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Davina McCall recalls ‘fun, chaotic’ mother as she reflects on substance abuse

Davina McCall has spoken about how her mother’s alcohol addiction impacted her own life.

The TV presenter and fitness guru, 55, previously revealed on The Diary of a CEO podcast that she used to smoke cannabis with her mum, Florence, when she was 12 years old.

“There’s a lot of my mum in me,” McCall told The Times. “I don't want to slag her off. She was my mum, warts and all. She wasn't perfect. And she did make me, in so many ways, who I am.

“She was party central, but also, I'm at pains to say, along with being quite a chaotic parent, she was really f***ing fun. She was spontaneous. I'm not very good at that. I feel like I'm such a wild woman when I'm spontaneous, because I'm a planner.

“I like to be organised, because my mum was very chaotic. So it makes me feel safe when I go: 'OK, next Christmas we'll...' And I do that in January.”

McCall, whose mother died in 2008, said she believed she had a “hole” in her heart that she filled with drugs: “And eventually I've kind of put sticky tape over each f***king hole, and probably each therapy session I go to is like another bit of tape.

“Now I feel like it's healed but I am still vigilant. I don't ever want to drink again, that's for sure. I love not drinking.”

The TV star was made an MBE in the King’s birthday honours this year, for services to broadcasting.

“I can’t believe it. It’s a great honour and it really means a great deal,” she said, in a statement shared with the PA news agency in June.

Davina McCall says MBE for broadcasting services ‘means a great deal’ (Ian West/PA) (PA Archive)
Davina McCall says MBE for broadcasting services ‘means a great deal’ (Ian West/PA) (PA Archive)

McCall rose to fame as the presenter of Channel 4’s reality show Big Brother when it launched in 2000, after which she continued to serve as host until 2010, when it was axed then picked up by Channel 5.

Her next project, which was announced in January, is titled Your Mum, Your Dad, and will see McCall host what she describes as a “midlife” Love Island that aims to help single parents find love, while being observed in secret by their adult children.

Last year, she released a new book, Menopausing, which was intended to help end “the shame and horrific misinformation surrounding menopause”.

Written with Dr Naomi Potter, Menopausing was named overall Book of the Year at the 2023 British Book Awards, and followed the release of McCall’s Channel 4 documentary, Sex, Myths and the Menopause.

More recently she called for a revolution on contraception, after exploring the effects of the pill in an intimate new Channel 4 documentary.

Davina McCall’s Pill Revolution showed the presenter having her coil fitted on TV in a rare on-screen moment to help dispel misinformation around contraception.

Additional reporting by Press Association