Nancy Anne hayton (previously Dean) is a fictional character from the British Channel 4 soap opera Hollyoaks, played by Jessica Fox. The character first appeared on 6 July 2005. Since the character's inception she has been involved in many notable storylines such as a three-way open relationship, drug taking, domestic abuse and rape storyline. Nancy discovered she was pregnant with her boyfriend's child but she latermiscarries. In the character's early stages, she was portrayed as a less conventional character compared to the rest of the Hollyoaks teenagers.
On Nancy's personality, Fox described her as different from other Hollyoaks girls, dubbing her the "anti-Hollyoaks girl". She said that Nancy has "always got some kind of bitchy comeback for everyone". She explained that Nancy "says that you don’t have to be the skinny blonde or the skinny brunette, you can be the one who does whatever the hell she likes". After the character had gone through certain transformations, the actress spoke about these changes saying: "Nancy's gone full circle and she's had the chance to become a whole character, rather than just one who has no end of tragedy and no end of silly affairs". Fox has said that her character is "a control freak. Nancy has very definite ideas of what she wants and what she doesn't". She added that Nancy is "a bit posh and stiff" and "uptight" but that she can get "really wild" when she has "had a few drinks".Fox has described Nancy as "a bit of a moral compass for the show. She knows what's right and she's often the voice of that. I think that's a really good role for her, and it's quite an important one. I think it's quite good to have a strong, intelligent woman in the show". She added that Nancy "has a very short fuse and loses her temper quickly".
On Nancy, E4's official Hollyoaks website say: "they say good things come in small packages and that's definitely the case when it comes to Nancy, the feistiest fun-size female in Hollyoaks. [...] Nancy has been determined to establish herself as a career woman - though she hasn't always been sure what career". A Channel 4 official Hollyoaks website states that Nancy is vibrant and eccentric" and feisty". What's on TV described Nancy as "fiercely protective of her quirky appearance" and as having "a tough personality". They added that the character "has weathered the numerous tragedies in her life". Holy Soap describes the character as "cool and independent and a total mess".
Nancy's hair has dominated her many styles and she has had several different hair colours. When asked about her character's "crazy" hair styles Fox revealed that the ideas for the styles are a collaboration of her own ideas and the production teams': "I had a brown bob forever and I was sick to death of it, so when we came out of the Jake storyline last year, they wanted to change the image. They asked me if I wanted to dye it any colour, so I thought 'let's go red'". Fox said that her initial Hollyoaks image featuring green hair was "definitely not a good look". She added that during her tenura Nancy has had a "few hair disasters", especially the inbetween stages when she "went back to black from red and then to blonde". She said that since her character has been through so much she no longer feels it necessary to "desperately shock" everyone with her hair styles as she has had to grow up and evolve. Fox said she enjoys Nancy's style which has "evolved" as she has "been a Goth, she’s been a New Romantic and now I like to call her Dusty Springfield on acid! It’s a bit Duffy, a bit ’50s-style, and now I’ve got the red hair it gives us more to play with". Fox added that "one of my favourite things about being in a soap for a long time - I do get to change my image a lot". She said that she enjoys the feedback she receives from her style changes and when her latest style was aired and she had "cut it into a short bob, I got so many tweets from people - some negative, but mostly positive thankfully". She said that she would be open to changing her image in future. Fox has also commented on Nancy's large tattoo on her back, which she deemed to be "too masculine". Fox said that when she was initially on the serial she found it "great to be different" but felt that it was difficult playing the "alternative" character of Nancy when her colleagues were such "gorgeous, glamourous women". Of the character's dress sense the Hollyoaks wardrobe department said "Nancy Hayton has a unique distinctive look on Hollyoaks. She wears rich colours and vibrant patterns, which compliment [sic] her slim shape".
