Davina McCall

Davina McCall

McCall at the BAFTA Awards, April 2009
Born Davina Lucy Pascale McCall[1]
16 October 1967 (1967-10-16) (age 44)[2]
Wimbledon, South West London, England[2]
Nationality British
Ethnicity Anglo-French
Occupation Broadcaster, actress
Years active 1990–present
Television God's Gift
Don't Try This at Home
Big Brother
Got to Dance
The Million Pound Drop Live
The Biggest Loser
Long Lost Family
The Voice (UK)
Spouse Andrew Leggett (1997–1999, divorced)
Matthew Robertson
Children 2 daughters, 1 son
Parents Andrew McCall
Florence Koch (née Hennion, deceased)
Relatives Célestin Hennion (great-grandfather)

Davina McCall (born Davina Lucy Pascale McCall on 16 October 1967) is an English television presenter and actress, most notable as the presenter of the UK version of Big Brother up until its move to Channel 5.


Early life

McCall was born on 16 October 1967 in Wimbledon, London[1][3] to Florence (née Hennion) and Andrew McCall,[4] and at the age of three went to live with her paternal grandparents in Surrey after the break-up of her parents' marriage.[5] Her French mother Florence – whom McCall has described as something of a "wild child" and later, specifically as "an alcoholic" – returned to Paris, and McCall saw her only when on holidays. Her relationship with her mother was a difficult one and she has said that her mother "should never have had kids" describing how she once left her, at the age of 12, in a nightclub on her own. She continued to see her father Andrew, a graphic designer, at weekends before moving in with him and his new wife Gaby when she was 13 years old.[6]

McCall attended the Godolphin and Latymer Girls School,[7] a private school in Hammersmith, London. During her teens McCall developed the eating disorder anorexia, which she has attributed to her fractured childhood and a desperate need for attention. At the age of 15, while studying for her nine O levels and later two more A levels, McCall sang professionally with a band; however when she was 19 she decided to go solo.

During this time she dated old family friend Eric Clapton, who also produced her demo music disc and helped her to try to crack the pop music world.[8][9] Dissatisfied with her near misses in the record industry, she gave up singing and took a job at Models 1 on the men's desk as a booker. She also appeared in a music video for Kylie Minogue, Word Is Out, in a striped sweater and beret, in a nod to her French ancestry.

Later, she ran a restaurant for two years and worked as a singing waitress in Paris, when she later returned to London she quickly became a fixture on the club scene, ultimately finding work as a nightclub hostess.[10] It was at this time, during her early 20s, that McCall was a drug addict.[4][10]


After difficult times, Eric Clapton helped McCall turn things around. In 1992 she landed a job as a presenter on Ray Cokes' Most Wanted on MTV Europe. She was the Female Voice Dubber on the first series of Channel 4's Eurotrash in 1993. In 1995 she went on to host the ITV game show God's Gift (transmitted very late at night, around 3.00am usually, after weekend football highlights) and in 1998 to present the cult dating show Streetmate. McCall presented every series of Big Brother from 2000-2010 (see below for more information). From 1998-2000 she co-hosted the 1st and 2nd series of the Sky TV show Prickly Heat with Julian Clary. She presented the BRIT Awards in 2000, as well as the BBC charity show Comic Relief on several occasions. She presented the ITV show Don't Try This at Home! from 1998–2001, Popstars: The Rivals (ITV1) in 2002, The Vault (ITV1), Oblivious (ITV1), the reality television series Reborn in the USA in 2003, as well as an entertainment series on the subject of love and dating called Love on a Saturday Night (ITV1) in 2004. In 2004 she also presented the BAFTA television awards.

McCall has also tried a hand at acting appearances in Sam's Game (2001), a Friends-style TV sitcom (also starring Irish comedian Ed Byrne), which was slammed by the critics and lasted only one series. She has also appeared in the Leigh Francis comedy sketch shows Bo Selecta and A Bear's Tail. McCall provided the voice of an android version of herself for the Doctor Who episode "Bad Wolf" in 2005, and played herself as a human and subsequently as a bloodthirsty zombie in Dead Set in 2008.

