coming unstuck

Carol Smillie

Carol Smillie (surname pronounced "smiley") (born December 23 1961 in Glasgow) is a moderately successful female Scottish former television personality, with many programmes to her credit. Carol is probably best known for presenting the award winning BBC series Changing Rooms. Carol rose to fame when she became the first UK hostess of the international television game show Wheel of Fortune. Carol has also appeared onstage in The Vagina Monologues and is the author of Carol Smillie's Working Mum's Handbook.

Carol is also famous for her radiant smile, which was caricatured by the British impressionist Ronni Ancona in the UK television show Big Impression. Ronni's impression of Carol used the catchphrase “I’m Smiley Smiley Carol Smillie”, which Carol adopted and has entered into Popular culture when referencing her.


Early life

Carol Patricia Smillie was born in Glasgow, Scotland, the daughter of George Smillie, an electrical engineer and Isobel Smillie. Carol is the youngest of four siblings, with two sisters and a brother. Carol had a happy idyllic childhood growing up in a three-bedroom bungalow in Glasgow, sharing a room with her two older sisters. Carol’s earliest memories are of having her nappy changed and, when put in her pram to go to sleep, being frightened by the wallpaper, which she finds amusing considering her later fame with the television programme Changing Rooms.

As a child, Carol attended Simshill Primary School, which was situated virtually next door to where she lived. When it came to her secondary school education the majority of Carol’s classmates went to the local secondary school, but unlike the rest of her family, her parents were able to send her to the independent fee paying Hutchesons' Grammar School. Carol realised that this was a huge financial effort by her parents in sending her there, but academically she didn’t shine. Despite that, Carol believes that the atmosphere and education she received at the school helped her to develop her confidence and personality substantially, and as such she never felt she underachieved. Carol eventually attained seven O-levels, fabric and fashion being one, which was the direction she felt her career would lead. She left the following year with three Highers, but she needed five to get into the Glasgow School of Art, where she believed her talents and interests could be developed. Carol studied at Langside College to get the other two, but only managed to get one, which she has attributed to too much freedom and enjoying herself with her friends. Undeterred, she was still resolute in her aim to study at Art School, so Carol spent another year at Cardonald College, where she didn't know anyone, and this time really applied herself to her schooling, finally achieving the results she needed to pursue her dream of attending the Glasgow School of Art .

At 18 years of age, Carol embarked on her first year at the Glasgow School of Art , studying Art, Design and Fashion, with the vague idea of becoming a fashion designer. On arriving there, she spent the year unsure what it was she really wanted to do with her life. Surrounded by punk students sporting green hair and pink shoes, Carol felt she didn’t really fit into this mode of life. To subsidise her studies Carol worked in a cocktail bar, and after approaching a local Glasgow model agency, took up part-time modelling. Her Art tutor was into abstract art, which was an area that didn’t really work for Carol, “Throwing paint at a wall, wasn’t what I expected”. Another tutor told her, "If I were you, I'd stick with modelling. You can do art at any time". Carol believing that this was his way of saying, "I don't think you've got what it takes", decided to leave the Glasgow School of Art, and embarked on modelling as her new career.

Carol left the agency she had been working for whilst at college, and joined the Best Modelling Agency, run by Fiona Best an ex-model. Not tall enough at 5ft 5in, she wasn’t suitable for catwalk modelling, and was employed mainly for photo shoots and promotional work. Carol worked for the agency throughout the eighties becoming one of Fiona Best’s favourite models, due to her professional attitude and reliability, something a number of the other agency models lacked. Carol met her husband Alex Knight, also a former model, through Fiona's agency and at one point they even considered buying the business, but they decided against it as Carol realised that looking after a group of young models was not something she wished to take on. Through the agency Carol achieved her breakthrough, when at the age of 27 she successfully auditioned for the hostess job on the Wheel of Fortune game show, launching her television career.