Nancy forms a relationship with former tattoo artist Foz. The relationship sees her becoming dependent on him mainly because he was a hippy and free, which at the time represented everything Nancy stood for. During her relationship with Foz, the character begins abusing drugs. Fox revealed how her character's longing to fit in with people like Foz who were different from the rest of society, ended with her taking drugs to be different from others but the same as the hippy scene. Fox spoke about this saying: "I think Nancy's character is very strong, she's opinionated, but if you take all that away she's still very young particularly then, at the time of the drug storyline she was 16 she still wanted desperately to fit in even though she told everyone she didn't. At that particular party she was at she was surrounded by all these people who were traveling, really into their music, they had the life style that Nancy wanted, and she just desperately wanted to fit in at the end of the day, and that's what happens she took LSD and it went horribly wrong".
During Nancy's relationship with Jake Dean, Nancy's character was rapidly transformed due to her abuse at the hands of Jake. Fox told a journalist from OK! that when the relationship begins Jake is "very controlling" towards Nancy and he takes away "all the things that made Nancy Nancy – the way she was opinionated and outspoken". She explained that during the storyline Nancy acts out of character which she found challenging to portray. She added that Nancy's abuse at the hands of Jake is psychological abuse rather than physical abuse. Sacre explained that Nancy wants to call off the wedding but Jake "dismisses her concerns and insists the wedding goes ahead. He's kind of bulldozing his way through it all". He added that Jake Nancy still does not feel the wedding is right after he makes the arrangements but Jake still "keeps on pushing and pushing and she gives in". Sacre said that Nancy regrets marrying Jake as soon as she has gone through with the wedding. Jake "ends up trying to force himself on her on their wedding night". Sacre commented that in reaction to this Jake "plays the victim and tries to blame Nancy for what's happened". The actor revealed that while Jake is in "a desperate state" he accidentally tells Nancy that he made allegations that she was having a sexual relationship with a pupil. Nancy is "incensed", and Fox explained that this revelation is the "final straw" for Nancy who declares the marriage is over as this admission "really shows Jake’s true colours" to her. Fox stated that she and the production team were careful not to have the character return to her previous self, saying: "We've tried really hard to make sure that Nancy didn't just snap back into her old self after the whole Jake incident last year. There's always a bit of darkness with her. That's something that really annoys me in soap, when something really dramatic happens to a character and they forget about it a couple of weeks later".
In another storyline Nancy became romantically involved with both Kris Fisher and Ravi Roy, who also begin a relationship unbeknownst to Nancy. Fox said that when series producer Bryan Kirkwood told her of the storyline she was initially pleased as she had always felt that Kris and Nancy "would go well together" but when he revealed the full details, that Nancy would also be involved with Ravi at the same time she was "quite shocked". She expanded on this, saying: "Nancy's never cheated on anyone in her life because that's not who she is. But Bryan said to me 'we're going to have a lot of fun with this and I want it to be like a Carry on with loads of door-shutting and times when you don't know who's going to get caught'. So that's what we went for in the end". Fox explained that upon Nancy discovering that Kris and Ravi have been having a relationship she thought she would "be flying in there, fists flailing, but this has completely stumped her. For the first time ever, Nancy has nothing to say. She just bolts". She added that Nancy is "speechless" which is different for her as "she's always got a comeback for everyone, but in this case she just doesn't do anything". Fox said that Nancy has "no right" to be angry with Kris and Ravi as they have all been having sex wih each other without the other knowing. Nancy, Kris and Ravi decide to carry on having relationships with each other with each other's consent, Fox was shocked when she learned of this development, saying: "No words could describe how I felt when I read it for the first time!" The actress revealed that Hollyoaks' time slot restricted the characters having a threesome so instead the characters having an open three-way relationship was introduced. Fox explained that when Nancy begins the three-way relationship she soon realises she is not comfortable with it so she decides to end the relationship. She added Nancy wants a relationship with "someone who'll love and look after her. Deep down, she wants that security which a conventional relationship brings as she hasn't had that for so long".
