The Masked Singer presenter is firmly of the belief that life is changing for women over 50.
Davina McCall was 24 when she landed her first big presenting gig on MTV Europe. And, in the 28 years since, her career has gone from strength to strength.
She’s appeared almost constantly on our screens, working on shows such as Big Brother, This Morning, The Jump, Long Lost Family and The Nightly Show. She’s launched 14 fitness DVDs (which remain among the biggest-selling celebrity exercise DVDs on the market). And, on top of all that, she’s published four books, too. Phew.
2020 looks set to be McCall’s busiest year yet, however. The presenter is back on Saturday-night TV for the first time in almost a decade as a judge on ITV’s The Masked Singer, alongside Rita Ora, Jonathan Ross and US actor Ken Jeong. And, alongside that, she has launched Own Your Goals – aka her first digital health and fitness platform.
Essentially, McCall seems thoroughly intent on working and remaining in the public eye for many more years – a fact which may surprise some.
Why? Because she recently turned 52 – and statistics would lead you to believe that usually marks the end of a woman’s career on screen.
Research compiled from figures taken from the main UK broadcasters found that just 18% of presenters over 50 are women (look at this damning list of news anchors who were replaced by younger women, if you don’t believe us).
As The Guardian explains: “BBC television and radio, Sky, ITN and Channel 5 combined have just 26 women over 50 working as regular on-air presenters out of a total of 481 presenters.
“Overall, women over 50 make up just 5% of on-screen presenters of all ages and both sexes and 7% of the workforce, both on and off screen.”
McCall, however, is firmly of the belief that sexist ageism is on the out.
Speaking to Woman & Home, she explained: “Women in their 50s are being given a very different type of respect. We were cast aside before, but so many friends of mine have started businesses, and I’m looking at doing that myself next year.
“You’re at the beginning of something, rather than at the end of it.”
Indeed, as McCall previously told Stylist: “In the previous generation, at the age of 50 they thought, this is the age where this happens, or that happens, and I’m not going to be able to wear a bikini after 55. Rubbish! That’s all gone out of the window.”
She added: “It feels quite nice. I think we’re the first generation who are doing whatever we want, whenever we want, so that’s exciting. And we may have a few more wrinkles now, but with that comes a sense of wellbeing and life experience…
“I feel much more confident and that I can literally talk to anybody. I feel like I’ve got nothing left to prove and I’m alright in my own skin.”
McCall’s comments call to mind Tess Daly’s response when, during an interview, the Strictly Come Dancing host was asked how she felt about her “big birthday” (aka her 50th).
“I feel I’m just coming into my stride,” Daly replied. “It’s the point where you’re more worldly wise, you’ve got more life experiences and you’re peaking as a woman.
“I don’t define myself by others’ opinions of me. My life is defined by how I feel. I honestly really couldn’t care less about my age as long as I can jump out of bed with enthusiasm… that’s what really matters.”
So, is sexist ageism really – if you’ll pardon the pun – ‘old news’? Well, it does seem as if things are changing for the better… albeit slowly.
A new report from The Guardian has shown that, as the Oscars age, so have the winners. Indeed, since 2010, best actresses had an average age of 41, up from 36 in the previous decade (2000-2009). And it’s not just the Oscars, either: 2018 saw a (then) 50 year old Nicole Kidman accept her first ever Screen Actors Guild Award for her role in HBO’s Big Little Lies.
“How wonderful it is that our careers today can go beyond 40 years old,” she said, before turning her attention to her fellow nominees – Susan Sarandon, Jessica Lange, Reese Witherspoon, and Laura Dern – as well as the other women who have inspired her over the years.
“Twenty years ago we were pretty washed up by this stage in our lives,” she continued. “That’s not the case anymore. We’ve proven… that we are potent and powerful and viable. I just beg that the industry stays behind us as our stories are finally being told.
“It’s only the beginning.”