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Today I’m Wearing: Chanel No.5

Who: Carol Drinkwater, actress, writer and film maker. Carol is known to millions in the UK for her portrayal of vet’s wife Helen Herriot, in the popular drama All Creatures Great and Small. Today she says she does more writing than acting and The Olive Farm Series of books, based around her olive farm home in the south of France, are best sellers. She has a string of successful novels too. Her latest, The Lost Girl, has just been released and is a cracking read.

Today I’m wearing Chanel No.5. I know that it’s based on Rose de Mai and jasmine because I researched that as part of my new book, The Lost Girl, which features the jasmine farms of Southern France. It has a mildly musky quality to it and a freshness that I find lovely.

I hate not having perfume on, I hate not smelling of something lovely. I wear No.5 all the time and go through bottles of it. I think I’m keeping Chanel going.

I used to absolutely love Yves Saint Laurent’s Opium, which I’d wear on acting locations many years ago. I stopped wearing it because somebody came into the make-up room once and said, ‘We always know wherever you are because we can smell your perfume.’ I thought it wasn’t a good idea I could be found out so easily for my sins, so I stopped wearing it.

When you’re acting, scent anchors your character, like wearing the right shoes. When I worked with Laurence Olivier, he always started with the shoes and worked from the outside inwards, I’m the opposite and work from the inside out. He was extraordinary in rehearsals, when he was beginning to create his characters he’d be walking around as if he was in a shop buying new shoes.

He said to me ‘I work from the shoes baby! Once I’ve got the walk and the shoes right, everything comes together.’ For me, it’s about how my character smells, it’s not something I’d discuss with anyone, it’s a private thing to inspire me.

When I was younger I also used to wear a wonderful rose water from Bloomingdales, it was potent, rounded and full and I loved it. On trips to New York I used to go straight to the store and buy it, it was often my first stop. Helen Herriot, who I played in All Creatures Great And Small, used to wear the Bloomingdales rose water. I wanted her to have something that was of the earth, to go with all those floral dresses they made me wear.

I’ve played quite a lot of baddies, for which I’d always look for a darker perfume. I was a murderess in the drama Crown Court where I played a bitch of a woman who was definitely guilty! I found some scent I didn’t like, it was very cloying, which I thought was perfect for her.

I swim every morning, shower, then cover myself with Chanel. I don’t spray my clothes or my house, I don’t really need to, because we have a very fragrant herb garden with mint, basil and rosemary. Olives of course, because we have a big olive farm and all kinds of fruit trees, including masses of lemon, limes and grapefruit. In the spring, when the bitter orange is in flower along with the jasmine, sitting on the terrace with all those scents in the air is absolutely wonderful.

I have a have a love-hate relationship with lemon verbena. We grow it in France, although it doesn’t really thrive that well in our garden. I had an affair with someone- a long time ago- who used to wear it, but perhaps it’s best we don’t go into all of that!