Zeb Soanes is a BBC Newsreader for those who wake up to The Today Programme and puts the nation to bed with The Shipping Forecast. He is a regular on Radio 4’s The News Quiz, reports for From Our Own Correspondent, has read for Poetry Please and presented Radio 3’s Saturday Classics. On television his voice launched BBC FOUR, where he appeared as a regular presenter for the BBC Proms; he has also presented TV films for The Culture Show, Newsnight and Songs of Praise. The children's author Francesca Simon featured Zeb as the newsreader in her book The Lost Gods and he has made vocal cameos in TV comedies and dramas, including Christmas specials of Sherlock and The League of Gentlemen. He represented the University of East Anglia in the 2018 celebrity Christmas Day special of University Challenge and Sunday Times readers voted him their favourite male voice on UK radio.
His long association with The Shipping Forecast has led him to read it from the top of a lighthouse, at the closing ceremony of the Beijing Olympics and, most bizarrely, to open london Fashion Week; the British designer Anya Hindmarch invited Zeb to read the forecast to the industry’s glitterati as they reclined on the world’s largest bean bag, ‘The Chubby Cloud’, beneath the painted ceiling of Whitehall’s Banqueting House. Afterwards, Vogue magazine described him as ‘a BBC radio presenter whose voice sounds like a massage feels’.
Documentary narration includes 50 years of Doctor Who for BBC Worldwide and Unlocking Sherlock for PBS in the United States. He was the brand voice of the BBC Store.
He has hosted major live public events in Trafalgar Square for the Royal Opera House, relayed to screens around the UK and introduced concerts at London’s Southbank Centre, Royal Albert Hall and King's Place.
Concert work, narrating with orchestra, includes Peter and the Wolf, The Snowman, Paddington's First Concert and Babar the Elephant; he was the Voice of God in the Aldeburgh Festival production of Noye’s Fludde to conclude the 2013 Benjamin Britten Centenary and has performed Walton's Façade numerous times, including a critically acclaimed recording conducted by John Wilson. He is the narrator for the choral ensemble Opus Anglicanum, performing sequences of words and music commissioned from some of Britain's leading contemporary composers. He performed the world premiere of Ben Palmer's Eggs or Anarchy based on William Sitwell's award-winning book about the wartime Minister for Food, Lord Woolton and gave the first full performance in 30 years of Banana Blush, John Betjeman's verse set to music, specially re-scored by its composer Jim Parker.
Zeb trained as an actor and has performed in BBC radio dramas with Simon Russell-Beale and Toby Jones. In the short film Mayday, starring Juliet Stevenson, he relays the unfolding chaos of an earthquake in London. He played Derek Nimmo in a drama about the classic BBC comedy series All Gas and Gaiters and was the sinister librarian in a Doctor Who audio adventure with David Warner.
He has written for The Observer, Country Life and The Literary Review.
His best-selling first book for children, Gaspard the Fox, based on the urban fox that visits him at home in London, was published in May 2018, illustrated by James Mayhew. It was followed by Gaspard Best in Show (2019) and Gaspard’s London Foxtrot (2020) is being adapted for concert performance by Jonathan Dove, CBE to be premiered at the 2020 Three Choirs Festival.
Zeb is an active patron of Awards for Young Musicians, the British Association of Performing Arts Medicine and was appointed the first patron of The Mammal Society in May 2019. He regularly supports the work of St Martin in the Fields with homelessness in London and throughout the UK and hosted a gala auction of theatrical portraits of the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company in 2017, raising over a hundred thousand pounds for the charity. He is also a committed supporter of the Lowestoft and Waveney Samaritans.
View a complete list of work on Spotlight: