Zoe Ball 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 on Channel 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, Zoe Ball 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 Play spoof 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.
Zoe Ball co-hosted the 2002 BRIT Awards with Frank Skinner, following which motherhood meant that she took less television work. In 2005, she co-hosted the BBC reality show Strictly Dance Fever.
At the end of 2006, Zoe Ball co-hosted the ITV programme Extinct, alongside Trevor McDonald.
In January 2007, Zoe Ball presented the second series of ITV’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.
Alongside Jamie Theakston, Zoe Ball presented Channel 5’s quiz series Britain’s Best Brain in 2009. In 2012 and 2013, Ball presented four episodes of The One Show as a stand-in for Alex Jones.
On 4 August 2013, as hostess of a special entitled Doctor Who Live: The Next Doctor, she revealed Peter Capaldi as the incoming Twelfth Doctor and hosted his first interview in that capacity.
In November 2013, she co-hosted the BBC One Children in Need telethon, alongside Terry Wogan, Fearne Cotton, Nick Grimshaw and Tess Daly.
In 2014, Zoe Ball presented a BBC Two spin-off for The Voice UK called The Voice: Louder on Two. The show aired for one series lasting for ten episodes.
In 2015, Zoe Ball hosted the EastEnders: Backstage Live, a spin-off show during the EastEnders live week. She co-presented the BBC Young Dancer competition with Darcey Bussell on BBC Two.
Zoe Ball also narrated 2 ITV Specials, The Nation’s Favourite 70s Number One and The Nation’s Favourite 80s Number One as well as the BBC One series of Don’t Tell the Bride. In 2015, Zoe Ball will co-present Can’t Touch This, a brand new BBC game show alongside Ashley Banjo.
As of 13 September 2015 Zoe Ball is now the front runner to be chosen as a female presenter of the UK motor programme Top Gear. This is after Chris Evans was named as a presenter in mid June 2015 following the departure of Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond.
Although known primarily for her TV work, Zoe Ball first worked in radio, after she became co-host of The Radio 1 Breakfast Show on BBC Radio 1 in October 1997 with Kevin Greening. She became 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 re-created the naked pose on a backturned chair made famous by Christine Keeler when doing an interview and spread with SKY magazine.
Zoe 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.
Zoe Ball was twice warned by the BBC 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.
Zoe Ball 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 hosted a show with Sara Cox celebrating 40 years of Radio 1.
Since 2006, Zoe Ball provided relief presenting duties for BBC Radio 2, fronted specialist documentaries, sat in for Dermot O’Leary for three weeks in February 2006 and co-presented with Danny Baker the hastily conceived replacement for Jonathan Ross’ Saturday morning show, in the wake of Ross’s suspension due to Sachsgate in 2008.
In 2009 Zoe Ball became 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 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. on the network from 6 June 2009 as part of a shake-up of weekend programming at Radio 2. Zoe Ball left the Saturday breakfast show on Radio 2; her last show was broadcast on Saturday 28 January 2012. Her replacement in that slot was Anneka Rice. Ball continued on Radio 2 as Ken Bruce’s cover.
Zoe Ball covered the BBC Radio 2 Breakfast Show for Chris Evans on several occasions.