After 13 years at the station, Evans is leaving in December to join Virgin Radio. On Wednesday morning he announced that Ball would be taking over the slot in January 2019.
Strictly Come Dancing’s It Takes Two host Ball had been heavily rumoured as the new presenter, and she was in the studio as Evans announced her name, saying she was feeling a “crazy mix of elation, wanting to burst into tears, thinking about running away, everything – but mainly thrilled.”
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Ball will be the first ever permanent female host of the Radio 2 breakfast show.
She said, “I definitely didn’t expect to get a call, but getting the call was an amazing thing.”
Ball told Evans that it was her son who was the one who eventually encouraged her to take the sought-after job.
“The best thing I spoke to was my son Woody. He said, ‘Mum, come on, don’t even think about it, it’s the coolest thing you can do,’” she said.
“’And mum, someone will listen,’” he apparently added.
In a statement, Ball said: “To be the first woman to present this very special show is both an honour and privilege. 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 but I hope, in the same way that Chris made this show his own after taking over from the wonderful Sir Terry Wogan, that with a top team alongside me, I can bring the fabulous Radio 2 audience a show they want to wake up to.”
On whether she’ll still be presenting It Takes Two, Ball told Evans: “That’s my other favourite job but I’m really hoping to do both… so we’ll see how that goes.”
Radio 2’s Breakfast Show currently boasts the largest weekly audience on UK radio, with 9.04 million listeners.
Sara Cox, Simon Mayo, Jo Whiley and Claudia Winkleman were all also tipped to take the top slot.
As well as presenting her Monday to Thursday evening show, Cox will continue to cover the Radio 2 breakfast show for 10 weeks each year while Zoe is away.