‘I’ve learnt not to worry what peo­ple t hink’

She over­came a dif­fi­cult start to be­come one of our busiest TV pre­sen­ters, with fan­tas­tic abs to boot. Davina Mccall ex­plains why she doesn’t waste time on re­grets and has so much to cel­e­brate this year

Good Housekeeping (UK) - - Celebrate June - PHO­TOG­RA­PHY JOHN SWAN­NELL IN­TER­VIEW JES­SICA CAL­LAN

The minute she strides into the GH shoot, Davina Mccall fills the stu­dio with pos­i­tiv­ity. She ra­di­ates a golden glow of health and hap­pi­ness, and is ex­actly the warm, friendly per­son she ap­pears to be on TV. With big hugs for ev­ery­one, the pre­sen­ter is vi­va­cious, with a con­ta­gious en­thu­si­asm for life.

With a milestone birth­day later this year, Davina is in re­flec­tive mood. Grow­ing up was chal­leng­ing – her par­ents broke up when she was four and she lived with her grand­mother as her own mother strug­gled with al­co­holism. In her early 20s, Davina bat­tled drug ad­dic­tion be­fore go­ing into re­cov­ery. Re­mark­ably she turned it all round and life now re­volves around her hus­band, Matthew Robertson, and their chil­dren, Holly, Tilly and Ch­ester.

She’s also be­come well known for her phys­i­cal fit­ness, and won widespread re­spect when she com­pleted a gru­elling 500-mile triathlon for Sport Re­lief in 2014.

As well as turn­ing 50 later this year, Davina is also cel­e­brat­ing 25 years of be­ing on our TV screens. She shares her keys to con­fi­dence, a pos­i­tive ap­proach to get­ting older and deal­ing with a new health cri­sis in her family.

You will be 50 this year. How are you feel­ing about that?

There are lots of things that I am be­gin­ning to en­joy and re­alise are okay. I gen­uinely care a lot less about what peo­ple think of me. As you grow older, I think you’ve earned the right to wear some­thing that might di­vide peo­ple. I want to take risks! When I was younger I would be up­set about it [be­ing crit­i­cised in the me­dia]. Now I couldn’t give two hoots. I’m wear­ing what I’m wear­ing. Get over it!

How will you cel­e­brate?

For my ac­tual birth­day, I’m hav­ing a club night with 500 peo­ple in Lon­don. I’m invit­ing ev­ery­one from my life who has made my life bril­liant and who I’ve loved. There are lots of things that make me feel re­ally young – and one of them is mu­sic. It’s emo­tional and phys­i­cal and eu­phoric.

Who in­spires you?

Dame Judi Dench – she’s hav­ing fun, liv­ing life and en­joy­ing her­self. It’s so im­por­tant for women to be out there show­ing other women that it doesn’t all end at a cer­tain age. It keeps go­ing on as long as we keep go­ing on.

You seem very con­fi­dent… Where does that self-be­lief come from?

Firstly, you have got to love your­self. If you don’t, no­body else is go­ing to love you. The way to do that is with acts of self-love. Look after your body, drink wa­ter, take care of your­self. All this helped me when I was in re­cov­ery be­cause I hated my­self. My first [ad­dic­tion] spon­sor told me to get a mir­ror, keep it by the bed, look in it ev­ery day and say, ‘I love you’. The first time I picked it up I started cry­ing. But over time you get used to say­ing it. When you love your­self you be­lieve you are worth be­ing looked after. It’s taken me a long time to learn that.

What other con­fi­dence tips have you learnt?

When you’re not feel­ing very sure of your­self, the temp­ta­tion is to shy away and not be seen or heard. But you shouldn’t be em­bar­rassed to put your­self for­ward for things. I am an­noy­ingly en­thu­si­as­tic and a bit like Mar­mite – you ei­ther love me or hate me. So it’s about putting your­self out there. That’s fright­en­ing, as you may think you’ll get re­jected or laughed at. But if you are, you’ve got to brush it off.

Do you have any re­grets about your life?

Re­gret is toxic. You can’t do any­thing about the past. You atone for it and for­give your­self, let it go, move on and look for­ward. Liv­ing in the past is dan­ger­ous and will pull you down in the end. You are just stuck in the prob­lem – and I want to live in the so­lu­tion.

You grew up the daugh­ter of an ad­dict and had a chaotic child­hood. How did that af­fect you?

I was lucky be­cause I lived with my granny and she was so ground­ing. She taught me what it was to mother some­one. She was the per­son whose bed I’d sneak off to in the mid­dle of the night if I had a night­mare. She was the per­son who taught me to be prac­ti­cal and brave. It’s im­por­tant to say there was love there [with my mother]. She was a crazy, mad, amaz­ing woman – she just didn’t know how to par­ent.

What sort of mother are you?

My chil­dren know I love them what­ever they do. I was al­ways try­ing to adapt to my mum and keep her on the level and calm. Should I be funny, quiet or re­ally lov­ing? My daugh­ters bor­row my clothes and look miles bet­ter than me, which is ex­actly as it should be. My mum used to bor­row my clothes and look bet­ter than me. I re­mem­ber think­ing to my­self, ‘When I have chil­dren, I am not go­ing to do this. I am go­ing to let my chil­dren shine.’ I feel no hint of jeal­ousy to­wards my chil­dren. I have lived a very colour­ful life and I don’t need to do that any more. I will bask in their glow.

Are you ro­man­tic?

Matthew and I have a song called In the Arms Of The An­gel by Sarah Mclachlan. It’s sexy time mu­sic. It’s a song about death, but for me it’s about hav­ing a sec­ond chance – and I just felt that, with Matthew, it was like a new op­por­tu­nity.

Your fa­ther, An­drew, has Alzheimer’s and your grand­mother has de­men­tia. How do you cope?

My dad’s pos­i­tive at­ti­tude is quite ex­tra­or­di­nary. In cer­tain as­pects he is get­ting worse – his short-term mem­ory is re­ally a strug­gle. But he is liv­ing a great life and has the amaz­ing love of my step­mum, who I call Mum. When you see the way he is deal­ing with it, you re­alise you can’t mope around. My lovely granny is very con­fused now, but she is happy. They are both pretty in­spi­ra­tional.

Has it made you think more about your own health?

I have called my doc­tor twice, in floods of tears say­ing: ‘I’ve def­i­nitely got Alzheimer’s dis­ease.’ She is so nice to me and says: ‘If you had Alzheimer’s, you wouldn’t be call­ing me about it.’ She has told me I’m only for­get­ful be­cause my in­box is full and I have cog­ni­tive over­load. I don’t drink, I don’t smoke and I am in good health. If I get ill, I get ill – it’s a lottery. None of us knows what’s go­ing to hap­pen around the cor­ner. You just have to en­joy life.

You’ve taken on some huge phys­i­cal chal­lenges, such as your Sport Re­lief chal­lenge. Do you feel you need to prove your­self?

It is quite pos­si­ble. I am not an ath­lete or some­one who trains 12 hours a day. I have a job and three kids. What I think is quite amaz­ing about the hu­man body is that, what­ever we’re go­ing through and even when we think we have noth­ing left, there is more in the tank.

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