November 23, 2020

Zoe Ball’s wild Radio 1 antics that left bosses fearing for her health


Back in the late Nineties, Zoe Ball reigned as queen of the ladettes and was the hard-partying, highly-paid presenter of Radio 1’s Breakfast show.

Life was an endless parade of booze, showbiz bashes, sleepless nights and early starts – and Zoe couldn’t get enough of it.

“I loved it at first. Hanging out with people who partied every day, woke at 5pm, had a few shots of vodka and a bag of chips, then went clubbing again,” she previously told Grazia magazine.

The debauchery was so off the charts that Zoe – who turns 50 today – would later admit she only has ‘vague memories’ of her two and a half years at the helm of one of the UK’s biggest radio shows, admitting: “It was quite a time. It was the Ninetines. It was wild, it was wild.”



Zoe Ball pictured on her first day hosting the Radio 1 Breakfast Show

By the time she met ex-husband Norman Cook, aka Fatboy Slim, in 1998, they were a match made in hedonistic heaven, meeting in Ibiza when Zoe was hosting the breakfast show from the party island.

Zoe said of their first encounter: “We bumped into Norman and he said: ‘How would you like to not go to bed with me tonight?’, meaning let’s go out all night. So we went into every club in Ibiza and I did the Breakfast Show the next morning on no sleep. But what a night!”

Zoe admitted she was so ‘high’ when she was due to host a live broadcast from the island the following morning she had trouble speaking.



Zoe Ball was pictured getting the party started early on her wedding day to Norman Cook
Zoe Ball was pictured getting the party started early on her wedding day to Norman Cook

She said: “As the show finished and my high from the night before started to fade, I looked around at the Radio 1 people and thought, ’I might get the sack.’”

And Zoe also admitted that BBC bosses were growing increasingly concerned for her mental health.

She said: “I remember turning up one day looking at the clock and trying to say it’s ten past seven – and all the words came out in the wrong order.

“So something had to give. I know the bosses were a bit concerned about my health – and my mental health.”



Zoe pictured leaving the BBC after her last Radio 1 Breakfast Show on March 10, 2000
Zoe pictured leaving the BBC after her last Radio 1 Breakfast Show on March 10, 2000

And just a month after her 1999 wedding to Norman, Zoe floored fans by announcing her plans to quit Radio 1 the following year, insisting “there is such a thing as too much fun.”

The couple’s son Woody was born in December 2000, but Zoe has admitted that parenthood did little to tame their wild ways.

The final straw came following a New Years Eve party in 2009.

She told Grazia magazine: “I sat sobbing, knowing if I didn’t stop I’d end up in a mental home. I called a therapist I’d been seeing and asked for help.”



Norman and Zoe are parents to Woody and Nelly
Norman and Zoe are parents to Woody and Nelly

That January she quit drinking after several failed attempts at moderation.

“I was a binger. Nothing at all and then I’d drink anything and go crackers and not know when to stop or when to go home,” she previously explained.

“I found an amazing therapist who helped me to stop drinking and Norm followed a few months later. It was hard, very hard, and even now when I’m on holiday and I see a waiter pass by with a tray of margaritas, it almost kills me.”

Norman checked himself in to rehab. Soon afterwards, Zoe was relieved to fall pregnant with Nelly whom she calls her “little gift of sobriety” after years of failing to conceive.

The couple talked of new fitness regimes and feeling healthy, happy and – at last – settled. Norman, who changed his real name Quentin when he became bassist for pop band The Housemartins, said: “I’m glad I had all those crazy years. We partied our tits off around the world and enjoyed every minute.

“When me and Zo quit drinking it was on the grounds that we’d done absolutely everything crazy and got it all out of our system. There were no regrets.”

Zoe remained sober until 2014 and quit again in 2016, the same year she and Norman announced their separation.





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