Zoë Louise Ball (born 23 November 1970) is an English television and radio personality, most famous for becoming the first female host of The Radio 1 Breakfast Show on BBC Radio 1 and for her earlier work presenting the 1990s children's show, Live & Kicking.
Ball was born in Blackpool, Lancashire. She joined 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, Johnny Ball, was appearing as a guest.
She began her television career as a runner at Granada Television and researcher on BSkyB. She worked as a researcher for quiz shows for two years. Her presenting jobs have included hosting The Big Breakfast and The Priory onChannel 4, BBC One's Saturday morning children's programme Live & Kicking and the pre-school programme Playdays. In 1994 Zoë Ball Presented SMart with Mark Speight and Jay Burridge until she left in 1996. 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. The three only ever presented together once, on Christmas Day 1997.
Between 1999 and 2001, she was a co-host with Jamie Theakston on the Wednesday night chat/music show The Priory, which was commissioned by Chris Evans's then production company Ginger Productions. Despite initial strong ratings, the show failed to capitalise on this despite the demise of TFI Friday (also a Ginger production) and figures slowly dropped. A fourth series was never commissioned. Despite the show's relative failure, fans of the former UK Playspoof interviews show Rock Profile, often recall the creators and future stars of Little Britain, Matt Lucas and David Walliams's, appearance on the show as Danny and Noel from Hear'Say, in which they constantly sang "Monday, Monday" after Theakston asked them a question. As Theakston was the interviewer on Rock Profile, he as a result reprised his role from that show.
In 2005, after co-hosting the BBC reality show Strictly Dance Fever, Ball became a contestant on series 3 of its sister show Strictly Come Dancing, partnered by Ian Waite. Ball and Waite were ranked in third place; they also scored 38/40 (including two tens) for three dances in the series and one in the Christmas special.
In January 2007, she presented the second series of ITV1's Soapstar Superstar, 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.
Starting in December 2011, Ball presents the new 3D Test Card, which broadcasts on the Sky 3D channel, alongside a character called Mr 3D. The pair take viewers through a series of easy steps demonstrating how to set up a 3D television to get the optimal viewing experience.
Although known primarily for her TV work, Ball first became a major British celebrity in radio, after she was recruited to co-host The Radio 1 Breakfast Show on BBC Radio 1 in October 1997 with Kevin Greening. She eventually graduated to become the sole host – the first female DJ to do so. At this time, her hard-drinking, hard-partying antics contributed to the identification of the so-called "ladette culture" of the late 1990s. She later notoriously re-created the naked pose on a backturned chair made famous by Christine Keeler when doing an interview and spread with SKY magazine.
Ball left BBC Radio 1 in March 2000 to bring up a family. Her final breakfast show was on 30 March 2000, and she was succeeded by Sara Cox.
Though regarded as professional, Ball twice received a BBC warning for swearing on the radio – first when she used the word "bastard" while being interviewed by Chris Evans during his stint on the BBC Radio 1 breakfast show (she was publicising her appointment to The Big Breakfast at the time); then, as host of the BBC Radio 1 breakfast show, for using the expression "fucking brilliant" to describe a night out she had.
She returned to radio in mid-2002 when she joined London rock station XFM, where she presented the weekday drivetime show until December 2003 and then in January 2004 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. She left XFM at the end of 2004.
In September 2007, she celebrated 40 years of Radio 1 by hosting a show with Sara Cox.
Since 2006, she has provided relief presenting duties for BBC Radio 2, fronting specialist documentaries, sitting in for Dermot O'Leary for three weeks in February 2006 and co-presenting, along with Danny Baker, the hastily-conceived replacement for Jonathan Ross' Saturday morning show, in the wake of Ross' suspension due to Sachsgate in 2008.
From 2009, Ball has been 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 am to 8:00 am on the network from 6 June 2009 as part of a shake up of weekend programming at Radio 2. Zoë left the Saturday breakfast show on Radio 2 and her last show was broadcast on Saturday 28 January 2012. Her replacement in that slot was Anneka Rice. Ball will still continue on Radio 2 as Ken Bruce's cover.
The daughter of the children's TV presenter Johnny Ball and his wife Julia (née Anderson, divorced when Zoë was two), Ball was educated at Heston Junior School in west London 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.
While at BBC Radio 1, Ball began a relationship with DJ and musician Norman Cook (also known as Fatboy Slim). The couple married at Babington House in Somerset in August 1999. In 2003, the couple split up when Ball revealed that she had an affair with close friend of Cook and fellow DJ, Dan Peppe. They later patched up their relationship.
The couple have a son, Woody (born 15 December 2000), and daughter Nelly May Lois (born 14 January 2010). They live in Hove.