Carol Smillie

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Carol Smillie
Carol Smillie in Hormonal Housewives (cropped).jpg
Smillie performing in Hormonal Housewives at the King's Theatre, Glasgow, Scotland, November 2011
Carol Patricia Smillie

(1961-12-23) 23 December 1961 (age 57)
Glasgow, Scotland
OccupationTelevision presenter, actress, entrepreneur, author, model, humanist celebrant
Years active1989–present
Spouse(s)Alex Knight (m. 1991)
ChildrenChristie (b. 1995)
Robbie (b. 1997)
Jodie (b. 1999)
WebsiteOfficial website

Carol Patricia Smillie (born 23 December 1961) is a Scottish television presenter, actress, entrepreneur, humanist celebrant, and a former model. Smillie became famous as a presenter on British TV during the 1990s and early 2000s. She is best known for assisting Nicky Campbell on the UK version of the game show Wheel of Fortune between 1989 and 1994. She is also well known for presenting the BBC One home improvement show Changing Rooms from 1996-2003.[1]

Smillie has appeared on the BBC television channel, firstly as a reporter on The Travel Show, and then Holiday, often as the programme's main presenter. However, it was the DIY programme Changing Rooms that established her name and led to her presenting other primetime shows for the BBC, such as the National Lottery and her own morning chat show Smillie's People.[2]

In 2012 Carol decided to leave mainstream TV and created a new business venture when she launched a brand of leak-proof underwear for women, named Diary Doll. This was later changed to Pretty Clever Pants, In 2018 Smillie relinquished control of her business, licensing the brand to the company High Street TV.[3]

As of 2018, Smillie qualified as a humanist celebrant with the Humanist Society Scotland, and is now pursuing a career conducting humanist, non-religious weddings, funerals and baby-namings.[4]

Smillie is also known for her smile, which was caricatured by the British impressionist Ronni Ancona in the UK television show Big Impression. Ancona's impression of Smillie used the catchphrase "I’m Smiley Smiley Carol Smillie", which Smillie adopted and has entered into popular culture when referencing her or a person of a smiley disposition.[5]

1961-1988: Early life and modelling[edit]

Smillie was born on December 23, 1961, in Glasgow, Scotland, the daughter of George, an electrical engineer, and Isobel Smillie. She is the youngest of four siblings, with two sisters and a brother.[6]

Smillie attended Simshill Primary School and the independent Hutchesons' Grammar School.[7] Academically she attained seven O-grades, including a qualification in fabric and fashion. She left the following year with three Highers, but needed five to get into the Glasgow School of Art. Smillie studied at Langside College, but managed only one more, which she has attributed to too much freedom and enjoying herself. Undeterred, she spent another year at Cardonald College, finally achieving this goal.[8]

At age 18, in 1979, Smillie embarked on her first year at the Glasgow School of Art, studying Art, Design, and Fashion, with the idea of becoming a fashion designer. Smillie felt she didn't really fit in with the typical punk students sporting green hair and pink shoes. To subsidise her studies, Smillie worked in a cocktail bar, modelling part-time. Smillie left to embark on a modelling career.[9]

Smillie then joined the Best Modelling Agency, run by Fiona Best. Too short at 5 ft 5 in (1.65 m) for catwalk modelling, she booked photo shoots and promotions. Smillie worked for the agency throughout the 1980s. Smillie met her future husband, former model Alex Knight, through Fiona's agency.[10]

1989-present: Television[edit]

1989-1994: Wheel of Fortune[edit]

Smillie's presenting career launched in 1989, at age 27, when she beat 5,000 other applicants[11] to become the hostess and puzzle board operator of Scottish Television's Wheel of Fortune game show. She co-presented the show for five years with Nicky Campbell. Smillie left the show in 1994.

1994-1996: Get It On[edit]

Fashion series, presented by Carol Smillie, produced by Scottish Television.

1992-1993: The Travel Show[edit]

BBC Manchester then offered Smillie the reporter's job on BBC Two's The Travel Show.[12]

1995-1996: Hearts of Gold[edit]

Smillie joined the show as co-presenter with Mickey Hutton, alongside the main presenter Esther Rantzen. The show gave the Hearts of Gold Award, to unsung heroes and heroines from all over the UK, who had shown outstanding bravery and dedication to public life.

