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Zoe Ball earns respect with new BBC Radio 2 breakfast show

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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?”

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

Evans will start his new rival show on Virgin Radio next week.

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.

Ball has previously hosted the Radio 1 breakfast show and weekend breakfast shows on Radio 2. Her guests on Monday’s show will be John Cleese and Nadiya Hussain.

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, 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.”

The 48-year-old said features on the new show would include Why Wednesdays, where researchers from QI will answer listeners’ questions, and The Ken O’Clock News, building up to Ken Bruce at 09:30.

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.

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”.

Evans hosted his final Radio 2 breakfast show on Christmas Eve after 13 years with the station. He will have had a four-week break by the time he joins Virgin 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.

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