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Zoe Ball's boyfriend Billy Yates found dead aged 40

  • Antiques Roadshow cameraman Billy Yates was found dead in his flat in Putney
  • Radio 2 DJ Zoe Ball, 46, has been left 'devastated' by the 40-year-old's death
  • Yates pronounced dead at the scene and death is not being treated as suspicious
  • Zoe recently expressed love for Yates and said he gave her a 'new lease of life'

By Amie Gordon and Paul Thompson for MailOnline

Published: 07:22 EDT, 5 May 2017 | Updated: 11:59 EDT, 5 May 2017

Zoe Ball has been left 'utterly devastated' after her 40-year-old cameraman boyfriend was found dead at his home.

The BBC Radio 2 DJ is understood to be 'overcome with grief' after her partner Billy Yates was discovered at his flat in Putney, south London, yesterday evening. 

Mr Yates was said to have given the Strictly Come Dancing presenter a new lease of life following her marriage split from DJ Fatboy Slim and she had only recently expressed her love for him. 

This morning, before news of his death emerged, Zoe took toInstagram and posted a poignant photograph of a flower with the caption: 'My sweet love'. 

Earlier yesterday, she had shared a Samaritans tweet which encouraged anyone going through a difficult or distressing time to call the charity.

Zoe Ball revealed she was in a relationship with 40-year-old cameraman Billy Yates (pictured together in February) after she split from husband DJ Norman Cook, aka Fatboy Slim, last September
Zoe Ball revealed she was in a relationship with 40-year-old cameraman Billy Yates (pictured together in February) after she split from husband DJ Norman Cook, aka Fatboy Slim, last September

Zoe Ball revealed she was in a relationship with 40-year-old cameraman Billy Yates (pictured together in February) after she split from husband DJ Norman Cook, aka Fatboy Slim, last September

Mr Yates was discovered at his flat in Putney, south London, (pictured) yesterday evening
Mr Yates was discovered at his flat in Putney, south London, (pictured) yesterday evening

Mr Yates was discovered at his flat in Putney, south London, (pictured) yesterday evening

Earlier yesterday, she shared a Samaritans tweet (pictured) which encouraged anyone going through a difficult or distressing time to call the charity
Earlier yesterday, she shared a Samaritans tweet (pictured) which encouraged anyone going through a difficult or distressing time to call the charity

Earlier yesterday, she shared a Samaritans tweet (pictured) which encouraged anyone going through a difficult or distressing time to call the charity

In January, Zoe was seen kissing Billy Yates after they got out of a cab together in London
In January, Zoe was seen kissing Billy Yates after they got out of a cab together in London
The pair passionately embraced in the street
The pair passionately embraced in the street

In January, Zoe was seen passionately embracing and kissing Billy Yates after they got out of a cab together in London

Speaking on Friday afternoon, Mr Yates' 72-year-old father, David from Darwen in Lancashire, declined to comment, adding only: 'We're just devastated, thank you.' 

Along with a picture of a heart-shaped light sabre, it read: 'If it really doesn't feel like the force is with you today, we're here and ready to listen.' 

Neighbours of Billy Yates today spoke of their 'shock and sadness' at his sudden death.

Raj Gorgar, who runs a corner shop adjoining Mr Yates's first floor flat in Putney, South West London, said he was stunned by news of his death.

'He was a regular and would come in most days, to buy some water or a fizzy drink. He was a lovely man and always so polite and chatty,' said the 39-year-old.

'I can't believe that he is dead. One of my colleagues served him yesterday. He said that he looked fine and healthy.'

Just hours ago, Zoe took to Instagram and posted a poignant photograph of a flower with the caption, ‘My sweet love’
Just hours ago, Zoe took to Instagram and posted a poignant photograph of a flower with the caption, ‘My sweet love’

Just hours ago, Zoe took to Instagram and posted a poignant photograph of a flower with the caption, 'My sweet love'

In February this year, Zoe was seen helping Yates move into his new flat in south London
In February this year, Zoe was seen helping Yates move into his new flat in south London

In February this year, Zoe was seen helping Yates move into his new flat in south London

Mr Gorgar said he was aware that Yates was dating Zoe Ball but had never seen them together.

Other neighbours said Mr Yates was always 'fit and healthy'.

Ali Ashtari, who runs a takeaway pizza restaurant called Topollino's, said he would often see Mr Yates cycling past on his bike.

'He was a very fit man and to hear he is dead is just so sad,' he said.

'It has brought tears to my eyes. When we opened here about four months ago he came in and welcomed us and wanted to see the food we were serving.

'He was a lovely man and one of our best customers. He would stop for a chat. He was just a real decent guy.'

Mr Ali, 47, said he saw police cars arriving outside the flat where Mr Yates lived around 6pm on Thursday.

'The cars were in the road and the men seemed to be looking for an address. I had no idea they were going to Mr Yates home. It is really sad to think that he has gone at such a young age.'

Naridner Parashar, 82, who runs a newsagents in a parade of shops close to Mr Yates' home, said he often called in to buy a newspaper.

'He was so good looking and very fit and healthy. It is just terrible what has happened,' he said.

