Zoe Ball has opened up on the tragic death of her boyfriend Billy Yates, who took his own life in 2017 after a long battle with depression.
The TV presenter gave a candid interview on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs on Sunday, admitting Billy’s passing was ‘the hardest thing I’ve ever had to deal with in my life.’
‘He’d lived with depression for a huge chunk of his life. It’s so hard to sit and watch someone you love and care for struggle with mental health,’ Zoe told host Lauren Laverne.
She added, ‘Losing him was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to deal with in my life.’
While she remembered the joy the former cameraman brought into her life, she also stressed the importance for anybody struggling with dark thoughts to reach out for help.
She said, ‘I think something that’s really important to share… is that there is hope. There is help available, there are ways, we’re still learning.
‘I think it’s so isolating to be trapped in your mind like that, when you doubt yourself, you doubt everything you’ve ever known. You doubt your family love you. You doubt your friends care for you.’
And she insisted Billy should be remembered for his life, not his death.
She said, ‘He was so full of love. He’d help anyone in need. He was always there for all his friends.’
Dedicating the Frank Wilson song Do I Love You to Billy, Zoe told host Lauren, ‘He brought so much into my life… and I wanted to play a piece of music for him that reflected him as a human.
‘He loved to dance and he loved to laugh. And this track will always remind me of him.’
The 49-year-old was said to have found love again with Billy after her split from husband Norman ‘Fatboy Slim’ Cook in September 2016, but was dealt a heartbreaking blow as he committed suicide at the age of 40 in May 2017.
A close friend of Zoe’s told The Sun at the time of Billy’s death, ‘Zoe is overcome with grief. She is completely and utterly devastated. Billy had made her happy again after the most horrendous year when her marriage broke down.
‘This was completely out of the blue. She had no feeling that this was coming and is in total shock. As far as we know this occurred at his house in north London and it was friends who raised the alarm.
‘She’s going to need a lot of time to grieve. This just feels so unfair because Zoe had finally found happiness with Billy and had so many exciting plans for their future.’