Davina McCall: 'My passion is one-pot cooking’

TV presenter and home exercise queen Davina McCall cooks a simple chicken curry in the video below. In a Q&A, she talks about staying at home with her children Holly, 18, Tilly, 16 and Chester, 13, and how she’s coping with the strange new world of 2020

Hello Davina! How are you finding the lockdown? 
I have good days and bad days. Sometimes we’ll all be laughing over a meal, and I’ll think ‘Wow, this is lovely’, then on other days everybody’s having a meltdown. Part of me wants to say it’s hard, and then part of me thinks look, you get to go out in the countryside with your dog every day! And I’ve got three big kids – imagine being a single mum with little children and how hard that must be? There’s always somebody worse off than me, so I use that to get perspective.


What keeps you going?
Having a rigorous routine. I wake up at seven, I make my bed, I have a shower and I shave my legs, even though I’m not going anywhere. I don’t let my personal standards slip because mentally that’s not a good place to be. The temptation to waft around in a dressing gown all day is great, but it doesn’t make me feel good.


Any other tips?
I write a list of things that I want to get done that day. As a nation we’re all slightly flailing around, and the way I combat chaos is order: order in my house, order in my head. Lists! I'm also working to a week/weekend schedule, so at the weekends I let myself have a lie-in and I don’t do any work at all.

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How much exercise are you taking?
Obviously I do my hour, which I love, but it’s a brisk walk, and I need a bit more than that to keep me in the shape that I like to be in. Although I only did a 15-minute workout yesterday – to myself, bizarrely, on Own Your Goals.


What is Own Your Goals?
It’s my fitness platform and it’s gone mad, because obviously it’s home workouts. We have yoga, Pilates, barre, a gentle programme for older people – it’s very comprehensive. Exercise is key to getting us through this, and I think people’s attitudes to home workouts might change because of it. They’ll realise that travelling to a gym is time-consuming and expensive.

What about cooking?
My big thing is ease. Cooking is great, but nobody wants to do it if it’s going to be a big faff for hours. I don’t mind doing that for a dinner party, but for every night, it’s got to be quick and easy. My passion is one-pot cooking: I just love chucking everything into a pot, putting it in the oven and leaving it.


Any lockdown tips?
Try to find healthy snacks, because I don’t know about you but I just want to eat so much! I think it’s boredom. So it’s about looking at food and thinking ‘Do I need this? Is this good for me?’ And I’m quite glad I don’t drink anymore, because a big risk is ‘I'm bored, I’ll just have a glass of wine’, then one glass turns into half a bottle, and god forbid you start at lunch – you’re off!


What’s your favourite lockdown dish?
Last night we had my pork chilli, and what I love about it is you can just put anything in it. I use pork because it’s very lean, and if you use a can of mixed beans you’re getting five different types of fibre. I put sweet potato in because my kids will have rice with it, but I don’t; as a nation we are used to enormous portions, and we don’t need them.

Are you missing Michael [Douglas, Davina’s celebrity hairdresser boyfriend]?
I miss him so much, it’s terrible! But he’s where he needs to be: he has his two teenage boys half the time, so he’s with them. We do our podcast, Making The Cut, remotely, and it’s my favourite time of the week. I love it.


What’s Making The Cut about?
We find things we think are amazing, and then we tell you about them: music, film, podcasts, TV shows, mascara, Instagram accounts – anything we think you should see, or that will inspire you, or make you smile.


What do you think we’ll learn from the lockdown?
I think we’ll appreciate human contact in a way that we’ve never appreciated it before. I miss hugs! And having unfettered access to family. My sister lives in Australia, she’s got a brand new baby, and I’ve no idea when I’ll be able to see her again.


Do you think anything good is coming out of it?
I do feel people are kinder. I see lots of lovely neighbourhood acts happening and, when you come out to clap for carers, suddenly you get to know the people who live next door to you. And it doesn’t matter how much money you have, it’s not going to keep you alive, but an NHS worker could. This has made heroes out of our NHS, and that will stay with us forever.


For more feelgood food ideas, go to At Home, With Us