READERS of a certain age will remember Carol Drinkwater as the actress who played Helen, the wife of Yorkshire vet James Herriot, in the hit TV series All Creatures Great And Small. At its peak, the series pulled in 23 million viewers.The role won Carol the Variety Club TV Personality of the Year award in 1985, and the series is still shown around the world today.

These days, however, Carol is perhaps better known as an author than as an actress - with more than 20 books to her name. The early ones were for children. Then followed the Olive Farm books - a series of best-selling memoirs about her experiences on an olive farm in Provence

Most recently she has turned back to fiction, this time for adults, writing a series of sumptuous romantic thrillers set in glamorous locations.

Next Friday she will be in York for a free event at St Peter's School to promote her new novel The House on the Edge of the Cliff. She'll be in conversation with Philippa Morris of York's Little Apple bookshop. And Philippa got the chance to put a few questions to her ahead of the event...

Philippa Morris: Can you tell me one of your fondest memories of your time in Yorkshire?

Carol Drinkwater: It was a carefree time for me. I look back on it as a period of metamorphosis. I was growing up, making strides in my professional life and here I was, in this extraordinarily beautiful landscape surrounded by a remarkable team of people, all of whom loved their work and were pretty good at it.

I partially grew up on a farm in the midlands of Ireland so, in that sense, it was like coming home. Our family farm was a modest affair but it did not lessen the challenges. My grandparents were real workers, committed to the land. Of course, I found that everywhere in Yorkshire. As a child, I took the hard work, the commitment to production, for granted. Once in Yorkshire, it was an awakening. I could almost say that my love of nature and the natural world was, if not born in Yorkshire, then certainly rekindled.

P: We probably know you best for your TV work, but as actor you have worked on stage and in film too. Which do you prefer?

C: I have always preferred working with cameras, with crews and technicians alongside fellow actors. I love the reach of TV and film.

P: As an olive farmer in France you must meet other farmers. How do they compare to our Yorkshire equivalents?

C: Ha-ha. I like this question. The commitment to quality exists both in my Olive Farm world and in Yorkshire. The vagaries of weather and its effects on crops is always a concern for farmers. I see that when we are at the mill pressing our olives. The concern on the faces of the farmers until they are reassured that their product is up to scratch. I enormously respect the qualities required to be a farmer: the hours, the solitariness, the sheer bloody-mindedness. I think James Herriot/Alf Wight perfectly brought these traits to life in his characters.

P: Your new book alternates between the present day and the heroine at 16. What words of advice would you give to your own 16 year old self?

C: “Don’t be afraid, Carol. Fear not the opinions or the tittle-tattle of others. Listen to your heart, be true to your own dreams and when the moment is right jump fully into life.”

P: So many of your books are deeply embedded with a love of the landscape and nature. I have read about your environmental passions. Can you give us some tips for living a greener life?

C: One word: Respect. Respect for the natural world. We don’t own any of this. None of this planet, not even our own tiny patch of it, belongs to us. We are caretakers for a frighteningly short time. I believe it is our duty to leave this planet in better shape than we found it.

Free tickets to see carol Drinkwater in conversation with Philippa Morris at St Peter's School at 7pm on Friday May 24 from

Carol is also appearing at The Old Courthouse Rural Arts, Thirsk , on May 23. Call The White Rose bookshop on 01845 524353 for more details.