Zoe Ball crestfallen as co-star Paul OGrady dies after Radio 2 exit

Zoe Ball pays tribute to Paul O’Grady

Zoe Ball, 52, was overwhelmed with emotion this morning as she took to the airwaves to present her BBC Radio 2 Breakfast Show just hours after hearing of the devastating death of her former co-star Paul O’Grady at the age of 67. The presenter worked with Paul on Radio 2 prior to his controversial departure from the broadcaster last year.

Paul’s exit from Radio 2 after 14 years sparked backlash from fans, as he handed in his notice after being asked to share his show with Rob Beckett, 37.

After bidding farewell to listeners, Paul hit out at Radio 2 bosses for “trying to aim for a much younger audience”, which he insisted to Metro.co.uk in an interview last month “doesn’t make sense because you’ve got Radio 1”.

Speaking to listeners this morning, Zoe said she had been sharing her personal memories of Paul with Radio 2 co-stars Tina Daheley and Richie Anderson.

Zoe said: “Just sat here with Richie and Tina and we’re all sharing our memories of Paul O’Grady, as we’ve woken up with the terrible news that he’s died this morning, and we’re all sort of crestfallen and heartbroken aren’t we?

“We all loved and adored him.”

BBC Newsreader Tina added: “A real shock to wake up to and see that on your phone first thing when you get up.”

“He’s so beloved and hilarious and just the best company,” Zoe replied.

The presenter went on to reveal she used to get inspiring pep talks from Paul, dressed as his alter ego Lily Savage.

Zoe first worked with Paul on The Big Breakfast when she was just starting out in the showbiz industry.

Recalling her fond memories of that time, Zoe told listeners: “I got to work with Lily Savage very closely on The Big Breakfast and I was very wet behind the ears at the time, just been doing kids TV, and I used to have a pep talk from Paul dressed as Lily Savage every morning before going on – just so joyous, and so surreal!”

Zoe later had to apologise to listeners as she read out the wrong phone number while urging fans to get in touch with their own tributes to Paul.

Explaining her mistake, Zoe admitted: “Sorry, bit emotional this morning!”


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Zoe also took to Twitter to dedicate a post to her “dear radio friend”, alongside a photo of the pair in the Radio 2 studios.

She wrote: “rest well dear Paul sending love & thoughts to your chap, your family and your friend producer Malcolm

“forever in our hearts gorgeous, funny, super smart and generous man

“grateful for your love, support & friendship back on The Big Breakfast

“give ‘em hell up there darling.”

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