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GIRLS' TALK WITH ZOE AND SARA; They are blonde, beautiful and best friends. And that means Zoe Ball and Sara Cox do everything together - they got engaged together, planned their weddings together and their next project is motherhood...together! So when the girls met up for a girlie night in SARAH BAILEY just couldn't resist going along to eavesdrop...

BALL and COX are a natural-born double act. "She's got boobs," says Zoe, "and I've got height."

Sara agrees: "That's right - you get the whole deal with us."

With names like theirs and looking like they do, Ball and Cox should already have their own TV show. But for now they're content with making a big noise on the airwaves where Zoe, 28, is queen of the Radio 1 Breakfast Show and Sara, 24, hosts the Saturday lunchtime programme.

Like sisters, their lives have a funny way of mirroring each other's. Sara is famously the belle of Bolton. Zoe's dad, Johnny, is a Bolton boy too. They've both managed to outrage, titillate and shock in their time. Zoe flashed her threepenny bits, (that's boobs, work it out!) on a talk show, and Sara made merry with scantily- dressed gentlemen on TV's The Girlie Show. And they even admit to liking sex. But there's one thing that possibly neither of them expected: that they'd find themselves, in 1999, a pair of blushing rock 'n' roll brides and bridesmaids at each other's weddings. Zoe married Norman Cook, alias Fatboy Slim, in August and Sara is planning her wedding to Leeroy Thornhill (dancer with the Prodigy).

The girls, who met two years ago at an awards ceremony, had a ladette's night in at the Portobello Hotel, Notting Hill, London.

Zoe says: "I said to Sara, `I think you're great' and she said, `I think you're great'."

And that was that. One of the great showbiz friendships of all time was born. Just listen to them chatter on...

Zoe: "We don't see much of each other at the moment because of our workloads and the scenarios with our fellas."

Sara: "Zoe's in Brighton. I'm Essex."

Zoe: "Yeah, she's in a windmill in Essex with Leeroy and I'm in Brighton on the beach with Norm. So it's all phone. My favourite call from you was just after New Year's Eve, remember?"

Sara: "Oh yeah. On the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve I proposed to Leeroy, sort of generally, something like, `Whenever you're ready, shall we get married at some point?' Only I didn't know that he'd been planning to ask me too, so the next day he really did seriously ask me, on his knees. Leeroy's about five foot tall on his knees by the way."

Zoe: "I could tell she was all giddy on the phone.

"The reason I knew was because at my birthday party in November - we were in a restaurant in Notting Hill - I'd just met Norm and I was really loved up. Everyone who saw you that night said, `Sara and Leeroy are so beautiful together'. You were happier than I'd ever seen you. So when you sounded weird on the phone, I knew, either you were pregnant or he'd asked you to marry him. So I started screaming and then you told me and I just burst into tears. Then I went to sit on the sofa with Norm and he said, `How long do we have to wait before we can do things like that?' And we'd only been seeing each other a couple of months! But I know what people mean now when they say `You KNOW'."

Sara: "It's so corny, isn't it? But you do just know. It's nice that Leeroy and I inspired you, though."

Zoe: "You did inspire us. Norm and I just sat looking at each other, only I wanted to squeal out `I wish that was me!' Then a month later, when we did it, I was a bit scared to tell you in case you thought I was a copycat. Norm asked me to marry him on Valentine's Day. I remember I'd spent the day before making this card. I had all these sweets with letters on and I was going to spell out WILL YOU MARRY ME? But then I had a freak- out, threw the letters back in the bag and gave him this stupid kinky Valentine's kit instead - at midnight, the night before. Because I'm crap at gifts. The next day I was quite grumpy because Norman hadn't bought me a present. He wanted me to go for a walk on the beach near his house. We'd fallen in love on the beach at sunset, when I'd met up with him and his mates and I heard him talking about life and relationships. But this time I was sad and said, `No. It's raining, it's miserable'. I was about to crawl into the kitchen and make myself some dinner when he produced a Tiffany's bag from the cupboard. He went all red, and kind of slid down the side of the bed - only he stumbled a bit - that's what I love about him, he's such a dope.

I put my hand in the bag, thinking, `Oh bless, he's bought me something from Tiffany's', and then - realising it was a ring box - I screamed, 'Don't do it! Don't do it! It's too much'. I just couldn't handle it. We were jumping up and down on the bed for about ten minutes screaming before I realised I hadn't even said yes."

Sara: "And then it all went a bit bonkers, didn't it?"

Zoe: "It was the Brit Awards a couple of nights after that and me and Sara were there comparing rocks!"

Sara: "And then you were mobbed by fans."

Zoe: "It's like the wedding. In many ways, I wondered if we should do the whole wedding thing much more quietly. My dad told me he thought I'd just run off and do it, but I'm like, 'No, I want you to be there, I want all my friends to be there. We want a big party'. But then, when you find yourself in meetings with security companies about helicopters..."

Zoe: "Oh my God! Trying to get the bridesmaids together was almost impossible. Three blondes and one redhead, different figures, getting something to suit everyone..."

Sara: "I don't know whether me and Leeroy are going to do the big thing or just run away."

In your former lives as wild-girls-about-town, did either of you think you were the marrying kind?

Sara: "No, neither of us did..."

Zoe: "I was starting to doubt it. I did have a very long relationship (with TV producer Nick Poyntz) at the end of which I was quite heartbroken, and then I went through a few boyfriends. I had got to a point last year when I thought maybe my expectations are just too high. Maybe I just expect too much from boyfriends. I always end up doing their heads in."

Sara: "I think the lovely thing about you and Norman is that he's in demand as much as you are. I don't think you've ever had that before."

Zoe: "It always used to be great in the beginning. A guy would be like `Wow we're in the paper, that's great'. But it would get to a point when they'd look at their own life and go, `Do I only want to be known as Zoe Ball's boyfriend?' I mean, I've had some lovely boyfriends.
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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Bailey, Sarah
Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Oct 24, 1999
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