has a great sense
of period. The locations
are lovely; there are some
wonderful examples of
brilliant child psychology
coming into play and of
snobbery among the
nannies, along with well-
observed 1930s life...
FIRST SCREENED ON BBC ONE in 1981, the powerful and heart-warming drama Nanny
is set in the 1930s and stars one of the most prominent faces in British sitcom
Wendy Craig (Butterflies, Not In Front Of The Children), who plays divorcée
Barbara Gray. Good news both for all those who enjoyed watching
it then as well as for those who missed it first time round is
that Acorn Media has just released the first series of this much-loved BBC drama
series on DVD.
Following her divorce, Barbara is left with nothing and returns home to her
father Donald (Colin Douglas). Her great love of children prompts her to enrol
at The Hogarth Nursery Training College with the deter-mination to become the
best possible nanny. At the college she makes friends with fellow student Lillian
Chatfield (Jayne Lester). Wendy Craig's sterling performances throughout the
drama as she moves from inexperienced trainee nanny to the domestic saviour
of well-heeled families endeared audiences to Barbara Gray and earned
Wendy rave reviews.
The post-World War One era is a time of change. The college principal (Gillian
Lutyens) leaves her students in the Spring of 1932 with the very good advice:
"Children need to be wanted". Her ethos comes from "modern psychology, which
we have recently introduced". And her par-ting shot: "Do not fail to pack your
silver-backed hairbrushes; it never fails to impress the servants".
Barbara's first, very challenging, position is with Sir Anthony and Lady Evelyn
Fitzpaine-Cheddon (Jeffry Wickham and Georgina Melville) as
a nanny for their very disturbed four-year-old son, Robin (Charles Langdale).
"Emptying the nappies of the idle rich," dismisses Barbara's disapproving father.
This episode also features John Carlin as the domineering butler, Webster, and
Anita Dobson as Dorothy the maid.
Barbara's next job is with Anglo-Irish couple Jack and Fin Persse (Nial Buggy
and Fiona Victory) who have two children, Jamsey (Matthew Brady) and his sister
Pudge (Kristine Nicolopoulos). It becomes clear quite quickly that they have
little money but Barbara has a few tricks up her sleeve even when she
comes up against nanny snobbery in the form of Nanny Snape (Pauline Letts).
Her search for another position takes Barbara to the formidable Miss McQuaid
(Joan Newell) and her Nursery Appointment Bureau. She starts work in Bath for
Dorinda Sackville (the dazzling Patricia Hodge) and her husband Frederick (Benjamin
Whitrow). The Sackvilles, with their five girls and baby boy, are extremely
demanding but things go from bad
to worse when Barbara is forced to confront governess Miss Sullivan (Sonia Graham)
and the children's grandmother. This episode also fea-tures Philip Dunbar as
Dr Lindsay and Patience Collier.
Nanny has a great sense of period. The locations are lovely; very evocative
and attractive and wonderful classic vehicles include a beautiful Rolls-Royce
and a magnificent fire engine. There is even that rarity of English village
life today a Post Office! The animated opening sequence is fascinating
and the accompanying music is well matched. The music was composed and conducted
by Grant Hossack. Graphic Designer was Bob Cosford.
There are some wonderful examples of brilliant child psychology coming into
play and of snobbery among the nannies as well as well-observed 1930s life.
As Lady Fitzpaine-Cheddon speaks about her own child-hood and that of her husband,
it becomes apparent that they are both damaged people who cannot help but pass
on their lack of parenting skills to their children.
Wendy Craig went against type with Nanny she usually played maternal
but scatty comedy characters. The creative scripts attracted a vast audience
and the series even encouraged young women to con-sider a career in childcare.
Translated to screen by actor and writer Terence Brady and novelist Charlotte
Bingham, Nanny is renowned for its high audience figures. And now you
can experience a slice of classic British drama at its very best with Nanny
Nanny Series One, starring
Wendy Craig, is now available on DVD
at an RRP of £24.99. Cert PG, it was released on 7 January 2008. Catalogue No:
AV9631. Special Features include Wendy Craig Film-ography, Picture Gallery and
Brief 1930s Background.