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!

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Compensation and Benefits Manager - Brentwood - Circa £60,000

£60000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Compensation and Benefits Manager - Compensat...

Finance Manager - Recruitment Business (Media & Entertainment)

£28000 - £35000 per annum + negotiable: Sauce Recruitment: We have an exciting...

HR Advisor - North London / North West London

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - North London...

Finance Manager - Recruitment Business (Media & Entertainment)

£28000 - £32000 per annum + negotiable: Sauce Recruitment: We have an exciting...

Day In a Page

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes