Davina: I felt so relieved when my mother died (... please God, don't let my death be a relief to anybody)


By Chris Hastings

Davina McCall has revealed her sense of ‘relief’ at the death of the mother who virtually abandoned her as a child.

The former Big Brother presenter said Florence Kock’s passing in South Africa in 2008 finally ended the heartbreak caused by the pair’s troubled relationship.

She said: ‘When she died I felt a sense of relief that I could stop swinging from side to side. And I also think, “Please God, when I die, don’t let it be a relief to anybody.” ’

Ms McCall, 44, did not attend her mother’s funeral but forgave her for the years of abandonment.

She said: ‘I imagined her in the hospital bed, and I imagined these shoots of light going from my palms, all over, across the world, to South Africa, to the hospital where she was at, and going straight into her heart.

‘All I kept saying was, “I forgive you. I forgive you. I forgive you.” ’

This week Ms McCall will host the second season of the ITV show Long Lost Family, which seeks to reunite adopted children with their birth parents. She said her own estrangement from her French-born mother began with her parents’ divorce when she was three.

Happy ending: Davina McCall has three children with husband Matthew Robertson

Ms McCall, who was shipped off to her grandparents in Surrey, stayed in contact with her father, Andrew, but saw little of her mother in France. Her holidays there would end in misery as her mother, a glamorous socialite, failed to turn up for pre-arranged meetings.

She would also drag her daughter around Parisian nightclubs and left her alone in one when she was 12, with a stranger having to take her back to her mother’s house.

The star moved back in with her father at 13 but her attempts to repair the relationship with her mother always ended in failure.

Ms McCall said: ‘I tried so hard . . . time after time, I kept thinking, “This is the bridge.’’ ’

She said her mother’s refusal to show her affection left her ‘catatonic with grief’. She said: ‘I couldn’t make her invite me into her bed for a hug when I’d had a nightmare. I felt she’d done something to betray me or hurt me.’

Ms McCall, who has three children with husband Matthew Robertson, now accepts her mother was ‘damaged’ and ‘did the best she could with what she had’. But as a teenager she sought solace in drugs and by 16 had experimented with cocaine and heroin. She managed to get herself clean by the time she was 25.

Twenty years on, Ms McCall is one of Britain’s top presenters – and admits the only thing that grates now is the ageing process. She said: ‘Ageing is hard. I think my face is all right . . . but I’m getting slightly saggy skin round my body. Slight underarm softness. Slight soft skin, inside my legs.’


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