She has featured as a guest on numerous chat shows, and in 2005 appeared on the BBC Two motoring show Top Gear, participating in the programme's "Star in a Reasonably-Priced Car" segment. She rounded the track in 1:57.1, which earned a lowly 67th place on the scoreboard.

During 2005, McCall presented the BBC series "He's Having a Baby", which received poor ratings. In December 2005 it was announced that she would be hosting her own BBC One prime-time chat show called Davina in early 2006. Early reviews were scathing of the show, and viewing figures flirted around the 3 million mark (at one point, dropping as low as 2 million), compared to over 6 million watching The Bill on ITV1 at the same time. In April 2006, BBC One axed the show due to the ratings not reaching expectations.

It was revealed in March 2006 that ITV1 had signed up McCall to host the BAFTA television awards for the second time in May. In April 2006 McCall was confirmed as the main presenter on Sport Relief on BBC One in July of that year, alongside friend Chris Evans. McCall's involvement with ITV had gone back some years earlier as she often appeared on the pre-programme sequences standing on a stage, something done by other ITV stars like Chris Tarrant.

She has since appeared as a host for Red Nose Day 2007 and, in conjunction, appeared in the video for Girls Aloud and Sugababes' cover of "Walk This Way", walking down a catwalk. In Red Nose Day 2009, she offered to donate £50 for kissing Doctor Who actor David Tennant who co-hosted the charitable programme with her. Also on the programme, McCall had been competing against Tennant on the celebrity version of Mastermind. She resumed presenting Big Brother on 30 May 2007.

McCall has starred in a documentary, Let's Talk Sex, about sex education, and how sex education is taught in the United Kingdom (one of the countries of Europe with the highest teenage pregnancy levels). She also has published a book under the same title. She has also appeared in a video for schools called "Watch Over Me," talking about her drug addiction and peer pressure.

In 2006, BBC Radio 1 DJ, and friend to McCall, Chris Moyles parodied The Feeling's song Love It When You Call to create a song entirely about her. The song, simply titled "The Davina McCall song" is one of the most popular parodies downloaded from website ChrisMoyles.net.[11]

On 5 July 2007, McCall was a panellist on the BBC's Question Time. It was a special 'Schools' edition, partly produced by students. In December 2007, McCall presented a New Year's edition of The Friday Night Project, entitled "The Friday Night New Year Project 2007", alongside Alan Carr and Justin Lee-Collins.

McCall presented Sport Relief 2010 alongside James Corden and others. She hosts Channel 4 gameshow The Million Pound Drop Live, the first series ran from 24 May to 29 May 2010, the second series started on 25 October 2010. She was the subject of the show Davina McCall: A Comedy Roast on 15 October 2010.[12]

In 2011 she became the host of the UK version of The Biggest Loser, replacing Kate Garraway.[13]

McCall hosts the popular dance talent show Got To Dance on Sky1. She also performed in the promotional trailer as a dancer.[14]

Big Brother

Despite holding many high profile jobs McCall is best known for hosting all the regular series of Big Brother and Celebrity Big Brother. Whilst presenting Big Brother she has become known for her catchphrases such as "Big Brother House, this is Davina. You are live on Channel 4. Please do not swear."

Whilst presenting the show's sixth series, McCall caused controversy when she wore a black bikini whilst interviewing contestant Sam Heuston. Shortly after this, McCall attracted some complaints for her hostile interviewing of housemate Makosi Musambasi on the final night, which was much criticised in the British press.[15][16]

In May 2008, British tabloid News of the World reported that McCall would leave Big Brother after the 2008 season,[17] which she was reported to have been paid £85,000 per episode to present.[18] This was later denied by McCall at the Sex And The City film premiere in London, where she said "I'm not leaving Big Brother. They would have to kill me before I'd stop doing it".[19]

In addition to her presenting duties McCall appeared as herself in Dead Set, a five-part zombie horror series set in the Big Brother house which was aired in late 2008.[20]

In 2009 and 2010, McCall took over as the presenter of Big Brother's Big Mouth. McCall was forced to miss an episode of Big Mouth during the seventh series of Celebrity Big Brother as she was granted permission to enter the house for a short period of time which coincided with the episode.

