12 Fun Facts About The Nanny
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.
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.
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 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.
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.