Last week, we spent the day with the lovely Davina McCall to talk about her new show airing on W in September, The Davina Hour. Fronted by Davina, the series is a fresh twist to the traditional talk show, tackling some of modern life's biggest challenges - from perfectionism, to stress to tech addiction.
What was the inspiration around The Davina Hour?
I had an idea along time ago, to do a sort of daily talk show. But it kind of morphed into this. I've been on talk shows like This Morning or Loose Women and stuff and I've always really really enjoyed that, but just as you're getting really into something, you change topic and go onto something else. I wanted to go forensic - like really really forensically deep on something. I wanted to get the best minds in an area and bring everybody together and maybe people who are having a tough time and see if we can help.
Really at the back of everything I do, I'm always trying to help people. I love this kind of idea of - I don't know, making everything better. It's like a mission! And at the same time, learning bits about myself. Every single show, even the ones I probably thought I know what I'm doing in this area, I'll have a ta-da moment when I'm thinking oh god! Or I watch someone else have a moment and I think wow this is amazing, I'm really enjoying this. It was so exciting.
With all the experts that come onto the show, you must learn things all the time.
Yeah I mean watching somebody that has potentially never had any therapy or hasn't met a councillor or a therapist, and to see them listen to someone and go - oh, oh right, oh my god.
There was a guy we had on the perfectionism episode for example that was so fantastic - he had vitiligo and he was beautiful, but he just didn't see it. And having somebody sit beside you and say wow I've never heard people talk like this, people be honest at this level and just put it all down there on the table for people who are suffering the exact same issues as I am. It's really empowering!
It's like a therapy session but it's not as turgid. We always try to have a bit of fun with it and there's always a test involved in each episode - hilarious! I've never done so many tests in all my life. A stress test, parenting test and a technology test - oh god the technology test was scary. Testing how long I was on the phone for - I was on it for something like 4 hours. I mean it's mostly car journeys and stuff like that because I often get driven place - the moment I'm in a car, I crack out my phone!
In the technology episode, you compare technology addiction to heroine addiction - do you think it's really that bad?
It is, it is. It is because it's a hit of dopamine and I realised from doing the show that it's an actual chemical reaction. Since I've done that programme, I've realised that when I post something on Instagram, I do check in the first hour quite often to see if it's going down well or if it isn't. And that's weird! Since the show, I'm monitoring myself a lot more. And I've also got a bit stricter with the kids. Chester, obviously I'm quite strict with because he's only 10, but my 15 and 13 year old, I've been getting a bit more involved. I really do try to map out family time now where we can all sit down. Obviously meal times are a no technology zone and all kind of stuff but just making sure we have time to do things together - watch that thing called television, do you remember that? Television! Kids just don't get it anymore, and making an appointment to view - I don't know, I can't keep up!
The really big thing for kids is to turn it off an hour before they go to bed. And that is all screens! I don't, but I should. I think that makes a big difference to their sleep patterns and we might all be asleep for 8 hours but we aren't getting the depth of sleep that we need.
Do you give yourself time to go completely offline?
Hmmm I don't take my phone with me to certain places. Like if I take the dogs out for a walk, I leave my phone inside. And I don't have mobile phone reception in our house. And we contemplated getting a booster thing to get us signal, but we said no. So people can't phone me on a mobile, they have to phone me on my landline and most work people don't have me on a landline so that's quite good!
Do you have an open dialogue with your kids about social media and how to use it?
I speak to the kids about social media from the get go but I'm not anti-social media compared to some others. When I was young, I spoke to my friends on the telephone for 2 hours after spending all day with them at school so for my kids to be on social media to their friends for 2 hours a night after seeing them all day isn't weird... It's just what I did, but on a telephone. But I am very uptight about their privacy. They're all private on all of their accounts; no one can just follow them obviously, these are all things I've learned. But once they get to 15, you have to hope that you've done it all really; that you've given them all the tools that they need.
With social media fuelling our perception of perfection, do you think it's had a negative effect on women?
To be honest I think it's a great place for activism for women. Would say Twitter is the place for activism, particularly for women and for comedy. I think social media is an amazing place to come together, to spread ideas and to spread ideas really quickly. Women are the ones who really engage in social media - when we want to sink our teeth into something or when we see a petition that needs signing. I think it's had a really profound effect.
What's the biggest thing you've learned so far from doing the show?
I've learned that we all want to be better. We're at an age in time where self-improvement seems to be really important for all of us. And this idea that I can have 2 men sitting and talking about perfectionism when 20 years, that would have never happened is really special, and questioning whether we're seeing all these problems like stress because we're talking about them, or if we're making them as a result of talking about them.
It's taught me that I don't know everything, there's always a tonne more to learn and that life should never be a constant state of happiness because that's like flat lining. It's just a boring flat line. Like how your heart monitor goes when you're dead. You can only feel true joy in my opinion when you've known sadness, and to not fear sadness or discomfort or grief because that will make your highs feel even sweeter.