Gabrielle Drake (born 30 March 1944) is a British actress. She appeared in the 1970s in the television series The Brothers and UFO. In the early 1970s, she appeared in several erotic roles on screen. She later took part in soap operas Crossroads and Coronation Street. She has also had a stage career.
Her brother was the musician Nick Drake, whose work she has consistently helped to promote since he died in 1974.
Drake first gained wide attention for her portrayal of Lieutenant Gay Ellis in the 1970 science fiction television series UFO, in which her costume consisted of a silver suit and a purple wig. In the series, the character is the commander of the SHADO Moonbase, which is Earth’s first line of defence against invading flying saucers. Drake appeared in roughly half the 26 episodes produced, leaving the series during a break in production to pursue other acting opportunities.
In 1971, Drake appeared in a short film entitled Crash!, based on a chapter in J. G. Ballard’s book The Atrocity Exhibition. The film, directed by Harley Cokeliss, featured Ballard talking about the ideas in his book. Drake appeared as a passenger and car crash victim. Ballard later developed the idea in his 1973 novel Crash. In his novel draft, he mentioned Drake by name, but references to her were removed from the published version. The 2009 BBC documentary Synth Britannia clips of Ballard and Drake from Crash! were inserted into the 1979 video for Gary Numan’s song “Cars”. A reviewer in The Scotsman commented that the presence of Drake “brought serious glamour to urban alienation”.
In the early 1970s, Drake was associated with the boom in British sexploitation movies, repeatedly appearing nude or topless. She played a nude artist’s model in the 1970 film Connecting Rooms and was one of Peter Sellers’ conquests in the film. There’s a Girl in My Soup. She also played one of the lead roles in the sex comedy Au Pair Girls (1972) and appeared in two Derek Ford films, Suburban Wives (1971) and its sequel Commuter Husbands (1972), in which she played the narrator who links the disparate episodes together.
Her early television appearances include The Avengers (1967), Coronation Street (as Inga Olsen in 1967) and The Saint (1968). In 1970, she auditioned for the part of Jo Grant in Doctor Who, reaching the final shortlist of three, but did not get the part. On December 26, 1968, she played opposite American actor Robert Lansing in a BBC television series called Journey to the Unknown in an episode called “The Beckoning Fair One” and an episode called “Sorry Is Just a Word” of Special Branch.
She gained wide exposure in The Brothers, the hit BBC family drama series, in which she appeared as a regular for the first four seasons playing Jill, the girlfriend (and later wife) of David Hammond. She also appeared in an episode of Brian Clemens’ 1970s series Thriller, in The Kelly Monteith Show (as Monteith’s wife 1979–80), a television version of The Importance of Being Earnest (1985, for LWT/PBS), Crossroads (1985–87, as motel boss Nicola Freeman) and returned to Coronation Street in 2009 as Vanessa. In The Inspector Lynley Mysteries (2003–05), she played the protagonist’s mother.
She was the subject of This Is Your Life on 8 April 1987.