1996-2000: Holiday[edit]

Stints followed on BBC One for the Holiday programme. Smillie continued to present holiday programmes such as Summer Holiday, Holiday Swaps, Holiday Heaven and Holiday Favourites throughout the Nineties.

1996-2003: Changing Rooms[edit]

In 1996, Smillie became the original presenter of BBC Two's new DIY show Changing Rooms. The show was an immediate success and was transferred to BBC One for series 2. The programme is credited with starting a craze for DIY in the late 1990s. During her time on the show, Smillie and the Changing Rooms team won a National TV Award and an INDIE Award and were BAFTA nominated. Smillie remained the main presenter for 13 series, leaving in 2003. In September 1998, Smillie was presented with a Red Book about her life, on the television show This Is Your Life.[13] Michael Aspel, surprising her with the Book at a recording of Changing Rooms.

1996-2000: The National Lottery Show[edit]

In 1996, Smillie was selected to present the BBC The National Lottery Show. Smillie mainly appeared on the Wednesday Midweek Draw show, but also made occasional appearances on Saturday nights. Smillie presented various incarnations of the show, such as The National Lottery – Amazing Luck Stories, The National Lottery – We've Got Your Number, National Lottery – Local Heroes between 1996 and 2000. In September 2006, she appeared on The National Lottery: Everyone's A Winner! in Edinburgh with contestant Charley.

1996-1997: Smillie's People[edit]

In 1998, Smillie hosted a mid-morning chat-show on BBC One entitled Smillie's People. The programme was 15 minutes in length. Each day, Smillie interviewed a different celebrity.

2003-2005: Dream Holiday Homes[edit]

In 2003, after leaving Changing Rooms, Smillie joined the Channel 5 show Dream Holiday Homes. This new show was similar to Changing Rooms, although this time, entire properties were given a makeover. The properties were situated in various Southern European locations, and at the end of each show Smillie would auction off the property for the price of a £1 phone call to a lucky viewer picked at random.[12] The show ran for five series.

2004: Strictly Ice Dancing[edit]

In 2004, Smillie was one of the celebrities to take part in Strictly Ice Dancing, a one-off ice dance version of Strictly Come Dancing.

2005: The People's Court[edit]

Smillie was back working for STV Productions in 2005 as presenter of the short-lived ITV show The People's Court.

2005: A Brush with Fame[edit]

Later that year, she was the presenter of ITV's A Brush with Fame, searching for the UK's best amateur portrait artist.

2006: Strictly Come Dancing[edit]

From October to December 2006, Smillie took part in Series Four of Strictly Come Dancing with dance partner Matthew Cutler. Smillie gradually improved as the series progressed. Len Goodman often referred to her as the Dark Horse of the competition, and played music from the Black Beauty TV series over her training clips on the complementary show Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two.

Smillie came fifth out of the original fourteen competitors, despite achieving her highest scores of the competition and finishing third highest out of the remaining five competitors in the judges vote.[14]

Performance scores
Week Dance/Song Judges' score Result
Hoorwood Phillips Goodman Tonioli Total
1 Female Group Dance - - - - - Safe
2 Quickstep/9 to 5 7 5 6 7 25 Safe
3 Jive/Hanky Panky 6 7 7 7 27 Safe
4 Foxtrot/Stuck on You 6 7 8 8 29 Safe
5 Salsa/Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough 7 6 8 8 29 Safe
6 American Smooth/It's Oh So Quiet 6 7 7 7 27 Safe
7 Cha Cha Cha/Dancing in the Moonlight 7 7 8 8 30 Safe
8 Waltz/If You Don't Know Me by Now 7 7 8 8 30 Bottom 2
9 Viennese Waltz/Breakaway
Samba/Club Tropicana

2007-2008: Postcode Challenge[edit]

Smillie returned to STV from November 2007 into 2008 to host the Scottish channel's new gameshow, Postcode Challenge. In each show, four teams of six people from the same postcode area are tested on general knowledge. Smillie said, "I feel like I've come full circle from my first job as hostess at STV on Wheel of Fortune, and now I'm back presenting what is the biggest quiz show from STV in years".[15]

2009: Best of British Wedding Venues[edit]

On 22 September 2009, Smillie presented a 10 part series entitled Best of British Wedding Venues on Wedding TV, a woman's lifestyle channel on the Sky and Freesat platforms.[16]

2013-2014: Finding Scotland's Real Heroes[edit]

Smillie presented the 2013 and 2014 series of STV's Finding Scotland's Real Heroes.[17]

Television guest appearances[edit]

In 2001, Smillie appeared on Lily Savage's Blankety Blank[18][19] and the following year appeared on The Sooty Show in the episode called "All New Sooty".