In April 2011, McCall announced she would not return to Channel 5's relaunched Big Brother and instead second series' winner Brian Dowling will be the new host.[21]

Personal life

McCall married Andrew Leggett in 1997, in Westminster, London;[22] they divorced in 1999.[citation needed]

On 29 June 2000 at Eastnor Castle, Herefordshire, she married Matthew Robertson, presenter of Pet Rescue. They have two daughters: Holly Willow (born 22 September 2001, Hounslow, London) and Tilly Pippy (born 23 September 2003, Surrey), and a son, Chester Micky (born 14 September 2006, Surrey).[22][23]

Family tree

The first episode of the 7th series of the BBC television programme Who Do You Think You Are? revealed that McCall is the great-granddaughter of onetime Prefect of Police Célestin Hennion (1862–1915).[24] She is also the great great great-granddaughter, on her father's side, of James Thomas Bedborough (1787–1860), a stonemason, councillor, Mayor, property developer, and entrepreneur, who worked on Windsor Castle and Upton Park in Slough.[4] Pierre, Hennion's son and McCall's grandfather, gave McCall his father's Royal Victorian Order medal, which she showed on the programme.[4]

In the programme, which was first broadcast on 15 July 2009, McCall learned of Hennion's story from historians Jean-Marc Berliere and Simon Kitson as well as from Françoise Hennion (Hennion's granddaughter and McCall's mother's cousin). After hearing of the part her ancestor played in the Dreyfus affair, she also met with Alfred Dreyfus's great-granddaughter, Yael Ruiz.[4]



  • MTV Europe (1992)
  • God's Gift (1995)
  • Don't Try This at Home! (1998–2001)
  • Streetmate (1998–2001)
  • A Day in the life of the Shepherds (1999)
  • BRIT Awards (2000), (2003),
  • Big Brother (2000–10)
  • Celebrity Big Brother (2001–2002, 2005–07, 2009–10)
  • Comic Relief (2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011)
  • Oblivious (2001)
  • The Vault (2002)
  • Popstars: The Rivals (2002)
  • Reborn in the USA (2003)
  • Love on a Saturday Night (2004)
  • BAFTA (2004)
  • He's Having a Baby (2005)
  • Davina (2006)
  • BAFTA (2006)
  • Sport Relief (2004, 2006, 2008, 2010)
  • Let's Talk Sex (2007)
  • Big Brother: On The Couch (2007)
  • The Friday Night New Year Project (2007)
  • 4Music's Davina & Steve's 20 Big Ones (2008)
  • Big Brother's Big Mouth (2008, 2009–10) - as a guest presenter for one week (2008) and then as main presenter during Big Brother 10, 11 and Ultimate Big Brother.
  • Who Do You Think You Are? (2009) - as participant [4]
  • Got to Dance (2010–present) [25]
  • The Million Pound Drop (2010–present)
  • Ultimate Big Brother (2010)
  • The Biggest Loser (2011–present)
  • Long Lost Family (2011-present)
  • The Voice (2012) (Host)



