TIME to give Zoe Ball a little kicking. Why? The TV and radio presenter looks not only a shoo-in for the breakfast show slot on Radio 2, it’s been claimed she was one of five female favourites for the job.

If you’re a man hoping for radio’s most prestigious slot, the only chance is to transgender and hope the oestrogen pills kick in before Chris Evans sets off to become a reborn Virgin.

The BBC, in its infinite wisdom, (ie, director-general Tony Hall, who has pledged that half of BBC presenters will be women by 2020), looks to be following the road to gender equality so prescriptively it’s making a mockery of the entire concept of meritocracy.

Now, this is not a representational petted lip on behalf of half the population; it’s anger following on from frustration, wondering when will it stop.

Zoe Ball isn’t a bad presenter, her Saturday afternoon show hold its own in terms of listeners, but it’s an exercise in shallow cheeriness. The simile it suggests is of meeting someone at a party for the first time, who squeals with delight as she

air kisses you twice – and then disappears to be someone else’s best friend.

The breakfast show, however, demands more. Wogan was witty, irreverent and clever. Evans was big, loud and inventive. But there is little doubt that criteria has been ditched. There is little doubt Ball’s hitting the back of the net is a result of the very loud demands of the Sound Women pressure group over a five-year period, set up to help women progress in radio.

Now, that intent is sound; yes, push women in broadcasting to succeed. But to not consider a male appointment is risible, given the likelihood there are some good young men out there.

The Guardian this week made the point: “If Radio 2 were to give the job to yet another man, with all those women in the running, the furore would give way to fury.”

Sure, Radio 2 is top-heavy with testosterone, but try replacing talent such as Ken Bruce, Jeremy Vine, Steve Wright and Simon Mayo and Rajar figures will drop faster than a vicar’s trousers in a Brian Rix farce.

If the Beeb is pushing women beyond the level of their talent will this backfire more generally on women in broadcasting? Is Radio 2’s Cerys Matthews really better than Paul Jones whom she replaced on the blues show? Is Simon Mayo’s drivetime slot better for having

Jo Whiley stitched on? Not according to the thousands of listeners who complained.

Zoe Ball wasn’t a success story as a Radio 1 DJ. Since that point she has worked at XFM and deputised for Ken Bruce, which means she inherits his massive audience. And her fame/success was to a very large extent predicated on her Loaded magazine image.

Ball arrived on national radio amidst a clatter of beer cans and a haze of smoke. The original ladette was defined by her 1999 wedding photograph in which she wears a stetson, a crop top shirt, jeans, and carries a bottle of Jack Daniels while puffing on a Marlboro.

She admits to cultivating this image. “I thought that if I shocked enough people, they would sit up and take notice,” she said at the time. “I think I was trying to create a new persona.”

What was wrong with old one, Zoe? Not strong enough on its own to get you the job?

Yes, the presenter is 47 now and the hell-raising days are most likely gone. But take that laddishness away and with it goes headlines, which Radio 2 loves and the prankish, impish Evans has provided.

What is there about Zoe Ball that can offer breakfast listeners some snap and crackle with their pop? Is she a poster girl for feminism? Is she anything more than a mother of two who lives in a picturesque village in East Sussex just up the road from Dame Vera Lynn and declares she loves her vegetable garden and plants? Should she not be Beechgrove Garden bound instead, where she can wear a flat cap and get up to her oxters in coo dung?

You have to worry about the others in the non-male short list for the job.

There’s Sara Cox, who arrived with Ball on the ladette wave and was dumped by Radio 1 for Chris Moyles. There’s the ditsy Claudia Winkleman, the laconic, energy-lacking Liza Tarbuck, and

Jo Whiley has to be most fortunate woman in the industry.

If we’re looking to push women into the top radio jobs let’s look for talent levels of the likes of Annie Nightingale, Janice Long and former Radio 1 star Jackie Brambles (now with Radio Scotland).

But there aren’t many young people, particularly females, who look to radio for a career, (the cool DJ jobs are in clubs). As a result, radio has to draw the ordinary from television.

Insiders say Zoe Ball isn’t sure about taking the job. Which suggests she’s not convinced she can hack it.

Or perhaps there’s a discomfort in realising she’s landing the job because of her gender?

Either way, Tony and his team should factor this in before throwing £1m a year at someone who does little more than sound genial.