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My 5 Favourite Zoe Ball TV Shows

As Zoe Ball prepares for one of the biggest jobs of her career, I take a look back at five of her most memorable TV shows.

Monday morning (14th January) will see Zoe officially take over from Chris Evans as host of the breakfast show on BBC Radio 2, the UK’s most listened to radio programme.

The Zoe Ball Breakfast Show as it will be known will see her joined by Tina Daheley as the programme's newsreader, Richie Anderson who will cover all the travel news and Mike Williams who will cover sport.

No stranger to radio, Zoe started presenting the breakfast show on BBC Radio 1 back in 1997 and has gone on to host other shows on the station as well as BBC Radio 2 and XFM, but it's her telly work that I know her best for.

So I've decided to look back at five of her most memorable TV shows, many of which are the reason why the nation has fallen in love with the down-to-earth television presenter from Blackpool.

1. SMart

1994-1996, BBC One

Zoe Ball's first appearance on television was as a presenter on Playdays in 1988 but her first big break came in 1996 as the first host of CBBC's art show SMart, alongside Jay Burridge and Mark Speight.

The series was in many ways the BBC's answer to CITV's Art Attack, hosted by Neil Buchanan which began in 1990. The 25-minute episodes would teach kids how to draw and how to get creative using items lying around the house such as toilet roll tubes, cereal boxes and everyone's favourite... pipe cleaners!

There was also a section of the show dedicated to the viewers, where they could phone in or write in to the show with their drawing dilemmas and the team would do their best to answer their questions!

Remind yourself of the show, including its classic opening, with an episode from the show's second series... and my god did that take me back!

2. Live & Kicking

1996-1998, BBC One

Straight after SMart, Zoe took on the job that she is still best-known for today, hosting BBC One's flagship Saturday morning programme for children, Live & Kicking, alongside Jamie Theakston. They hosted the show together for three years, during the height of the show's popularity. When they left in 1999, their final episode was awarded a Children's BAFTA.

The series had celebrity guests, live musical performances, a studio audience and many weird and wonderful games for them to play. There was also the infamous phone-in which more often than not was chaotic. But that was its charm.

When Zoe and Jamie joined, a new item was created called Cloud 9 which would see Zoe ring an unsuspecting viewer and make their dreams come true.

Here's a look at what happened during their final show, when Zoe and Jamie sat in the famous Hot Seat...

3. Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two

2011-Present, BBC Two

She was a contestant on Strictly Come Dancing in 2005 and after reaching the final, finishing in third, Zoe was offered to take over from Claudia Winkleman in 2011 as host of BBC Two companion show It Takes Two and she's been there ever since!

The show is a perfect treat for Strictly fans as Zoe is the first to speak to the eliminated couple and she also chats to all of the remaining celebrities and their professional partners as they look ahead to the weekend and reflect on the weekend just gone.

There's also plenty of backstage and behind-the-scenes gossip including that all important Strictly wardrobe. Luckily, it's thought that Zoe's new job won't affect her Strictly commitments and she's set to return to host It Takes Two later this year.

4. Zoe Ball's Hardest Road Home

2018, BBC One

In 2017 Zoe tragically lost her partner, cameraman Billy Yates, to suicide, and in 2018 she decided to cycle over 350 miles in five days from Blackpool to Brighton, to raise awareness about mental health and raise money for Sport Relief. Her efforts helped raise over £500,000 for Sport Relief, supporting mental health projects across the UK as well as other causes.

The challenge was supported with an hour-long BBC One documentary which not only documented the bike ride, but also followed Zoe on an even more personal journey where she discussed Billy's passing and met with those who had lost loved ones to suicide.

Zoe tackled the subject, deeply personal to her, brilliantly and made me wonder why she doesn't front more documentaries on television. Here's a clip from when Zoe met Penny, who helped found the Tomorrow Project after her 18-year-old son Jamie killed himself...

5. Zoe Ball on Saturday & Sunday

2018, ITV

Zoe's most recent role on television, was hosting her sadly short-lived weekend programme on ITV, Zoe Ball on... which aired on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

Each episode featured live music, star guests and topical chat and the series ended with a Christmas special in 2018 after it was announced that the show wouldn't continue following Zoe's new commitments with BBC Radio 2.


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