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Carol Drinkwater

Carol Drinkwater

Carol Drinkwater (born 22 April 1948) is a British actress, writer and filmmaker residing in France. She portrayed Helen Herriot (née Alderson) in the television adaptation of the James Herriot books All Creatures Great and Small, which led to her receiving the Variety Club Television Personality of the Year award in 1985.[1][2]

Carol Drinkwater
Drinkwater in 2012
Born (1948-04-22) 22 April 1948
  • Actress
  • Author
  • Filmmaker
(m. 1988)
Parent(s)Peter Drinkwater
Phyllis McCormack
RelativesLinda Regan (sister)
AwardsCritics Circle Best Screen Actress, Edinburgh Festival Fringe Award, Variety Club Television Personality of the Year Award


Drinkwater was a member of the National Theatre Company under the leadership of Laurence Olivier[1] and has acted in numerous television series and films including the highly successful Chocky, Bouquet of Barbed Wire, Another Bouquet and Golden Pennies. Drinkwater won a Critics' Circle Best Screen Actress award[1] for her role, Anne, in the feature film Father (1990) in which she starred opposite Max von Sydow.[1] Amongst many other film and television series, she has appeared in Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange (1971), Queen Kong (1976), The Shout (1978), Father (1990), and the film adaptation of Beryl Bainbridge's novel An Awfully Big Adventure (1995), directed by Mike Newell and starring Hugh Grant and Alan Rickman.

All Creatures Great and Small

Drinkwater portrayed Helen Herriot (née Alderson), the wife of James Herriot, for the first three series of the original BBC television series All Creatures Great and Small. She left the role in 1979. "I'd given everything I could and I couldn't think where else I could take the role, because there was no more material. I wasn't leaving in any kind of spiteful thing. The BBC was so angry with me, they put a ban on using me. So they re-cast and another actress got the role. I was terribly upset because it was a wonderful role and would have been very good for me. I must say now, looking back on my career, it's one of the few things in my life I would do differently, and I wouldn't have left."[3]

"Carol will always remain my favourite actress," All Creatures make-up artist Maggie Thomas recalled. "She was a breath of fresh air; never moody or difficult, a warm, merry and very natural girl. I can remember our first day on location. We were only working with Chris and a cow, which had fallen and become stuck in a small burn, so Carol had decided to come out to watch and meet everyone. She hadn't got any scenes that first day, so she was dressed for the summer in her own clothes. The shorts she wore were kind of Boy Scout-cum-M*A*S*H ex-army drill, but on her figure they looked anything but. There was always an impishness about her and an air of complete unawareness of her own effect on men. The male members of the crew went into meltdown. She was oblivious, smiling and chatting to everyone, just enjoying the beautiful weather and getting to know who was who on the crew. They all remained in love with her for as long as she was the leading lady."[4]

Later career

While working in Australia, Drinkwater wrote her first successful children's book, The Haunted School.[5] She has since written further children's books.[1] The Haunted School was produced as a television mini-series[1] and film. Bought by Disney, it won the Chicago International Film Festival Gold Award for Children's Films. It was through this that she met her husband, Michel Noll, and relocated to Provence.[5]

Her books for adults include commercial fiction and a series of best-selling memoirs about her experiences on her olive farm in Provence.[1] In 2013 Drinkwater worked on a series of five documentary films inspired by her two Mediterranean travel books, The Olive Route and The Olive Tree. The Olive Route films were completed in February 2013 and have since been broadcast on international networks worldwide.[6]

In 2015 Penguin Books UK announced a deal signed with Drinkwater to write two epic novels. The first, The Forgotten Summer, was published in March 2016. The second, The Lost Girl, was published in June 2017.[7] Drinkwater revealed to The Guardian, in October 2017, that the experience of the starlet Marguerite in The Lost Girl was based on her own experience of being sexually assaulted by Elia Kazan while auditioning for the leading film role in his film The Last Tycoon (1976).[8]

In 2018 Penguin signed a second deal with Drinkwater for two further novels. The first, published in May 2019, was The House on The Edge of The Cliff. The second, An Act of Love, was published on 29 April 2021.[9]

During the summer of 2021 Drinkwater spent four months filming a six-part documentary film series for UK’s Channel 5 called Carol Drinkwater’s Secret Provence. The filming took place across Provence from the Italian border to the Camargue in the west of southern France.[10][11]

Personal life

Drinkwater is the daughter of the bandleader and agent Peter Regan (born Peter Albert Drinkwater) and Irish nurse Phillis McCormack; her sister is actress and author Linda Regan.[12][13]

Drinkwater was born in London,[14] and acquired Irish citizenship later in life as she felt vulnerable when travelling on a British passport in certain countries, including those in North Africa.[1]

During the 1978–1980 first run of All Creatures Great and Small, she had an affair with her on-screen husband, Christopher Timothy, which Drinkwater claims resulted in negative behaviour towards her by members of the general public.[15]