Nancy begins a relationship with Darren Osborne (Ashley Taylor Dawson). Fox commented that the relationship "came out of nowhere" but because the writers and audience were "charmed" it was kept long term. Fox told Laura-Jane Tyler of Inside Soap that she "never thought they were going to last, but we just went for it full throttle". Fox added that she was initially surprised when she heard the about the pairing. She explained that "it was only ever intended to be quite a short-term thing". Dawson also said that he was initially surprised when their characters were paired together, adding that the initial scene in which the pair got together was "absolutely hilarious. Darren just looked up and there she was!"
Dawson explained that the two are "complete opposites" as Darren is a "male chauvinist pig" while Nancy is a "feminist" but "somewhere in all the madness, they seem to be on the same page". He added that the pair bring out the best in each other and "work well together and they challenge each other all the time. It's quite comical, even when they're arguing. In many ways, Darren is a typical man and Nancy is a typical woman". Fox commented that the pair would make good parents but have "a lot of growing up to do themselves", before adding that she hoped Nancy and Darren would stay together for a long time" as she enjoyed the pairing. On Darren's feelings for Nancy, Dawson said she has "really calmed Darren down. He's totally in love with her". He added that the pair share a "tempestuous relationship, even if it's also very sweet". On Darren's feelings for Nancy, Dawson said: "He's besotted with her. He feels she's good for him and that he almost doesn't deserve her. He feels like a bit of a failure and Nancy is this strong woman who's organised and everything Darren isn't". Dawson felt that Nancy is the love of Darren's life and that she had helped Darren mature. Dawson said that Darren and Nancy have "know each other for a long time" and that they "work well together".
On 19 December 2011 Digital Spy announced that a future storyline would see Darren plan the couple's wedding as a surprise for Nancy. Dawson explained that it is initially Darren's idea to have a surprise wedding as he is content with his life and wants a way to "show Nancy how much he loves her and thinks a surprise wedding will do that". Dawson felt that this was not a good idea as Nancy would want a "classy" wedding which Darren can not afford. He said that when Nancy discovers his plans Darren expects she will be "delighted" but Nancy is "the sort of woman who'd be fussy about her wedding" so she may not react how Darren would expect. Fox said that Nancy would "be horrified [...] because she is a control freak. [...] I don't know if it's Darren's wisest move, but I think Nancy would also see that he has good intentions". Dawson felt that Darren is "incredibly excited" for the wedding, especially because of the hard work and planning he has put in to it. He said that as far as Darren is "concerned, it's going to be the most perfect day possible and he just can't wait to see the look on Nancy's face when she realises what he's been up to". Dawson added that in his opinion, Nancy and Darren are the "perfect match and are incredibly sweet together". He expressed that Darren "brings out Nancy's fun side and she gives his life a bit of order" and felt that the couple are "destined to be the Jack and Vera of Hollyoaks!"
To coincide the storyline it was announced Nancy's mother, Margaret Hayton would return to the serial with the possibility of causing trouble for Darren's wedding plans. Fox revealed that Margaret would decide to split Nancy and Darren up as she believes Nancy can do better. She said Margaret would be "quite vindictive" while doing this and she would "try to make Nancy doubt her relationship with Darren. It's underhand and cruel, because she plays on Nancy's insecurities and self-doubt. Margaret starts making Nancy feel very insecure in the relationship, and she also starts to feel quite unsure about her future in Hollyoaks".
Fox revealed that Darren's ex-girlfriend, Cindy Cunningham would become involved in the storyline when Margaret begins trying to "push" Cindy and Darren together. Nancy begins to suspect Darren is having an affair with Cindy which begins because he has "been behaving a bit strangely" while planning the secret wedding. When Cindy helps Darren with planning the wedding they embrace which is witnessed by Nancy which "confirms everything that she thought. To Nancy, it seems that everything her mum is saying is true - that Darren doesn't love her and he has been having an affair". Her portrayer explained that she would have expected Nancy to confront Cindy but Nancy can not "bring herself to do it. [...] you see that this relationship has meant more to Nancy than any other. She's deeply, deeply hurt". Dawson explained that the storyline is "just a case of Nancy getting things misconstrued" and that it is not a "obvious affair plot".
