Davina McCall: why I must never step into a casino again

The Five Minutes to a Fortune host discusses splurging on extravagant holidays and the moment she hugged a million pounds


Ever been a game-show contestant yourself?


Only on The Million Pound Drop. When I watch game shows, I spend my whole time thinking I could do much better. Well, I’ve never felt so nervous and my dad – who’s normally incredibly jovial and easygoing – was ashen. We got down to the last question with £50,000 and then lost it all.

Why did you choose to pair up with your father?

My husband, Matthew [Robinson] said he wasn’t sure he was ready to have a domestic on national television. He’s quite private. If it had been Five Minutes To A Fortune, I’d have tried to make him because his strengths are my weaknesses. But that is not an invitation to Channel 4…

What are your strengths?

I’m quite mathematically minded and a music aficionado. History and English Literature are where I’d fall down.

Are you lucky?

I don’t think I’ve ever won anything, but I feel like I’ve won the lottery of life.

Are you a gambler?

To me gambling seems counter-intuitive. Also, I have an addictive personality so it could prove dangerous. When we were on our honeymoon, Matthew suggested a night in a casino. Now Matthew’s the kind of guy that would get ten £5 chips, play ten games and then leave. I, on the other hand, insisted we put them all on red. It didn’t take long for Matthew to realise he needed to get me out of there! So that is why I must never step in a casino again.

Ever frittered away a paycheck?

I’d always worn a plastic watch and promised myself that I’d continue to do so until I could afford a Rolex. After years of saving, I got one and almost immediately had it stolen. Heartbreakingly, it wasn’t insured.

What’s your biggest extravagance?

Holidays: this year we’re planning three. My husband’s bought me a couple of lovely handbags for birthdays and I do have a lot of shoes that I buy for shows – at home I just wear wellies and Uggs. I’m pretty low-maintenance.

Is it important to you to set a good example to your three children?

Yes, definitely. They earn their pocket money by doing chores and collecting stars on their star chart. So if they say, “Mummy, can I download three songs from iTunes,” I’ll reply, “Get a week’s worth of stars on your chart and we’ll do one a week.” Nothing comes for free, and they need to learn that.

Who did you learn from?

My dad, who’s brilliant with money. He’s never had that much but he’s very careful with what he’s got. He was always encouraging me to save and to get a pension – which sounded alien and stupid when I was 21.Following his advice I put £10 a week into a ten-year savings plan, then splurged it all on a fabulous holiday at the end.

Tell us about your new show, Five Minutes To A Fortune.

It’s one of those shows that make you clench your buttocks. And that’s just me… At stake is £50,000, which is in a giant hourglass that turns if the contestants don’t complete a game in the allotted time. You hear it revving up – getting faster, higher and shriller – and then the money pours out.

Where would you go if you were to win £50,000 tomorrow?

I’d blow it all on a huge villa in the south of France and throw a massive party for my family and all my friends, and fly my little sister over from Australia because I really miss her. I’m a Francophile. My mother was French and when I go there, I become a bit French: I find myself saying “Bof!” a lot and wearing a scarf at all times. Matthew thinks it’s hilarious. He says I’m tangibly different the minute I step off the plane.

Have you ever held a million pounds in your hands?

I have hugged a million pounds. It was quite frightening – I kept looking round, expecting a security guard to rugby tackle me to the ground. They were doubtless wondering why I was hugging it and behaving slightly strangely. You can just see the headlines…


Five Minutes to a Fortune is on Saturday at 5:10pm and Monday – Friday at 5:00pm on Channel 4