12 Fun Facts About The Nanny

Fran Drescher, Daniel Davis, Charles Shaughnessy, and Lauren Lane star in The Nanny.
Fran Drescher, Daniel Davis, Charles Shaughnessy, and Lauren Lane star in The Nanny.
CBS/Getty Images

If you've never seen The Nanny—the Fran Drescher sitcom that aired on CBS from 1993 to 1999—all you need to do is listen to the theme song once and you’ll basically be caught up. Drescher plays Fran Fine, a 30-something woman from Queens who becomes the live-in nanny for British Broadway producer Maxwell Sheffield's (Charles Shaughnessy) three children at their swanky Manhattan mansion. It’s your typical fish-out-of-water premise, with the added bonus of a will-they-or-won’t-they relationship between Miss Fine and Mr. Sheffield, rounded out by a stellar ensemble cast.

Though the show went off the air more than 20 years ago, reruns of the sitcom on networks like Cozi TV and Logo, as well as a renewed interest in Fran’s eclectic fashions, have kept the show in the public consciousness. If you can’t get enough of that flashy girl from Flushing, here are 12 facts about the series any Fran fan should know.

1. Fran Drescher met the president of CBS on a flight to France.

Though Fran Drescher had small roles in big films like Saturday Night Fever and This Is Spinal Tap, she was still relatively unknown when she pitched the sitcom to CBS. She had that opportunity thanks to getting some face-time with the president of CBS on a TWA flight to France, where she used her frequent flyer miles to get a first-class ticket.

“I started talking to him and he was a captive audience, because where was he going to go, coach?,” Drescher said in a 2017 interview with Australia’s Studio 10. After the nine-and-a-half hour flight, the exec told Drescher that when they got back to Los Angeles she and Peter Marc Jacobson—Drescher's then-husband and The Nanny co-creator—could come in to pitch the show (officially) to the network’s development department.

2. Charles Shaughnessy does a serviceable an impression of Fran Drescher.

Despite his rich British baritone voice, Charles Shaughnessy actually does a decent impression of Drescher. “People say to me, how is it working with that voice? Well, I have an accent and she has an accent ... and it sort of cancels in the middle,” Shaughnessy said in a 2018 interview with Australia’s Studio 10 of working with Drescher. He then gave viewers a sample of his impression of her in the form of her iconic laugh (which you can hear above).

3. Daniel Davis’s smooth British accent is fake.

Daniel Davis in The Nanny
Daniel Davis in The Nanny.

Drescher has had several projects since The Nanny, including a short-lived talk show, The Fran Drescher Show, in 2010. One of her guests was Daniel Davis, who played Niles, the posh English butler on the sitcom. Davis, who is originally from Arkansas, definitely does not have a British accent in real life, while Shaughnessy—who was born in London—does. But some viewers guessed the opposite was true and, according to Davis, one even wrote him a letter suggesting he give Shaughnessy some tips on how to sound more British on the show.

4. Fran Drescher had a crush on guest star Jon Stewart.

Before he became one of the most trusted men in news as host of The Daily Show, Jon Stewart appeared in an episode of The Nanny entitled “Kissing Cousins,” where he and Fran dated briefly before learning they were cousins. In a 2017 interview with SheKnows, Drescher said she loved working with Stewart and thought he was "really cute," but didn’t make a move because he was married. "You know, I would have gone for him in a New York minute, but I don’t go after anybody’s man—'cause you have to narrow the pool somehow," she said.

5. Miss Babcock’s dog Chester actually belonged to Fran Drescher.

Another episode of Drescher’s 2010 talk show featured an interview with Lauren Lane, who played Sheffield’s business partner C.C. Babcock on The Nanny. On the show, C.C. had a dog named Chester who, Lane explained during the interview, was actually Drescher’s dog in real life. "He was fiercely devoted to Fran and they would make me do things like pick him up or come near him, and he would try to bite me," Lane said during the interview. Drescher added that they wrote the script so that Chester hated C.C. but loved Fran "because that was the way it was in real life."

6. Mr. Sheffield and Miss Fine weren’t supposed to end up together.

The whole will-they-or-won’t-they dynamic between Fran and Mr. Sheffield provided the show with both chemistry and some cliffhangers for the first few seasons. But according to Peter Marc Jacobson, having them become a couple wasn’t the original plan.

"When a show is built around unrequited love or love that can’t happen or sexual tension, you have to keep it that way," Jacobson said during a 2017 interview with Studio 10. "As much as you want the people to get together, as soon as they do, people start tuning out. We didn’t want them to get together, but at the time, our ratings ... began to fall, which naturally happens. And [CBS executives] called us and said, 'Look, if you get them married and it does well, we’ll put you on for another year. If you don’t want to get them married, we’ll cancel you.' So we looked at each other and said, 'Well, we’re having a wedding.'" And the rest is sitcom history.

7. RENÉE Taylor's doctor sent a letter requesting that she didn’t eat so much on-set.

Renée Taylor in The Nanny
Renée Taylor in The Nanny.