Wheel of Fortune

The Travel Show

  • During the early nineties Carol sent her cv to all the video and production companies in Scotland, stating that "My name's Carol Smillie. You know me from Wheel of Fortune but I'd really like to do something else now, so I'm willing to work for nothing to get some stuff on tape" Through her perseverance Carol managed to pick up the odd presenting job and soon had enough material to create a show-reel to present to TV companies. BBC Manchester were impressed enough to offer Carol the reporter's job on BBC Two's The Travel Show.


Changing Rooms

  • No longer deemed just a pretty face, in 1996 Carol 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 the craze for DIY in the late 1990s. During her time on the show, Carol and the Changing Room Team won A National TV Award and an INDIE Award and were BAFTA nominated. Carol stayed as the main presenter for 13 series, leaving in 2003.

The National Lottery Show

  • In 1996, and now considered one of television's most reliable and popular presenters Carol was selected to present The National Lottery Show for the BBC. Carol mainly appeared on the Wednesday Midweek Draw show, but also made the occasional appearance on the Saturday night show. Carol presented various incarnations of the Lottery 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 was seen live on The National Lottery: Everyone's A Winner! in Edinburgh with contestant Charley.

Smillie's People

  • In 1998, Carol was awarded her own mid-morning chat-show on BBC One entitled Smillie's People. The programme was only 15 minutes in length and ran from 11:45am to 12:00. Each day Carol would interview a different celebrity. The Show ran for one series.

This Is Your Life

Dream Holiday Homes

  • In 2003, upon leaving her successful helm on Changing Rooms, Carol departed the BBC for the Channel five show Dream Holiday Homes. This new show drew on similarities to the DIY programme, she had just departed, as again it consisted of fixing up properties. The difference being that this time, not just rooms were given a makeover, but the entire property. Also the properties were situated in various Southern European locations, and at the end of each show Carol would auction off the property for the price of a £1 phonecall to a lucky viewer picked at random.. The show ran for five series.

Gender Swap

Strictly Ice Dancing

The People's Court

A Brush with Fame

  • Later that year she was the presenter of the ITV reality show A Brush with Fame, a search for the UK's best amateur portrait artist.

Strictly Come Dancing

Carol gradually improved as the series progressed, as the scores in the table below reflect. Len Goodman, often referred to her as the Dark Horse of the competition, resulting in the music from the Black Beauty TV series accompanying many of the clips of her in training on the Monday to Friday complementary show Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two.

Carol eventually came fifth in the competition, out of the original fourteen competitors. Carol was eliminated after failing to garner enough public votes, despite achieving her highest scores of the competition and finishing third highest out of the remaining five competitors in the judges vote.

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

Postcode Challenge

  • Carol returned to STV in November 2007 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 by Carol. The show is currently on air Monday nights at 8pm. The first show was broadcast on 11 November 2007, and is due to run well into 2008. Carol has been quoted as saying about the show "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".

You can watch Carol hosting Postcode Challenge at the STV website here :

Television Guest Appearances

In 2002 Carol went on Sooty in the episode called All New Sooty.


In her early years, before she became famous, Carol was a well travelled model on the Exhibition circuit and occasional lingerie model. It is often stated that Carol was one of the famous Tennent's Lager girls (a successful marketing promotion in Scotland which saw pictures of young women on the backs of cans of the lager). Carol was quoted in The Independent newspaper on October 2 2006 stating that this was a common misconception about her.

Carol has continued to model occasionally since her rise to fame. Carol is currently the model for the Scottish company The Edinburgh Woollen Mill. Carol featured extensively in their advertising campaign for the 2007/08 Autumn/Winter collection, appearing in a televised Christmas commercial for the company.

On February 26th 2008, The Edinburgh Woollen Mill released their Spring/Summer Catalogue (Summer Essentials) featuring Carol extensively. The shots for the Catalogue were shot in South Africa, with Carol modeling swimwear again for the first time in over twenty years. Carol 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".

