Nanny McPhee

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Nanny McPhee
silhouette of Nanny McPhee against brightly coloured background
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Kirk Jones
Produced by
Screenplay by Emma Thompson
Based on Nurse Matilda by Christianna Brand
Music by Patrick Doyle
Cinematography Henry Braham
Edited by Justin Krish
Nick Moore
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date
Running time
97 minutes
Country United Kingdom
United States
Language English
Budget $25 million[1]
Box office $122,489,822[1]

Nanny McPhee is a 2005 family comedy fantasy film based on Nurse Matilda by Christianna Brand. It was directed by Kirk Jones, co-produced by StudioCanal, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Working Title Films, Three Strange Angels and Nanny McPhee Productions with music by Patrick Doyle and produced by Lindsay Doran, Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner. Set in Victorian England, the film stars Emma Thompson as Nanny McPhee, along with Colin Firth, Angela Lansbury, and Thomas Sangster.

The film was theatrically released on 28 October 2005 in the UK and on 27 January 2006 in the US by Universal Pictures. Thompson also scripted the film, which is adapted from Christianna Brand's Nurse Matilda books. A sequel was released in 2010, titled Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang. The filming location is Penn House Estate, Penn Street, Buckinghamshire, England.


In Victorian England, widowed undertaker Cedric Brown has seven unruly children. He is clumsy and loves his children but spends little time with them and cannot handle them. The children have had a series of nannies, which they systematically drive out by their bad behaviour. They also terrorize the cook, Mrs. Blatherwick.

One day, Cedric discovers throughout the home references for a "Nanny McPhee". That stormy night, the children cause havoc in the kitchen. Cedric sees a shadow behind the door and opens it to reveal a frighteningly hideous woman, who states that she is Nanny McPhee and is a "government nanny". With discipline and a little magic, she transforms the family's lives. In the process, she changes from ugly to beautiful, her warts and unibrow disappearing. The children, led by the eldest son Simon, try to play their tricks on her, but gradually start to respect her and ask her for advice. They change to responsible people helping their clumsy father in solving the family problems, making Nanny McPhee less and less needed.

The family is financially supported by Cedric's late wife's domineering and nearsighted aunt Lady Adelaide Stitch, who demands custody over one of the children. She first wants Christianna (Chrissie), one of the daughters, but Evangeline, Cedric's uneducated scullery maid, volunteers and Adelaide agrees, assuming she is one of the daughters. She also threatens to reduce the family to poverty unless Cedric remarries within the month; the family would lose the house, and they would not be able to stay together. Desperate, Cedric turns to a vile and frequent widow, Mrs. Selma Quickly. The children assume from books that stepmothers are terrible; therefore they sabotage a visit of Mrs. Quickly, who leaves, angry at Cedric. After the financial rationale for the marriage is explained to the children, they agree to the marriage, and appease Mrs. Quickly by confessing they were to blame for the disturbance of her visit, luring her back to their father with tales of their Great Aunt Adelaide's wealth.

The children discover that Mrs. Quickly is just as cruel as they suspected when she breaks their real mother's rattle (the only thing they had left of her). When everybody is gathered for the marriage ceremony, they disturb the ceremony by pretending there are bees (mimicking the way Quickly told them to "be-have"), chasing the guests, and throwing the pastries intended for the banquet at everyone present. Cedric understands they do not like the bride and, recognising that he does not like her either, joins in the commotion himself. Mrs. Quickly cancels the marriage and storms off in anger. This seems to mean that Adelaide's marriage deadline is missed, but Lily asks Evangeline whether she loves Cedric. She first denies, explaining that it would be inappropriate because of her station as maidservant, but then confirms she does. Cedric marries Evangeline the same day, satisfying Aunt Adelaide's conditions for maintaining his allowance; and Nanny McPhee (who is now beautiful), magically makes it snow, which transforms the wedding scene, and restores the children's real mother's rattle for them.

