Are you ready to wake up with zany Zoe?
A bad girl past and dottier than Chris Evans at his most eccentric — as she takes over his Radio Two breakfast show this morning...
ZOE BALL, 48, was one of the original inspirations for new term ‘ladette’ in the Nineties. The word is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as ‘a young woman characterised by her enjoyment of social drinking, sport, or other activities typically considered to be male-oriented ... Irresponsible or brash’. The motherof-two has calmed down since then. Even so, today she’s expected to keep up the madcap tradition of Chris Evans as she takes over his Radio 2 breakfast show. Here, MARK MASON details some intriguing facts about zany Zoe...
A long-time chum of Evans, she revealed they once enjoyed a ‘drunken snog’.
At hEr junior school (Farnham Common in Bucks), she ate 18 Spam fritters in one sitting as part of a ‘popularity contest’.
proCESSEd meat was clearly a feature of her youth: while working in a shop on the ham counter, she sliced part of her thumb into a customer’s serving of luncheon meat.
AS A teenager, whenever she brought a boyfriend home, her tV personality father Johnny would embarrass her by answering the door dressed as a caveman.
on hEr wedding day in 1999, she wore a cowboy hat, carried a half-drunk bottle of Jack daniel’s and had a cigarette dangling from her mouth.
AS THE first female host of Radio 1’s Breakfast Show, she hit the party scene hard. As a result, she sometimes overslept. Stand-ins had to play the first three or four records.
In hEr Britpop days, she’d play a game in which people hit each other on the backside with saucepans and wooden spoons ‘to see who would get the biggest bruises’.
ShE’d stay out clubbing all night and then wake at 5pm. ‘I’d have a few shots of vodka and a bag of chips, then [go out] clubbing again.’ once, Zoe said she was so wasted that she ‘knelt down to throw up, fell over, smashed my head on the sink, and knocked myself out’.
ShE met her dJ husband Fatboy Slim (real name norman Cook) when he was performing in Ibiza. he said to her: ‘how would you like to not go to bed with me tonight?’ they proceeded to go to ‘every club’ on the island, with her presenting her radio 1 breakfast show live the next morning on no sleep. She could hardly speak. ‘As the show finished and my high from the night before started to fade, I looked at the radio 1 people and thought: “I might get the sack.”’
SHE lost her diamond engagement ring. ‘I was too scared to wear it because I’m so scatty, so I hid it in a drawer. I fear it has been given to a charity shop in an old handbag.’
Cook said he couldn’t have a relationship with anyone unable to make Yorkshire pudding. So while he was in Japan, back home in the Uk, she made one, took a photo of it and faxed it to him.
Born on november 23, 1970, in Blackpool, she supports Manchester United and has published a book called legs Eleven: Zoe Ball’s dream team.
ShE says she conceived her first child (son Woody, said to be named after the toy Story character) in Mexico on Mother’s day. She recalls: ‘We ate amazing ceviche [raw fish marinated in citrus and spices] after seeing dolphins’. later that night, raccoons sneaked into their bedroom and she fed them chips and guacamole.
dUrIng that pregnancy — she’s since had a daughter, nelly — she became obsessed with chewing rubber. She ate a piece of her dishwasher and nibbled at a car floor mat. When expecting nelly, friends sent Zoe rubber bands.
IN 2004, she was voted the Sexiest Female Voice on the Radio in a poll conducted by a brand of condom.
hoME was Brighton — and a seafront property with a gigantic ‘acid house’ smiley face on the roof.
ShE and Cook regularly frequented the Big Beach Cafe in neighbouring hove which had been owned by paul McCartney’s ex-wife, heather Mills. Cook later bought the cafe.
EVErY year on their wedding anniversary, they’d go for kebabs and eat them on a bench outside the shop.
Cook suffered terrible problems with drink and drugs — saying he had ‘alcohol and chemicals rattling around’ his brain on stage.
dUrIng their battle to give up booze, she gave his collection of hip flasks to charity shops. he was furious and she tried in vain to buy them back.
Cook had a stint in rehab and when Zoe was a dJ with indie radio station XFM, she had an affair with a little-known dJ many years her junior called dan peppe. Consequently, she and Cook split after 18 years of marriage.
thEY announced their break-up on twitter, quoting lyrics from lionel richie’s three times A lady ballad: ‘We have come to the end of our rainbow.’
ShE also quit radio 1 in 2000 with BBC bosses increasingly concerned for her mental health.
IN 2009, she stopped drinking, saying: ‘I was a binger. Nothing at all and then I’d drink anything and go crackers and not know when to stop or when to go home. I found an amazing therapist who helped me stop. It was hard, very hard. Even now when I’m on holiday and I see a waiter pass by with a tray of margaritas, it almost kills me.’
‘I don’t think that sliding down a wall with a bottle of Sancerre in your hand at 6.30 in the morning is particularly attractive when you’re approaching 40 and you’ve got a kid,’ she once said.
FrIEndS have said she can ‘flirt with a chair’. Indeed, it’s a family trait. ‘there’s nothing wrong with it,’ says her dad. ‘I like flirting; it’s just being nice and spreading bonhomie, lifting people’s spirits.’
A ContEStAnt on Strictly Come dancing in 2005. She scored 35 for her first dance — the best debut anyone has achieved on the show. But she said she dances ‘like Auntie Sylvia at a wedding’.
TO COPE with the menopause, she has said she’ll have more sex and take HRT.
trAgICAllY lost her boyfriend, Billy Yates, aged 40, to suicide in 2017. After her marriage break-up, she said the former royal Marineturned-Antiques roadshow cameraman had given a her a ‘new lease of life’. She reflected on his death during a Sport relief challenge — Zoe’s hardest road home — which she did, she said, to raise awareness around mental health.
ShE’S recently moved to the genteel Sussex village of ditchling — home to singer Vera lynn. the one-time ladette now says it would be ‘good fun’ to be a bell-ringer in the local church.
CUrrEntlY dating a construction boss. last June, she said: ‘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.’
thE songs she wants played at her funeral include Bring Me Sunshine by Morecambe and Wise. Certainly, a burst of Chris Evansstyle sunshine and fun is what BBC bosses want Zoe Ball to give her listeners — starting on a gloomy January morning today.