In the summer of 2009, Smillie appeared as a guest presenter of STV's The Hour for one week between 24 and 28 August, with main anchor Stephen Jardine.

In 2004, she took part in a television documentary called Gender Swap for Channel 5. Using silicon prosthetic makeup, she was transformed from female to male and was then given the challenge of attending a speed dating event as her new opposite sex self.

2009: Radio[edit]

In June 2009, Smillie appeared in the BBC Radio Scotland comedy sketch show Ellis and Clarke. Smillie appeared in a number of sketches in the 30-minute production playing herself, in which she and the members of the cast parodied her television personality. The show was broadcast on BBC Radio Scotland on 5 June 2009.

On Bank Holiday 31 August 2009, Smillie hosted her own Radio show on 105.2 Smooth Radio, a Scottish Independent Local Radio station broadcasting to Glasgow and the surrounding area.

1982-2010: Model[edit]

In her early years, Smillie worked the exhibition circuit and was an occasional lingerie model. Smillie was allegedly one of the Tennent's Lager girls (a Scottish marketing promotion that put pictures of young women on the backs of cans of lager). Smillie denied a role in The Independent newspaper on 2 October 2006.[20]

Smillie has continued to model occasionally since her rise to fame. Between 2007 and 2010 Smillie was the figurehead model for the Scottish company The Edinburgh Woollen Mill.[21] Smillie featured in six seasonal catalogues, and her image was used extensively to promote the range of clothing throughout their stores and on the company website.

Smillie appeared in the catalogue for the 2007/08 Autumn/Winter collection and featured in their advertising campaign, appearing in a televised Christmas commercial for the company. In February 2008, she featured in the Spring/Summer 2008 catalogue.[22] The shots were filmed in South Africa, with Smillie modelling swimwear for the first time in over twenty years. Smillie stated "I thought my swimwear modeling days were over. It was a treat to fly to South Africa and leave the cold, wind and rain".[23] In May 2008, Smillie featured in another advert, promoting their Spring/Summer 2008 catalogue. In August 2008 she appeared in their Autumn/Winter 2008/09 catalogue.[24] In February 2009, she appeared in their Spring/Summer 2009 catalogue. Smillie flew to Cape Town for the photo shoot. Smillie documented her experiences on this trip in a short film. In August 2009, Smillie featured in their Autumn/Winter 2009/10 catalogue, the photographs taken in Leeds.[22] Smillie again appeared in a short film detailing the photo shoot. Again in 2010, she appeared in the company's Spring/Summer 2010 collection.

2003: Author[edit]

In 2003, Smillie joined forces with Eileen Fursland to become a best selling author with the publication of Carol Smillie's Working Mum's Handbook. The book examined the practical problems and emotional issues that face women who go back to work. It considered work-life balance, time management, workplace rights to maternity leave and pay, tax credits.[25]

Starting on 10 May 2008, Smillie co-wrote - with animal behaviourist Emma Magson - a weekly column in The Times entitled 'Perfect Pets'. The column was featured in the Body and Soul section of the Saturday edition and lasted 10 weeks.

2006-2007 and 2010-2011: Stage Actress[edit]

In February 2006, Smillie made her début on the stage in the Eve Ensler play The Vagina Monologues.[26] She completed three tours of Scotland, appearing in Aberdeen, Ayr, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Perth.[27]

Carol Smillie performing with Shonagh Price in Hormonal Housewives, 2010

In February to March 2010, Smillie appeared on stage in Hormonal Housewives, a new comedy written by Julie Coombe and John MacIsaac. Appearing alongside Smillie were the co-writer Julie Coombe and Shonagh Price. The comedy portrayed three women juggling a career, childcare and being a housewife. The play begins with the three women getting ready for a night out and then moves into a series of self-contained sketches. The finale features a medley of music by Kylie Minogue, Madonna and Cher. Smillie takes the part of Madonna, dancing and miming to the track "Holiday", dressed in a pastiche outfit based on the Jean Paul Gaultier-designed conical bra corset, from the singer's 1990 Blond Ambition tour. Smillie took the play on a three-week tour of Scotland performing at theatres in Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness.

