‘It’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to me’: Davina McCall breaks down reliving her sister’s death – as she recalls tumultuous upbringing doing drugs at 12 with her mum
- Anyone battling similar issues, call the Frank drugs helpline on 0300 123 6600. They can talk you through all your options.
The presenter, 55, couldn’t hold back emotion as she discussed the final days of her sibling Caroline’s life saying: ‘It was the worst thing that’s ever happened to me’.
During the wide-ranging interview the former heroin addict also openly discussed her tumultuous upbringing, drug addiction and how she even did cocaine with her mum when she was just 12 years old.
Upset: Davina McCall broke down in tears as she recalled her late half sister’s death from lung cancer as she made a very candid appearance on Steven Bartlett’s The Diary Of A CEO podcast
The most emotional moment came however when she discussed her sister’s death age 50 in 2012 after she was diagnosed with lung cancer, bone cancer and was told by doctors that she had two tumors on her brain.
Davina found Caroline paralysed on the floor one morning after a bout of ill health and took her to hospital where she got the devastating diagnosis that she had just months to live. Davina then cared for Caroline at her home until she passed away.
The TV star said of her death as her voice broke: ‘I wish she was here so I could tell her how great life is. I never thought she would die at 50, she was a great person, she still had so much more to give. It was the worst thing that has ever happened to me.
Devastating: Caroline (pictured) died age 50 in 2012 after she was diagnosed with lung cancer, bone cancer and was told by doctors that she had two tumors on her brain
Tough: The presenter, 55, couldn’t hold back emotion as she discussed the final days of her sibling Caroline’s life saying: ‘It was the worst thing that’s ever happened to me’
‘She taught me so much in her death, she tried to look after me, she was so brave, she never cried and she never complained.’
She added: ‘In her final days she let me change her and put her to bed which she never did, she never wanted me to see her naked. Even when she was dying she gave me that of herself that I had never had before and it was so nice.
‘That night she was so distressed and she was calling me mummy, then she slept for three days and I was with her when she passed and it was really lovely – I kept on talking to her the whole time as your hearing is the last thing that goes.
‘I wanted her to know that I was going to be fine that’s what I kept repeating. Because after everything she was still worried about me, she knew how much of a backbone she was for me. So I kept telling her I was going to be fine.’
Ordeal: Davina found Caroline paralysed on the floor one morning after a bout of ill health and took her to hospital where she got the devastating diagnosis
On the podcast Davina also described in detail about her Caroline’s deteriorating health and the lead up to her diagnosis.
The star explained: ‘She was a bit secretive. She had just had her 50th birthday, she accidentally walked into a door once and was always dropping things, she was forgetful, she had a bad back. I didn’t know if was menopause but I knew something was up.
‘One morning she had been shouting for help and I went in the door and she had been on the floor all night, she had soiled herself and was paralysed in half her body, I called an ambulance but they said it wasn’t a stroke.
Embattled: Elsewhere on the podcast she talked about her difficult upbringing and spoke candidly about her upbringing – saying she first tried drugs at a very young age (pictured in 1995)
‘They did all these tests and the doctor said you have primary lung cancer in both lungs and two tumors on your brain and maybe have bone cancer too. She looked at me and said ‘it’s all my fault’ after all the smoking.’
Afterwards Davina described calling her mum and dad to tell them the terrible news and said she felt like she ‘couldn’t breathe’ while in the hospital corridor.
But on a positive spin Davina told how her sister and her had much more open conversations during the last weeks of her life.
She said: ‘I wouldn’t let her shut me out. We had the most amazing talks when she was dying, the best seven weeks with my sister were the last seven weeks of her life.
‘She did a month in the hospital and then we went back to the cottage and we just hung out. Her first chemo was booked in for two days after she died, we did a bucket list – going to France one more time, seeing friends.’
Elsewhere on the podcast she talked about her difficult upbringing and spoke candidly about her upbringing – saying she first tried drugs at a very young age.
