Juliet Mills in "Nanny"'s distinctive cape and hat, with the rest of the core cast
This ABC sitcom
, broadcast 1970-1971, centered around the mixture of chaos and order engendered in the house of a college professor by the apparently supernatural abilities of the nanny he'd hired to watch over his children.
Juliet Mills played Phoebe Figalilly, caregiver to the three children of Professor Harold Everett (Richard Long). "Nanny", as everyone called her, was gifted at the very least with classic TV Psychic Powers
, which mostly manifested as clairvoyance and even limited omniscience. She used these abilities indiscriminately with the Everett family, enchanting the children and confounding the strictly rationalist professor.
Much of the comedy in the show came from the collision between Nanny's casually mystical style and the more mundane world around her. Unlike most of her counterparts in the other Fantastic Comedies
of the era, she apparently felt no need to hide from the muggles
, exercising her abilities so blatantly that it often left witnesses confused or disbelieving. This didn't stop the Everetts from suffering the attention of at least one Nosy Neighbor
Despite the apparently low-key "magic" available to her, the series implied that Nanny may have been far more than just an attractive British woman with ESP — hints were dropped suggesting that she was something other than a simple human, with a lifespan measuring in the centuries; unfortunately, the series ended well before it could pay off on those clues, leaving frustrated viewers to speculate on just what
Nanny was, and why she watched over the professor and his family.
In addition to Mills and Long, the cast included veteran actress Elsa Lanchester as Aunt Henrietta, Patsy Garrett as Mrs. Fowler, David Doremus as eldest child Hal, Trent Lehman as middle child Butch, and Kim Richards as Prudence, the youngest of the Everett children.
This show provides examples of:
- Animated Adaptation: Nanny and the Professor and the Phantom of the Circus, 1973 (i.e. two years after the series was cancelled).
- Cool Car: Subverted: Nanny's yellow 1930 Model A Ford, "Arabella."
- Expository Theme Tune: "Phoebe Figalilly is a silly name," indeed.
- Fantastic Comedy
- Girl of the Week: Professor Everett had several over the course of the series; Nanny also had a Guy of the Week or two as well.
- Homage: On Passions, resident witch Tabitha Lenox — played by Juliet Mills — brought a Phoebe Figalilly doll to life; the animated doll was played by Mills' daughter.
- Left Hanging: The series didn't last long enough to pay off on all the mysterious hints about Nanny's true nature.
- Nosy Neighbor: Mrs. Fowler.
- Short Runners