "Kid's TV presenters from the 90s & 00s: Where are they now?". glamourmagazine.co.uk. Retrieved 31 March 2018.
  16. ^ "Cringe along with Frank". bbc.co.uk. 21 February 2002. Retrieved 31 March 2018.
  17. ^ "Strictly Dance Fever". ianvictoria.co.uk. Retrieved 31 March 2018.
  18. ^ "Extinct: The Quiz". ukgameshows.com. Retrieved 31 March 2018.
  19. ^ Bourne, Dianne (15 February 2007). "Soapstar Superstar: Tupele has a fan in Fatboy". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 1 April 2018.
  20. ^ "Zoe, Holly and Sinitta start search for new Sandy and Danny". 29 March 2007. Retrieved 31 March 2018.
  21. ^ Saner, Emine (5 November 2009). "Question time: Zoë Ball". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 March 2018.
  22. ^ Jackson, Jasper (17 March 2016). "One Show's Alex Jones and Matt Baker swap places in nod to BBC Breakfast row". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  23. ^ BBC News (1 August 2013). "BBC News - New Doctor Who star to be unveiled". British Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 4 August 2013.
  24. ^ "In pictures: Children in Need telethon". bbc.co.uk. 16 November 2013. Retrieved 31 March 2018.
  25. ^ a b c d Gregory, Kim (3 November 2014). "8 reasons why Strictly's Zoe Ball just gets more awesome with age". celebsnow.co.uk. Retrieved 31 March 2018.
  26. ^ Shenton, Zoe (20 February 2015). "EastEnders live: Creepy man lurking behind Zoe Ball prompts hilarious Twitter reaction". The Daily Mirror. Retrieved 31 March 2018.
  27. ^ "Darcey Bussell to front BBC's search for UK's best young dancer". The Guardian. UK. 14 January 2015. Retrieved 16 January 2015.
  28. ^ "10 things we learned during episode one of the new series of Don't Tell The Bride on BBC One". The Argus. 24 June 2015. Retrieved 31 March 2018.
  29. ^ "Zoe Ball to present new BBC game show". digitalspy.co.uk. 6 September 2015.
  30. ^ "Zoe Ball". bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 31 March 2018.
  31. ^ "BBC moves Big Family Cooking Showdown's TV slot after 'cynical' Bake off launch date from Channel 4". Digital Spy. 16 August 2017.
  32. ^ Sansome, Jessica (3 July 2020). "Who is on Celebrity Gogglebox 2020? Full cast list". men. Retrieved 13 July 2020.
  33. ^ Jones, Paul (6 July 2011). "Strictly Ball-room: Zoë is the new It Takes Two host". Radio Times. Retrieved 31 March 2018.
  34. ^ "Zoe Ball and the 90s ladettes: Where are they now?". celebsnow.co.uk. 4 November 2014. Retrieved 31 March 2018.
  35. ^ "Radio report slams swearing". bbc.co.uk. 24 July 2000. Retrieved 31 March 2018.
  36. ^ "BBC Genome Project". Zoe Ball. 10 March 2000. Retrieved 6 January 2019.
  37. ^ Whitehead, Jennifer (21 August 2002). "Xfm promotes Zoe Ball's new show with London poster campaign". campaignlive.co.uk. Retrieved 1 April 2018.
  38. ^ Day, Julia (16 December 2003). "Ball quits Xfm drivetime slot". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 April 2018.
  39. ^ Plunkett, John (27 May 2009). "Zoe Ball to host Saturday early breakfast show on Radio 2". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 27 May 2009.
  40. ^ "BBC Radio 2 DJ Chris Evans loses voice on air". BBC News. Retrieved 11 April 2013.
  41. ^ Williams, Gill (6 February 2005). "Holidays: Bed and bawd". Sunday Mirror.
  42. ^ "Zoe Ball admits to new love". BBC News. 28 January 2003.
  43. ^ "BBC Presenter Ball is pregnant". BBC News. 11 July 2009.
  44. ^ "Zoë Ball, Cook 'welcome second daughter'". Digital Spy. 15 January 2010. Retrieved 15 January 2010.
  45. ^ "TV's Zoe Ball and DJ Norman Cook announce separation". BBC News. 24 September 2016.
  46. ^ Bagwell, Matt (27 June 2018). "Zoe Ball Admits Two Years Of Sobriety Helped Her Through 'Two Toughest Years Of My Life'". HuffPost UK. Retrieved 29 March 2024.
  47. ^ "Presenter Zoe Ball riding through Shropshire in memory of her partner". March 2018.
  48. ^ MacMichael, Simon (26 February 2018). "DJs and TV stars Greg James and Zoe Ball get in the saddle for Sport Relief". road.cc. Retrieved 31 March 2018.
  49. ^ "Zoe's Hardest Road Home". 24 May 2018. Archived from the original on 23 December 2021. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  50. ^ "CBBC offers life-line to Gordon The Gopher as stars reunite to celebrate 30 years of live Children's BBC Presentation". www.bbc.co.uk.
  51. ^ Furness, Hannah (3 March 2017). "'I just don't sleep': Nadiya Hussain set for new family challenge ahead of Bake Off battle". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 12 January 2022. Retrieved 4 March 2017.
  52. ^ "The Wheel Christmas Special". bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 20 December 2021.

External links[edit]

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Preceded by BBC Radio 1
Breakfast Show Presenter

(with Kevin Greening)
Succeeded by
Preceded by
herself with Kevin Greening
BBC Radio 1
Breakfast Show Presenter

Succeeded by
Preceded by BBC Radio 2
Breakfast Show Presenter

Succeeded by