Zoe Ball asks ‘Will the anxiety dreams stop?’ as she lands Breakfast Show role
Zoe Ball asked whether “the anxiety dreams ever stop?” as she was named the first female host of the Radio 2 Breakfast show.
The 47-year-old former ladette will follow in the “giant footsteps” of Chris Evans, who earns at least £1.6 million for the role, and his predecessor Sir Terry Wogan on the UK’s most listened-to radio programme.
Ball previously made history as the first solo female Radio 1 breakfast show host in the Nineties.
After weeks of speculation, Ball dropped in on Evans, 52, in his Radio 2 studio to make what she called the “bonkers” announcement.
“I am a crazy mix of elation, wanting to burst into tears, thinking about running away, everything. But mainly thrilled,” she told the DJ, who is moving to Virgin Radio.
“I definitely didn’t expect to get a call but getting a call was an amazing thing,” she said.
“To be the first woman to present this very special show is both an honour and privilege.”
Ball said that taking up the job was “somewhat daunting” and added: “You think, ‘I can’t do it. How can I do it?'”
But her teenage son helped her make up her mind.
“The best person I spoke to, during that time, was my son Woody, who’s nearly 18. He 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.’ He looked into my eyes 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.”
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.”
Bob Shennan, director of BBC Radio and Music, said Ball would make the show and the “most coveted job in UK radio … her very own.”
Ball, who was favourite to take over the high-profile role, was previously at the forefront of the “ladette culture” that swept through broadcasting because of her hard-drinking party lifestyle.
She recently made a programme for Sport Relief following the loss of her partner, Billy Yates, who was found dead at his home at the age of 40.
Ball, who was previously married to DJ and record producer Fatboy Slim, hosts a live Saturday afternoon show on Radio 2 and has stepped in for Evans.
BBC boss Lord Hall recently said the disclosure of Evans’ pay packet was one factor behind his decision to quit Radio 2.
Evans took over from Sir Terry Wogan as presenter of the show in January 2010.
Sara Cox will continue to cover the Radio 2 Breakfast Show for 10 weeks each year, while Ball is away.
Ball, who starts in her new role next year, and Evans were Breakfast Show rivals when she was on Radio 1 and former Radio 1 host Evans joined Virgin Radio.