Zoe Ball was today unveiled by Chris Evans as his Radio 2 breakfast replacement live on his show where she admitted being terrified and excited about taking over.
The 47-year-old will become the first female host of programme in its 51 year history – but faces a fight to keep hold of its 9million daily listeners.
Miss Ball will take over from January when Chris Evans returns to Virgin Radio but she is unlikely to keep his £1.6million salary for doing the show.
Today Zoe revealed she was offered the job ‘a few weeks ago’ and said: ‘This is bonkers, can I just say? I am a crazy mix of elation, wanting to burst into tears, thinking about running away, everything. But mainly thrilled’.
She added: ‘I definitely didn’t expect to get a call, but getting a call was an amazing thing. You think ‘I can’t do it. How can I do it?’.’
Many fans had wanted Sara Cox to get the job, with some suggesting it was because she is northern, accusing the BBC of ‘southern bias’.
In response Miss Ball said: ‘I know some people might be saying ‘we didn’t want her’ – but I hope they will give me a chance’.
Chris Evans today unveiled Zoe Ball as his replacement and posed for this photo after the show
Zoe Ball, pictured leaving the BBC today, says she is thrilled but also scared as she revealed she will take over the Radio 2 breakfast show
Zoe Ball was announced as the new star presenter and described her excitement and anxiety about taking the job
She admitted being daunted by the prospect of taking over the show but revealed her family urged her to take the challenge and her teenage son helped her make up her mind.
Sara Cox had been an early favourite for the job and may be crestfallen not to get the top job after so much backing from fans
She said: ‘My son Woody, who’s nearly 18, wasn’t even alive when I was at Radio 1 doing the Breakfast Show. He said: ‘Mum, come on. Don’t even think about it. It’s the coolest thing you can do. Be the first girl on Radio 2 Breakfast. It’s amazing’.
She added: ‘He looked into my eyes and held my hand and said ‘Someone will listen’.
Her younger daughter Nelly could be more difficult to win over, telling Ball: ‘I’ll probably listen to Greg (James on Radio 1) but if he plays a bad record mummy I might listen to you to see if you’re alright.’
Zoe, who currently earns £300,000 a year for her show, has been picked over her former best friend, ‘ladette’ Sara Cox, 43, who was until recently the favourite for the job.
The decision will be a devastating blow for Cox, who has been open about her desire to move from her 10pm slot into the flagship role.
The pair were very close during the 1990s, holidayed together and were bridesmaids at each other’s weddings but Cox admitted they had drifted apart and lost touch.
She said she was not ‘under-estimating the enormity of the task ahead’.
The Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two host said: ‘I’m absolutely thrilled to be following in the giant footsteps of Chris Evans as the host of the Radio 2 Breakfast Show.
‘To be the first woman to present this very special show is both an honour and privilege.
‘Believe me, I’m not under-estimating 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.’
Ball said she will have to ‘see how it goes’ when it comes to hosting Strictly Come Dancing’s spin-off show It Takes Two show, saying: ‘I’m really hoping I can do both.’
She told Evans she had ‘only’ known she had the new job for a matter of ‘weeks’.
And she joked to the DJ, who will be her breakfast show rival once again: ‘Will you leave some of your listeners? I know a lot may go with you Chris.’
Admitting nerves, she asked: ‘Do the anxiety dreams ever stop? Will I ever sleep again?
‘I know some people will be (saying): ‘We didn’t want her.’ But I hope some people will give me a chance.’
Evans, who recently became a father to twins, said: ‘It’s one of the best jobs in this business, as you know… You really light up the radio.’
Zoe Ball is the first woman to present the show in its history since the station was started in 1967
Friend and colleague Claudia Winkleman was among the many people who congratulated Zoe on getting the job
Others said Sara Cox should have got the job – but was rejected because of being northern
Strictly Come Dancing presenter Claudia Winkleman was among the stars congratulating Ball.
She tweeted: ‘Congratulations to the lovely and brilliant @ZoeTheBall xxx’.
BBC Breakfast’s Dan Walker tweeted: ‘Great news about Zoe Ball taking over on @BBCRadio2’ along with a list of attributes followed by a green tick.
He wrote: ‘Talented. Fun. Enthusiastic. Generous. Working with her is an absolute delight. She will be brilliant. Welcome to early mornings @ZoeTheBall’.
Bob Shennan, director of BBC Radio and Music, said: ‘The Radio 2 Breakfast Show is arguably the most coveted job in UK radio with a long and illustrious history, and I’m thrilled that the baton is now passing to Zoe, who I know will make the show her very own.’
Zoe Ball and Norman Cook with their son Woody in 2000, who helped his mum decide to take the new job
An hour before the 8.15am announcement Evans gave the game away when he told listeners the new host would be revealed on Wednesday morning.
Evans played a trail for a Fatboy Slim documentary on Radio 2, airing on Wednesday night, and said: ‘This family is taking over, more of that later’.
And he told listeners: ‘Don’t think you’re going to be disappointed.’
Ball was previously wed to DJ and record producer Fatboy Slim, whose real name is Norman Cook.
Evans previously shocked fans by announcing a return to Virgin Radio, ‘my spiritual home’, almost 20 years after he left the station.
News of Zoe Ball’s rise to the Radio 2 Breakfast Show slot emerged last month as it was claimed she was quickly offered the job.
