Timid yet devoted guardian, first to Fuchsia and then to baby Titus, Nannie Slagg is the aged surrogate mother the children rely on for comfort. Gruff and mirthless, she's easy prey for Steerpike.
Even in an institution as timeless as Gormenghast, Nannie Slagg is a relic of the past. "She must have been Lord Groan's nanny when he was a little boy and is deeply devoted to the family and the tradition," says actress June Brown. "She has brought up the children because the mother doesn't care tuppence. She is going a bit gaga and doesn't have much strength because she's pretty old."
When Gormenghast producer Estelle Daniel offered her the role of the Groans' oldest employee, Brown was convinced she had the wrong woman. "The description of her in the script was ancient, frail, and wizened," says Brown. "I said 'I'm wrong for this part' and kept saying it. I even gave her the names of other actresses I thought would be better suited."
Brown stars as Dot Cotton on the popular British soap opera East Enders, and has also appeared in ExxonMobil Masterpiece Theatre's The Duchess of Duke Street.
In Peake's words:
... she is so minute, so frightened, so old, so querulous, she neither could, nor would, head any procession, even on paper. Her peevish cry goes out: "Oh, my weak heart! How could they?" and she hurries to Fuchsia either to smack the abstracted girl in order to ease herself, or to bury the wrinkled prune of her face in Fuchsia's side. Alone in her small room again, she lies upon her bed and bites her minute knuckles.
-- Gormenghast, Chapter 2
|Steerpike | Groan | Gertrude | Titus | Fuchsia | Flay
Swelter | Nannie | Barquentine | Clarice + Cora
Dr. Prunesquallor | Irma Prunesquallor | Bellgrove
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