Entertainment & Arts

Zoe Ball earns respect with new BBC Radio 2 breakfast show

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Media captionZoe Ball reacts on her first BBC Radio 2 Breakfast show

Zoe Ball has begun her tenure as BBC Radio 2's first female weekday breakfast host by playing Aretha Franklin's Respect as her first song.

"It had to be a dame on this occasion," she told listeners.

Ball has taken over from Chris Evans in the most listened-to slot on the UK airwaves.

She began Monday's show with the words: "Hello, my name is Zoe. How's your belly off for spots? Good morning Radio 2 superstar listeners, here we go."

The saying "How's your belly off for spots?" is an alternative way of asking: "How are you?"

Image caption Ball with travel presenter Richie Anderson (left) and sport journalist Mike Williams

'A refreshing change' - what the critics said

The Daily Telegraph awarded the show four stars, with Charlotte Runcie writing: "The really good news is that Ball was sparky and friendly, and not at all cheesy, braggy or shouty."

"Her conspiratorial tone of voice made for a truly refreshing change from the louder Evans era.

"And, as the show drew to a close, I found myself thinking a welcome thought: actually, I haven't felt this at home on Radio 2 since the days of Wogan."

The Guardian's Mark Lawson said: "Ball's pulse could almost be heard thumping under the opening link at 6.30am. But in the next three hours, she was confident without being cocky.

"The ghost of Wogan would surely have been nodding at his latest replacement's clear bright delight at being on air, and her easy rapport with the audience and interviewees."

But The Times was less positive, awarding the show two stars, with Clive Davis writing that Ball "sounds as if she is still working her way through a recipe on how to bake a new personality".

He wrote: "That image of the nineties ladette has never quite been consigned to the past, and there were stretches in this show where the gabbling and the joshing with the rest of the studio gang struck a very old-fashioned note."

The feedback from listeners

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Media captionZoe Ball starts her role as the Radio 2 Breakfast show presenter

Referring to messages of support sent by fans before the show, Ball said: "It's been really wonderful for all of us. It's been really positive."

And she received some good early feedback from listeners on Twitter.

Others didn't take to her style straight away, though.

Zoe promises 'enough chat - but not too much'

Ball has previously hosted the Radio 1 breakfast show and weekend breakfast shows on Radio 2.

Her breakfast show will run from 06:30-09:30 Monday to Friday, with Tina Daheley reading the news, Mike Williams on sport and Richie Anderson doing travel.

Speaking about her plans before launching the show, Ball told BBC News: "The thing we really wanna do is bring lots of music, lots of energy, not too much chat - but enough, and we want people to have learned something by the end of the show."

Features on the new show include Show and Tell, Seven-Second Shout-Outs, Hit, Miss Or Maybe, Why Wednesdays and The Ken O'Clock News, building up to Ken Bruce at 09:30.

Radio 2 shakes up its schedule

Image caption Jo Whiley, Sara Cox and Trevor Nelson are also launching new Radio 2 shows on Monday

Her new show is part of a new Radio 2 line-up that is launching on Monday. Sara Cox will launch her drivetime show, Jo Whiley will begin a new evening solo slot, and Trevor Nelson will bring his Rhythm Nation to late nights.

Rylan Clark-Neal will take over Ball's old weekend afternoon slot from this Saturday.

Chris's message to Zoe

Image caption Ball was announced as Evans' successor in October

Ball inherits about nine million listeners from Evans and told listeners he sent her a "lovely message" on Sunday night.

She told the Press Association: "He was just saying, 'remember to breathe, remember to time check'. It meant a lot, actually."

Evans hosted his final Radio 2 breakfast show on Christmas Eve after 13 years with the station. He will launch his rival breakfast show on Virgin Radio on 21 January.

His new programme is being billed as the first commercial radio breakfast show without conventional advert breaks. Instead, it will be sponsored by Sky, and Evans will promote the company's programmes during his slot.

Ball earned between £250,000 and £299,000 for her various BBC presenting jobs at the BBC last year, including Strictly: It Takes Two, which she will continue to host.

Evans was paid £1.6m last year to host the breakfast show. When she got the job, Ball said she was "not expecting the same" as her predecessor but was "very, very happy with what the BBC are paying me".

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