No, Zoë Ball didn’t get the Radio 2 job because she’s a woman

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Emily Reynolds
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“Zoë got the job because she’s a great broadcaster. I don’t think she got the job because she’s got fallopian tubes.”

In October 2018, Zoë Ball made history when she was named the new host of the BBC Radio 2 Breakfast show. She’s the first woman to nab the coveted spot – no mean feat, considering that the show has been running for 52 years.

Upon receiving the job, Ball acknowledged the significance of the role and paid tribute to the show’s previous hosts, Chris Evans and Terry Wogan. “To be the first woman to present this very special show is both an honour and privilege,” she said.

“Believe me, I’m not underestimating the enormity of the task ahead, to follow not one but two of my broadcasting idols, into such a well-loved show is somewhat daunting.”

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Ball is eminently qualified to host the Radio 2 Breakfast show. A hugely successful TV presenter since the Nineties (remember her on The Big Breakfast, Live and Kicking and Top of the Pops?), she was the first sole female DJ to host the BBC Radio 1 Breakfast show and has hosted the Saturday afternoon slot on Radio 2 for almost two years.  

Cox defended old friend Zoë Ball from accusations of preferential treatment

Somewhat inevitably, however, Ball has had to deal with the tired suggestion that she only got the job because she’s a woman. It’s an insult that fellow broadcaster Sara Cox, who is due to begin hosting the Radio 2 Drivetime show at the end of January, is all too familiar with.

“The beauty of this moment is that there are more women coming through in broadcasting, and quite rightly so, and we should be supporting each other and celebrating each other, which we are,” Cox said in an interview on This Morning.

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Cox, who is an old friend of Ball’s, shut down the idea that their career success had been influenced by their gender.

“Zoë got the job because she’s a great broadcaster,” she said. “I don’t think she got the job because she’s got fallopian tubes. It’s not because she’s a woman that she’s got the gig, and same with me. It’s because I’m good, funny and likeable.”

This isn’t the first time that Cox has been dragged into the debate about Ball’s appointment to the Radio 2 Breakfast show. After it was announced that Chris Evans would be stepping down as host, Cox and Ball were pitted against each other in the press as rival candidates, with tabloids speculating that the old friends were feuding over the job.

Countdown star Rachel Riley even got involved, pithily telling someone who speculated about the supposed feud: “Don’t be a d*ck”.

And it turns out that rivalry between Cox and Ball didn’t even exist. Speaking on This Morning, Cox revealed she didn’t want the breakfast job, which she described “quite tiring and full-on”.

“When I used to swan in and cover for Chris [Evans] it was really easy, because I was on there for like two weeks,” she said. “But by three or four o’clock I was kind of horrible to my kids.

“Breakfast is a great gig, it’s an amazing show to do, it’s great money, but I can’t mop up my kids’ tears with a wad of 50s.”

Moral of the story? Most ‘rivalries’ between high profile women are invented by the press. And don’t ever mess with Sara Cox. 

Images: BBC / Getty