Davina McCall: Big Brother can come back – with a few tweaks

Welcome to Metro.co.uk‘s The Big Questions, where we ask, well, the big questions (and the smaller ones too) and this week, we’re diving deep with Davina McCall.

If there’s anyone who knows a thing or two about wellness, it’s the esteemed TV presenter who is known for her incredible fitness regime and pushing open and candid discussions about menopause, as seen on the recent Channel 4 documentary Sex, Myths and the Menopause.

Therefore it made absolute sense that Davina jetted over to Turkey to road test the new Wellness Menu at TUI BLUE resorts and, honestly, it looks like she had a blast. 

The presenter told us all about her sun-kissed getaway while also reflecting on her golden days hosting Big Brother (and whispers about its return), whether she’d give her teenage daughters her blessing to go on reality TV, and why she was left screaming like a baby in the spa… 

Yes, we cover it all! 

Ok, your trip to Turkey looked amazing and we might just be a little envious. How was your experience staying at the TUI BLUE Grand Azur? 

It’s funny because I was asked to go to Turkey in a work capacity… and I spent most of it feeling guilty thinking “I’m not supposed to be having this much fun at work”. I was basically on an amazing holiday in a beautiful setting with fantastic weather doing my absolute favourite thing which is eating really healthily and staying fit at the same time as sunbathing and swimming. 

I felt like I shouldn’t tell TUI what an amazing time I was having in case I shouldn’t be having so much fun at work! 

I did a bit of paddleboarding which is a great way of getting out on the water but not getting soaked. You can see a bit of the coastline and it’s a phenomenal workout. I also had a hammam which I know isn’t exercise, but it is important to rest as well as exercise and I cannot tell you how extraordinary a hammam is, it’s like they remove the top 10 layers of your skin! 

It was really funny and I laughed so much thinking, god, if my kids could see me now screaming like a baby – I had no idea the cold water was coming! 

You’re obviously heavily into fitness and look incredible for it, but do you get burn-out quite often? 

I never get burn-out because I don’t work out as much as everyone thinks I do, which is really great. 

Everyone assumes I’m a gym bunny but I work five days a week and have three children so I can’t go to the gym everyday. I always say to people, if you want to have a meaningful stab at getting fit or being fit for the rest of your life, then you want to do some form of exercise at least three times a week. If you do it less than that, you’re never going to really benefit. 

My goal at the moment is to work out three to four times a week and when I do, I do 45 minutes to an hour. People think that I’m going to the gym everyday and then I burn out – just don’t do that. 

On my rest day I might walk the dog so it’s an active rest day. I’m an active person but burn out’s not a thing. 

You earned huge applause for your latest menopause documentary, has anyone from the Government reached out to you regarding you raising awareness about the HRT crisis? 

I’m doing as much as I can with Carolyn Harris and the cross party group that are trying to raise women’s health issues and I know that group is doing amazing work in this arena, so we don’t even really need to start on at the Government about it, they are on it and trying to sort it out. 

It is a scandal but I’m not entirely sure why or who is responsible for it, but it is trying to get sorted out at Government level. They are doing as much as they can. 

Much like yourself, Dame Deborah James has become a positive force for action regarding women’s health and health in general. What has it been like for you to watch her ordeal? 

The absolute catastrophe for Deborah is that she’s much younger than me, she’s 40 – 14 years younger than me – and this should not be happening to her. I’ve worked with Deborah a lot and would consider her a good friend and she is nothing short of miraculous in the way she has, in the last five years, done so much for cancer as a whole. 

In terms of being inspiring and a fighter for people struggling with cancer, in terms of showing us what it’s like to live with cancer, also in terms of spotting cancer, what she’s raised for the Marsden – if anybody hasn’t donated to her [Bowelbabe] fund, please go do it. 

I know that she just battles through as hard as she can but her positivity has shone through all the way and what I’ve loved about her is she’s kept us abreast of everything that she’s going through, and as hard as it is to read sometimes, it’s important to read because she’s one of thousands of people struggling with cancer and we must be aware of this and we musn’t forget that cancer is something that in the future we really will be able to do something about; the scientific leads that they’re making in terms of treatments nowadays are amazing. 

