A Coffee With… Davina McCall

A Coffee With… Davina McCall

For many, Davina McCall needs no introduction. One of the most prolific and recognisable television presenters of our generation, her dedication to health and fitness, as well as her honest reflections on addiction and sobriety have endeared her to millions. Ahead of the launch of her new winter clothing collection, we grabbed a coffee with her to chat all things fashion, food and fitness….

Hi Davina – can we get you a coffee?

Controversially, I’m much more of a tea drinker than a coffee drinker. I’m also a total diva when it comes to tea. It would have to be a strong English breakfast tea – preferably Yorkshire – with just the right amount of milk. Quite thick and dark. Occasionally I will have a coffee. I’m one of those strange people who can have one after dinner and still go straight to sleep. If I’m having one, it’s usually a flat white but Jonathan Ross – who I’m currently working with on The Masked Singer – is insisting I give oat milk a go instead. He has very strong views on the whole dairy thing. I have to say, I tried pea milk on This Morning for a taste test once – I think it’s the closest thing to real milk.

What about snacks – any healthy ones you recommend?

I try very hard not to eat between meals. Right now, I’ve been off sugar for a week and the results have been amazing. I’ve done this before, but I fell off the wagon at Easter and normally I only fall off for a week. But this time, it really spiralled. Then, I read somewhere about giving up sugar for November and I thought, “I could do that.” A bit like a drug addict who goes on a massive bender the day before they go to rehab, I went mad during the last couple of days in October. I think I ate six Gold bars the night before… but right now, my snacks can’t even contain fruit. Instead, I always have nuts close by – pistachios are my favourite come 11am. Yes, they contain fat, but it’s all healthy fats. You only need a palmful for a good energy boost.

Let’s talk diet more generally – now is a tricky time to stay on track, isn’t it?

I don’t eat out that much and because we live in the country, there isn’t much temptation in terms of restaurants. I did develop a bit of a Deliveroo habit over lockdown – Wagamama is a favourite in our house, because it’s kind of a healthy version of fast food. Japanese food is my go-to – any excuse to eat sushi, any time of day, and I’m there. I also don’t drink alcohol – I’m 29 years sober – so I’m lucky not to be in the position of consuming all those empty calories…

And exercise – what does your routine look like at the moment?

Exercise is so important – for your insides as well as your outside appearance. Now that I’m older, my main motivation is living longer and with all the research I’ve done, all the experts will say movement is key when it comes to preventative health. Where many people fall down is they don’t realise exercise can come in many forms – it doesn’t have to all be about heavy weights or long runs. A friend of mine started walking in lockdown. He got up super early and walked 10km every morning. It was a commitment, but he lost about three stone and nothing about it was extreme. 

Me? I hate going to the gym so working out at home is what works for me. My online fitness platform – Own Your Goals – has something for everyone and nowadays, I work out very intuitively. If I wake up and am in the mood to boss it with some boxing, I do. Other days, yoga might be all I can face. But that’s okay – if you do what you feel like, you’ll do it consistently, which is what counts. Aim for three times a week and work up to five. A couple of days-worth of rest is vital.

Exercise is so important – now that I’m older, my main motivation is living longer.

So, tell us why we’re here and your partnership with JD Williams?

This is actually our second season with JD Williams – me and [TV presenter] Amanda Holden were really interested in what they were doing, specifically tailoring fashion to women later in life. Their customers know what they want, they want quality and affordability, and they don’t want to look boring. Coming up with the various edits is a very collaborative process. Amanda and I get to say what we like and share our ideas, although we’re very different in our approaches. We’ve known each other for more than 30 years, but our styles are quite opposite. Mine is quite androgynous and masculine, and she’s much more feminine. The lack of crossover is quite helpful really – it helps the collections speak to as many women as possible. 

So, what’s this latest collection all about?

For me, the winter edit is all about pieces you can wear in multiple ways and ones which will really work hard in your wardrobe. There are great faux leather leggings, unbelievable denim, and coats – so many great coats. They’re pieces you can really justify spending money on, because you’re going to get so much wear out of them. Oh – and the knee-high boots! They are so good… 

Anything you have your eye on for Christmas?

Don’t worry – there’s plenty of sparkle in the new collection. People really missed out on dressing up last year, so we ensured the collection more than made up for lost time! One of my favourite pieces is one of the dresses I wore in the campaign which is black with a frill collar and this glitzy gold jumpsuit, too. Jumpsuits are so easy – I love an all-in-one.

Okay, time for a bit of beauty – what’s your desert island product?

So, full disclosure, I’m an ambassador for this company, but hand on heart I use this product every day, and that’s Garnier Summer Body. I use it all over my body as a moisturiser for a streak-free glow. In the winter, when traditional fake tan can be a bit of a nightmare on dry, pale skin, it just really takes the edge off. If you’re a novice with tan, this one’s great as it builds up gradually over time. You can’t go wrong.

I’m also obsessed with an author called Ryan Holiday – his book 'The Daily Stoic' would make such a good Christmas present.

What’s your general ethos when it comes to beauty?

Back in my 20s and 30s, I used to pride myself on being a ‘soap and water’ kind of girl. It was a bit of a badge of honour in some ways. But now, I realise how important it is to take care of your skin. It’s also important to have some good role models who prove it’s all going to be okay – Helen Mirren is mine, what a goddess. Given my experience, I also feel like I owe it to the younger generation to try and make the most of what I’ve got. It’s simple advice, but no one looks unattractive when they smile. Misery is so ageing. It can also be the little things you do for yourself – a blow dry, a manicure… whatever makes you feel good, it will radiate from the inside out. 

Now let’s talk culture – any books you’re loving right now?

I’ve been reading a lot of self-help books lately. The School of Life has a great online bookshop and one of my favourite titles of theirs is Great Thinkers. I’m also obsessed with an author called Ryan Holiday – his book The Daily Stoic would make such a good Christmas present if you’re struggling to buy good gifts. Everything these ancient philosophers discussed are issues we grapple with today – trying to find calmness and peace, understanding what happiness is, silencing anxiety etc. It’s a very comforting read if you’re a bit of a worrier, because it’s all about forcing yourself to think through the worst-case scenarios and realising how resilient you actually are. It’s pretty unbelievable to think they were debating this exact issue thousands of years ago. Another book that really blew my mind was Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton. It was so good, I pretty much had to leave the children to look after themselves for three days…

TV was a godsend during the pandemic – did you have any favourites?

Something that’s really worth the subscription fee to AppleTV alone is Ted Lasso. There’s something so heart-warming about this big Hollywood star (Jason Sudekis) gracing our screens in this very sweet English drama. He brings so much class and warmth to it. I cry and laugh in every single episode. There are not many shows where season two trounces season one but the acting in this is extraordinary. Another one was Mare Of Easttown, and Squid Game was very thought-provoking, too. Clickbait is fascinating if you haven’t watched that yet, and I’ve just finished the first episode of Succession. I need to get into it, but I’m really enjoying it so far.

Finally Davina, what are you looking forward to this festive season?

Being with family. Christmas is a really lovely time for lots of people, but it’s important not to forget it can be really hard too. It can bring up a lot of grief and loneliness. This year, try thinking about family who might not be blood relatives and those who can’t be with us, including those we might have lost. If the past year has taught us anything, it’s about the toll separation can take. It’s really a time for giving in every way – not just presents but sharing kindness where you can and really giving thought to others. 

Visit JDWilliams.co.uk and follow @DavinaMcCall on Instagram.

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