The Strictly Come Dancing star, who currently hosts the station’s Saturday afternoon slot, is in the process of negotiating a new contract with BBC bosses which will significantly increase her pay packet.
The decision split fans, with many calling for Sara Cox to take over from Chris Evans.
Dan Walker and Rylan were among the celebrities to back the decision to bring her in
Female listeners also appeared delighted that a woman would be getting the biggest job in radio
There has been mixed reaction to the announcement with some saying she will be perfect – others said Sara Cox would have been better
Miss Ball will become the first woman to host the flagship morning programme full-time since its launch in 1967, taking the reins from Evans, who has quit to re-join Virgin Radio. He was paid up to £2.25m a year for his BBC commitments and £1.6million for the show alone.
It is not yet known if Zoe will continue to do the Strictly: It Takes Two show on BBC2
BBC chiefs wanted a woman for the role and see Miss Ball, who presents Strictly spin-off It Takes Two, as a big enough star to maintain Evans’ consistent audience of nine million listeners.
She has two children – Nelly, eight, and Woody, 17 – from former husband Norman Cook, the DJ Fatboy Slim.
Her boyfriend Billy Yates killed himself last year and Miss Ball is now dating construction boss Michael Reed, 48.
The source said: ‘She’s fully aware it’s the job of a lifetime. For her, being the first woman to host both the Radio 1 and Radio 2 breakfast show is a massive deal.
‘But it’s been a tough year for her and she’s got over Billy’s passing by throwing herself into work. She’s only just found the perfect balance, so this offer coming her way has shocked her. She’d love to do it but she’s putting the family first’.
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’.
‘Going, going, gone!’ Zoe Ball shares snaps of her kitchen as renovation work gets underway at her £970k home – hours before being named as new presenter of Radio 2 breakfast show
It seems Zoe Ball has got her work cut out in the months ahead.
The presenter shared photos of a dramatic kitchen makeover that is underway at her stunning East Sussex home – just hours before it was revealed she’s landed one of the biggest gigs in radio.
It was confirmed on Wednesday morning that Zoe will replace outgoing host Chris Evans on the BBC Radio 2 Breakfast Show.
The 47-year-old will become the first female host of the programme in its history, but faces a fight to keep hold of its 9million daily listeners – and all while building work is in progress at her beautiful £970,000 period property in the village of Ditchling.
Zoe moved into the house in February after selling up her £2.5million pad on the Brighton seafront.
Before: Presenter Zoe Ball, 47, has shared photos of a dramatic kitchen makeover that is underway at her stunning East Sussex home. Pictured: Zoe’s split-level kitchen before the renovations at the four-bedroom period cottage
After: The space is now empty and ready for experts at deVOL to work their magic and create a new family space. Mother-of-two Ball shared this photo on her Instagram account yesterday
Helping hand: Ball was helped in her project by boyfriend Michael Reed. The couple made their relationship public in April when they shared photos of their Jamaican holiday, pictured
And it appears there is still work to be done to put her mark on the four-bedroom cottage – including renovating the entire family kitchen.
Writing on Instagram, Ball revealed she enlisted the help of boyfriend Michael Reed to tear out her old units ahead of a full refit in the split-level space.
The couple, who made their relationship public in April, often post about each other on social media.
The stage-by-stage shots show the kitchen as it was; it being taken apart; and the empty room devoid of units.
Quiet life: Ball made headlines when she sold up her Brighton ‘party pad’ earlier this year in favour of village life at her 18th century home. Pictured, the walled courtyard at the property
Makeover: Photos shared by the radio host on Instagram show the kitchen in disarray, pictured, as cabinets and white goods were removed ahead of the renovation
Work to do: Ball shared a snap of the unwanted units, sinks and drawers strewn across the brick courtyard of her home, pictured, after they were removed from the kitchen
A fourth shot shows the discarded cupboards, drawers and doors strewn across the quaint cobbled courtyard of the family home.
The social media post suggests Reed will now make way for the professionals with deVOL Kitchens tipped to create the new kitchen.
Ball, who has two children with her ex-husband Norman Cook, made headlines when she sold up her Brighton ‘party pad’ earlier this year.
Marking a dramatic shift in lifestyle, the It Takes Two presenter waved goodbye to a private beach and celebrity neighbours in favour of village life.
Bursting with character: Ball shared this photograph of her charming period property this year
Utterly in love: Zoe, pictured in a social media snap with boyfriend Michael Reed. The pair often share gushing posts about each other online
Family living: The split-level kitchen diner in the four-bedroom home, pictured in estate agent photographs before Ball moved in, will be transformed following Ball’s renovation work
Ample space: The property, pictured in photos taken before Ball moved in, marks a dramatic change in lifestyle for the presenter, who previously lived in a Brighton seafront pad
Miss Ball, 47, whose boyfriend Billy Yates took his own life last year, had been living two doors from her ex-husband, better known as DJ Fatboy Slim, in a villa they bought in 2012. It allowed their children to see both parents easily.
Miss Ball said on social media at the time that her move represented a ‘new adventure’.
The eighteenth-century property boasts a spacious split-level kitchen and studio space, while outside there is a stunning walled courtyard garden and raised lawn.
Miss Ball rose to fame in the 1990s hosting the Radio 1 Breakfast Show and was known for her ‘ladette’ lifestyle. She went on to present several shows for the BBC, including Top Of The Pops and the Strictly spin off It Takes Two.