Davina Rescued Me from a Lifetime of Alcoholism, but First She Had to Beat Her Own Drink and Drug Addiction. and She Has; THE FAMILY HEARTACHE BEHIND TV's HOTTEST STAR, BY HER MOTHER

By Martin, Stephen | Sunday Mirror (London, England), October 15, 2000 | Go to article overview

Davina Rescued Me from a Lifetime of Alcoholism, but First She Had to Beat Her Own Drink and Drug Addiction. and She Has; THE FAMILY HEARTACHE BEHIND TV's HOTTEST STAR, BY HER MOTHER


Martin, Stephen, Sunday Mirror (London, England)


HER wedding was just a week away and Davina McCall's mind should have been on a thousand different things. Instead, the demons of her past had returned to torment her.

Desperately, the Big Brother presenter turned to her mother Florence and said: "Mummy, I think I need a meeting - are you coming?"

She was talking about Narcotics Anonymous, which Davina had been attending since beating a six-year addiction to heroin, cocaine and drink. Davina had the perfect ally in Florence - for years she had fought her own battle with alcohol. It was only Davina's love and concern which brought her back from the brink of death after years of drinking binges.

Yet the two hadn't spoken for two years - in many ways Davina had blamed her mum for her own string of addictions.

Now, with the wedding to Pet Rescue presenter Matthew Robertson just seven days away, Florence, 55, was there to help Davina battle the stress and meet her fears.

Speaking for the first time about the daughter who has become the hottest property on TV, Florence says: "When she asked about the meeting just before her wedding in June, I said, 'Yes', and that was it - we went. Davina was in tears and I was in tears. It felt like drawing the line under our terrible experiences and it marked a new start for us both.

"We both need those meetings. If I don't go, I know one day I will take another drink, and it is the same for Davina."

The similarities between Davina and Florence's lifestyles are amazing - both are attractive, charismatic women with a failed whirlwind marriage each and a history of addiction.

Florence says: "I was drinking 24 hours a day. It was Davina who made me realise I was killing myself. She gave me the strength to know that if she could give up drugs, I could stop drinking."

The turning point came in Tel Aviv in 1995 when Davina was visiting her mother - by then on her fourth marriage, to South African diplomat Henry Cock.

Florence says: "I was drunk and aggressive, completely overboard as you are when you are drunk. She waited until she got home and then wrote to me.

"She said, 'Mum, I love you. I want my old mum back. I want you to get better'. It was a simple, heartfelt message."

But for Davina, now 33, it wasn't as simple as picking up a pen and putting down her thoughts. To get to this point, she had to attend five meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous.

TO a recovering drug addict who used group therapy to kick the habit, the surroundings were familiar. But she knew her mother was drinking herself to an early grave and she needed the courage to tell her.

Florence says: "She was frightened I would never talk to her again so she went to AA meetings to see what went on. She showed the letter to all these people, saying, 'You are an alcoholic - what do you think?'

"The truth is, I owe my health and my sanity today to that letter. I would have been dead without it.

"I started drinking when I was 28 or 29 and to start with it was fun - but it wasn't fun for long. Davina was the first person to say to me, 'Look, you have a problem with alcohol. I think you should go to AA'.

"Suddenly, I realised I was making my own daughter suffer when I was drunk, and I had to change. She knew that if she could make it, so could I. From then on, I set out to try to change my ways."

As with Davina, it took courage on Florence's part to accept the inevitable. She even tore her daughter's letter to shreds, her pride unable to stomach the demand that she tackle her alcoholism.

"I thought, 'How dare she - who does she think she is?' I was sulking for weeks before I was able to phone her."

Davina, of course, could see the tell-tale signs, having lost years addicted to heroin, cocaine and drink between the ages of 18 and 24. A booker for a modelling agency and a fixture on the London club scene, she saw the light after the death of a friend from an overdose. …

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