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The loneliness Davina McCall suffered throughout lockdown has made her appreciate the power of human connection even more.
The 52-year-old is the bubbly face we’ve been used to seeing on our screens for nearly three decades. But no doubt, the star struggled with being forced to isolate away in separate households from her boyfriend Michael Douglas, who she struck up a romance with last year after 20 years of friendship.
While the couple have since managed to reunite, Davina remained reflective on their podcast, Making The Cut, revealing, “Don’t underestimate everything we’ve all been through and how lonely we felt. I recently called Michael after being at the supermarket and I told him I was so excited because I’ve made this enormous discovery about myself, which was that the days I feel genuinely hand-on-heart happy are the days when I make human connections with other people. I love to talk.”
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In fact, Davina insists one of her favourite things about being in the public eye is the conversations she’s able to have. “The best thing about being famous is when I go to talk to people, they’re generally quite happy to talk back to me. I literally know everybody at my supermarket and the trolley guy even came over recently and we had a chat. When I go there I’m alone, but when I leave it, I feel
Away from our screens, Davina is a dedicated mother-of-three to Holly, 18, Tilly, 16, and Chester, 13.
The star says that, at the start of lockdown, she was struggling with her anxiety and trying to shield her children from her fears, insisting, “We do chat about things being weird and we talk about little worries. But I try to not freak them out too much.”
And while life appears to be returning to relative normality, Davina remains a fierce protector of her brood – revealing she’s taking her daughter Tilly to a doctor after a worrying spate of fainting.
“There’s nothing wrong with her, but she keeps fainting, or feeling very faint,” she explains. “The last time Tilly did it was at an airport a year ago. It was actually very frightening because, although I caught her, she could have really smashed her head on the floor. There happened to be a doctor in the queue, who I’m still really good friends with.”
Davina says the issue has been a concern of her own for years, adding, “I used to faint all the time in school assemblies. Anytime I had to stand for long periods of time and when it got a bit hot and sticky, I’d pass out. Everybody would leave me on the floor, it happened that often. I once fainted on the Northern line at Embankment. Holly’s had it too – I think we’ve all got quite low blood pressure, so I’m going to get her checked out.”
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Despite her upbeat demeanour, Davina has never shied away from her turbulent past – speaking openly about her battle with drug addiction in her twenties.
But after seeking help, she insists it was human connection that really proved to be a powerful tool for her recovery.
“You need to let people know that you are open for connections,” she explains. “When I went to my second Narcotics Anonymous meeting years ago, I walked through the door and I looked around and thought I literally don’t know anyone. Then I thought, “If somebody doesn’t come and talk to me in the next 20 seconds, I’m leaving!” My ego was so big! I know the newcomer is the most important member at a meeting, and I thought everyone should know I’m a newcomer. Then this guy Chip, who is still a really good friend, asked if I was new. I thought he must fancy me but he didn’t because he quickly introduced me to his wife. Basically it was my ego meaning I needed somebody to come and talk to me, but actually everybody else is as vulnerable and as shy as you are.”
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Family holds a special place in Davina’s heart and she’s very close to her dad Andrew and her stepmother Gaby. In the past, the star has opened up about the difficulty of being apart due to her dad’s battle with Alzheimer’s, but reveals they have all been able to reunite as lockdown restrictions ease.
“My mum [her step-mother] Gaby is a legend and takes incredibly good care of my dad, who has Alzheimer’s. It’s a tough job which she does at home. She’s got so much on her plate, and yet she’s so thoughtful. They came to visit for the first time the other day. They hadn’t been to my house since January or December even, because they went to Australia, and then there was a lockdown. She’s always bringing presents and I’m thinking her life is so busy and so tricky,
and yet she still has the time
to do this.
“Gaby brought me a present this week that was epic. I’ve got two cats and the white one’s fur gets everywhere. So I have to have a lint roller, and it always slightly depresses me because I always think I’m throwing away bits of paper – it doesn’t feel very environmentally sound. So she bought me a washable lint roller. It’s a win, win, win!”
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