Nanny and the Professor
|Nanny and the Professor|
|Created by||AJ Carothers
Thomas L. Miller
|Country of origin||US|
|No. of seasons||3|
|No. of episodes||54|
|Producer(s)||Charles B. Fitzsimons|
|Running time||24 min.|
|Original run||January 21, 1970– December 27, 1971|
Nanny and the Professor is an American fantasy situation comedy created by AJ Carothers and Thomas L. Miller for 20th Century Fox Television. During pre-production, the proposed title was Nanny Will Do.
Playing upon the popular successes of Mary Poppins and other magical nannies of literature, this TV series posited another ostensibly magical British nanny taking care of a family in need of direction. Unlike the candid "magicality" of its forebears, this Nanny's paranormal nature was less overt and only implied. The Nanny's young wards, as well as the audience, were left intentionally unsure of the nature of Nanny's "powers," if any.
The series starred Juliet Mills as Nanny Phoebe Figalilly, Richard Long as Professor Harold Everett, and Elsa Lanchester in the recurring role of Aunt Henrietta. Figalilly was apparently psychic, and had regular flashes of what was often more than intuition; she frequently knew who was ringing the doorbell before the bell even rang. There was the vague suggestion that she may have been at least several hundred years old and more than human, which the children thought they discovered in an episode after they saw a photo of Phoebe that looked like it was taken a century earlier.
Figalilly watched over Professor Everett and his three children: Hal, the intellectual tinkerer, played by David Doremus; Butch, the middle child, played by Trent Lehman; and Prudence, the youngest, played by Kim Richards. Patsy Garrett had the recurring role of nosy neighbor Mrs. Fowler whose daughter Francine, had a crush on Hal. Midway through the brief first season, a yellow 1930 Model A Ford, "Arabella," was added to the series.
The "magical" Nanny shows up unbidden after the single dad's mischievous children have just driven away another housekeeper (as reprised in Nanny McPhee). She seems to know the names of all strangers she meets, and can tell that the phone or doorbell is about to ring. Each time a bit of "magic" occurs a ding-a-ling sound is made (compare Samantha's nose-twitch sound on Bewitched). When something the father has to do interferes with the children's lives, often the phone or doorbell will ring (in conjunction with the ding-a-ling signal), and he will be told that the interference has been cancelled or postponed.
- Professor Everett
- Hal, 12 ½ years of age, and above average academically
- Butch (nickname for Bentley), in middle school
- Prudence, just entering grade school
- Waldo, the family dog
The first five named appear in all 54 episodes.
The Nanny's relatives
From time to time, some of the Nanny's relatives dropped by the Everett home for a visit. They include:
- Uncle Alfred (portrayed by John Mills, Juliet Mills's father), an eccentric who enthralls the Everett children with his wonderful stories and human flying act in his visit in "The Human Fly".
- Aunt Justine (portrayed by Ida Lupino) and Aunt Agatha (portrayed by Marjorie Bennett), two of the Nanny's loveable aunts who draw a mob of reporters, tourists and "Flem Libbers"[clarification needed] when they descend on the Everetts, quite literally, in a balloon in "The Balloon Ladies".
- Uncle Horace (portrayed by Ray Bolger), the Nanny's roguish uncle, an old charmer, just back from the South seas, finds himself in great demand as rainmaker in Nanny's drought-stricken town during his visit in "South Sea Island Sweetheart".
- Aunt Henrietta (portrayed by Elsa Lanchester), an eccentric grand dame who arrives in town with her circus and a disturbing premonition that the Nanny is about to be carried off by a mustachioed stranger in "Aunt Henrietta's Premonition." She later appeared in "Aunt Henrietta and the Jinx" during a battle between reason and superstition and returned again in "Aunt Henrietta and the Poltergeist" helping to get rid of a ghost.
- Aunt Arabella, the Nanny's aunt and the inspiration for the nickname of the Nanny's antique 1930 Model A automobile in "Nanny on Wheels".
- The Nanny had a lookalike great-aunt (never seen) who lived to a ripe old age (she was born in October - a Libra).
- During the Nanny's wedding to Cholmondeley Featherstonehaugh (the character's name is pronounced "Chumley Fanshaw"), she found a note from her mother tucked in her great-great-great grandmother's wedding gown that told her to only marry if she was truly in love. She took the advice of the note and called off the wedding.
Ratings and cancellation
The series first aired as a mid-season replacement on January 21, 1970, on ABC and was last telecast on December 27, 1971. The series enjoyed initial success due to its Friday night timeslot when it was scheduled between The Brady Bunch and The Partridge Family, which were similar shows, aimed largely at young children and pre-teens. Ratings suffered in the third season when ABC moved the series to Monday night opposite Gunsmoke and Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In. After it was canceled, the show had a brief run in syndication.
The first two seasons are presently available for viewing on Hulu, but three episodes of season two are not included. 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, which produced the show, has not released the series on DVD.