Nancy and Darren marry. Fox explained that "getting married is important to Nancy. For all her wanting to be alternative and different, she really just wants to be loved". Dawson said that Darren is relieved that the wedding goes ahead as he worries that Nancy is "too good for him". On how marriage will affect the couple Dawson said: "the only way it will change them is by giving a bit of solidity to their relationship. It proves to both of them how much they mean to each other, so if anything, I think it will make them stronger". Commenting on the couple's future Dawson said that children are "definitely something that they both want, as everything's going well [...] Now that they're married, having children is something that they'll look at in the future". Fox said that Nancy's life is going well and she has a "got this big family that care about her, having had no-one for so long". She added that her character "loves Darren to pieces" and she wanted to get married and then "have babies and be happy. I think that's what she really wants". She teased that Nancy may not immediately want children but she may not have a choice in the matter.
Fox revealed that "there's some really big, emotional stuff coming up" for the couple and that herself and Dawson "spent the last three weeks of filming crying non-stop". She said that the serial "will really explore Darren and Nancy's relationship this year, and I can't wait to see how it all plays out". Nancy soon feels that she may be pregnant, Fox said that if Nancy were pregnant "It would be great to watch them trying to cope with it", adding that the potential scenes would be "hilarious". Nancy discovers she is pregnant and suffers a pregnancy scare. Fox told an Inside Soap reported that if Nancy suffered a miscarriage the couple's relationship may not survive. Her portrayer explained that Nancy begins to suffer stomach pains and blood loss but believes going to the hospital will solve the problem. Fox said that Nancy is in "quite a lot of pain and is really frightened" and she "knows that there's a real possibility she could lose the baby, but that's too awful for her to contemplate". Nancy suffers a miscarriage which Fox said is a "really traumatic time" for both Nancy and Darren. She said that Nancy feels like she has "failed, which is something she doesn't deal with very well". The actress added that the miscarraige will "be a really difficult thing for her to ever get over". Fox revealed that the scenes took "three or four weeks" to film the "quite intense" material. She felt that the scripts for the scenes were "some of the best scripts I've ever had. The way that it was written just felt really true, and it wasn't hard to conjure up that emotion". Speaking on This Morning, Fox said she was stopped in the street by people who praised the storyline as being true to life which she said was "overwhelming".Dawson felt the storyline was being "very true to life" as the scenes are "what people go through. It's nice that they're holding onto that and it doesn't just end there. It's an ongoing thing like any relationship, so it's just nice to do it justice. The feedback's been great".
Nancy soon after becomes pregnant. Nancy begins helping her friend, Mitzeee (Rachel Shenton) who has escaped from prison. Mitzeee was in prison for the stabbing of Mercedes McQueen(Jennifer Metcalfe), Fox explained that Nancy has "always known her friend was innocent" as she knows that she is not capable of stabbing Mercedes. Nancy knows Mercedes has set Mitzeee up as she has threatened her on a couple of occasions, even saying "something bad might happen to Nancy's baby if she doesn't get her nose out and that's made Nancy more determined".Fox said that Nancy's attitude towards Mitzeee's situation stems from when Becca was wrongly accused, sent to prison and murdered in jail which makes her "really desperate to get this right for Mitzeee - to get her out and take Mercedes down!" Explaining why Nancy and Mitzeee are such good friends, Fox said: "They're such different people on the surface, but deep down Ann Minniver - Mitzeee's alter ego - is very moral, kind and caring and she's a very clever girl. I think those are all things that Nancy responds to and enjoys. Also, I think Mitzeee just makes Nancy laugh. Mitzeee can be a bit silly sometimes, and that makes Nancy smile". During the storyline, Nancy feuds with Mercedes. Fox said that Nancy has a bit of a "bad girl" in her which she shows during her confrontations with Mercedes, adding that the character has got "more fire in her belly than maybe we'd realised".