Stage Appearances[edit]

2008: Film Actress[edit]

In 2008, Smillie made her film debut in a short film entitled Infamy playing a television presenter named Joan. The story concerns a man who is so desperate to get on Reality TV that he will try anything, including ultimately, holding up a shop at gunpoint to make the local news.[28]

2012-2018: DiaryDoll/Pretty Clever Pants[edit]

In October 2012, Smillie started her own business, DiaryDoll, with business partner and friend Annabel Croft, an ex-international tennis player. Together they created a range of women's underwear specifically for use during periods, with a secret waterproof panel inside them to remove the possibility of leaks and stains on clothing and bedding. They were designed to look and feel like normal underwear – i.e. breathable, washable and not crackly – giving women the confidence to go about their usual activities.[29] DiaryDoll then partnered with charity EndometriosisUK, giving confidence to some of the 1.5million British women who suffer painful and heavy periods as a result of Endometriosis. It was later noted that these were also useful to women in post-maternity and with pelvic floor weakness and the company was rebranded to include all of these groups.

An additional goal for Smillie is to reduce the stigma of periods and women's pelvic health as it is still seen to be an embarrassing topic despite its prevalence and normality amongst healthy women.[30]

2018-present: Humanist Celebrant[edit]

Smillie is a humanist. In 2018, she became an accredited humanist celebrant with the Humanist Society Scotland, conducting humanist, non-religious weddings, funerals and baby-namings.[31]

Personal life[edit]

Smillie lives in Glasgow with husband Alex Knight, a restaurateur, whom she married in August 1991. The marriage took place at Gleddoch House, in Langbank, near Glasgow.[16] They have three children: Christie (born 1995), Robbie (born 1997), and Jodie (born 1999). The children attended Hutchesons Grammar School as their mother did before them.[32] Smillie is a supporter of Rangers.[33]

Official website[edit]

Smillie launched her official website on 9 February 2005,[34] The site features a mix of videos and photos of her career to date, with information about her current TV projects, corporate work, writing and involvement with charities.

In October 2006, the site hosted personal video diaries filmed on a hand camera by Smillie, which she termed ‘Carol Cams’, These short diaries showed Smillie’s preparation, progress and reactions to her time on Strictly Come Dancing something no other celebrity on this show attempted and gave an insight into the behind the scenes working of the show.

Corporate work[edit]

Smillie's television presenting and live event experience enabled her to become a celebrity speaker for corporate events, conferences and exhibitions. Smillie hosted major conferences and award ceremonies.

Smillie presented corporate videos either on-screen or through a voice-over. Smillie has also lent her name to various endorsements.

Charity work[edit]

Smillie is involved with several charities, primarily ones concerned with child welfare. One of her main charities is The Prince & Princess of Wales Hospice (PPWH). She hosts 'A Little Less Strictly Come Dancing' Ball for them every year alongside Angus Purden.[35] Smillie was a contestant on the British television game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?. supporting the charity NSPCC. She appeared on the show with Michael Aspel. They failed to progress past the £16,000 mark when they missed the question about authors, dropping to £1,000.

In her October video blog, Smillie announced that she would pose topless with various other celebrities to promote a Breast Cancer awareness campaign. She stated that "she had thought long and hard about doing this, but it was such a worthwhile campaign, she just couldn't say no".


Smillie is trustee to a number of Glasgow institutions. These include Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, where she is on the board as trustee of The Kelvingrove Refurbishment Appeal (KRA). This is an independent trust established to raise £5 million in sponsorship and donations towards the £27.9million refurbishment of Kelvingrove.[36] She became a board member and Trustee for The Riverside Museum.

