Zoe Ball has pulled out of filming the final of her new BBC baking show, The Big Family Cooking Showdown, after the tragic loss of her boyfriend Billy Yates, 40.
Zoe, 46, whose partner was found dead in his London flat on May 4th, had already filmed the rest of the series alongside former Bake Off legend Nadiya Hussain and judges Rosemary Shrager and Giorgio Locatelli.
But the final episode will go on without her, as she grieves in private for her partner. She is currently taking time off from her Radio 2 Saturday show as well.
A source told The Sun: “Everyone understands Zoe’s predicament and there’s real sympathy for her. But her absence in the final is a blow for the debut series.”
Billy, who was a cameraman for the Antiques Roadshow, was found at his home in Putney earlier this month, having taken his own life. He is believed to have suffered from mental health problems.
There have also been reports that he had been “put under enormous pressure” after he fell victim to convicted fraudster Christopher Lunn, who worked as his accountant.
Zoe – who was previously married to Norman Cook – marked her partner’s death with an Instagram post of a flower and the words ‘My sweet love X’.
Last week Zoe’s management team followed that up with a statement thanking fans for their words and help since Billy’s death.
“On behalf of Zoe Ball, we would like to thank everyone for the kind messages and support during a very difficult time,” they said.
The Big Family Cooking Showdown, which is due to air on BBC2 in the autumn and sees 16 families cooking their best recipes, is intended by the BBC to be a replacement for The Great British Bake Off which has now moved to Channel 4.
The show will see judges Giorgio and Rosemary set challenges in both the studio kitchen and the families’ home kitchens and put the teams through a series of challenges.
Zoe had previously said of the show: “It’s time to celebrate passionate foodie families all over the country and this series will show us home cooking at its best, even if it’s using old pans and mismatched crockery!
“We’re meeting 16 very different families over the course of the show and witnessing their team dynamics.
“I’m not the world’s best cook as my kids will vouch but I’m learning so much from these families and from Nadiya!
“New recipes, top tips and some definite dos and don’ts, I can’t wait to share this joyous celebration of family and cooking with everybody.”