WITH a 30-year career in TV already under her belt, 2022 is shaping up to be one of Davina McCall’s busiest times yet.
As well as a brand new dating show, The Language of Love, Davina has a new series of The Masked Singer starting in January, as well as a follow-up to her much-lauded documentary, Sex, Myths and the Menopause, out next summer.
Any spare time she has is either spent exercising, hanging out with her podcast co-host and partner of two years, 47-year-old hairdresser Michael Douglas, or looking after her three kids, Holly, 20, Tilly, 18 and 15-year-old Chester.
The 54-year-old admits that a lot has changed over the past two years when it comes to being a mum.
She says: “It’s interesting because I've always thought that I would have done a good thing If my kids leave home and they spread their wings and they never turn back.
"I have always been a great advocate of them not worrying about me and whether I’ll be okay.
"I’ve always said to them, “If you want to emigrate anywhere, or go live in another country, do not even think about me, I will be fine. You go and do whatever you want to do and live wherever you want to live.”
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That’s not to say Davina didn’t feel the emotional effects of empty nest syndrome when her eldest daughter Holly moved out in 2020.
The telly host says: “My God, the first week Holly went to university in Newcastle I walked around Sainsbury's crying.
"I was sobbing because I wasn't buying oat milk for her anymore. I walked around looking at all the things that she would buy, and not buying them because she's not there anymore.
"And literally, I felt so bereft.
“It took me six months to properly let her go, and to also understand that she’s busy.
"She's got a life and I should let her call me when she needs to. I can't keep hassling her.
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“But she's having the time of her life. She absolutely loves it.
"Newcastle is a fantastic city and the people are so nice. I've been up there a couple of times and we've had such a lovely time.
"Being able to go to lectures in her second year, actually in person, has completely changed her learning as well.
"She had no in-person lectures the first year and it was really depressing.”
Tilly will be next to fly the coop when she starts university next Autumn, so how does Davina feel about the thought of the house being even quieter?
The fitness guru says: “I’m still clinging on to Tilly for dear life. I mean, that will be weird, because when Tilly is gone, it's just me and Chester.
"It's going to be a bit sad, although I am quite excited because Chester and I went to our second game at Highbury to watch Arsenal the other day, and I loved it so much.
"Mo Gilligan gave me his seats because he’s been so busy he couldn’t use them, and he’s such a nice man. Chester and I were made up.
“I know so little about football, but I do know the players’ names and things. I know this sounds pathetic, but actually seeing Makel Arteta in the flesh when we were sitting quite close to the sideline was really exciting.”
The 54-year-old loved the experience so much she is thinking of making a season ticket investment next year.
She says: “After the first thing we went, it was so brilliant I thought ‘I'm going to get season tickets.’
"That way, when Tilly goes to uni and she's not around at the weekends, me and Chester can go to football on Saturdays.
I remember doing that myself; walking the streets of London on my own at three o'clock in the morning wearing next to nothing.
"We wouldn't have to think about anyone else or worry about what to do. I think I'd actually really enjoy that, and he would too.
"I've got to say, I've been to Highbury twice in adulthood, and we've won twice, so I've not experienced a loss yet. I'm still on a buzz.”
Davina admits that while she is finding the Covid pandemic as unsettling as the rest of the world, and recently suffered from the virus herself, she reveals she is very grateful it gave her kids the chance to staycation together at her Kent home over the summer holidays.
She says: “It was a very precious time for them.
"For Chester to have everybody in the house together was amazing because we would never normally have had that. They will be very good memories for him to have for the rest of his life.”
Does Davina think any of her kids follow her into the world of showbiz?
She says: “My middle one, Tilly, might. She would be a great YouTuber because she's very creative. I'm not I'm not sure if she would do it but she would be so good.
“I think Holly would be brilliant too. I keep telling us she's got to do an Instagram account about her student food because it is off the charts amazing, but she has almost zero desire to be in the spotlight.
"I keep saying, “You’ve got to share this stuff!” but she's so reticent and not interested. It’s so funny because I can see how well it would do and she’s like, “No thanks, I just want to do my job.”
Although she’s shunning showbiz, Holly is following in Davina’s healthy footsteps by training to be a dietician.
Davina says: “The more I talk to her, the more I realise that we are what we eat. She's teaching me that on a daily basis. She’s like a walking encyclopaedia.
"She's always loved cooking. She's been a natural baker from the get-go, and then she turned baking into cooking lots of different types of foods.
“She's much more intuitive at cooking than I am. She’s way better.
"She originally wanted to be a doctor, and then this amazing nutritionist I know called Dr Megan Rossi said Holly could very kindly shadow her, and that was it.
"Two days later she left with massive crush on Megan and went off and applied to study dietetics at uni.
"So Megan changed her life, really.”
Raising teenagers can be tricky at the best of times, but when you’ve got a hugely busy career – as well as presenting, Davina runs her own fitness website Own Your Goals, and has just released a new workout range with JDWilliams – how do you find the time to keep your kids in check?
Davina says: “A bit of parenting advice that my friend Katie gave me is so amazing it blew my mind. She told me – wait for this – never say no to a teenager.
“She said, ‘When they get into their teenage years, you have to enter into a discussion with them because they are turning into young adults, and they deserve to be heard.’ I had no idea. I thought you got stricter with teenagers because they're more hassle.
I was like, ‘What? You've got to be kidding me!”’ Katie said, ‘You will never have a teenager strop out of a room if you don’t say no to them.’”
Does that also work when it comes to what her daughters wear when they hit the town?
Davina says: “Say my daughters are about to go out and they look amazing, but they're wearing next to nothing. I'll go, “Oh my god, are you going not wear a coat?”
"They’ll reply, 'Mum, we’re fine.'
A bit of parenting advice that my friend Katie gave me is so amazing it blew my mind. She told me – wait for this – never say no to a teenager.
“I won’t say, “You’re not going out dressed like that,” I’ll just tell them I’m worried they’ll be cold. Then I think, ‘I remember going out wearing very little in Baltic weather’. They’re made of thicker stuff.
"Nobody wears any clothes these days. Everybody's in shorter skirts and crop tops with their boobs out.
"I remember doing that myself; walking the streets of London on my own at three o'clock in the morning wearing next to nothing.
"But sometimes I need my kids to remind me of that.
“Having these discussions with my kids has meant that we've never had slamming doors. I also feel like I'm getting to know them better, and they understand me better.
"It's been an amazing rule that has worked so well because it's meant that we talk, and talking is always good.”
It’s rare to see Davina without a smile on her face, so how does she stay so positive?
She says: “Listen, really importantly, I must say that I am not always happy. I have days, and sometimes a week, where I'll feel a bit blue.
"Definitely not down enough to say it'sdepression, but definitely slightly out of sorts. It will be the kind of feeling where I think, ‘you know what, I could really do with is some good news.’
“It might be because one or two of my kids are struggling a bit in life at that time. It might be about a boy, or it might be about their workload.
"There's a very interesting phrase which says ‘you're only as happy as your unhappiest child’, and I think that's very true of me.
"You know, if suddenly one of my kids is unhappy, I'm a bit unhappy.
"It’s sometimes about just knuckling down, trying to help them through it, and once I've helped them through it, I’m freed up a little bit again.”
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