When actress Jane Leeves
became pregnant, it simply wasn't an option for the Frasier
scribes to write her condition into her character's storyline. After all, it had taken David Hyde Pierce
's Niles seven years to confess his feelings for Leeves's Daphne so the skittish sweethearts hadn't even had time (by their sluggish standards) to consummate their relationship yet!
Hence, the show found an alternative means of accommodating the expectant mom, who gave birth Jan. 9 to daughter Isabella Kathryn Coben. "We have a very large set and it's difficult to hide behind anything, so they decided that they would give Daphne a weight problem," Leeves explains to TV Guide Online. "To sort of balance out the pregnant tummy, they put me in a fat suit, which turned out to be a wonderful device on the show. When I went off to have the baby, [Daphne went] to a fat farm."
Leeves insists this isn't just one of those half-baked, throwaway plots that so many shows spit out to circumvent cast pregnancies. "It sort of helped the storyline a bit," she says. "We discovered through the weight gain that there are some issues that she and Niles have."
Hmm... What sort of issues? "Sexual ones, really," Leeves teases. "Niles's obsession with Daphne and how she has a hard time coming to terms with that she feels she'll never live up to that. So she's been stuffing this emotion with food.
"It's actually turned out to be a really funny storyline," she continues, recalling that she especially enjoyed "the part where Daphne realized she's fat. She falls over and she can't get up, and they say, 'It takes three Cranes to lift her.'" Asked if such Nutty Professor-esque fat humor isn't rather gratuitous, Leeves is quick to defend the show. "We were very sensitive about it," she asserts. "The wonderful thing is that Niles didn't notice... It sort of had to be pointed out to him that she'd gained so much weight, which is really a wonderful thing. So there is definitely a sensitivity about it."
For her part, Leeves can't wait for Frasier's Niles/Daphne phenomenon to take center stage again in April, when Daph returns from "the spa" ready to hash things out with Niles. "It's wonderful," she says of the supercouple's popularity. "It's afforded new storylines, and it's given the show a new direction and a new life in its eighth season."