ZÃ¶e Salmon (born 7 January 1980) is a British television presenter who hosted the children's television show Blue Peter from 23 December 2004 to 25 June 2008. She also appeared on Dancing on Ice in early 2009. She was also Miss Northern Ireland 1999.
Life and career
Salmon was born in Bangor, County Down, Northern Ireland. She attended Kilmaine Primary School and Glenlola Collegiate School while growing up in Bangor, a town on the east coast of Northern Ireland which she says is her "favourite place.... It's a really pretty seaside town with a marina which is lovely in the summer". She then attended Queen's University, Belfast, where she gained a 2:1 degree in law, before qualifying as a solicitor. She was crowned Miss Northern Ireland in 1999 (beating future Big Brother contestant Orlaith McAllister). In 2009 she was placed at number 20 on FHMââ'âs 100 sexiest women.
Salmon was revealed as the 30th Blue Peter presenter on 25 October 2004. She first appeared on the show on 23 December 2004, in its Christmas special. She was originally meant to replace Liz Barker when the latter left on maternity leave; however, Barker had already returned by the time Salmon made her debut. She presented the show with Konnie Huq, Simon Thomas, Matt Baker, Liz Barker, Gethin Jones and Andy Akinwolere.
Shortly after her debut, she famously said "I'd Try Anything Once", which started a trend in her being asked to do dangerous or embarrassing things including wing-walking on top of an antique biplane and stamp collecting. When she mentioned in her blog on the Blue Peter website that she had an ambition to be sawed in half by a magician, viewers started a campaign for her to do a challenge where she would become a magician's assistant. This campaign was successful, and Salmon filmed a challenge where she assisted a magician with a number of illusions including levitation and a transposition illusion called "The Assistants Revenge". After the filmed segment of the challenge had been shown, the magician joined Salmon in the studio for a live performance of the sawing in half illusion, in which Salmon was sawed in half inside a clear-sided box in a version of the illusion called "Clearly Impossible". Salmon left the show in June 2008 at the start of the Summer break, at the same time as Gethin Jones.
Shortly after making her first appearance on Blue Peter, the BBC received complaints after it was alleged that her job was only advertised in Northern Ireland and Scotland, meaning they were potentially discriminating against people with certain regional accents. The BBC, however, denied any discrimination, and insisted the advertisement had been placed in newspapers throughout the UK.
Other media reports at the time "suggested she had been chosen to 'sex up' the programme and boost ratings in the competitive childrenâs marketplace. It is an idea denied by the producers of Blue Peter." In January 2006, novelist Kate Figes further criticised Salmon in an article in The Guardian, writing that Salmon "rarely seems comfortable around children and talks to them in slow, patronising tones. She comes over as insincere and fatuous and my daughters don't like her any more than I do." Figes claimed that Salmon was "encouraged by the programme editors to present herself as a sexual bimbo", and that the show was being "sexed up or dumbed down". Richard Marson, Blue Peterâs editor, characterised the article as 'character assassination', and denied that the show was "being sexed up or dumbed down".
Salmon herself faced criticism when she chose a symbol for a 'Best of British' logo, to be used by British Airways to decorate a Boeing 757. She said 'I'm from Ulster, and I'd like to cover a plane with the Red Hand of Ulster: that is our proud symbol.' The symbol is frequently used by loyalists and paramilitaries: David Miller, a professor of sociology at Strathclyde University, was among the first to complain to the BBC about the use of the symbol.
Miller said: "Like the swastika, the Red Hand is a symbol that has been misappropriated. It is the symbol of the unionists and is certainly not signed up to by the majority." Michael Copeland, an Ulster Unionist Party assembly member, said that the 'Red Hand symbol is as precious to all Ulstermen as the lion is to Scotland, and the dragon to Wales'; 'it appears in the symbolism of both the unionist and nationalist communities.' The red hand of Ulster is also used by Republicans and nationalists and is emblazoned on the nine-county flag for the province of Ulster, as well as the old Northern Ireland flag, and by the GAA (including the Tyrone GAA's crest). The symbol is also associated with Ulster Gaelic clans before the 17th century. The Red Hand of Ulster (in Irish LÃ¡mh Dhearg Uladh) is a symbol used in heraldry to denote the Irish province of Ulster.
In 2012 using her Twitter account, Salmon spoke out against the removal of the Union flag from Belfast City Hall after Belfast City Council passed a vote stating it should only be flown on designated days.
Television and film appearances
One of her earliest roles was a quick appearance as the original bearer of the Ruby Slippers in a little known re-telling of the Wizard of Oz made for Channel Five in 1995. She had auditioned for the role of Dorothy, but lost to Denise van Outen.
In 2005, Salmon presented the results of the Northern Ireland region in Making Your Mind Up, the UK's national pre-selection for the Eurovision Song Contest 2005. She welcomed the television audience to Belfast with the line "How's about you, Terry?"
Salmon appeared in the 2007 version of Comic Relief Does Fame Academy, with several celebrity opponents, including BBC Sport presenter and journalist Ray Stubbs, former CBBC presenter Angellica Bell and BBC Radio 1 and BBC Radio 5 Live presenter Colin Murray. Salmon was the fifth celebrity voted out. Also in 2007, she switched on the Belfast Christmas lights with Shayne Ward.
After leaving Blue Peter in June 2008, she presented the gameshow Hot Rods which began a BBC2 run on 30 August. She joined Noel Edmonds and Same Difference as a guest at a kids' party at the Northumberland town of Morpeth which featured in 2008's Noel's Christmas Presents show on Sky1.
Salmon took part in the fourth series of Dancing On Ice, partnering Matt Evers and reached the quarter-finals.
Salmon appeared on The Chris Moyles Show in January 2009 and went on a date with early breakfast presenter Greg James as part of the BBC Radio 1 money experiment.
She appeared on the first episode of BBC One Saturday night gameshow Hole in the Wall hosted by Dale Winton. Salmon has a cameo in the CBBC sitcom Dani's House, as Dani's long lost celebrity friend 'Mo White'. In May 2009 she appeared in FHM magazine with another Blue Peter ex-presenter Konnie Huq. Two separate collectable covers were printed for the issue featuring the two women, but the content of the magazines were identical.
In 2009 she appeared on Shooting Stars on Jack Dee's team, alongside comedian Noel Fielding.
In 2009 she presented 8-part series Skillicious on CITV alongside Nigel Clarke. The show encouraged children to try out new skills. She loved beatboxing. She co-presented the World's Strongest Man competition in the UK with Martin Bayfield and became one of the presenters on new Sky1 live lifestyle chat show Angela and Friends.
On 15 February 2011 she presented a programme for BBC Three called The Big Fat Truth About Low Fat Foods in which she underwent an experiment whereby she agreed to be filmed during a month of eating a diet consisting of only diet and 'healthy' pre-processed foods.
On 31 October 2011, Zoe hosted "Celebrity Wish List" on Channel 5 where she surprised 500 Scottish Young Carers at their annual weekend break by bringing McFly to perform for them and putting together a film to help the Carers secure funding for future events.
She co-hosted Compete for the Meat alongside Al Murray on Dave.
In 2012, Zoe appeared as a contestant on Celebrity Masterchef, during which she revealed that she'd suffered from Irritable Bowel Syndrome since the age of 19.
In 2006, Salmon ran the London Marathon and gave the money to the registered charity ChildLine.
Salmon was married to Northern Irish actor Gerard McCarthy from 2007 until their split in February 2009. In August 2009 she announced that she was dating Capital Radio presenter Greg Burns. They separated in January 2010.
- Official website
- Zoe Salmon at the Internet Movie Database