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TV presenter Johnny Ball wants return of National Service for 'floundering kids'

Danny Thompson
·Contributor
·2 min read
Johnny Ball arriving at the Portland Hospital, in London where his TV presenter daughter Zoe, wife to musician and DJ Norman Cook (Fat Boy Slim), gave birth to a 8lb 5oz boy at 7.10pm.   (Photo by Andrew Stuart - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)
Johnny Ball thinks National Service return could help some youngsters (Photo by Andrew Stuart - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)

TV legend Johnny Ball “wishes” National Service could make a return for UK youngsters “floundering around”.

Ball, father to TV and radio star Zoe Ball, spent three years in the RAF after being called to serve his country in the 1950s.

The 82-year-old is known for popular shows from the 1970s and 80s such as Think of a Number, which allowed the star to show off his skills as a mathematician.

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Appearing at a recent RAF Benevolent Fund, Ball spoke of how National Service benefitted him as a young man.

As reported by The Mirror he said: “National Service was the making of me. I wish we could afford it today, not for everyone, but for kids floundering around.

“You meet strangers from all walks of life. In Bolton my mates started to form a gang. The forces got me out of that. It was an absolute dream.”

Johnny Ball and Zoe Ball during Daily Mail Ideal Home Show 2006 - Photocall at Earls Court in London, Great Britain. (Photo by Fred Duval/FilmMagic)
Johnny Ball and Zoe Ball during Daily Mail Ideal Home Show 2006 - Photocall at Earls Court in London, Great Britain. (Photo by Fred Duval/FilmMagic)

Ball added: “I opted to be a radar operator, partly as it had the maximum chance of an overseas posting. I was posted to Wales!

“But at Aberporth I was working with boffins. Later I was sent to Germany to monitor the Hamburg-Berlin air corridor. I had three glorious years.”

National Service saw men aged 17 to 21 carry out at least two years compulsory service in the armed forces between 1948 and 1963.

TV presenterJohnny Ball attends the Chelsea Flower Show. (Photo by Rune Hellestad/Corbis via Getty Images)
TV presenterJohnny Ball attends the Chelsea Flower Show. (Photo by Rune Hellestad/Corbis via Getty Images)

According to a survey carried by Armed Forces charity SSAFA, two thirds of those questioned support the reintroduction of National Service.

Actor Sir Michael Caine also did National Service, and he too called for it to return.

He said at the premiere for his movie Harry Brown: “There should be a great plan to re-educate these youngsters. It's such a waste – they all feel society has let them down.

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“I'm just saying put them in the army for six months. You're there to learn how to defend your country. You belong to the country.

“Then when you come out, you have a sense of belonging rather than a sense of violence.”

Watch: Have Zoe Ball and Rylan Clark-Neal fallen out?