Mary Poppins, and 9 other nannies we love in film and TV

  • TV
  • Friday, 14 Dec 2018

A nanny is defined as a person, typically a woman, employed to look after a child in its own home. She (or he in some cases) is also regarded as someone who’s interfering and overprotective.

Well, that description fits a few of these fictional nannies to a T.

Here are some nannies we love in pop culture.

Mary Poppins in Mary Poppins (1964)

Emily Blunt has big shoes to fill as she steps into the role first played by Julie Andrews in the upcoming sequel Mary Poppins Returns. No doubt, Blunt will be able to pull it off as she has a likeable personality, both on and off screen.

But Andrews’ magical and loving Mary was a career-defining effort from the multitalented actress, who made her feature film debut here.

Mary Poppins

Andrews plays Mary, who arrives at the Banks household and uses music and adventure to look after the two youngsters who lost their mother and have a father who has no time for them.

Thanks to Mary, children everywhere grew up knowing that a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down.

Nana The Dog in Peter Pan.

Nana in Peter Pan (1953)

In this animated feature – based on J.M. Barrie’s play about the Darling kids and Peter Pan, the boy who wouldn’t grow up – we are introduced to Nana. This is not your typical nanny; Nana is a St Bernard dog who is very caring towards the Darling children, and often gives them medicine whenever they are ill. She also cleans their rooms and puts away the toys.

But dad George is not happy to see Nana taking care of his children, and sends her off to the doghouse. After the young Darlings return home from Neverland, George decides to bring Nana home because that’s where she belongs – with the children.

The Sound Of Music

Maria in The Sound Of Music (1965)

Although young Maria arrives at the Von Trapp’s home in Austria as a governess, she soon falls in love with the seven mischievous children under her tutelage.

Her secret to being chummy with the kids – who want to get rid of every new governess – is by simply showing them kindness, understanding and injecting fun as well as music into their rigid life.

The Nanny

Fran Fine in The Nanny (1993)

A TV series that ran from 1993 to 1999, in which a loud and unpolished woman (Fran Fine played by Fran Drescher) ends up working for a posh British widower as the nanny to his three children.

Uptown Girls

Once you get used to Fran’s nasal voice, her accent and outlandish style, the show is entertaining, hilarious and sometimes even touching as she manoeuvres in an unfamiliar territory.

Molly Gunn in Uptown Girls (2003)

One is childish and the other is mature; but the order is somewhat warped.

Molly Gunn (the late Brittany Murphy) is not the most responsible adult as she’s never had any responsibility so far. But after the money left by her dead parents is gone, she has to look for a job.

She finds one – to be the nanny to eight-year-old Ray (Dakota Fanning). The problem is Ray is a bit too serious for her own good.

It is up to Molly to ensure Ray has a little fun, and at the same time Ray teaches Molly a sense of responsibility.

Although the characters and the plot sound one-dimensional, both Murphy and Fanning elevate the material.

Mrs Doubtfire

Mrs Euphegenia Doubtfire in Mrs Doubtfire (1993)

This Chris Columbus film works superbly thanks to Robin Williams’ performance. He plays actor Daniel Hillard who is deemed an irresponsible father because of his childish behaviour.

But it is this trait that makes him lovable to his children. Unfortunately, the wife has had enough and divorces him, limiting his time with the kids.

Avvai Shanmugi

Well, Daniel does what every dad should do – he dons a disguise as a Scottish lady named Mrs Doubtfire and gets hired by his ex-wife to take care of his own children, just so he can spend more time with them.

Avvai Shanmugi in Avvai Shanmugi (1996)

Actor Kamal Hassan remakes Mrs Doubtfire and adds a little Indian spice to the story.

Assistant dance director Pandyan finds himself cast out of his own family after his wife files for divorce and gets full custody of their daughter. Pandyan dabs on some makeup and wears a saree to become granny Avvai Shanmugi, who is hired as a nanny for his daughter.

It’s no laughing matter that a dad is driven to such desperate measures, but the film offers plenty of laughs.

Nanny McPhee

Nanny McPhee in Nanny McPhee (2005)

Based on the Nurse Matilda books by Christianna Brand, the film revolves around the titular character (an unrecognisable Emma Thompson) who arrives as the 18th governess to attempt to care for seven motherless children at the Brown household.

Nanny McPhee is no Mary Poppins in looks – she wears unsightly clothes, has a wart on her face and a terrible temper – but she knows how to set down rules that even unruly children have no choice but to follow.

Thanks to Nanny McPhee, the children learn a couple of hard lessons about life and become better because of them.

The Pacifier

Shane Wolfe in The Pacifier (2005)

Simply put, it has Vin Diesel baby-sitting five children.

Diesel plays Shane Wolfe, a Navy SEAL commando, whose assignment is to protect the children of an American scientist who has been kidnapped by the bad guys.

Shane has to use his SEAL training just to get through the day taking care of teenagers, young kids and a baby. But he gets the hang of it eventually.

The Nanny Diaries.

Annie Braddock in The Nanny Diaries (2007)

Annie (Scarlett Johansson) has to take care of five-year-old Grayer – as part of her child development college paper – but it’s a tough gig nonetheless thanks to Grayer’s non-cooperative behaviour. He is aggressive, deceptive and demanding.

But Annie realises he is also just a sad little boy, as both his parents continue to neglect him – mum is materialistic and dad is unpleasant.

The movie explores how Annie has to juggle all the obstacles created by the parents, as well as get the upper hand in handling the spoiled brat in her charge.

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