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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Supporting role: at the Supreme Court, Rhodes was accompanied by a famous friend, the actor Benedict Cumberbatch
booksPianist James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to stop the injunction of his memoirs
Sam Allardyce
Steven Gerrard scores for Liverpool
Arts and Entertainment
Bob Dylan
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
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

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

Guru Careers: Senior Account Manager / SAM

£30 - 35k: Guru Careers: A Senior Account Manager / SAM is needed to join the ...

Ashdown Group: Digital Marketing Manager (EMEA) - City, London

£55000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Digital Marketing Manager...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?