15 celeb moments we've loved during Zoe Ball's first 50 Radio 2 Breakfast shows
Zoe Ball kicked off her Radio 2 Breakfast Show all the way back in January, and has already clocked up a whopping 50 shows since becoming the first woman to host the show full-time.
And it's been a star-studded few months, with guests including Tom Hiddleston, Elizabeth Banks, Chris Pratt and Chiwetel Ejiofor to name just a few who've joined Zoe for an early start.
To mark Zoe's 50th breakfast show, we've rounded up a selection of our favourite performances and celebrity chats so far.
And don't forget, you can hear Zoe and the team pick their best bits each week in her podcast. New episodes available on Friday afternoons here.
1 | The Spice Girls literally getting back together for the kids
We're all excited for the upcoming Spice Girls reunion. But it's not just 90s kids that can't wait to see the four reconvening members (Victoria Beckham's sitting this one out) take to the stage once again... it's the stars' kids too.
Speaking to Zoe in March, Geri revealed one of the main reasons behind the reunion. "We were in Mel C’s kitchen and she went, 'I really want my children to see me doing it!' It touched my heart and I thought, 'Oh my God, yes, we have to make it happen.'"
Although, not everyone has been so happy. Geri added that her daughter doesn't want her to go on tour because she wouldn't get to see her so much. "Bluebell said to me, 'I don’t want you to go… I don’t want you to leave!'"
2 | Steve Coogan on why we need Alan Partridge more than ever
This Time With Alan Partridge saw Steve Coogan's iconic comedy creation return to the BBC for the first time since 2002. Appearing on the Radio 2 Breakfast Show in February, Coogan explained that he had to be sure that it was the right move, and that the team were doing it for the right reasons.
"[There’s] a lot of reasons really," he told Zoe of the comeback of Norwich's most infamous media personality. "You have to, sort of, justify it... I didn’t want it to look like an 80s revival tour, like we’re desperately trying to pay the rent."
But Coogan says the timing was perfect: "It felt right, because I think, culturally, you can justify why he would be back on the BBC." The star himself feels excitement about taking on the role again too. "Because I’ve been doing other things, I felt more comfortable [returning to the character]. I didn’t feel like it was like flogging a dead horse. We’ve only ever really write Alan when we - myself and the writers - have found it funny... I think if you start doing it just because people want it [then] it’s a fool’s errand."
3 | Elizabeth Banks takes on the travel news for the day
When Elizabeth Banks and Chris Pratt dropped by Zoe's show, Banks showed that she was quite the dab hand at reading out the travel news as she took over Richie job's to warn listeners of the snowfall in Liverpool.
4 | Beverley Knight's amazing story about meeting Stevie Wonder and Prince
Speaking to Zoe on the Breakfast Show in March, soul sensation Beverley Knight told a very showbiz story about the time she not only met both Prince and Stevie Wonder, but got to perform with them too.
Knight recalled how Stevie's voice was the first thing she can remember hearing on a radio and that she would walk around her house as a child singing along to Sir Duke. Little did she know that one day she'd be sharing a stage with the singer himself.
"Prince flew me to LA," Knight told Zoe. "He didn’t actually tell me why [but] it turned out that he wanted me to sing at his Oscars party. I thought I was just going there for a jolly or whatever.
"I’m on stage with Prince and the band and through the crowd I see this man being led [to the stage] and then I’m like, ‘oh my God, it’s Stevie Wonder!’ Stevie gets on stage. This is in Prince’s house! He’s got this makeshift stage, and sings. So I’m doing background vocals for Stevie Wonder with Prince up front playing guitar!"
The performance even got a standing ovation from Quincy Jones - making for what Zoe called the perfect "showbiz story".
5 | Jack Whitehall hiring his very own bum double
For his role in Sky One comedy drama Bounty Hunters, Jack Whitehall wanted to use the next step in his career to be a little bit more professional. He explained to Zoe: "I said in the first series I wasn’t going to get my bum out, because I’m always naked in things and it became a bit of a thing. I was like, ‘OK, this has to stop now. I’m a serious actor.’ Then in the second series, [co-star] Rosie Perez said she would only dance if my bum came out. So, there is a scene where my bum’s out."
However, there was a twist to the tale. In order to stay true to his word, Jack decided to hire a stand-in to film his nude scene. "It’s not my bum; it’s a bum double," he revealed. "The guy turned up to be my bum double and the make-up lady took us into the truck and she compared our bums. I was like, ‘why are you comparing my bum? It doesn’t matter what our bums look like.’"
"Clearly my bum has been out so many time, people would be like, 'that’s definitely not Jack’s bum.' It was a much better bum than mine, I’ll be using him again."
6 | Tom Hiddleston spilling the beans on The Night Manager's return
The first series of The Night Manager was a huge success when it aired on BBC One back in 2016, boasting an all-star cast of Tom Hiddleston, Hugh Laurie, Olivia Colman, Tom Hollander and more.
While fans continue to wait for its eagerly anticipated second offering, star Tom Hiddleston popped in to the Radio 2 Breakfast Show to confirm that new episodes were in the works, with author John le Carré currently determining which direction the second series should take.
Of what to expect from Series 2, Hiddleston teased to Zoe: "They are potentially conceiving how these characters might live on: what they’re doing now given the state of the world. Which is curious given that the world is in an interesting place, shall we say.
"What’s Jonathan Pine doing? Where is he? He’s probably in a dark corner somewhere spying on someone. What shape or form might that take? I’m very curious to see what materialises, and that’s about as much as I can say."
