Weird old title sequences: The Flying Nun (1967-1970)

The Flying Nun

Sometimes the title of a TV show more or less tells you what it’s about. Let’s roll back to 1967 now for ABC’s The Flying Nun, an adaptation of the book, The Fifteenth Pelican. It starred Sally Field (then famous as a surfer girl on Gidget but obviously now more famous for Smokey and the Bandit, Brothers and Sisters, Steel Magnolias, ER and Mrs Doubtfire) as well… can you guess?

Yes, she played a nun who could fly. Hence, The Flying Nun.

The general idea was that

  1. She had a very big cornette
  2. She was quite small and light
  3. The wind would catch the cornette
  4. And she would take flight

Now, this was a sitcom, so each week, Sister Bertrille would come across someone or something who needed her help and usually by the end of the episode, she’d have fixed the whole situation, typically by taking flight – to much amusement.

Now, in case you think writers can’t milk an idea for all its worth (and then some), The Flying Nun lasted three seasons for a total of 82, 24-minute episodes. Yes, 82 ways in which a nun flying could help the world and bring laughter to an audience. And in case you ever thought directors and propmen/propwomen were a talentless bunch, for most of the first season, Field was pregnant. A pregnant nun who’s light enough to fly. That took some interesting blocking.

Aren’t these TV folk ingenious?

There’s not much else to say about The Flying Nun, though, except that the Roman Catholic church praised it for humanising the work of nuns. Did it also give people false expectations of nuns? That, I cannot say.

Cue the weird old titles for The Flying Nun – in case you were in any doubt about the show’s premise, the titles did all they could to explain it with the subtlety of a V2 rocket. And if that whet’s your appetite, the show’s available on DVD.


  • Rob Buckley

    I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.

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