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Monday, 20 December, 1999, 18:33 GMT
Sara Cox: A model host

Cox has gone from modelling to one of the most coveted roles in radio

Sara Cox would appear to have been destined to step into Zoe Ball's Radio 1 shoes.

Bold and unashamedly brassy, the 25-year-old Cox has all the fun-loving attributes to be able to take over from Ball. What's more, as one of her closest friends, she will hopefully have picked up more than a few tips.

Cox and best mate Zoe Ball have had similar careers
It may be tempting to class the model-turned-presenter as yet another all-style-no-substance star.

But her rise from obscurity, through a number of unremarkable TV jobs - including Channel 4's ill-fated The Girlie Show and a UK Play gameshow, Flatmates, which she still hosts - to one of the most coveted roles in British radio demonstrates her determination to succeed.

The daughter of Len and Jackie Cox, Sara, the youngest of five, spent the first seven years of her life on a farm just outside Bolton, where her father bred pedigree bulls.

When her parents split up, she moved from the farm to live with her mother. Her mother managed a succession of Conservative clubs around the country which involved both her and her daughter being on the move most of the time.

It also meant Cox was always being picked on for the being the new girl at school. To make matters worse, Cox, who was born with a dislocated hip and therefore an inward-turning leg, was teased for having "crazy legs".

The tall and slim Cox was a natural model
But she carried on regardless, enjoying drama at school and passing seven GCSEs and four A-Levels.

At 19, on a trip to see her sister in Paris, a photographer suggested she become a model. She flew home, went to an agency and, despite her self-confessed "knock-knees", was immediately signed up.

Having modelled all over the world, at the age of 21, Cox landed her first presenting job on The Girlie Show.

Her flamboyant, natural manner made her a natural for the show's risque and raucous format. It also meant she would live to fight another day after the programme was panned by critics and rapped by watchdogs before finally being axed.

But her recovery was not immediate. Cox spent the next few months drawing the dole before being signed up to host Channel 5's entertainment show Exclusive in 1997.

Cox could indulge her outgoing nature on The Girlie Show
Cox calls her time on Exclusive her learning period and one which prepared her for the rise to follow.

A regular slot on the music channel MTV was the next opportunity to come her way - where she was allowed to indulge her natural instincts for having a good time.

Then in September 1998, she joined the high-profile team of Channel 4's The Big Breakfast - following in the footsteps of her best mate Zoe Ball.

A year later, she joined Radio 1, co-hosting a Saturday lunchtime show alongside Emma B and tackling listeners' personal problems with Dr Mark Hamilton on a new show, the Sunday Surgery.

Cox has been with her fiance Leeroy for two years
August 1999 saw the wedding of Zoe Ball to Norman Cook - aka chart-topping DJ Fatboy Slim - and not surprisingly, Cox was in close attendance as bridesmaid to the blushing Ball.

Again, like Ball, Cox also has a pop star boyfriend - in the shape of Leeroy Thornhill from the Prodigy. The couple met two years ago at a film premiere and intend to marry, probably some time next year.

But when they do wed, Radio 1 will be hoping Cox doesn't follow her friend in retreating into quiet domesticity quite so quickly.

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See also:
20 Dec 99 |  Entertainment
Cox lands Radio 1 breakfast job
24 Aug 99 |  Entertainment
Zoe and Fatboy have a ball
30 Jul 99 |  Entertainment
Kelly quits Big Breakfast

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