She said: ‘I did drugs at 12 with my mum, was smoking weed at 12, I did coke with my mum at 15 twice, coke with my sister at 14. If people had known I wouldn’t have been able to see my mum.
‘But I am not a victim but I am happy, I have chosen to learn after the curve balls. Little wins in my life were massive.’
Hard times: Davina admitted that she sought fame at a young age to fill the void left by her alcoholic mother’s absence (pictured in 1994)
She said she regularly took drugs from the age of 14 after moving to London as she tried to deal with the abandonment by her alcoholic mother during childhood, before turning her life around and entering a Narcotics Anonymous course.
Davina explained: ‘I moved to London at 14 and was going out and doing drugs and meeting people who wanted to do drugs. I was a showoff and a people pleaser – at that time drugs made me feel like I was safe, they filled the hole within me, when the drugs ran out I was empty again and I needed a man or attention to fill me up again.
‘It was danger everywhere – how I’m still alive I don’t know. I was addicted to heroin for the last three months of my drug taking. And then I knew I had to change.
Past: She said: ‘It was danger everywhere – how I’m still alive I don’t know. I was addicted to heroin for the last three months of my drug taking. And then I knew I had to change’
‘My friend did an intervention after a 24-hour cocaine bender: She said to me ‘I know that you’ve been lying to me, you are the topic of every dinner party, everyone knows’ – and I felt such shame and I didn’t know what to say but then I left and cried.
‘I thought I’m f**ked I need to change. I rang my friend who was clean and she took me to a meeting. I went to a meeting every day for 90 days. I would have done anything to stop feeling that way. I owe NA my life – it gave me my career.’
She continued: ‘I went twice a day NA was the only place I felt normal, the other people were like me. I realised the power in honesty.’
Davina has been open about struggling with drug addiction in the early days of her presenting career, but has now been clean for more than 25 years.
The star has previously recalled the complicated relationship she had with her alcoholic mother Florence, adding that she started partying as a teenager as she didn’t have any matriarchal figure to turn to.
Davina said that she spiraled into a drug addiction, which at its worst led to her hospitalisation.
She said in 2020: ‘It was very frightening as it was a very gradual overdose. I’d had a cocktail of drugs, because I didn’t want to feel normal.I was constantly trying to escape myself — I was like a piece of fruit rotting from the inside.
‘So then I thought, ‘Well, I’ll just take a valium’, and the next thing I knew I woke up in hospital. At my lowest point, when I was filled with self hatred, it was literally a case of ”get clean, or die”.’
Davina added that it was her best friend, dad and stepmother that helped her see sense, and she enrolled in Narcotics Anonymous.
Wow! Since quitting drugs at the age of 25, Davina has also quit smoking and drinking, and has inspired others with her incredible fitness regime
Within a year of her overdose Davina was clean of drugs, and the star said she still occasionally attends meetings and therapy sessions to keep her on the right track.
After a difficult relationship with her mum, Davina admitted that she sought fame at a young age to fill the void left in the absence of her mum’s love.
The Big Brother presenter added that even after 37 letters of rejection from television companies she strived to keep working.
Davina has openly spoken about her struggles with drug addiction, and in March 2018 she recalled the moment she told her three children about her past.
Speaking on the Happy Mum, Happy Baby podcast she said: ”I’ve had to be very honest about my past with the children – especially now they have access to the internet.
‘Actually, I had to be brutally honest quite early on when I thought other kids might talk to them about it. They grew up with ‘Mummy’s going to a meeting’ – they just didn’t know it was a Narcotics Anonymous meeting.
‘They were all really very accepting. They’d say, ”We thought it was something like that. Is that why you don’t drink?”
Since quitting drugs at the age of 25, Davina has also quit smoking and drinking, and has inspired others with her incredible fitness regime.
The star has also been dating hairdresser Michael Douglas, after she split from husband Matthew Robertson in 2017.
Anyone battling similar issues, call the Frank drugs helpline on 0300 123 6600. They can talk you through all your options.
Moving on: Within a year of her overdose Davina was clean of drugs, and the star said she still occasionally attends meetings and therapy sessions to keep her on the right track