Nanny McPhee leaves surreptitiously, in accordance with what she told the children before on her first night: "When you need me, but do not want me, then I must stay. When you want me, but no longer need me, then I have to go".


Emma Thompson at the film's premiere
  • Emma Thompson as Nanny McPhee
  • Colin Firth as Cedric Brown, the widower undertaker patriarch of the Brown family
  • Thomas Sangster as Simon David Brown, the eldest of the Brown children
  • Kelly Macdonald as Evangeline, the Browns' patient scullery maid
  • Angela Lansbury as Great Aunt Adelaide Stitch, the strict aunt of Cedric's late wife
  • Eliza Bennett as Tora Eilabella Brown, the most sensible of the Brown children
  • Raphaël Coleman as Eric Adam Brown, the most intelligent of the Brown children
  • Jennifer Rae Daykin as Liliana Justine Brown, the most imaginative of the Brown children
  • Samuel Honywood as Sebastian Frank Brown, twin brother of Christianna Brown
  • Holly Gibbs as Christianna Hannah Brown, twin sister of Sebastian Brown
  • Hebe and Zinnia Barnes play Agatha Rose Brown, the youngest of the Brown children
  • Celia Imrie as Mrs. Selma Quickly, a vile woman and Cedric's initial fiancée
  • Imelda Staunton as Mrs. Blatherwick, the Browns' loud chef
  • Derek Jacobi as Mr. Wheen, one of Cedric's co-workers
  • Patrick Barlow as Mr. Jowls, one of Cedric's co-workers
  • Adam Godley as the Vicar, the priest who almost marries Cedric and Selma
  • Lee Kyle as Reckless Youth


Director Kirk Jones

On 11 March 2002 Kirk Jones was hired and set to direct Nanny McPhee based on Nurse Matilda by Christianna Brand. Emma Thompson wrote the script for the film. Lindsay Doran, Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner produced the film with the budget of $25 million for release in 2005. On 22 April it was announced that Emma Thompson, Colin Firth, Thomas Sangster, Kelly Macdonald, Angela Lansbury, Eliza Bennett, Jennifer Rae Daykin, Raphaël Coleman, Samuel Honywood, Holly Gibbs, Celia Imrie, Imelda Staunton, Derek Jacobi, Patrick Barlow and Adam Godley joined the film. On 16 May it was announced that Patrick Doyle would compose the music for the film. Development of the film was completed in Dorset, England. Filming began in April 2004. The film reunites Emma Thompson, Colin Firth, Thomas Sangster and Adam Godley who all previously starred in the 2003 film Love Actually.


The film was theatrically released on 28 October 2005 in the UK and on 27 January 2006 in the USA by Universal Pictures and was released on DVD on 9 May 2006 by Universal Studios Home Entertainment.


Critical response[edit]

Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives Nanny McPhee a score of 73% based on 130 reviews, a rating deemed Certified "Fresh" with an average rating of 6.7 out of 10 with the consensus reading, "A bit alarming at first, Nanny McPhee has a hard edge to counter Mary Poppins-style sweetness, but it still charms us and teaches some valuable lessons."[2]

Box office[edit]

The film did well at the box office, earning $122,489,822 - $47,144,110 in the United States and $75,345,712 elsewhere. It premiered in the United States on 27 January 2006 with an opening weekend total of $14,503,650 in 1,995 theatres (an average of $7,270 per theatre) ranking at No. 2 (behind the Martin Lawrence film Big Momma's House 2).[1]


Emma Thompson revealed on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross that two more films were planned. The second film, Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang (also called Nanny McPhee Returns), was released in March 2010. It co-stars Rhys Ifans, Maggie Smith, Ralph Fiennes and Maggie Gyllenhaal. The character of Aggie Brown returns as the now elderly Mrs. Docherty. In it, Nanny McPhee takes charge of the children of a woman whose husband has gone to war.[3]

A third film was planned to be set in modern-day England but, despite taking $93 million at the box-office, the sequel under-performed to studio expectations and plans were scrapped for future films.[4]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]