  1. ^ a b Husband, Stuart (12 June 2005). "The Real McCall". London: The Guardian/Observer. http://observer.guardian.co.uk/magazine/story/0,11913,1502976,00.html. Retrieved 2007-06-26. 
  2. ^ a b "McCALL, Davina". British Film Institute. http://ftvdb.bfi.org.uk/sift/individual/616143. 
  3. ^ Debrett's People of Today 2005 (18th ed.). Debrett's. p. 1034. ISBN 1870520106. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f "Who Do You Think You Are?, Series 7, Davina McCall". Who Do You Think You Are?. BBC. BBC Two. 15 July 2009.
  5. ^ Hilton, Beth (5 June 2008). "Ten Things You Never Knew About Davina McCall". Digital Spy. http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/showbiz/a97294/ten-things-you-never-knew-about-davina-mccall.html. Retrieved 2008-09-20. 
  6. ^ Jones, David (23 June 2007). "Found: Davina McCall's tragic mum". London: Daily Mail. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-463829/Found-Davina-McCalls-tragic-mum.html. Retrieved 2008-09-20. 
  7. ^ Byrne, Ciar (7 December 2005). "Davina McCall's £1m deal makes her BBC's first female chat-show host". London: Independent. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/media/davina-mccalls-1631m-deal-makes-her-bbcs-first-female-chatshow-host-518499.html. Retrieved 2008-09-20. 
  8. ^ Davina McCall Profile Biogs.com. URL accessed 3 September 2006
  9. ^ Meet the Team - Davina McCall BBC Parenting. URL accessed 3 September 2006.
  10. ^ a b Davina McCall Profile Hello!. URL accessed 3 September 2006
  11. ^ "The Sound Vault". ChrisMoyles.net. http://chrismoyles.co.uk/soundvault/pafiledb.php?action=category&id=2. Retrieved 2007-01-06. 
  12. ^ Wightman, Catriona (30 September 2010). "Davina McCall to appear on 'Comedy Roast'". London: Digital Spy. http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/tv/news/a279516/davina-mccall-to-appear-on-comedy-roast.html. Retrieved 1 October 2010. 
  13. ^ "Davina's a winner on Loser". The Sun (London). 9 October 2010. http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/showbiz/tv/3172290/Davina-McCall-to-present-new-series-of-The-Biggest-Loser.html. 
  14. ^ "Davina McCall Dances For Got To Dance". Sky1.sky.com. http://sky1.sky.com/got-to-dance-shooting-army-of-davina. Retrieved 2011-07-06. 
  15. ^ "Big Brother 6: Ofcom to investigate over Makosi's treatment"Manchester Evening News, 16 August 2006. URL accessed 3 September 2006
  16. ^ "Complaints Over Davina’s Treatment Of Makosi" UnrealityTV August 17 2005 Retrieved 3 September 2010
  17. ^ "Davina McCall 'quits Big Brother'". Digital Spy. 6 May 2008. http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/bigbrother9/a95313/davina-mccall-quits-big-brother.html. Retrieved 2008-05-06. 
  18. ^ "Davina McCall has confidence crisis at 40". Now magazine. http://www.nowmagazine.co.uk/celebrity-news/tv-news/256052/davina-mccall-has-confidence-crisis-at-40/1/. Retrieved 2008-05-19. 
  19. ^ "Davina: 'I'm not leaving Big Brother'". Digital Spy. 13 May 2008. http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/bigbrother9/a95826/davina-im-not-leaving-big-brother.html. Retrieved 2008-05-13. 
  20. ^ "Davina McKill". The Sun (London). 8 October 2008. http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/showbiz/tv/article1784812.ece. 
  21. ^ "McCall rules out Big Brother return". Entertainment.stv.tv. 2011-04-08. http://entertainment.stv.tv/tv/242378-davina-mccall-rules-out-big-brother-return/. Retrieved 2011-07-06. 
  22. ^ a b "Marriages and Births England and Wales 1984-2006". Findmypast.co.uk. http://www.findmypast.co.uk/BirthsMarriagesDeaths.jsp. Retrieved 2011-07-06. 
  23. ^ "Sun reports birth of Chester". Thesun.co.uk. 2006-09-15. http://www.thesun.co.uk/article/0,,2-2006420762,00.html. Retrieved 2011-07-06. 
  24. ^ "Who Do You Think You Are? - Davina McCall". The National Archives. http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/news/stories/331.htm?WT.hp=nf-37600. Retrieved 16 July 2009. 
  25. ^ Davina McCall Moves To Sky One’s Just Dance – Audition Now! 26-8-2009
  26. ^ "Dead Set". E4.com. http://www.e4.com/deadset. Retrieved 2011-07-06. 

External links

Preceded by
Big Brother UK Presenter
Succeeded by
Brian Dowling
Preceded by
Kate Garraway
The Biggest Loser UK Presenter
Succeeded by

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