One of the definitive characteristics of Sylvia Fine, Fran's on-screen mom, was her healthy appetite. But that became problematic for Renée Taylor, the actress who played Sylvia, in real life. In a 2010 interview on The Fran Drescher Show, Taylor explained that she gained 35 pounds while filming The Nanny because her character was constantly eating. “My doctor said that I could not eat on the show, and it was a real sacrifice,” she said. Taylor even brought a letter from her doctor explaining her new on-set diet.

8. Elizabeth Taylor was protective of her jewels on set.

In a 2012 TV Land interview, Renée Taylor said that her favorite episode of the show was "Where's the Pearls?," a season 3 episode that featured a cameo by Elizabeth Taylor. "I thought it was the funniest [episode], and it was fun to be with her," she said. But as fun as she was, Liz wasn’t ready to let her co-stars wear her jewelry. She was wearing a rather sizable ring on the set, and Renée Taylor asked if she could try it on, but the famous violet-eyed actress said no—while slapping her hand away.

9. Donald Trump made a cameo—and a note on the script.

In 1996, Donald Trump appeared in an episode called "The Rosie Show" (which also featured Rosie O’Donnell) and was unhappy when he saw that he was referred to as a "millionaire" in a draft of the script.

"We got a note from his people that said, 'Mr. Trump is not a millionaire. He's a billionaire, and he would like you to change the line,'" Drescher told SheKnows in 2017. Instead of giving in to his demand, she had the line changed to "zillionaire," which is how it appeared in the show.

"My now-gay-ex-husband thought that was such an amazing request that he actually kept that note and framed it, never seeing in the future what was to come,” Drescher said, adding that Jacobson still has the letter hanging in his office.

10. Fran Drescher and her TV mom have remained close.

Renée Taylor (L) and Fran Drescher pose for portrait at the LA Premiere of Renee Taylor's "My Life On A Diet" Night 1 at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on April 05, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California
Renée Taylor and Fran Drescher pose together Beverly Hills in 2019.
Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images

Renée Taylor played Sylvia Fine, Fran’s TV mother who was always looking to give unsolicited advice and find a snack. The on-screen mother-daughter duo have remained close since the show ended, making regular appearances together on Drescher’s Instagram. In July 2019, Taylor told WGN News that they still spend time together. “I see Fran all the time," she said. "I was just at a Cancer Schmancer charity thing for her."

11. The Nanny is coming to Broadway.

Back in 2019, Drescher revealed that she and her ex-husband "are doing a Nanny-related project that's very big, that I think the fans will be thrilled with." In early 2020, that project was announced: The Nanny will be making its way to Broadway. Drescher and Jacobson are teaming up with Crazy Ex-Girlfriend creator Rachel Bloom to bring a musical version of the series to Broadway. No dates have been announced yet.

12. A TV reboot of The Nanny could be happening, too.

Fran Drescher of "Indebted" speaks during the NBCUniversal segment of the 2020 Winter TCA Press Tour at The Langham Huntington, Pasadena on January 11, 2020 in Pasadena, California.
Amy Sussman/Getty Images

And for those fans still hoping for a reboot of The Nanny, don't lose hope: As recently as September 2019, there was talk of a TV reboot with Cardi B. While the project has currently been put on hold—Drescher has said that "contractually," because of her work on her new NBC series Indebted, she can't do anything with The Nanny on TV—Drescher is still hoping to make it happen, though it won't happen until after the stage production.

10 Products for a Better Night's Sleep

Amazon/Comfort Spaces
Amazon/Comfort Spaces

Getting a full eight hours of sleep can be tough these days. If you’re having trouble catching enough Zzzs, consider giving these highly rated and recommended products a try.

1. Everlasting Comfort Pure Memory Foam Knee Pillow; $25

Everlasting Comfort Knee Pillow
Everlasting Comfort/Amazon

For side sleepers, keeping the spine, hips, and legs aligned is key to a good night’s rest—and a pain-free morning after. Everlasting Comfort’s memory foam knee pillow is ergonomically designed to fit between the knees or thighs to ensure proper alignment. One simple but game-changing feature is the removable strap, which you can fasten around one leg; this keeps the pillow in place even as you roll at night, meaning you don’t have to wake up to adjust it (or pick it up from your floor). Reviewers call the pillow “life-changing” and “the best knee pillow I’ve found.” Plus, it comes with two pairs of ear plugs.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Letsfit White Noise Machine; $21

Letsfit White Noise Machine

White noise machines: They’re not just for babies! This Letsfit model—which is rated 4.7 out of five with nearly 3500 reviews—has 14 potential sleep soundtracks, including three white noise tracks, to better block out everything from sirens to birds that chirp enthusiastically at dawn (although there’s also a birds track, if that’s your thing). It also has a timer function and a night light.

Buy it: Amazon

3. ECLIPSE Blackout Curtains; $16

Eclipse Black Out Curtains

According to the National Sleep Foundation, too much light in a room when you’re trying to snooze is a recipe for sleep disaster. These understated polyester curtains from ECLIPSE block 99 percent of light and reduce noise—plus, they’ll help you save on energy costs. "Our neighbor leaves their backyard light on all night with what I can only guess is the same kind of bulb they use on a train headlight. It shines across their yard, through ours, straight at our bedroom window," one Amazon reviewer who purchased the curtains in black wrote. "These drapes block the light completely."