She is married to French television producer Michel Noll, and has two stepdaughters from Noll's first marriage.[1][2]

In 2017, Drinkwater accused the late American film director Elia Kazan of sexual harassment and attempted rape which she alleges to have occurred in 1975 when she was under consideration for a part in Kazan's film The Last Tycoon.[16]


The Olive Series

  • The Olive Farm: A Memoir of Life, Love and Olive Oil in the South of France (Little, Brown and Company, 2001) ISBN 0142001309
  • The Olive Season: Amour, a New Life and Olives Too (Little, Brown & Company, 2003) ISBN 978-0316861168
  • The Olive Harvest: A Memoir of Love, Life and Olives in the South of France (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2004) ISBN 978-0297847809
  • A Celebration of Olives (Little, Brown and Company, 2004) 978-0316728034
    • a compilation of The Olive Farm and The Olive Season
  • The Illustrated Olive Farm (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2005) ISBN 978-0297844044
  • The Olive Route: A Personal Journey to the Heart of the Mediterranean (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2006) ISBN 978-0297847892
  • The Olive Tree: A Personal Journey Through Mediterranean Olive Groves (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2008) ISBN 978-0297847748
    • shortlisted for Travel Book of the Year, Travel Press Awards 2009
  • Return To the Olive Farm (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2010) ISBN 978-0297856948

My Story Series

  • The Hunger: The Diary of Phyllis McCormack, Ireland, 1845–1847
  • Suffragette: The Diary of Dollie Baxter, London 1909–1913
  • Twentieth Century Girl: Diary of Flora Bonnington London 1899–1900
  • Nowhere to Run (the story of a World War II Jewish refugee), published 2 August 2012
  • Cadogan Square – a compilation of Suffragette and Twentieth-Century Girl August 2012

Other works

  • An Act of Love (April 2021)
  • The House on the Edge of the Cliff (May 2019)
  • The Love of a Stranger (Kindle Single, September 2017)
  • The Lost Girl (2017)
  • The Forgotten Summer (2016)
  • A Simple Act of Kindness (Kindle Single, September 2015)
  • The Only Girl in the World (Young Adult novel, 2014 ISBN 978-1407138954)
  • Hotel Paradise (Kindle Single, March 2014)
  • The Girl in Room Fourteen (Kindle Single 2013)
  • Because You're Mine (2001)
  • Crossing the Line: Young Women Talk About Being in Trouble with the Law (2000)
  • Molly on the Run (1996)
  • Molly (1996)
  • Mapping the Heart (1993)
  • Akin to Love (1992)
  • An Abundance of Rain (1989)
  • The Haunted School (1985)


  1. Stanford, Peter (15 November 2008). "A tear in Provence". Irish Independent. Archived from the original on 22 March 2016. Retrieved 26 November 2012.
  2. Alech, Alice. "Carol Drinkwater: Following 'The Olive Oil Route' with Passion". Olive Oil Times. Retrieved 26 November 2012.
  3. All Memories Great & Small, Oliver Crocker (2016; MIWK) ISBN 9781908630322
  4. "Dishing the Dirt: 30 Years Behind The Scenes in Television Make-Up, Maggie Thomas (2009, Authors OnLine)
  5. John Rainsford (11 December 2017). "Carol Drinkwater: from award-winning actor to bestselling author". Irish Times. Retrieved 19 August 2021.
  6. "The Olive Route". Carol Drinkwater. Retrieved 28 August 2015.
  7. Shaffi, Sarah (28 July 2015). "Drinkwater signs fiction deal with MJ". The Bookseller. Retrieved 18 August 2015.
  8. Armistead, Claire (20 October 2017). "Carol Drinkwater reveals sex attack by Hollywood director Elia Kazan". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  9. Anne Lucey (11 April 2021). "Book review: Twists and turns galore in Carol Drinkwater's wartime tale". Irish Examiner. Retrieved 19 August 2021.
  10. All Creatures Great and Small original TV Helen, Carol Drinkwater, on her new Channel 5 show, 'gut-aching' laughter on set and why she quit BBC series The Yorkshire Post, 9 October 2021. Retrieved 18 October 2021
  11. Carol Drinkwater's Secret Provence Retrieved 08 January 2022
  12. "Enjoying the rich harvest". Retrieved 15 May 2019.
  13. Maxford, Howard (2018). Hammer Complete: The Films, the Personnel, the Company. McFarland. p. 677. ISBN 1476670072. Her (Linda Regan) father is the bandleader and agent Peter Regan (real name Peter Albert Drinkwater) and her sister is the actress and writer Carol Drinkwater.
  14. Drinkwater, Carol A freeBMD. Retrieved 18 October 2021
  15. Stanford, Peter (15 November 2008). "A tear in Provence". Irish Independent. Retrieved 3 January 2022.
  16. Armitstead, Claire (20 October 2017). "Carol Drinkwater reveals sex attack by Hollywood director Elia Kazan". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 September 2021.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
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