Zoe Ball first female host of BBC Radio 2 Breakfast Show

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Zoe Ball will be the new presenter of BBC Radio 2’s Breakfast Show.

The show’s current host Chris Evans revealed the news live on air, as part of his “great job Wednesday” segment.

“This is bonkers. I’m not underestimating the task ahead of me,” said Ball, revealing she “definitely didn’t expect to get the call” from Radio 2 bosses.

The star, 47, was the first female breakfast show host on Radio 1 and will now repeat the honour on Radio 2.

She becomes the seventh person to host the UK’s most listened-to breakfast show full-time.

Ball, who earned between £250,000 and £299,000 for her various presenting jobs at the BBC last year, will get a significant pay rise for her new role.

Evans, 52, was paid £1.6m last year to host the show, which is listened to by a weekly audience of 9 million people.

Speaking to the BBC’s Lizo Mzimba on Wednesday, Ball said she was “not expecting the same” as Evans but was “very, very happy with what the BBC are paying me.”

Strictly hopes

On Evans’s show, the broadcaster said she had known “for weeks” that she would be taking over and that she hoped to continue hosting Strictly: It Takes Two on BBC Two.

“That’s my other favourite job. So I’m really hoping I’ll be able to do both.”

She added that she was feeling “a crazy mix of elation, wanting to burst into tears, wanting to run away… but mainly thrilled”.

She also revealed that her son Woody had encouraged her to take the job, telling her it was “the coolest thing” and reassuring her that “someone will listen”.

Her appointment follows Chris Evans’s decision to leave Radio 2 after eight years hosting the breakfast show and 13 years on the station.

Evans is leaving Radio 2 to host Virgin Radio’s breakfast show, so he and Ball will compete for listeners in the new year.

“I’m going to be your opponent again,” Ball told Evans earlier. “Will you leave some of your listeners?”

The BBC said Sara Cox – who many had tipped to be Evans’s replacement – would be her stand-in when she is away, for 10 weeks each year.

The new host of Ball’s current Saturday afternoon show on Radio 2 will be announced in due course.

Bob Shennan, the BBC’s director of radio and music, said hosting the Radio 2 Breakfast Show was “arguably the most coveted job in UK radio”.

“I’m thrilled that the baton is now passing to Zoe, who I know will make the show her very own,” the former Radio 2 controller said in a statement.

Ball’s appointment means that four of the BBC’s six music radio stations will have a female breakfast show host in the new year – with Ball on Radio 2, Lauren Laverne on 6 Music, Harpz Kuzar on Asian Network and A,Dot on 1Xtra.

The star’s appointment was welcomed on social media, with Twitter user Sara Millburn saying it was “fab news“.

BBC Breakfast’s Dan Walker echoed those sentiments, saying she was “talented, fun, enthusiastic [and] generous”. “She will be brilliant,” he tweeted.

Yet others have suggested Sara Cox would have been a “better choice” and that “so many people” had wanted her to take over.

Ball began her presenting career in the 1990s, hosting The Big Breakfast on Channel 4 and BBC One’s Saturday morning children’s programme Live & Kicking.

Between 1996 and 1998 she regularly presented Top of the Pops.

Her first foray into radio presenting came in 1997, when she became the first female DJ to present the BBC Radio 1 breakfast show alongside Kevin Greening.

She left the station in 2000, returning to radio in 2002 as a presenter at XFM.

Since 2006 she has presented as a stand-in on BBC Radio 2 and had her own Saturday breakfast show from 2009 to 2012.

She has covered for Chris Evans a number of times on the Radio 2 Breakfast Show and got her own show on the network last year, taking over Saturday afternoons from Dermot O’Leary.

Ball took part in a Sport Relief challenge in March 2018 in memory of her late boyfriend, Billy Yates.

She cycled from Blackpool to Brighton to raise awareness of mental health, raising more than £1,000,000 for charity in five days.

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