In May 2008, Carol was featured in the latest Edinburgh Woollen Mill television advert, promoting their Spring/Summer catalogue. The advert can be viewed on YouTube at

In August 2008 Carol modeled for the latest Edinburgh Woollen Mill Autumn/Winter Catalogue. She has also filmed their latest television advert to be broadcast in Autumn 2008.


In 2003 Carol joined forces with Eileen Fursland to became a best selling author with the publication of Carol Smillie's Working Mum's Handbook. In the book Carol looked at the practical problems and emotional issues that face all of us when women go back to work. Whether you're at home for six months or six years. The ideas and information in the book aimed to help working mothers achieve the work-life balance that is right for them and their family. The book describes ways to get organised and manage your time at home and work, and know your rights to maternity leave and pay, parental leave and tax credits. In addition it offers advice on how to keep your family life and relationships happy and fulfilling, find a job, take career breaks, survive the nine to five, choose childcare to suit you and your child, streamline household chores, cook and entertain, and finally tackle the thorny issues like guilt, stress and sleep (or lack of it).

On May 10 2008 Carol co-authored with Emma Magson, an animal behaviourist, a weekly based column in The Times Newspaper entitled Perfect Pets. The column was featured in the Body and Soul section of the Saturday edition and lasted 10 weeks. Each week Carol and Emma discuss questions on pet suitability to help readers explore the merits and responsibilities of their perfect pets. The articles are also accompanied by an online video at The Times Online. This can be accessed at the Times online site here

Stage actress

In 2006 Carol made her debut on the stage in the Eve Ensler play The Vagina Monologues. Carol has so far completed three tours of the play in various locations around Scotland. Fellow cast members with Carol were Scots actresses Lesley Mackie and Jo Freer.

Film actress

In 2008 Carol made her film debut in a short film entitled Infamy. The role she played was based on her own television personality with Carol portraying a television presenter named Joan. The story concerns a man who is so desperate to get on Reality TV that he will try anything to achieve his goal, including ultimately, holding a shop up at gunpoint to make the local news. The film may be aired on television later in 2008. The website for Infamy can be viewed here.

Corporate work

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

As well as live events Carol has also presented corporate videos either on-screen or through a voiceover. Carol has also lent her name to various endorsements.

In February 2008, The Highways Agency launched a new safety DVD entitled ‘Fit to Tow’ which was presented by Carol. The DVD was intended to raise awareness of the safety risks involved when towing a caravan or trailer. Carol was quoted as saying "I was amazed when I discovered just how many towing-related incidents occurred on England's roads and how many fatalities and injuries resulted from them, not to mention the disruption they can cause. I was really pleased when the Highways Agency approached me to present this helpful DVD. I fully support this initiative and I would advise anyone who tows to follow the simple, practical checks and advice included in the film to ensure you are Fit to Tow."

Personal life

Carol is very proud of her Scottish heritage and is a great promoter for the City of Glasgow. She still lives in the City with her restaurateur husband Alex Knight whom she married in August 1991. They have three children: Christie aged 13, Robbie aged 10 and Jodie aged 8.All of her children attend Hutchesons Grammar' school. Carol is keen to balance the need for a successful career against the demands of a working Mum. Carol rarely works on a weekend, turning down numerous job offers as she believes it is more important to see her children growing up than be away from home constantly. Carol has been quoted as saying, "She can count on one hand the amount of times she's worked a weekend since she had her first child".

Official website

Carol launched her own official website on February 9 2005, The site features a mix of videos and photos of her career to date, together with information about her current TV projects, corporate work, writing and involvement with charities she patrons.

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

In April 2008 her site was given a complete revamp and Carol started her own monthly video blogs detailing her activity for that particular month. These can be viewed on her website at

Charity work

Carol is patron to a number of charities, primarily based upon Children's welfare. One of Carol's main charities is the Children's Hospice Association Scotland (CHAS). Carol was also a contestant on the British TV game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?. supporting the charity NSPCC.

