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Zoe Ball kicks off first BBC Radio 2 Breakfast Show with Aretha Franklin

Zoe Ball today revealed Chris Evans left her a ‘lovely’ note telling her to ‘breathe’ as she took over his Radio 2 breakfast show slot – but her debut received mixed reviews.

The DJ, 48, is the first female host of the flagship programme in its 51-year history and her first show started with Aretha Franklin’s feminist anthem Respect saying: ‘It had to be a dame’.

Ms Ball has become the BBC’s highest paid woman after being handed a £1.2million a year salary and arrived at Wogan House in London clutching a bag emblazoned with the words ‘hold it together’. 

Taking to the air she admitted to some nerves and declared: ‘Welcome to the first ever Zoe Ball Breakfast Show, I’ve been so excited about saying that’ and her first guests were comedian John Cleese and Bake Off hero Nadiya Hussain. 

Speaking after her first show today the 48-year-old said: ‘I did get a note from Chris, which was really lovely. Chris was saying remember to breathe, remember to time check. That really meant a lot actually.’ 

On going head-to-head with him on his Virgin Radio rival show, which starts next Monday, she said: ‘It will be like history repeating itself’, adding: ‘Yeah, bring it on’. 

Zoe Ball pictured during her new debut show today as she took over from Chris Evans on the Radio 2 breakfast show 

Zoe's first guests were John Cleese and star baker Nadiya Hussain, who brought in a magnificent cake to mark the occasion

Zoe’s first guests were John Cleese and star baker Nadiya Hussain, who brought in a magnificent cake to mark the occasion

Zoe leaves with a bunch of flowers and a frame after revealing Chris Evans left her a note wishing her luck

Zoe leaves with a bunch of flowers and a frame after revealing Chris Evans left her a note wishing her luck

She arrived clutching a bag emblazoned with the words 'hold it together' as she took over from Chris Evans, who has moved back to Virgin Radio.

She arrived clutching a bag emblazoned with the words ‘hold it together’ as she took over from Chris Evans, who has moved back to Virgin Radio.

She added Radio 1 DJ Greg James called her daughter, who celebrates her ninth birthday today, to ask whether she was listening to him or her mother. 

Zoe Ball smiled and waved as she arrived at the studio this morning

Zoe Ball smiled and waved as she arrived at the studio this morning

Radio 2’s breakfast show is listened to by around 9million people every week and many praised Zoe’s music-heavy debut saying they preferred her to ‘Mr Shouty’ – critics’ nickname for Chris Evans. 

Ian Rudd said: ‘Don’t have to be up for another hour or so but set the alarm because I did not want to miss this event. Loving it’ and another Twitter user added: ‘I’m already hooked – go Zoe Ball.’ 

Others were less sure including Linda Davies Carr, who tweeted: ‘So I’ve given Zoe Ball 30 minutes and I miss Chris Evans…..Can’t wait for Monday 21st to hear him back on the radio’ and one critic said simply: ‘Radio 2 what have you done….bye #zoeball’. 

Kicking off the show this morning she said: ‘Hello. My name is Zoe. How’s your belly off for spots? Good morning Radio 2 superstar listeners, here we go.

‘And, relax. After all the build-up, and the chat and the preamble, the big day is finally here. We are so super-excited. I’m ready.’

Referring to messages of support from fans before the show, Ball said: ‘It’s been really wonderful for all of us, it’s been really positive.’ 

On Twitter fans said they were ‘already hooked’ while some said they woke up early for the show. 

@petemac241 wrote: ‘Zoe Ball we don’t want to wake up to Cher please. Radio 2 listeners are not deaf’. 

Listeners have been largely positive about Zoe's Radio 2 breakfast - but some admitted they will be moving to Virgin when Chris Evans starts next Monday 

Listeners have been largely positive about Zoe’s Radio 2 breakfast – but some admitted they will be moving to Virgin when Chris Evans starts next Monday 

Zoe welcomed listeners to the ‘Zoe Ball Breakfast Show’ and added: ‘I’ve been so excited about saying that.’ 

Zoe admitted she had a restless night ahead of her debut and said: ‘I reckon I got about six and half hours which I think is good.

‘But hopefully I’ll get a bit more tonight.

‘I tried to go to sleep at 8pm but got to sleep about half nine.

‘For the rest of the day I’m going to be taking is all in and then going to see my daughter because it’s her ninth birthday today.

‘She was actually on the Greg James show earlier.

‘He called her up to see if she was listening to him or me.

‘I don’t know the answer to that question yet.’

Adding how the show went she said: ‘It was so much fun, the listeners were positive.

‘It was nervous but it kicks off so quickly and the listeners were so positive and really supportive and they got involved with all the things that we did really quickly.

‘Richie and my team, I’m so proud of them all.’

She refused to mark herself out of ten for the first show, saying: ‘There’s always room for improvement.