Buy it: Amazon

4. JALL Wake Up Light Sunrise Alarm Clock; $38

JALL Wake Up Light Sunrise Alarm Clock

Being jarred awake by a blaring alarm clock can set the wrong mood for the rest of your day. Wake up in a more pleasant way with this clock, which gradually lights up between 10 percent and 100 percent in the 30 minutes before your alarm. You can choose between seven different colors and several natural sounds as well as a regular alarm beep, but why would you ever use that? “Since getting this clock my sleep has been much better,” one reviewer reported. “I wake up not feeling tired but refreshed.”

Buy it: Amazon

5. Philips SmartSleep Wake-Up Light; $200

Philips SmartSleep Wake-Up Light

If you’re looking for an alarm clock with even more features, Philips’s SmartSleep Wake-Up Light is smartphone-enabled and equipped with an AmbiTrack sensor, which tracks things like bedroom temperature, humidity, and light levels, then gives recommendations for how you can get a better night’s rest.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Slumber Cloud Stratus Sheet Set; $159

Stratus sheets from Slumber Cloud.
Slumber Cloud

Being too hot or too cold can kill a good night’s sleep. The Good Housekeeping Institute rated these sheets—which are made with Outlast fibers engineered by NASA—as 2020’s best temperature-regulating sheets.

Buy it: SlumberCloud

7. Comfort Space Coolmax Sheet Set; $29-$40

Comfort Spaces Coolmax Sheets
Comfort Spaces/Amazon

If $159 sheets are out of your price range, the GHI recommends these sheets from Comfort Spaces, which are made with moisture-wicking Coolmax microfiber. Depending on the size you need, they range in price from $29 to $40.

Buy it: Amazon

8. Coop Home Goods Eden Memory Foam Pillow; $80

Coop Eden Pillow
Coop Home Goods/Amazon

This pillow—which has a 4.5-star rating on Amazon—is filled with memory foam scraps and microfiber, and comes with an extra half-pound of fill so you can add, or subtract, the amount in the pillow for ultimate comfort. As a bonus, the pillows are hypoallergenic, mite-resistant, and washable.

Buy it: Amazon

9. Baloo Weighted Blanket; $149-$169

Baloo Weighted Blanket

Though the science is still out on weighted blankets, some people swear by them. Wirecutter named this Baloo blanket the best, not in small part because, unlike many weighted blankets, it’s machine-washable and -dryable. It’s currently available in 12-pound ($149) twin size and 20-pound ($169) queen size. It’s rated 4.7 out of five stars on Amazon, with one reviewer reporting that “when it's spread out over you it just feels like a comfy, snuggly hug for your whole body … I've found it super relaxing for falling asleep the last few nights, and it looks nice on the end of the bed, too.” 

Buy it: Amazon 

10. Philips Smartsleep Snoring Relief Band; $200

Philips SmartSleep Snoring Relief Band

Few things can disturb your slumber—and that of the ones you love—like loudly sawing logs. Philips’s Smartsleep Snoring Relief Band is designed for people who snore when they’re sleeping on their backs, and according to the company, 86 percent of people who used the band reported reduced snoring after a month. The device wraps around the torso and is equipped with a sensor that delivers vibrations if it detects you moving to sleep on your back; those vibrations stop when you roll onto your side. The next day, you can see how many hours you spent in bed, how many of those hours you spent on your back, and your response rate to the vibrations. The sensor has an algorithm that notes your response rate and tweaks the intensity of vibrations based on that. “This device works exactly as advertised,” one Amazon reviewer wrote. “I’d say it’s perfect.”

Buy it: Amazon

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

The Hilarious Andy Bernard Blooper You Can Actually See in The Office

Ed Helms as Andy Bernard in The Office.
Ed Helms as Andy Bernard in The Office.
NBCUniversal Media, LLC

You'd be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn't love the humor of The Office, and even the cast themselves couldn't get enough of the sometimes cringe-worthy comedy. In a past interview, Ed Helms, who played the hilarious Andy Bernard, revealed the one scene he just could not stop laughing in during filming.

As Looper reports, the actor stopped by The Dan Patrick Show in 2018 to talk all things Dunder Mifflin. When asked if he had a hard time keeping the laughter to a minimum, Helms revealed there had been a number of times he couldn't keep a straight face. In fact, he had to hide from the camera in one scene to mask his laughter, which made it into the final cut.

"I was a disaster. Just breaking all the time. Steve Carell, he just slays me," Helms said. "A lot of times, if I was doing a scene with Steve, I would have to look at his chin. Because I couldn't look him in the eyes. I would lose it." When looking back on the holiday episode "Secret Santa," the actor recalled, "I had to duck behind a plant. You can see in the actual episode in the background. And, by the way, that was like take 30 because I had been laughing in every single take."

If you look closely at the moment where Kevin sits on Michael's lap, you can also see Mindy Kaling failing to hide her laughter in the background. This scene really had the Dunder Mifflin crew losing it, just like the fans watching from home.

[h/t Looper]