She supports the Glasgow School of Art, as a former and current student of the School’s Continuing Education Programme. Smillie is a member of the Mackintosh Conservation and Access Project team. In July 2007 she launched The Digital MacIntosh Project to raise funds for the restoration and refurbishment of the MacIntosh Building, which houses the school.[37]


When Smillie was hosting Wheel of Fortune in the early 1991s, she was invited to take the Mensa test for high IQs by a tabloid newspaper, to prove that Game Show hostesses were not stupid. She claimed to have passed with an IQ of 148. She courted controversy in 2003, when she announced in an interview that she had cheated on the test. She admitted that the test was not taken under exam conditions, and she completed only two thirds of it, coming unstuck at the end. Smillie had phoned a friend to complete the remainder of the test. She said, "I felt slightly guilty at the time, but it hadn't really bothered me that I had cheated because it was never a real test to me, and Mensa had never invited me to take part."[38]

Selected career credits[edit]



  • Changing Shape with Carol Smillie (2000)
  • Changing Rooms – Trust Me..I'm A Designer (2002)


  • Carol Smillie's Working Mums Handbook (2003)


  • National Television Award for Changing Rooms
  • INDIE Award for Changing Rooms
  • Bafta Nominated for Changing Rooms
  • Rear of the Year 1998, a British award for people with a notable posterior.[39]
  • In October 2008, Carol was nominated for a Scottish BAFTA, in The Lloyds TSB Scotland Audience Award for Most Popular Scottish Presenter category.[40]


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Smillie's People (TV Series 1996– ) – IMDb". Internet Movie Database. 1 May 2009. Archived from the original on 3 April 2012. Retrieved 18 November 2012.
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Personal finance news, how to make money, how to save money". The Daily Telegraph. London. 31 May 2011. Retrieved 2012-11-18.
  8. ^ The Daily Telegraph. London Archived from the original on 6 December 2008. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Carol Smillie". UKGameshows. 24 March 2010. Retrieved 2012-11-18.
  12. ^ a b "Chronicle Live: Number one for news, opinion, sport & celebrity gossip".
  13. ^ "This is Your Life (UK) – Season 39, Episode 2: Carol Smillie". 14 September 1998. Retrieved 2012-11-18.
  14. ^ "Press Office – Carol Smillie out of Strictly Come Dancing". BBC. Retrieved 2012-11-18.
  15. ^ "Catch up on all the gossip". Daily Record. Scotland. Retrieved 2012-11-18.
  16. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 11 October 2009. Retrieved 8 November 2009. 2009
  17. ^ "Finding Scotland's Real Heroes". STV. Retrieved 23 August 2014.
  18. ^ "Series 1, Episode 5". Lily Savage's Blankety Blank. 4 February 2016. ITV. Repeated 24 August 2016 on Challenge TV.
  19. ^ Lily Savage's Blankety Blank. 22 April 2001. ITV.
  20. ^ "I was canned; Carol Smillie on how she missed being a Tennent's Lager girl. – Free Online Library". Retrieved 2012-11-18.
  21. ^ "Shop Online | The Edinburgh Woollen Mill". Retrieved 2012-11-18.
  22. ^ a b "EWM Spring Summer 2008". 28 February 2008. Archived from the original on 13 July 2011. Retrieved 2012-11-18.
  23. ^ "Carol Smillie Returns To Modelling". Sunday Mail (Scotland).
  24. ^ "News & Star | Carol Smillie's Winter Warmer". 3 October 2008. Archived from the original on 7 March 2012. Retrieved 18 November 2012.
  25. ^ Carol Smillie. "Carol Smillie's working mum's handbook". Open Library. Retrieved 2012-11-18.
  26. ^ [1]
  27. ^ "Login".
  28. ^ Carol Smillie on IMDb
  29. ^ "Talking pants with DiaryDoll creator Carol Smillie! - Endometriosis UK".
  30. ^ "CAROL SMILLIE wants to smash taboo that makes women feel like pariahs".
  31. ^ "Former Changing Rooms host Carol Smillie becomes Humanist celebrant". The Scotsman. 3 May 2018. Retrieved 4 May 2018.
  32. ^ Fame and fortune: sensible and more than a Smillie face. The Daily Telegraph.
  33. ^ "Old Firm battle of the babes". The Scottish Sun. Glasgow. 1 January 2010. Retrieved 9 March 2017.
  34. ^ Carol Smillie.
  35. ^ Carol Smillie's charity work Archived 17 January 2008 at the Wayback Machine..
  36. ^ Museums. (2009-11-17). Retrieved on 2013-03-09.
  37. ^ [2][permanent dead link]
  38. ^ "Smillie admits being Mensa cheat". BBC News. 3 April 2003. Retrieved 15 November 2008.
  39. ^
  40. ^ "WINNERS & NOMINATIONS – Bafta Scotland". Archived from the original on 18 October 2008. Retrieved 15 November 2008.

External links[edit]