In her October Video Blog on her website, Carol announced that she would be posing topless along with various other celebrities to promote a Breast Cancer awareness campaign. Carol stated that "she had thought long and hard about doing this, but it was such a worthwhile campaign, she just couldn't say no".

Trustee status

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

Carol, is also passionate about the Glasgow School of Art, being a former pupil, and current student of the School’s Continuing Education Programme. Carol 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 refubishment of the MacIntosh Building, which houses the Glasgow School of Art.


When Carol was hosting Wheel of Fortune in the early 1990s, she took the Mensa test for high IQs, to prove that Game Show hostesses weren't dumb. She passed with an IQ of 148, and was duly entered into the ranks of the Mensa club. Carol courted controversy in 2003, when she announced in an interview that she had cheated on the test. Carol admitted that the test wasn't taken under exam conditions, and she only completed two thirds of it, coming unstuck at the end. Carol phoned a friend to complete the remainder of the test. Carol said "I felt slightly guilty at the time, but it hadn't really bothered me that I had cheated". Mensa weren't so impressed and removed her from their online list of members of the Mensa society. Carol has appeared on Celebrity Who Wants to be a Millionaire, during which she and Michael Aspel needed two lifelines to work out that UMIST is a university in Manchester; they went on to drop from £16,000 to £1,000.

Selected career credits



including Summer Holiday, Holiday Swaps, Holiday Heaven and Holiday Favourites

including The National Lottery - Amazing Luck Stories, The National Lottery - We've Got Your Number, National Lottery - Local Heroes

  • Smillie's People 1996-97
  • New Year Live Hogmanay Show 1998
  • Star Secrets 1999
  • Surprising Stars 2001
  • Dream Holiday Homes 2003-2005
  • Baby Hospital Live 2004
  • The Peoples Court 2005
  • A Brush With Fame 2005
  • Postcode Challenge 2007-2008

Guest appearances

  • The Hypnotic World of Paul McKenna 1994
  • You Bet 1995 1996 1997
  • The Alphabet Game 1996
  • Shooting Stars 1996
  • An Evening with Lily Savage 1996
  • Confessions 1998
  • Clive Anderson All Talk 1998
  • Celebrity Ready Steady Cook 1999
  • ''All Over The Shop' 1999
  • It's Only TV...But I Like It 1999
  • Blankety Blank 1999
  • Clarkson 1999
  • This Is Your Life 1999
  • Heaven And Earth Show 2001
  • Celebrity Friends Like These 2001
  • Sooty 2001
  • Hot Potatoes 2002
  • Friday Night with Jonathon Ross 2002
  • The Brian Conley Show 2002
  • Alter Ego 2002
  • Kelly 2003 and 2005
  • V Graham Norton 2003
  • Have I Got News for You 2003
  • Today with Des and Mel 2003 2004
  • Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway 2004
  • Win, Lose or Draw Late 2004
  • 29 Minutes of Fame 2005
  • The Paul O'Grady Show 2005
  • Stars In Fast Cars 2005
  • Brainiac: Science Abuse 2005
  • The Prince's Trust 30th Birthday: Live 2006
  • Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two 2006
  • Your Country Needs You 2007
  • The Aphrodisiac Test 2007
  • The Meaning Of Life 2007
  • Tonight With Trevor McDonald 2007
  • The Pyramid Game 2007
  • The Grumpy Guide To 2007
  • Hider in the House 2008
  • The Alan Titchmarsh Show 2008
  • Take It Or Leave It 2008
  • How TV Changed Britain - Property 2008
  • Daily Cooks Challenge 2008
  • What Are You Like ? 2008

Reality TV Appearances



Tour Dates 2006

Tour Dates 2007


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


  • Carol Smillie's Working Mums Handbook (2003)



External links

Charity links

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