Davina McCall's £1m deal makes her BBC's first female chat-show host

Davina McCall has come a long way since she made her name ambushing people in the street and persuading them to go on dates with complete strangers.

The former presenter of Channel 4's dating show Streetmate has been signed for a reported £1m to become the BBC's first prime-time female talkshow host.

In an unlikely departure from programmes ranging from Big Brother to Popstars: The Rivals, McCall is to join the league of big-name chat show hosts including Jonathan Ross and Michael Parkinson.

Her new BBC1 show, announced yesterday, will be shown on Wednesdays at 8pm. It will be the first time since Terry Wogan quit BBC1 14 years ago that the channel has had a pre-watershed talk show.

Davina will run for about eight weeks from the start of next year. Each week McCall will interview guests from the worlds of film, television and showbusiness, as well as a musician who will perform in the studio. The line-up for the pilot, made several weeks ago, included the singer Charlotte Church, the comedian Peter Kay and the EastEnders actor Nigel Harman.

McCall, 38, has made no secret of her troubled youth. Her French mother, Florence, moved to Paris when she was just three, leaving her with her grandparents in Surrey. At 13, she went to live with her father and his new wife in west London and attended the prestigious Godolphin and Latymer school. She later developed anorexia nervosa and her weight dropped to just 38kg (6 stone).

At 18, she moved to Paris, where she became a regular on the club scene, working as a singing waitress, and began to binge on drink and drugs. She later admitted to having been "a complete mess - you name it, I took it: cocaine, ecstasy, even heroin".

It was Eric Clapton, an ex-boyfriend 24 years her senior, who helped her come off drugs.

Newly sober, McCall's television career began in 1992 as the presenter of MTV's Most Wanted. Four years later she became a household name thanks to her energetic approach to match-making in Streetmate. In 2000, she began perhaps her best-known presenting job as the face of Channel 4's Big Brother.

While Big Brother has remained a ratings winner, not all her shows have proved so successful. The 2004 ITV show Love On A Saturday Night never recreated the magic of Cilla Black's Blind Date.

McCall's energy combined with her down-to-earth presenting style has won her many fans, but also a few detractors. The presenter once appeared in a Channel 4 poll of the 100 worst Britons, mainly because of her loud voice.

McCall, who is married to Matthew Robertson, the Pet Rescue presenter, and has two young daughters, features frequently in celebrity magazines.

BBC1 has been searching for a new talkshow presenter since Michael Parkinson defected to ITV last year. Peter Fincham, the BBC1 controller, said he believed the channel was "a natural home for Davina". He has signed McCall in spite of poor ratings for the last show she presented for the channel - a cringe-worthy attempt to turn fatherhood into entertainment called He's Having A Baby.

Mr Fincham said: "There aren't many chat shows with hosts who are women and this is very exciting for us. Since Michael Parkinson left we haven't had a chat show before the news that's in peak time. It's exciting to do a chat show that isn't hosted by a man. I think Davina is rather special and viewers really like her. I'm really glad she's here."

The BBC is hoping that some of McCall's glamour will rub off on her new show, which it describes as bringing "a touch of Saturday night sparkle to Wednesday night".

Highlights of 2006 season

* Stephen Poliakoff has written two dramas set in the 1980s and 1990s. Friends and Crocodiles, starring Damian Lewis, charts the relationship of a Gatsby-like boss and his secretary. Gideon's Daughter stars Bill Nighy as a PR consultant struggling against Labour's election victory and the death of Diana, Princess of Wales.

* Planet Earth

The biggest series the BBC's natural history unit has ever made. Featuring the world's greatest sights, it was shot in high definition and is presented by David Attenborough.

* Just The Two Of Us

A singing version of Strictly Come Dancing, in which professional singers are paired with celebrities to perform live duets, before being put to a public vote.

* The Impressionists Filmed in France, this factual drama explores the brotherhood of Monet, Cézanne, Degas, Renoir and Manet.

Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
Tovey says of homeless charity the Pillion Trust : 'If it weren't for them and the park attendant I wouldn't be here today.'
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Data Scientist

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A data analytics are currently looking t...

Web / Digital Analyst - SiteCatalyst or Google Analytics

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client who are a leading publisher in...

Campaign Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A leading marketing agency is currently ...

BI Analyst

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A leading marketing agency in Central Lo...

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little