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The Tidelands Health Newsroom

Published on September 23, 2019

Most call her Mrs. Patmore from ‘Downton Abbey.’ This Tidelands Health team member calls her his aunt.

Many fans of the megahit “Downton Abbey” would love to have the sassy Mrs. Patmore as their aunt. Brent Nicol of Myrtle Beach actually does.

Well, not Mrs. Patmore, per se, but longtime actress Lesley Nicol, who portrays the popular cook in the British series-turned-movie that debuted in U.S. theaters over the weekend, topping the box office with $31 million in ticket sales. She is the aunt of Brent Nicol, director of surgical specialties, and sister of Dr. Phil Nicol, both of whom work at Tidelands Health.

“It’s weird at first watching her as Mrs. Patmore. You know she’s acting because you know her and her nuances,” Brent Nicol said. “She is a great actress, and it’s so much fun to watch her.”

Lesley Nicol, left, with Brent Nicol of Tidelands Health and his wife, ShandaBrent Nicol and family have long supported Lesley Nicol’s acting career. They’ve watched her perform on stage in productions such as “Mamma Mia” and recognized her voice giving life to cartoon characters such as Scarf Lady in the animated series “Sarah & Duck” (which is her most prominent role for Brent Nicol’s 4-year-old son).

But “Downton Abbey,” which depicts the lives of the Crawley family in the early 1900s, has been special. Every Sunday night, the family gathered around the TV to watch their relative and see what shenanigans would surface on the drama series.

“That was like an event for us,” Brent Nicol said.

The popularity of the show propelled Lesley Nicol to new levels of notoriety in her acting career – and left the Nicol family beaming with pride and supporting her by encouraging folks to watch the series.

“I don’t think anybody ever anticipated it would be a worldwide megahit,” Brent Nicol said. “It is so much larger than we ever thought it would be.

“She’s so humble because she really had to work to get to this point. It’s what she loves to do. It’s great to see her have the opportunity to really enjoy it on such a successful level.”

Now, Brent Nicol must remember that it’s not just his aunt, but Mrs. Patmore that’s showing up at events and family gatherings.

At his wedding in 2013, guests lined up to get photos with the famous relative.

“I think that’s why half the people showed up,” Brent Nicol said jokingly. “Everybody wanted a picture with Mrs. Patmore.”

Through the years, friends have often hit him up for autographs and asked him to arrange for her to participate in special events. It’s never a bother. He’s proud of what his aunt has accomplished and the fame that’s come with it.

“It’s run the gamut,” Brent Nicol said of the requests. “A lot of people are fascinated by it. It’s fun being on the edges of that.”

She’s gracious in sending signed photos and helps when she can, but her schedule doesn’t allow for much of that.

And don’t even try to get the scoop on what will happen with the Crawley clan. Lesley Nicol won’t reveal any of those secrets, and Brent Nicol knows not to even ask.

“I just stay out of it until it’s time to be shared,” he said.

Just like they used to do during the early days of “Downton Abbey” on TV, the Nicol clan at the beach will get together to watch “Downton Abbey” on the big screen not just to support their relative but because they are fans of the show, too.

“Seeing her is just that step above everything else,” Brent Nicol said. “We like ‘Downton Abbey’ and we like getting to see her in it.”


Tidelands Health is the region’s largest health care provider and MUSC Health affiliate, serving the Carolinas at four hospitals and more than 60 outpatient locations. More than 2,500 employee, physician and volunteer partners work side by side with our communities to transform the health of our region – promoting wellness, preventing illness, encouraging recovery and restoring health.