- Junior Nanny – First Appearance: Judy: #343 (06 Aug 1966) – #358 (19 Nov 1966)
- Artist: Oliver Passingham
Chris Johnson is a residential nurse at an under-fives nursery. She is a dedicated nanny and a good problem solver. In her job she encounters a variety problems, such as a girl that’s missing her mum and won’t play with the other kids, or the girl who decides to go on a mission to save all snails or the boy who likes to play with fire. Usually after a few failed attempts at trying to solve the problem, someone will say something to inspire Chris to come up with a final solution.
While the kids change week to week, there are other regular characters. The Matron that runs the home, is fair and very willing to listen to her staff’s ideas. Chris is good friends with the other residential nurse, Anne Martin, they talk over problems with the children as well as general life issues too. She also has a boyfriend, Andrew Hamilton, who is a student that lives next door. Andrew is always very helpful with the nursery and also provides Chris with a life outside of work.
In the first few episodes of Junior Nanny her name is said to be Chris Thomson not Johnson, she also is 16 and is taking a 2 year training course, for nursery nurse certificate. She begins her work at a day nursery rather than a residential one. The first serial covers her first year of training and she proves herself to be resourceful and well liked from the start.
There are many stories focused on career girls and nursing was a popular choice; Bunty had Katy O’Connor, Judy had Fay Farrell and Val of the Valley. While nurses like Fay Farrell changed specialty every few weeks (she was an army nurse, school nurse and fisherman’s nurse to name a few!), Chris Johnson stuck to one specialty, as a nursery nurse. One disadvantage of staying in the one place, is that things could get repetitive, story-wise. At any one time there seemed to be usually around 10-12 kids in residence, but there must of been a high turnover because there is always enough new kids coming with new problems.
This like I said this could get repetitive; kid has a problem (or causes a problem), Chris, Anne or Andrew try out some ideas to solve it, fail, then Chris comes up with the solution. Very few story-lines strayed away from this formula. One that did was a story where Andrew is being snappy with Chris as he’s worried about up-coming exams. Chris tries to be patient with him and also not take her annoyance out on the kids. But Matron, points out she is being too over compensating, the kids are confused that Chris is letting them get away with being naughty. Chris takes the advice of Matron and gets back to normal and also has it out with Andrew, clearing the air.
The kids situations were usually varied enough to prevent it from getting too dull, there was often a mix of humour and sadness. There’s the energetic kid Dennis waking up everyone at 4 in the morning. They convince Dennis, to be their alarm bell, when he wakes up he has to watch the clock until it turns 6 and then wake Chris and Anne up. This early waking is just a phase though and Chris and Anne end up sleeping in after becoming too reliant on Dennis waking them up! In one story, a boy develops a fear of traffic after seeing someone get knocked down by a car. In another a boy David turns 5 so he has to move to the “Big Home” down the street, he’s quite upset about this and understandably so. We don’t get any background on David, how he came to live at the nursery, whether he has any family etc. but from the information we do get it is clear that he considers Larch House his home. Chris tries inviting some ‘big’ boys to play but David’s scared of them. The problem is solved when Chris makes David long pants, so he feels like a big boy and more confident in joining the Big House. When a girl Florrie, tries to play at nurse she causes more trouble be “helping”. Chris gets the idea when Florrie doesn’t want to get her nails cut, to take her to children’s hospital to talk to the nurses there. Florrie is not happy to hear how clean nurses are expected to be with nails clipped, washing hair twice a week and baths every day. Chris is happy that puts Florrie off the idea of being a nurse but backfires when Florrie decides her next profession is to be a coalman!
Junior Nanny had a long run in Judy and reprints in M&J, but overall there isn’t too much to say about the stories as like I said it stuck to a formula. This formula was used in plenty of other story settings too, career girls that every week solved a problem with their bright innovative ideas (Big Sister, Community Nurse, Anna-Junior Miss). Yet despite this Junior Nanny is still one of my favourite characters. This could be because it is drawn by one of my favourite artists. Like I mentioned before, Passingham, was good at spooky/horror stories but he was quite versatile and could portray comedy and drama just as well. Probably a big clincher for me, is how cute the kids are. They often are portrayed with big innocent eyes, and when they get upset when they can’t do something, its not usually because they are spoilt but because they genuinely don’t know why they are not allowed to do it. Again while things didn’t change much, there was enough variety in the kids stories to keep it entertaining.
I also liked the supporting cast, Anne and Matron were good as confidantes, though at times you’d think Chris could let them have the successful idea! Chris’s passion and empathy for the kids was a big part of the character. Though she is not perfect, sometimes her dedication to her job was actually more of a flaw. If she was worried about kid she wouldn’t sleep well and barely let Anne take a problem case on instead. She could sometimes take her frustrations out on Andrew as well. Andrew as her boyfriend was fun, helpful and generous. Though sometimes he did cause some problems such as reading a story that upsets a kid! Also I may be just reading too much into this as I’m older, but there seems to be some very suggestive comments going on, when he talks to Chris at times. It was good to see Chris having a life outside of work and it rounded out her character more.
List of Appearances:
- Junior Nanny – Judy: #343 (06 August 1966) – #345 (20 August 1966)
- Junior Nanny – Judy: #351 (01 October 1966) – #358 (19 November 1966)
- Junior Nanny – Judy: #418 (13 January 1968) – (?)
- Junior Nanny – Judy: circa #453 (14 September 1968) – #473 (1 February 1969)
- Junior Nanny – Judy: (?) – #525 (31 January 1970)
- Junior Nanny – Judy: circa #542 (30 May 1970) – (?)
- Junior Nanny – Judy: (?) – #573 (2 January 1971)
- Junior Nanny – Judy: circa #586 (3 April 1971) – (?)
- Junior Nanny – Judy: (?) – #630 ( February 1972)
- Junior Nanny – Judy: #643 (6 May 1972) – #662 (16 September 1972)
- Junior Nanny – Judy: #761 (10 August 1974) –#773 (02 November 1974)
- Junior Nanny – Judy: #803 (31 May 1975) – (?)
- Junior Nanny – Judy: #879 (13 November 1976) – (?)
- Junior Nanny – Judy: #887 (08 January 1977) – #892 (12 February 1977)
- Junior Nanny – Judy: #914 (16 July 1977) – #933 (26 November 1977)
- Junior Nanny – Judy: #945 (18 February 1978)
- (Reprint?) Junior Nanny – Judy: #1113 (09 May 1981) – (?)
- (Reprint?) Junior Nanny – Judy: circa #1192 (13 November 1982) – (?)
- Junior Nanny – Judy: circa #1221 (04 June 1983) – (?)
- Junior Nanny – Judy: (?) – #1272 (13 November 1982) – (?)
- Junior Nanny – Judy: #1306 (19 January 1985) – (?)
- Junior Nanny – Judy: #1528 (22 April 1989) – (?)
- (Reprint?) Junior Nanny – Judy: #1565 (06 January 1989) – (?)
- Reprinted as Judy Classic – M&J: #50 (25 Apr 1992) – #64 (01 Aug. 1992)
- Junior Nanny – Judy for Girls 1969-1976 (annuals)
- Junior Nanny – Judy Annual 1978-1993 (annuals)
- Junior Nanny – Judy Picture Story Library: #284
- Junior Nanny – Judy Picture Story Library: #342
- Junior Nanny – Judy Picture Story Library: #352
- In the Judy Picture Story Library #352, Chris takes a holiday and stays with a friend and her 2 kids. Oddly Chris’s surname is said to be Masters instead of Johnson in this story. It seems Chris surname was always problematic!