Skip to main contentSkip to footer

Davina McCall on embracing her 'second act' now that her children are older

The presenter's two grown-up daughters have flown the nest

Davina McCall poses in bikini in the Maldives
Rosalind Powell
Contributing Editor
Share this:

Lazing on a palm-fringed beach as the azure waters of the Indian Ocean sparkle in the sun, Davina McCall admits it's a hard job, holidaying in the Maldives.

"It was very difficult, obviously," she says, grinning. "My kids were like: 'What? You're going where? Without us?'"

Looking fabulous in a range of swimsuits and sun dresses, the mother of three and former Big Brother presenter is modelling for a shoot on the South Malé Atoll.

Luckily, her partner, celebrity hairstylist Michael Douglas, was able to join her. "I was very lucky because my boyfriend also does my hair, so we got to go as a couple. We had an absolutely brilliant time," says Davina, who was on the paradise island in her role as brand ambassador for Tui.

Davina McCall on holiday in the Maldives
Davina enjoying her holiday in the Maldives

Davina's children

Her children – Holly, 22, Tilly, 20, and 17-year-old Chester – were left behind to brood, although her son is the only one remaining at the family home.

Holly has moved to Newcastle, where she is in her last year studying dietetics, and Tilly is in Australia, where many of Davina's relatives, including an aunt, uncle and cousins, are based. "It's a long bloody way," she says of her daughter's location, although she prefers to celebrate rather than mourn her children's growing independence.

"My aim has always been to give my children wings, so they're confident enough to go and do whatever they want to do. Obviously the reality of that will be... quiet. I quite enjoy the chaos. But I'd much rather they went off confidently than clung on to my legs and never wanted to leave."

Championing midlife women

Adored by fans for her work on shows including The Masked Singer, My Mum, Your Dad and Celebrity Gogglebox, the irrepressible 56-year-old presenter – who recently visited Buckingham Palace to receive an MBE for services to broadcasting – has also been a champion of women in midlife, campaigning on and writing about the menopause, which she has tackled with the same zest and enthusiasm as her long TV career.

Davina McCall on holiday in the Maldives
The presenter, 56, looking stunning in a blue bikini

"I love that concept of a second spring," she says. "I suppose it's a way of trying to help us overcome the empty nest, to understand that letting go of something is the birth of something else. And once you've let go of your kids, and they've gone on to live their lives, you can start thinking: 'Well, what do I want to do with this next act?'

"I've met so many women who are fulfilling lifelong dreams of travelling or setting up businesses, doing all the things they weren't free to do before. But you've got to get through this quite painful transition in order to be liberated."

She continues: "I definitely feel less encumbered by self-obsession. When you're younger, you want to fit in. But as you get older, you don't care about fitting in any more. I feel less worried about what I look like, less about what people think of me, less about how I should dress and behave. A friend of mine started a thing called the Zero F**ks Club, and I was like: 'I'm joining that!'"

Not caring what you look like is easier, though, when you have a figure like Davina's – which is "part genetic, but also hard work", she admits. "I watch what I eat and try to exercise three times a week at least, so you do have to put the work in to feel good about yourself – or for me to feel good about myself."

Finding love again

It must also help that she has found love again. A year or so after her divorce from her children's father, Matthew Robertson, Davina fell in love with Michael, 50, previously married with two children, who had been styling her hair for 20 years.

The pair present a podcast, Making the Cut, and often appear together on Celebrity Gogglebox. But she dismisses the idea that looking good has anything to do with being in love. "It's not about being in a relationship, because lots of women end up not being in a relationship," she says. "It's about self-love: how you feel about yourself, and that you're worth it.

"In midlife, you can begin to feel invisible, and do you lean into that? Some people probably enjoy slipping into the shadows – or are you somebody who thinks: 'No, I don't want to feel like that'?"

Davina McCall on holiday in the Maldives
"I'm not very good at lying down and doing nothing for a week – I need activities," says Davina

She makes an interesting comparison between teenagers and midlifers, both of whom can be victims of their hormones. "We're all attention-seekers when we're teenagers, because we feel invisible, and when we turn into second-springers, we seek the same level of attention because we feel invisible again.

"We get there and think: 'You're going to see me and hear me, and I'm going to be opinionated.' Just look at Miriam Margoyles!" she cries, naming the controversial actress loved (and feared) for her outrageous candour.

"Sometimes you might not agree with what she's saying, but the lovely thing about being an older statesperson is that you're allowed an opinion, and I don't mind if it's different from mine," she adds.

"Younger people are terrified of having an opinion in case they get cancelled. But somebody older is like: 'I don't care; I'm just going to say it.'"

Her passion for championing the over-50s is clear from her reality TV show My Mum, Your Dad, in which teenage children play matchmakers for their middle-aged, single parents. "I love it so much. It was so heartwarming," says Davina, who will be presenting a second series of the hit show. "I looked at all the contestants and thought: 'You are my people.'

"It's so exciting as you don't see them represented on TV anywhere – but they're fun, they're vibrant and they want to get dressed up and talk about relationships, sex and how they feel."

Davina McCall on holiday in the Maldives
Davina says the sea life in the Maldives is "incredible"

Holidaying in the Maldives

Her role as brand ambassador for Tui's global hotel label, Tui Blue, is another job she was thrilled to throw herself into.

Staying at its Olhuveli Romance hotel, the presenter spent a week with the resort's guides and hosts, sampling some of the holiday pastimes on offer. "I'm not very good at lying down and doing nothing for a week – I need activities," says Davina, who enjoyed a lesson from the hotel chef in Maldivian cooking, joined an exercise session by the ocean and discovered the spectacular marine inhabitants of a deserted shipwreck.

"We went on an hour's boat ride into the middle of nowhere and I was thinking: 'Where are we going?' I couldn't see anything. Then you could see a mast sticking out of the water. We all got in and went snorkelling around it – the sea life is unbelievable."

Her partner Michael was also able to join her. "Well, he was supposed to be working, but he came out on the boat – he can't do much to my hair when I'm under water," she points out.

Now back in the UK, Davina is focusing on her next major project – her own lingerie brand, Sessi, which launches in April and has already been snapped up by M&S. "It's been interesting but also incredibly scary and difficult because I'm not a businesswoman at all; I'm learning as we go," she says.

"As you get into midlife, your brain works in a certain way: multi-tasking becomes harder. But I like learning new things, as it's easy to get into a lazy mindset where keeping the status quo is a comfortable place to be.

"Don't go quietly," she cautions with a smile. "And don't keep the status quo."

Davina McCall on cover of HELLO!

For more information visit

Photos by Patrick Harrison.

More Celebrity News

See more