7 | Ricky Gervais on what we love about his tragically comic characters
Ricky Gervais is attracted to big and bold roles, tragically comic characters like David Brent, who we wouldn't necessarily want to be but love to live vicariously through. Speaking to Zoe in February, he explained that his new character of Tony Johnson from Netflix black comedy After Life is in the same vein.
In the show, Tony is grieving the passing of his wife and, in Gervais' own words, "says what he means from now on because he’s got nothing to lose". This is unlike most of our lives, Ricky says: "We all put on a face sometimes and we’ve got to do stuff, you know? We could be feeling really bad. We could be having the worse day ever, but we’ve still got to go to the post office and we’ve got to go to work and deal with idiots."
He says that After Life is "about the human condition and pride and sadness" and that a character like Tony is a breath of fresh air for viewers. "It’s liberating. He treats people who deserve it the right way."
8 | Christine and the Queens drop a classic INXS cover
When Christine and the Queens graced the studio to perform live for Zoe, Chris dropped this super slick cover of INXS' Need You Tonight watched on by Martin Clunes and Katherine Ryan. The combination of a strong funk bass line along with Chris’ raw vocals gave this classic a whole new sound.
9 | Stephen Merchant getting told off by Mary Poppins
In 2010, Stephen Merchant starred in a film called Tooth Fairy that saw him work alongside Hollywood A-lister Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and acting legend Dame Julie Andrews. When he appeared on the Breakfast Show in March with Michael Sheen, Merchant was asked by Zoe about a time during the filming of that movie when he was "told off" by Andrews.
"I wouldn’t say necessarily ‘told off’, that would be to do her a disservice," Merchant replied, saying that Andrews was "absolutely adorable". He added: "The Rock and I did a lot of improvising. And so, we would, kind of, go off script. So Julie eventually, very sweetly, just said, 'listen guys, I don’t mind if you improvise, but would you just say one of the lines from the script, so I know when to come in with mine'... It was a perfectly valid request."
The story led Michael Sheen to quip: "Mary Poppins had a pop at you!"
10 | Jenna Coleman on learning to love Queen Victoria
Jenna Coleman is back on the throne for the third series of Queen Victoria. However, she revealed to Zoe that her first impressions of the character were pretty damning.
She put down the first script thinking "I’m not sure if I like her", which is ironic seeing as one of the reasons the series has been such a success is how Coleman has brought a new side to a character who has previously been disregarded as somewhat brash and bad-tempered.
And if you're wondering what won Coleman over, it was actually everything she thought she didn't like - Victoria's impatience, frankness and amazing loyalty. She said: "All the things I thought I didn't like about her in the first place are all the reasons that I love her now".
11 | Bryan Adams starting a studio sing-along
When Bryan Adams dropped by to perform live for Zoe, he belted out this soulful rendition of Carole King's You've Got A Friend, complete with a hearty memphis twang. It turned into one epic sing-along from everyone in the studio as guests Stephen Merchant and Michael Sheen couldn't help but join in.
12 | Chiwetel Ejiofor on having Steve McQueen on hand for his directional debut
Chiwetel Ejiofor has worked with the cream of the crop when it comes to directors, so naturally Zoe wondered when it came to directing his first film whether he pinched some inspiration from the likes of Ridley Scott and Spike Lee.
Ejiofor’s directorial debut, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, is an adaptation of William Kamkwamba’s memoir. Kamkwamba is Malawian engineer who rose to fame in his famine-stricken hometown after building a wind turbine which led to them being able to irrigate crops. Kamkwamba was only 19 at the time.
Although the 12 Years a Slave actor said he hadn't been "taking notes" as such from directors during his career so far, it did mean he had a couple of tricks up his sleeve. That, and Steve McQueen was on-hand in the editing room.
13 | Rudimental covering a classic in front of an R&B legend
They may have played gigs all around the world, headlined festivals, graced the stage at London's prestigious Royal Albert Hall and closed The Other Stage at Glastonbury, but that doesn't mean that Rudimental don't sometimes suffer from stage fright like the rest of us.
Joining Zoe Ball in the Radio 2 studio during early February, the Mercury Prize-nominated, platinum-selling group took on a R&B classic in front of an actual legend of the genre... no pressure then.
Rudimental performed a flawlessly smooth rendition of Doo Wop (That Thing) by Lauryn Hill in the presence of music icon Mary J. Blige, as well as actor Stephen Mangan.
How did they fare? Well, Blige was quite the poker-faced judge, quietly nodding along in approval throughout before letting out an emphatic round of applause at the end. We guess she enjoyed it then!
14 | Felicity Jones on using Armie Hammer as a secret weapon
In preparation for her role as legal heavyweight and Supreme Court justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Felicity Jones came face-to-face with the woman herself.
On the Basis of Sex follows the lives of Ruth and her husband Martin, who is played by Armie Hammer. Despite graduating top of her class, Ruth is unable to get a job at a law firm as she is a woman and instead takes a Professor position at Rutgers Law School, but when her husband brings a Tax Court Case to her attention, everything changes.
Jones said it was a “petrifying” moment meeting the woman who changed the face of America law, and described how they were waiting nervously outside her office in Washington D.C. But it was Hammer who would diffuse the situation, without saying a word.
Jones said: "Ruth couldn’t take her eyes off him. She was overwhelmed and obviously I imagine that she was seeing her husband channelled through Armie."
15 | "MC Richie" rapping in front of Alesha Dixon
There are certain magical things that can only happen on radio and one of these was when Zoe challenged Richie Anderson to do a Mis-Teeq rap in front of Alesha Dixon - we will let you judge what went down.