This afternoon, mourners left floral tributes (pictured) outside Mr Yates's house in London 
This afternoon, mourners left floral tributes (pictured) outside Mr Yates's house in London 

This afternoon, mourners left floral tributes (pictured) outside Mr Yates's house in London 

The flowers were left on the doorstep at the home where Mr Yates was found dead yesterday
The flowers were left on the doorstep at the home where Mr Yates was found dead yesterday

The flowers were left on the doorstep at the home where Mr Yates was found dead yesterday

A couple who live above Billy's flat described him as happy who had lived there for about 18 months. 

The woman, who asked not to be named, said: 'He was always happy and smiling and would always have a chat with you.' 

She said recently he was spending more time away from the flat but she never saw Zoe at the property.

Her husband who works in the corner shop downstairs said he last saw Mr Yates at 10am yesterday morning when he bought a large bottle of soft drink.

He said: 'We just met like we normally do and chatted. He said hello and we chatted a little bit. That was the last time I saw him. He seem completely normal like when I saw him before.' 

The pair's romance came after she split from her husband of 18 years Norman Cook aka Fatboy Slim (pictured) last September
The pair's romance came after she split from her husband of 18 years Norman Cook aka Fatboy Slim (pictured) last September

The pair's romance came after she split from her husband of 18 years Norman Cook aka Fatboy Slim (pictured) last September

Friends say Zoe's boyfriend's death 'came completely out of the blue'.

One told The Sun: '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.' 

The pair's romance came after she split from her husband of 18 years Norman Cook last September. 

After announcing their separation, Ball and Cook said they would remain 'great friends' and would continue to support each other to raise their two children together.

She met the 40-year-old Antiques Roadshow cameraman through mutual friends at the BBC. 

The pair had been spotted out together on numerous occasions, and were seen in January kissing in the street in London
The pair had been spotted out together on numerous occasions, and were seen in January kissing in the street in London

The pair had been spotted out together on numerous occasions, and were seen in January kissing in the street in London

The pair had been spotted out together on numerous occasions, with a source previously saying Zoe was 'in a great place and very happy with Billy'
The pair had been spotted out together on numerous occasions, with a source previously saying Zoe was 'in a great place and very happy with Billy'
Billy Yates was found dead at his flat in Putney, south London, yesterday evening
Billy Yates was found dead at his flat in Putney, south London, yesterday evening

Billy Yates (pictured right in February) was found dead at his flat in Putney, south London, on Thursday evening

While Billy Yates owned a home in Putney, he also spent time in this property with Zoe Ball in Battersea
While Billy Yates owned a home in Putney, he also spent time in this property with Zoe Ball in Battersea

While Billy Yates owned a home in Putney, he also spent time in this property with Zoe Ball in Battersea

The pair had been spotted out together on numerous occasions, with Zoe's celebrity father Johnny Ball, 78, telling The Mirror: 'We are very happy that she is finding a new lease of life. She is very happy at the moment, she really is, and that is lovely.' 

In January, the couple were seen passionately embracing and kissing in the street in London.

One onlooker said: 'They looked like a new couple who are besotted with each other. Zoe couldn't stop smiling and was very into him, they look great together.'

And in February, Zoe was seen helping Yates move into his new London flat.

At the time, Mr Yates's ex Molly Johnson, 41 said she hoped the 'brilliant man' would settle down with his new love.

She said: 'It's all lovely and fabulous. I hope they're very happy. He is a dear, dear friend, my whole family just adore him.

'All that matters to us is that he's happy. He's a really, properly brilliant man, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed for him.'  

The tragedy comes just a day after the TV host spoke out how she was embracing approaching 50. 

New man: Zoe and Billy (pictured) have been spotted out together on numerous occasions. They are said to have met through friends at the BBC
New man: Zoe and Billy (pictured) have been spotted out together on numerous occasions. They are said to have met through friends at the BBC

Zoe and Billy (pictured) had been spotted out together on numerous occasions. They are said to have met through friends at the BBC

She described the past 12 months in which she split with Cook and started her relationship with Mr Yates as a 'year of discovery'. 

During that time, she was also seen embracing boyband singer Tay Starhz, 22, on the dancefloor at the festive wrap party for Strictly Come Dancing's BBC2 spin-off show It Takes Two.  

Speaking at comedian Sarah Millican's monthly Standard Issue in Conversation event at London's Leicester Square Theatre this week, the TV host said she is 'starting to embrace the older age thing', adding: 'You just stop caring about stuff so much which is nice.'

She added: 'I have had a bit of a year. I've had a bit of a year of self-discovery.' 

As well as his camera work on Antiques Roadshow, Billy has also worked on ITV's The Xtra Factor. 

A tweet believed to have come from Billy Yates' twitter account in January praised a hit novel, which is a story about how to 'really learn to live'.

In a post about Matt Haig's book, How To Stop Time, he wrote: 'Reasons to stay alive, I don't know what else to say but, read it, read it READ IT!'

A Metropolitan Police spokesman told MailOnline Mr Yates' death was not being treated as suspicious.

They said: 'Police were called at 6.40pm on Thursday, May 4 to a residential address in Putney following reports of a man found deceased.

'Officers and the London Ambulance Service attended. A man believed to be aged 40 was pronounced dead at the scene. The death is not being treated as suspicious.'  

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