Education: Passed/Failed Zoe Ball

Zoe Ball, 27, presents `The Breakfast Show' on Radio 1 on weekdays and, on Saturday mornings, `Live and Kicking' on BBC1. She started as a `runner' at Granada TV and researcher at BSkyB. After Children's BBC, she worked on Channel 4's `The Big Breakfast'.

Fool's Paradise? I've always loved school, all the way through. I hated the holidays, which went on for too long. Admittedly, I was very haphazard, doing the work at the last minute. I got away with it because of my cheeky grin. All my school reports say, "If Zoe were as enthusiastic about her work as she is about playing the fool ..."

I remember my first day at school - "big" school, Heston Primary in Middlesex. I was so excited by the big building and the big playground and all these children. The others were crying but I was telling my parents, "Go." We moved away to Buckinghamshire and I went to the final year of Farnham Common First School, then over the road to Farnham Common Middle School. My favourite teacher ever was Mr Grandige; he was really inspiring and played us the Beatles. He played us "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" and we had to illustrate it; we didn't know what it was actually all about! He is now a head teacher and two years ago I got a letter from him, asking me to open his school fete.

Is Zoe A Catholic? If you passed your 12-plus, which is what they had in Buckinghamshire, you would go to the grammar school. My father [the broadcaster Johnny Ball] was worried that some of the secondary schools weren't very good, which is where I would have to go if I failed. As it was, I did pass - but had already gone to Holy Cross Convent School in Chalfont St Peter. I hated being at an all-girls' [private] school. The convent uniform was oatmeal socks and yellow shirt; the person who designed it must have been colour-blind. And we weren't even a Catholic family!

Culture Clash? I discovered pop music very late. I was always listening to Songs from the Shows and Big Band jazz while everyone else was listening to The Clash and David Bowie. I went to see a Tony Bennett show. This shocked someone at Beaconsfield Young Theatre, where I used to cycle after Sunday lunch and was in three or four productions a year, and he gave me a lot of tapes of the Velvet Underground and the Sex Pistols. I forced myself to listen to these on my Walkman: "I will like this." Then I really got into it.

A Legend In Her Lunch Break? I used to do "Zoe Ball Productions" in the lunch hour and charge 10p: pantomime and re-enactments of Live Aid. They would seem terrible now but I lived for them. The headmistress was called Sister Kevin, which I thought was very odd, but she was one of my two favourite teachers. The other was my form teacher, Sister Immaculata. And Mrs Smith was fabulous. She taught English and didn't take any messing around. She made everything so exciting; she even made Chaucer exciting when we did The Pardoner's Tale. I hated the biology teacher, who used to say "Zoe Ball, you're a very silly girl", although I did get biology O-level.

Don't Know Much About History? I took 10 O-levels and got seven. I failed history but we'd only done part of the syllabus and I think the only person who passed had had private tuition. I failed French - and Latin, which was disappointing, as I had a great teacher. I didn't do much work on the set book, which was The Odyssey. Wasn't that in Greek? Could it have been The Iliad? Shows how much I remember of the subject ...

Guilded Youth? I escaped the grip of the nuns and went to Amersham College of Art and Technology. I did a City & Guilds in radio and journalism - at which I learnt absolutely nothing - and two A-levels, in English language and English literature. I dropped the English literature, which I've always regretted. Had I known then what I know now, I would have done three A- levels and dropped the City & Guilds. I got two A-levels, again with the absolute minimum of work: two Ds and also the City & Guilds. I was quite impressed with myself! Then I went to the City Poly [in London] to do media with geology - that was a joke! - and computer sciences. I left after four months. The lecturers said, "There's no point in your going to university - go and get a job." If I'd known then what I know now, I'd have done an English degree - anywhere that would have me.

Is That Mr Ball On The Line? My father regretted spending a fortune at the convent, when I mucked about; I could have mucked about free at a grammar school!

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: HR Manager

£36000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Ashdown Group: HR Manager Shared Services - Uxbridge, - 1 Year contract

£50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Manager Shared Services - Uxbridge, Stock...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Human Resource Officer and Executive Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join one of...

Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events business) - Central Manchester - £20K

£18000 - £20000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events busi...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before