Zoe Ball partner

Zoe Ball: Her ‘meltdown’ on set, reason she split with Fat Boy Slim, and moving on after suicide of boyfriend

She appears on Celebrity Googlebox with her son Woody Cook

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Zoe Ball appears on Celebrity Googlebox with her son Woody Cook for series 6 of the reality series, but why did she split from his dad, her former partner Fat Boy Slim?

TV and radio star Zoe shocked fans when she confirmed the pair had parted ways, after appearing to be the perfect celebrity couple. She subsequently went on to find love with another man, who tragically took his own life.

So what happened to Zoe Ball and her partner? Why did she quit Strictly: It Takes Two, and who is her famous dad? Here’s everything you need to know about the presenter.

Zoe Ball on Celebrity Gogglebox with her son Woody Cook
Mum Zoe Ball on Celebrity Gogglebox with her son Woody Cook (Credit: Channel 4)

What is Zoe Ball famous for?

Zoe Ball is best known as a television and radio personality. She was the first female host of both Radio 1 Breakfast and The Radio 2 Breakfast Show for the BBC.

She first appeared on TV in 1985, when she was 15, on Children’s BBC. Zoe began hosting Playdays a few years later, before moving on to The O-Zone, Fully Booked and The Priory.

She also presented the 1990s children’s show Live & Kicking, alongside Jamie Theakston from 1996 to 1999.

Zoe went on to be a contestant in the third series of Strictly Come Dancing. She reached the final with her professional partner Ian Waite, but Darren Gough walked away with the Glitterball trophy.

Following this, she replaced Claudia Winkleman as host of the BBC Two spin-off show Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two in 2011. She left after 10 years.

In 2018, Zoe Ball was announced as The Radio 2 Breakfast Show host and took over from Chris Evans in January 2019. She continues to host the morning radio show, every weekday morning from 6.30am to 9.30am.

In 2022, she took part on The Masked Dancer as Llama. Zoe also appears on Celebrity Gogglebox, alongside her son Woody Cook. The presenter appeared on Taskmaster 2024, as well as hosting Mamma Mia! I Have a Dream in 2023, and Children in Need. She occasionally hosted The One Show from 2008 to 2022, too.

Why did she leave Strictly: It Takes Two?

In 2020, Zoe Ball announced she was leaving Strictly Come Dancing’s spin-off programme It Takes Two. She had presented the show, which broadcasts every weekday evening during Strictly’s run, since 2011.

At the time, Zoe told her fans: “Dance lovers, after 10 joyous years I am waltzing away from It Takes Two.”

She explained it was “time for some new cha cha challenges” and thanked “the whole Strictly clan…” She added: “I will miss you all immensely.”

Zoe also revealed: “It was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make, walking away from it. I love that show, you know how obsessed I am with Strictly. But after 10 years, sometimes you’ve got to give yourself some new challenges.”

Zoe continued to co-present the programme even after she began hosting the BBC Radio 2 breakfast show in 2019. However, she reduced the number of It Takes Two episodes she presented every week, with Rylan Clark-Neal fronting the programme on certain days in her place.

Janette Manrara subsequently stepped down as a professional dancer on Strictly Come Dancing, and replaced Zoe as host of its spin-off. Rylan Clark-Neal stepped down as co-host in 2023, and was replaced by Fleur East.

Fleur and Janette now host the show together.

Zoe Ball and ex-husband Norman Cook
Zoe Ball with her former partner Norman Cook, aka Fatboy Slim, at The Dome in Brighton (Credit: Splash)

How old is Zoe Ball? Where is she from?

Zoe Louise Ball was born on November 23 1970 in Blackpool, Lancashire.

She is currently 53 years old and still looks hot as fire.

Zoe grew up in Farnham Common, Buckinghamshire, with her dad Johnny. She went to Heston Junior School in Hounslow, before attending Farnham Common First School and Farnham Common Middle School. She eventually went to Holy Cross Convent School in Chalfont St Peter and Amersham College of Art and Technology. There she completed a City & Guilds in radio and journalism.

She also attended 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 was appearing as a guest.

Who is Zoe Ball’s famous dad? Where is he now?

Zoe’s dad is, of course, famous mathematician Johnny Ball. If you’re of a certain age (like me), you’ll remember Johnny fondly from TV in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.

Johnny, now 86, was a popular children’s television presenter at that time. He appeared on Play School, Think! and Record Breakers. He’s best known for being a whizz at maths.

Zoe’s mum is Julia Ball (née Anderson), who tragically died this year.

Johnny and Julia divorced when Zoe was two, and she was raised by her father. Johnny Ball now lives in Buckinghamshire with his current wife Diane.

Zoe Ball and boyfriend Michael Reed
Zoe Ball and partner Michael Reed were in attendance at the funeral walk past of Vera Lynn’s cortege (Credit: Splash)

What happened to Zoe’s mum?

Zoe was “bereft” when her beloved mum Julia died in April 2024 – just weeks after her cancer diagnosis was confirmed in February. At the time, Zoe took time away from her breakfast programme to care for Julia.

Zoe had previously called her mum “incredibly brave” in “extremely tough times”. Her mum received care in a hospice before her death.

On Thursday (May 9), Zoe revealed she had attended her mum’s funeral. Alongside a snap of her mother, Zoe wrote in the Instagram caption: “Yesterday we said goodbye to our dear Mama, Granny J. It was the perfect day and she would have loved it.

“Forever in our hearts Mama, thank you for your magic and love. Missing you so much but holding tight to each other.”

Julia tragically died of pancreatic cancer.

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A post shared by Zoe Ball (@zoetheball)

Who is the partner of Zoe Ball? Is she dating?

