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25 Days of Bingemas, Day 5: ‘The Royal Nanny’

It’s a Hallmark Christmas in England, and you know what that means: undercover MI5 agents protecting the Crown and holiday flirting with princes

Getty Images/Hallmark Channel/Ringer illustration

The Ringer’s 25 Days of Bingemas is a guide for people who love original holiday movies; it’s a guide for people who hate original holiday movies; it’s a guide for people who occasionally watch these movies and want more; its a guide for people who never hope to watch these movies but would like to watch one writer descend into madness as she attempts to differentiate between 25 unique forms of holiday magic, 12 different fake countries, and eight different male leads who make you wonder, Wait, is that the guy from Mean Girls? (It isn’t, except for the one time when it is.) Every day for the next 25 days, Jodi Walker will feature one of this season’s 169 original holiday movies, answering a curated series of questions in order to showcase the genre’s masterful formula, the dedication to chaos, and the commitment to consistently widowing lumberjacks that launched an entire genre of TV movie. On the fifth day of Bingemas, we turn our cheerful spirits to…

What are we watching?

The Royal Nanny.

Where are we watching it?

Hallmark streaming on Peacock.

Why are we watching it?

Because, per Hallmark, “MI5 agent Claire goes undercover as the royal nanny, and must overcome the challenges of her assignment, like resisting the charms of Prince Colin while keeping the family safe at Christmas.”

How many Vanessa Hudgenses are in this?

Not one single Vanessa Hudgens stars in this movie, but multiple Canadians doing British accents do. The last time I saw Hallmark mainstay Rachel Skarsten, they had her in ringlets curled so tight that Little Orphan Annie could have sued for copyright infringement—so it’s nice to see her character get a little more flavor this time. She’s joined by Dan Jeannotte, who has breathed the fresh Freeform air of The Bold Type and brought some of that PG-13 spirit to The Royal Nanny.

How believable are the lead characters’ ostensible careers?

Well, Colin is a prince in the British royal family, fourth in line to the throne after his older sibling and her kids, which is generally a job that only one person in the whole world has, and the last guy quit, so … yeah, pretty rare (ahem, spare). But Colin is chill about it; he just runs his father’s charity, where he gives out, like, wooden trains and pickup sticks to needy children. Enter Claire, an MI5 agent who’s been tasked with going undercover as the royal nanny. We spend about two minutes thinking she’s going to blow it because she keeps screaming, “I grew up in a children’s home, I don’t know how to be a nanny!” But no, turns out Claire is a great nanny; the kind of nanny who makes people say, “You’re not like the other nannies,” no fewer than three times in this movie.

But she’s also not like the other MI5 agents, because this woman literally holds her hand to her ear every single time she talks into her comms mic—which has to be the deadest giveaway that you’re an undercover nanny and not a real nanny.

How problematic is the meet-cute on a scale of “one saved the other from falling in a snowbank” to “one is the other’s boss and they fall in love on a work trip”?

Claire is doing this whole nanny charade because the Security Service has uncovered a plot to get inside the palace, and now all the little princes and princesses need extra protection. Including Prince Colin, who is immediately hot for the nanny when they meet outside her bedroom, where he has helped his niece and nephew arrange for a bucket of noodles to fall on her head. Only Claire makes the noodles fall on Colin’s head because she’s not like the other nannies, you see. It is very cute.

Did this movie make me cry?

Let’s get this out of the way right now—I was smiling like a little idiot through the majority of this movie. I’m not proud of it. I can’t explain it. Except there was legitimate electricity in this Claire-Colin coupling. I rewound a few scenes just to catch their tête-à-tête; I didn’t even know you could rewind a Hallmark movie; thought the whole TV might just blow up. The first time Colin met Nanny Claire and gave her the full once-over, I said out loud to no one: “Oh, they gonna fooook?” They did not, and Colin went cold on Claire almost immediately on account of the noodles. It’s still Hallmark and noodle dumps are as sexual as the tension gets … but for a moment, there was hope.

How modest are the wardrobe choices?

Sometimes in a Hallmark movie you can tell that someone simply thought of a good title and then they were like, “Sure, we can build 90 minutes around this.” (Lookin’ at you, Three Wise Men and a Baby!) Here, I think they saw a picture of a royal nanny covered chin to ankle in thick woolens and were like: “Finally, the perfect aesthetic! Grab the camera.”

Is there a child who’s wise beyond his/her years?

Claire’s cute little charges aren’t so much wise as they are “the George Clooneys of Kensington Palace.” These kids love praaaanks. We’re talking pop-out snakes in drawers, we’re talking a penny over the faucet … and that’s it, actually. They’re really not that good at pranks. They’re no George. They’re simply trying to not get kidnapped or be sad that their dad is never home.

Are there any fake towns, or perhaps a whole fake country?

Even knowing Claire’s character was an MI5 agent going into this movie, I was still shocked Hallmark was portraying the actual British royal family here, let alone putting them in mortal peril. Is Hallmark … allowed to do that? Is there not like a … budget minimum on portraying the royal family? Shouldn’t the network have to … have the means to make Buckingham Palace not look like a Pier 1 Imports on the inside? Turns out, no! There’s no fake country for a fake royal family in this movie—we are just straight up in jolly ol’ England. (Hallmark does at least have a healthy fear of impersonating the “queen,” a word that is literally never uttered in this movie.)

Are there any snow-related hijinks?

I guess they spent the snow budget on filling a grown prince’s abode with 12-foot nutcrackers, but this movie is still full of general hijinks. Before Claire can go undercover as the royal nanny, she has to attend a Kingsman-style organization for nannying, which provides every necessary accessory, right down to the regulation paisley bag and umbrella (“a nanny’s best weapon”). A woman perfectly named Juliet Lansbury (nickname: “Scary Poppins,” also solid) trains Claire in things she’s already good at like combat and dressing primly. She also randomly tells Claire that she made up the phrase, “Love always triumphs in the end.” I love this lying lady.

This is by far the most violent Hallmark movie I’ve ever seen, even if all the violence is done with an umbrella. Claire is just out here hookin’ ankle after ankle in order to save Colin from his captors. At one point, she topples a tower of what are clearly empty cardboard boxes on someone, and they just kind of tink, tink, tink onto the ground. But the pièce de résistance: Claire ultimately takes down the last bad guy by unleashing a bag of marbles onto the ground, at which point he spins around like a cartoon character and falls perfectly flat on the ground, and you never even have to deal with the idea that people have bones or blood inside of them, let alone the metaphysical concept of pain. I love you, Hallmark, never change.

Is there a villain who sows discord?

Yeah, the director general of the Security Service is who was trying to kidnap the royal children. Once again, I just don’t know if this film is wise in terms of international relations, Hallmark.

Is there any magic?

Obviously, there’s a coin-tossing scene into a “Christmas fountain” where Claire wishes to spend Christmas with the royal family, which comes true after she’s saved everyone from the bad guys and Colin is ever so grateful. But even more mystical is a world where no one in London feels any type of way about a tax-exempt, tax-sponsored monarchy system and Prince Colin can just make his daily visits to a sparsely populated open-air Christmas market without anyone ever yelling at him, or showing him their boobs, or screaming, “Are you boinking the nanny?!” In Hallmark’s Kensington Palace, it’s just peace on earth, good will to all, no paparazzi, and a lot of clearly visible surge protectors.

Next up on 25 Days of Bingemas: Hulu’s Menorah in the Middle