Even at her illest she is still out there campaigning and fighting. I’m in awe of Deborah. 

Your career has been so wonderfully diverse; you’ve managed to cover reality TV and hard-hitting documentaries and not a lot of people get to have that sort of range. Did you ever fear at one point you would get boxed into Big Brother? 

When I was in it, I loved it so much that I didn’t really think about getting boxed in, I just wanted it to carry on forever. 

But then when it was coming to an end – I had an inkling it was coming to an end on Channel 4 – and I was really sad when it stopped. Then I thought, I am Big Brother, what do I do now? Where do I go from now? Who am I? 

Then, it was really interesting because the first thing I got offered when I stopped Big Brother was Got To Dance on Sky, and that was one of the most joyful programmes I ever made. I loved making that show. It was such a brilliant soft exit from Big Brother that it was like the perfect, happy, entertaining, no scandal – Big Brother was polarising so if I got into the back of a taxi, someone would either say, “Oh my God I love Big Brother, tell me everything that’s happening”, or you’d get into the back of a taxi and he goes, “I hate that show you do”. 

But ever since I’ve stopped Big Brother, I don’t think I’ve ever had anybody go, “I hate the TV show you make”. So very quickly after Got To Dance, I got Long Lost Family, and I don’t think I would have got Long Lost Family had I still been doing Big Brother. 

So I did appreciate that at the time. I thought, this is the show I wouldn’t have got if I were still presenting that, so maybe it was a good thing it stopped when it did because I’ve had the opportunity to explore another side of my personality which is kind of karma. 

There are mounting rumours Big Brother is coming back! Would you like to return as host? 

I know! There have been so many rumours in the past so I’m not even thinking about it but, I do feel like with a few tweaks it can come back. It would be good. I don’t even know – maybe if they did a one off. I feel like we’re pining after it but at the same time, we’ve seen other shows come back and be reborn out of a sense of nostalgia and they haven’t worked like, I don’t know, have we left it too long? Have we said goodbye? Does it feel dated? There are so many questions. 

But, it’s an amazing format, isn’t it? 

I literally have no idea. I’ve heard loads about it and then it went really quiet. 

We’d all love for you to present Big Brother again but, if not yourself, who do you think would be the perfect host? 

Obviously Emma [Willis] and Rylan [Clark], they love that show. Rylan’s obsessive and has been since day one and Emma became the queen of Big Brother on Channel 5 so either of those – but it would be nice to see old housemates back. 

How would you feel if one of your daughters (aged 18 and 20) went on a show like Love Island? Michael Owen’s daughter Gemma is on the current series and she’s a similar age… 

If they came to me and said, “I want to go on Love Island”, I’d be like, “Ok, let’s talk it through but you can do whatever you like, you’re 18 and 20”. I’m not gonna tell my kids how to live their life, I can only discuss it with them and let them form their own opinions because in life we all have to make choices and we sometimes make mistakes. 

I’m not saying I would love my kids to go onto Love Island which is what it turned into last time I spoke about this – “great I want my kids to go on Love Island” – I want them to do what they want to do. I want them to make decisions they are proud of, what they feel good about and if they want to go on Love Island, I’d be like, “go for it, I’ll support you all the way”. 

They are 18 and 20, they’re adults. They need guidance but they don’t need me to tell them what to do anymore. They’re brilliant at making their own decisions and they’ve made very good ones so far, so I trust them. 

Do you feel you’ve become more fearless as you’ve matured, whether that’s trying new things or being brave in other ways? 

I definitely feel like I have. I went skiing this year – I’ve been petrified of skiing, not even the act of skiing but the sheer organising; where to get skis, how you do passes, how do you know where you are on a mountain and, oh my God, what happens if you roll? 

Then I thought, “my goodness why haven’t you done this so far? You’re 54”. Why has it taken me so long? This is the best thing ever. So I do feel like I’m more willing to have a pop at things. And it’s not that I don’t feel the fear, it’s that I try to push that to the back of my mind and think don’t be ridiculous. 

A life lived in fear is a life half-lived.

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