'The Nanny' Initially Had a Totally Different Theme Song

The Nanny aired its first episode in November 1993. The series was almost instantly adored by fans, who were looking for something light and airy. While viewers were interested in seeing Fran Fine and Maxwell Sheffield finally get together, they were initially drawn in by the show’s theme song. Its upbeat tempo and storytelling made it unique among TV themes. Did you know, fans of The Nanny almost had to listen to an entirely different song? A Broadway tune was included in the show’s original pilot.

The pilot of The Nanny used a Broadway tune as its theme song

Before CBS greenlighted The Nanny, the cast filmed the pilot. A theme song wasn’t a big concern at that point. In fact, they decided to use a pre-existing tune to welcome the audience into the show. The music that accompanied the original pilot was the song, “If My Friends Could See Me Now” from the Broadway musical Sweet Charity.

The Nanny decided to use the original performance by Gwen Verdon as their theme. The song certainly seemed fitting. After all, Fran was obsessed with her friends thinking well of her, and Max was a Broadway producer. The song and the musical had a rich Hollywood history, too. It premiered on Broadway in 1966 and was quickly nominated for nine Tony Awards. Sweet Charity was adapted for film three years later, with Shirley MacLaine playing the lead character, Charity. Still, it wasn’t quite right for The Nanny.

“The Nanny Named Fran” was written and performed by Ann Hampton Callaway

After the initial pilot, a new theme was needed. While “If My Friends Could See Me Now” was certainly a fitting choice, The Nanny needed something catchier to bring fans into the show. Ann Hampton Callaway had met Fran Drescher years before CBS picked up The Nanny. Callaway told Today that she had written several theme songs for pilots that went nowhere but knew The Nanny was different when Drescher called her.

Callaway recalled how Drescher admitted she was bringing several songwriters into the process. Callaway said she knew it was real this time and penned two different themes, hoping to get it right. She did get it right. Initially, Callaway planned to pass “The Nanny Named Fran” off to another artist to sing, but Drescher was having none of it. Callaway ended up performing the theme, too.

Fran Drescher is partly responsible for one of the theme songs most famous lines

The theme song’s lyrics are ingrained into the collective consciousness of most people who watched television in the 1990s. Drescher, herself, inspired one of its most popular lines. According to Callaway, Drescher sat down with her to discuss the character, hoping to get the perfect theme. Callaway explained to Today that she was having a hard time envisioning the character, so she asked Drescher to sum up Fran Fine one more time.

Callaway said Drescher explained that Fran was “the lady in red when everyone else is wearing tan.” She recalled that she thought it was a perfect way to describe the character, so she included the line in the song. It is the second to last line in the 42-second jingle. The Nanny ran for six seasons and was nominated for 12 Emmy awards. The show won once.

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