Zoe Ball is currently thought to be single. She was most recently in a relationship with model boyfriend Michael Reed.

The couple started dating back in December 2017 – around a year after her partner Billy Yates tragically took his own life.

While their romance seemed solid, by November 2019, cracks started to appear and they split up. However, the pair soon worked through their differences and were spotted together again in early 2020.

It clearly hasn’t to be, though, as Zoe and Michael split up for good in 2023. According to The Sun, her five-and-a-half year relationship with Michael had “run its course”. The newspaper claimed he was too “demanding” for Zoe. He subsequently moved out of the home they shared in East Sussex.

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A post shared by Zoe Ball (@zoetheball)

Did Zoe Ball lose a partner?

Zoe’s former partner Billy Yates tragically took his own life in 2017. The Radio 2 DJ had only been dating the cameraman and technician for a few months before his death.

The 40-year-old had struggled with depression.

Zoe later revealed she’d been in shock following his tragic death. She said: “I believe I was in shock for two years afterwards. It’s like you can’t see beyond putting your feet on the floor and getting out of bed each day.

“Since losing Billy, I’ve met lots of people who’ve helped me have a better understanding of the complexities of mental health. But also, it’s key to remember there is help available for people living with mental health issues and there is hope.”

In 2018, Zoe cycled more than 350 miles over five days, from Blackpool to Brighton, raising more than £500,000 for Sport Relief in a fundraiser inspired by Billy.

Opening up about Billy’s death, Zoe told the Radio Times: “I’m getting stronger. I’m a tough old cookie. My family have been through a lot. There are moments when you least expect it when grief catches you. But the main thing for me is I’ve found people who have been through this and are doing better. They’ve found some hope.”

She also added that she took comfort from the fact he’s “no longer in pain”.

Talking about Billy for Sport Relief documentary Zoe Ball’s Hardest Way Home last night, she broke down over their last encounter together.

She said: “He got on his bike and he cycled off and he turned round and he blew me a kiss goodbye, and that was the last time I saw him. And I feel really grateful that I got my goodbye in a way. And I think that was my goodbye.”

Mamma Mia! I Have A dream host Zoe Ball and judges
Mamma Mia! I Have A Dream host Zoe Ball and judges (Credit: ITV)

Why did Zoe Ball and Fat Boy Slim split up? Do they have kids?

Zoe Ball married Norman Cook – aka musician and DJ Fat Boy Slim – at Babington House in Somerset in August 1999. Their son Woody soon followed in 2000.

Their relationship hit the rocks in 2003 when it was revealed that Zoe had an affair. However, the two reconciled and later had a daughter – Nelly – in 2010.

They were together for 18 years of marriage until 2016.

At the time of their split, they released a joint statement that read: “With great sadness we are announcing that we have separated. After many exciting adventures together over the last 18 years we have come to the end of our rainbow.

“We are still great friends and will continue to support each other and raise our beautiful children together, living next door but one.”

According to reports, Zoe “was in a different place” to Norman. A source told The Sun on Sunday: “There have been a series of arguments, all over the same issue – Zoe wants to go out and have fun, and Norman would rather stay at home. His sobriety was incredibly hard-won and he doesn’t want to compromise it.”

There was also unease after Zoe was pictured kissing a boy band member half her age. At the time, Zoe said the kiss at the It Takes Two wrap party was a “meaningless mistake”.

A source told The Sun at the time: “Norman isn’t worried about Zoe cheating. He’s just furious about the impact this could have on the family. It’s embarrassing seeing Zoe snogging some young guy. Their teenage son is bound to get stick about it.”

Who is Zoe’s son Woody? Was he on TV?

Woody Cook has sampled showbusiness in his own right, having appeared in The Circle in 2019.

At the time, he was a student and a firm favourite to win. He wanted to make a name for himself, away from his famous family name. And he made it to the final of the popular Channel 4 series.

Viewers were in hysterics when Woody unknowingly flirted with Richard Madeley, who was posing as a 27-year-old blonde called Judy, named after his famous wife.

Like his dad, bisexual Woody is also a DJ.

Joel Dommett, AJ Odudu, Paddy McGuinness, David Tennant and Zoe Ball hosting Comic Relief
Zoe Ball co-hosted Comic Relief in 2023 (Credit: BBC/Comic Relief/Nicky Johnston)

Does Zoe have ADHD?

Zoe has ADHD, a diagnosis she shared with son Woody.

The condition – attention deficit hyperactivity disorder – is typically characterised by inattentiveness and difficulty in organising tasks. All of which Zoe struggled with when partaking in Taskmaster’s New Year’s Treat 2024.

Speaking to MirrorOnline, Zoe discussed the effect that her condition can have on herself and her son, Woody. She said: “I am ADHD. My son and I are both, we’re quite similar. I make myself laugh sometimes, because if I’m in a small space and I’ve got loads of tasks to do, I can cover so many miles.”

She went on to talk about how her ADHD blew up during one particular task on the comedy show Taskmaster. She appeared alongside fellow celebs Lenny Rush, Deborah Meaden, Kojey Radical, and Steve Backshall.

Zoe said: “I have 18 pairs of glasses and I will still lose all of them… My brain is just all over the goddamn shop. So a particular task involved a bit of timing, which is maths, which is, again, not a strength. I physically started to melt down. That did hurt my head.”

Read more: Strictly star Scott Mills ties the knot in idyllic Barcelona wedding with Rylan Clark, Scarlett Moffatt and Zoe Ball in attendance

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Zoe Ball appears on Celebrity Gogglebox on Friday, June 07, 2024 at 10.10pm on Channel 4.

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Helen Fear
TV Editor