‘I can’t mark myself out of ten, that would be far to narcissistic but we really enjoyed it and we’ll go and have a debrief.

‘But we really loved it, we had a good time.’

She kicked off the show with Aretha Franklin’s Respect this morning and told listeners: ‘It had to be a dame on this occasion.’ 

Zoe said she was absolutely thrilled to be taking over the flagship show, which appears to be more focussed on music than chat

Zoe said she was absolutely thrilled to be taking over the flagship show, which appears to be more focussed on music than chat

Comedian John Cleese and Bake Off hero Nadiya Hussain were Zoe's first guests today

Comedian John Cleese and Bake Off hero Nadiya Hussain were Zoe's first guests today

Comedian John Cleese and Bake Off hero Nadiya Hussain were Zoe’s first guests today (both pictured outside the studio today)

The 48-year-old presenter waved as she entered the studios kicked off her show with an Aretha Franklin track as she said her first record 'had to be a dame' 

The 48-year-old presenter waved as she entered the studios kicked off her show with an Aretha Franklin track as she said her first record ‘had to be a dame’ 

The 48-year-old arrived at the studios in London this morning before her first ever show as the host of the BBC Radio 2 breakfast show

The 48-year-old arrived at the studios in London this morning before her first ever show as the host of the BBC Radio 2 breakfast show

Social media was full of opinions about the new host of Britain's most listened to breakfast show

Social media was full of opinions about the new host of Britain’s most listened to breakfast show

Referring to messages of support from fans before the show, Ball said: ‘It’s been really wonderful for all of us, it’s been really positive.’ 

Before the show, speaking on BBC One’s The One Show, she told viewers her famous guest line-up for the show included Saoirse Ronan and Hugh Jackman. 

Zoe previously touched on the ‘giant footsteps’ she will be filling as she takes on the baton from Chris to host the show.

‘I’m absolutely thrilled to be following in the giant footsteps of Chris Evans as the host of the Radio 2 Breakfast Show,’ she said.

She enthused: ‘To be the first woman to present this very special show is both an honour and privilege.

‘Believe me, I’m not underestimating the enormity of the task ahead, to follow not one but two of my broadcasting idols, into such a well-loved show is somewhat daunting but I hope, in the same way that Chris made this show his own after taking over from the wonderful Sir Terry Wogan, that with a top team alongside me, I can bring the fabulous Radio 2 audience a show they want to wake up to.’

Zoe Ball reportedly fell out with DJ friend Sara Cox who previously stood in for Chris Evans after she landed the role. 

Sara, 44, was said to be expecting the gig after having previously stood in for Chris over the years – and was left ‘completely gutted’ after the announcement that Zoe had bagged the honour, according to the publication.

However, a source told MailOnline this was purely ‘speculation’.  

From Saturday Superstore to Radio 2 breakfast host: How Zoe Ball rose to fame to become first woman to present flagship BBC show 

Broadcaster Zoe Ball is to take over fronting the BBC Radio 2 breakfast show from Chris Evans – 20 years after she took over the Radio 1 gig.

The mother-of-two has been in the public eye since she was a child – but is about to take her biggest job

The daughter of former children’s TV presenter Johnny Ball first appearance came as a child when she sat in the audience on Saturday Superstore when her father was a guest on the 1980s show.

Her TV presenting roles include Channel 4 morning show The Big Breakfast and BBC Saturday morning children’s programme Live And Kicking, which she co-hosted with Jamie Theakston between 1996 and 1999.

After Live And Kicking, Ball and Theakston teamed up once more for a chat show on Channel 4 called The Priory, which was commissioned by outgoing Radio 2 breakfast show host Evans’ then company Ginger Productions.

Ball was then first solo female Radio 1 breakfast show host as Evans’ replacement, she is the first woman to present the equivalent on Radio 2.

She was a regular presenter of Top Of The Pops between 1996 and 1998 and she co-hosted the Brit Awards in 2002 with comedian Frank Skinner.

Away from work she has also hit the headlines. 

The broadcaster has two children from her 18-year marriage to DJ Norman Cook, aka Fatboy Slim, 17-year-old son Woody and daughter Nelly, eight.

The couple announced their separation in 2016 and a year later tragedy struck when her new boyfriend took her own life.

During a special programme called Zoe Ball’s Hardest Road Home, which aired in March this year, she spoke about the loss of her former partner, cameraman Billy Yates, who was found dead at his home in 2017 at the age of 40.

As part of the documentary Ball cycled more than 350 miles over five days, from her birthplace of Blackpool to her home town of Brighton. 

She raised more than £1 million for Sport Relief as well as awareness for mental health causes. 

 In June this year she shared her pride at marking two years of sobriety. She shared an image on Instagram saying: ‘I have been sober from alcohol for 2 years.’

She wrote: ‘Special moment. 2 years no booze – through two of the toughest years of my life, I’m not sure I’d have survived intact had it had not been for my sobriety & recovery’. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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