Sixties City presents a wide-ranging series of articles on all aspects of the Sixties, penned by the creator of the iconic 60s music paper  Mersey Beat

Gabrielle Drake



Gabrielle Drake - UFO The actress was born on March 30th 1944 in Lahore, Pakistan. Her father was an engineer working in import/exports, mainly in the Far East, and for the early years of her life Gabrielle was travelling with her parents in countries such as Burma and India. The family returned to England when she was eight and she was educated at Wycombe Abbey School for Girls before travelling to Paris to work as an au pair girl.

On her return she trained for several years at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. On graduation she spent three years at the Everyman Theatre in Liverpool before moving to the Malvern Theatre Company, the Birmingham Repertory Company, the Bristol Old Vic, the New Shakespeare Company and the Young Vic. Among the plays she appeared in were ‘The Cherry Orchard’, ‘A Comedy of Errors’ and ‘Titus Andronicus.’

Gabrielle also appeared in numerous television parts throughout the Sixties including ‘Intrigue’ in 1966, an industrial espionage drama, and roles in ‘Coronation Street’, ‘The Saint’, ‘The Champions’, ‘Journey To The Unknown’, ‘Virgin of the Secret Service’ and she also appeared as Angora in ‘The Avengers’ episode ‘The Hidden Tiger’ in 1967 (she auditioned unsuccessfully for the roles of Emma Peel and Tara King). She gained a cult following when she portrayed Lt. Gay Ellis in the Gerry Anderson series ‘UFO’ (dressed in a mauve wig) and in 1972 established herself still further with the British public as Jill Howard in the highly popular ‘The Brothers’ series.

Although she made her film debut in 1969 in ‘Crossplot’, a Swinging Sixties movie starring Roger Moore, the British cinema in the Seventies was unlike that of the Sixties. During the Sixties American studios poured money into British studios and there was a wide variety of films, some big-budget, some modestly budgeted, but most aimed at international audiences.

The Seventies saw Hammer reduced to making movies based on TV series such as ‘On The Buses’, with little appeal outside the UK, while the main British contribution to the cinema was a string of soft-porn films. Gabrielle, who was to be found in bed topless with Peter Sellers in ‘There’s A Girl In My Soup’, appeared in a series of 'sex comedy' films such as ‘The Au Pair Girls’, ‘Suburban Wives’ and ‘Commuter Husbands.’ Why a well-respected Shakespearean actress would be willing to appear full-frontal as a sexpot in ‘The Au Pair Girls’ is puzzling as theatre and television roles still kept her regularly in work.

She appeared as Penny in the ‘Dead Men Are Dangerous’ episode of ‘The New Avengers’ and continued to appear over the years in numerous television episodes on ‘The Professionals’, ‘Medics’, ‘Peak Practice' – and in the 21st Century ‘Heartbeat’ and ‘The Inspector Lindlay Mysteries’ among others.

Gabrielle is the sister of the late singer/songwriter Nick Drake. Nick was born in Burma on 18th June 1948. He began recording in 1968 and established his reputation with three albums: ‘Five Leaves Left’, ‘Bryter Layter’ and ‘Pink Moon’. He suffered a nervous breakdown in 1972 and was hospitalised. Nick died at his home in Tamworth, Staffordshire, of an overdose of antidepressants on 23rd October 1974. He was 26 years old. Gabrielle appeared in the documentary ‘A Skin Too Few: The Days of Nick Drake.’

Gabrielle Drake


Also See: Sixties City 'UFO' TV Series



Mersey Beat Magazine Bill Harry attended the Liverpool College of Art with Stuart Sutcliffe and John Lennon and made the arrangements for Brian Epstein to visit The Cavern, where he saw The Beatles for the first time. Bill was a member of 'The Dissenters' and the founder and editor of 'Mersey Beat', the iconic weekly music newspaper that documented the early Sixties music scene in the Liverpool area and is possibly best known for being the first periodical to feature a local band called 'The Beatles'. He has worked as a high powered publicist, doing PR for acts such as Suzi Quatro, Free, The Arrows and Hot Chocolate and has managed press campaigns for record labels such as CBS, EMI, Polydor. Bill is the critically acclaimed author of a large number of books about The Beatles and the 60s era including 'The Beatles Who's Who', 'The Best Years of the Beatles' and the Fab Four's 'Encyclopedia' series. He has appeared on 'Good Morning America' and has received a Gold Award from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors.


Article Bill Harry 2017               Original Graphics SixtiesCity 2017

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