Zoe Ball says she blames herself for boyfriend Billy Yates' suicide as she struggles to 'get closure'

The Strictly: It Takes Two presenter admits she is burdened with guilt over whether she could have saved her partner.

Zoe, 47, had only been dating cameraman Billy, 40, for a matter of months before he was found hanged at his London flat, having battled depression.

She said: “Even now I sometimes think, ‘I’m a resourceful woman, I’m a bright woman. . . why could I not save him?’

“And then I have to stop and say, ‘Everyone who loved him knew. None of us found an answer, none of us saved him’.

“To move forward you have to accept that. Which is very difficult.”

The couple began dating in February 2017 — five months after Zoe split from husband of 17 years Norman Cook, the DJ ­Fatboy Slim.

Their separation came after Zoe was spotted snogging boyband member Tay Tay Starhz in December 2015 at a Strictly Come Dancing party.

Zoe’s dad Johnny Ball, 79, then said of her relationship with Billy: “We are very happy that she is finding a new lease on life. She is very happy at the moment, and that is lovely.”

Billy worked on shows including Antiques Roadshow, The Xtra Factor and Famous and Fearless.

Pals say he was feeling stressed after he became a victim of a convicted fraudster.

Billy was hit with an unexpected tax bill after using accountant Christopher Lunn — who was jailed for five years in 2016.

In a heartfelt tribute posted to Instagram last May, Zoe wrote: “Goodnight my beautiful Boy. I’ll be loving you always.”

Opening up about her heartbreak for the first time in an emotional interview with Radio Times, she said: “At the time Billy came into my life, I didn’t know how to help. I knew he had lived with depression for a long time. But he was a big strong guy.

“He did the Iron Man, he loved cycling 50 miles a day, he was the life and soul of the party when he was on the crew. He was so much fun.

“To see a man like that ­crumble under the pressure was heartbreaking to watch.”

Zoe cycled from Blackpool to Brighton as part of a Sport Relief challenge last week to raise awareness of ­mental health.

She will explore the reasons for suicide in BBC1’s Zoe’s Hardest Road Home on March 21.

In the documentary Zoe visits the families of suicide victims.

Before her cycle, she said: “I lost my boyfriend. After he died I was left with lots of questions. I wanted to do something and find some hope for people who are living with mental illness.

“To help others find some help and see there are great projects out there.

“In 2016 more than 6,000 ­people died by suicide. Help is really, really needed.”

The mum-of-two has been ­dating construction boss Michael Reed.

But she believes she will struggle to ever find closure on the devastating loss of Billy.

She added: “There are moments — I had one this morning — when I can’t believe any of this happened.
“I’m in the middle of this challenge and Billy’s gone.

“I don’t think you ever get ­closure. It’s something that’s part of me now. He will always be in my heart.”

If you are affected by any of the issues raised in this article, please call the Samaritans on (free) 116123 or 020 7734 2800. 

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