Davina McCall

When Big Brother first started, I really liked Davina. I thought she provided a comforting, big-sisterly presence both for the viewers and for evicted housemates as she accompanied them on the terrifying journey out of the house and into the TV studio.

I think it was around the time of Kate Lawler – Kate who liked a drink, and enjoyed fooling around and flirting – that I began to get the sense that Davina (that’s the same Davina who has happily spoken publicly about her Drink And Drugs Hell™) had a rather disapproving attitude towards attractive young women who liked to have fun. And I think that’s got truer and truer over the years, to the point now where I actively dread watching her interview anyone with the temerity to be young, pretty and unmarried.

This reached its horrific pinnacle last night with the eviction from the Celebrity Big Brother house of Katia Ivanova, most famous for being the woman for whom Ronnie Wood left his wife Jo two years ago.

Katia is twenty-one. This means that two years ago, when she got involved with sixty-year-old relapsed alcoholic Ronnie Wood, she was nineteen. The relationship ended abruptly just before Christmas when Ronnie was arrested and cautioned over a “domestic incident”.

Katia is now reportedly “seeing” someone else, and the behaviour of which Davina vocally and solemnly disapproved consisted in her becoming involved with Jonas Altberg, a Swedish musician, during her two-week stay in the Big Brother house.

Shall we take another look at those facts? At nineteen, Katia entered a relationship with an alcoholic over forty years her senior, who (she says) drank and took cocaine daily during their time together. The relationship ended with a violent incident over which he was arrested. This happened less than a month ago. Since then, she has become involved with another man, who was shortly afterwards superceded in her affections by Jonas, aka Basshunter, who we were told at the start of the series is well-known in Sweden for his womanising and who has a sex tape circulating on the internet; who nonetheless treated her gently and thoughtfully during the time they spent together.

Davina’s interview with Katia consisted in its entirety of Davina asking Katia whether she thought she’d behaved well in the house, over clips of Katia and Jonas variously talking, flirting, kissing and sharing a bed (very decorously, both fully clothed). At the end, and this was the point at which my blood started to boil, Davina asked Katia whether she thought she’d improved her reputation in the eyes of the public, and Katia laughed and said “probably not”. Rather than chummily joining in, which was what the situation – by now quite awkward – desperately needed, Davina gave Katia a severe look and said “learn from this, OK?”.

I’m sorry, learn what? It seems to me that Katia has already learned, in the last month, that she doesn’t need to be in a relationship with a violent, alcoholic sexagenarian; that there are plenty of men who are young, attractive and want to be around her, and that at twenty-one she is entitled to a little uncomplicated fun. There is no reason in the world for her not to do whatever she likes with whomever she likes, and Davina’s holier-than-thou disapproval was unnecessary, mysogynistic and downright unpleasant.

I hope that when her daughters are teenagers and sleeping with middle-aged alcoholics (and Davina has form in this respect: she once dated Eric Clapton), she manages to be a bit less judgemental and a bit more understanding. And I hope that Katia takes as long as she likes to settle down, and isn’t felled by the unkindness of people who can’t find their way out of their own jealousy and spite.

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