Nancy does not tell Darren that she is helping Mitzeee, which Fox told a repoter from What's on TV is because "Darren is so focused on the baby that if she told him he'd be really angry. Nancy feels he doesn't understand the relationship she has with Mitzeee and he hasn't been terribly supportive". When questionned if Nancy feels her involvement with Mitzeee may place strain on the baby, Fox answered: "At the moment she feels incredibly tired, but she's sure that everything's fine and all she needs to do is focus on her friend". Darren discovers Nancy is helping Mitzeee, making him "absolutely furious" as he can not believe Nancy is "going against the law, is running around and getting stressed - especially while she's heavily pregnant". When urged to put their child first by Darren, Nancy dismisses him as she believes he is "just being silly". Fox said that "Nancy thinks she knows best, as Nancy always does", adding that Nancy is "a bit like a dog with a bone. If she's decided that she's going to do something, it's very difficult to change her mind".
While Nancy is with Mitzeee, she gets "sudden twinges" which she does not worry about until "the contractions really start to kick in. She's only 26 weeks' pregnant and she's totally terrified". Nancy calls Darren who takes her to hospital where she is "doubled over in agony". The doctors try giving Nancy medication to stop the contractions which fails. Nancy has an emergency Caesarean and gives birth to a boy who the doctors are unsure if he will "make it through the night" which Fox said is a "terrible time for Nancy and Darren". Darren blames Nancy for their babies premature birth, Dawson explained that this is because he believes that Nancy did not "take proper care of herself during her pregnancy". He said that Nancy seemed to be preoccupied with Mitzeee and "wouldn't listen to him when he told her to back off. In his heart of hearts, Darren feels she's responsible for all of this". Fox revealed that she researched premature births, reading up on the subject and attending a meeting at the Liverpool Women's Hospital along with a writer for the serial. There, Fox spoke to a midwife who deals specifically with premature babies, which she found "really helpful". The actress added that although the serial tried to stay true to life there is "a bit of artistic licence that goes into the scripts, to make things more dramatic or to let the story flow better". On how Nancy would behave as a mother, Fox said: "I imagine that she'll be a bit of a neurotic mother, particularly as the baby has arrived so early. I think she'd want to wrap him up in cotton wool and not let him out of her sight".
Nancy arrives in Hollyoaks to visit sister Becca Dean and later begins living with Becca. Nancy has a brief relationship with Justin Burton, who is having a secret relationship with Becca and uses Nancy to make Becca jealous. Nancy enters a relationship with Foz. Nancy and Hannah Ashworth babysit for Mandy Richardson and Tony Hutchinson's daughter, Grace. Nancy and Hannah discover Grace dead and blame themselves until they are informed Grace died of SIDS. Nancy begins dealing with the fall out of Becca's affair with her pupil Justin Burton, whilst trying to keep her own relationship with Foz together. Nancy abuses recreational drugs in a bid to fit in with Foz. While Mecca was in prison she was stabed and later died in hospital, which resulted in nancy looking after Charlie. Foz soon after leaves to go travelling. Nancy begins taking prescription drugs while taking her A-level examinations.
Nancy and Becca's husband Jake enter a secret relationship. Jake begins to control Nancy. Jake proposes to Nancy, who accepts. When Nancy begins tutoring Newt, Jake becomes convinced that Nancy will cheat on him with Newt due to Becca's infidelity with a student. When his attempts to control Nancy fails, he reports her to the police, making allegations she is having an affair with Newt; she is arrested and later fired. Fearing Nancy is not taking the allegations seriously, Jake verbally attacks her, branding her pathetic. She cries and begins blaming herself but Jake then comforts her, turning the situation around in his favour. Nancy is later cleared of the charges. Jake begins to distance her from her friends, deleting messages from her phone. Nancy discovers this and goes out with Hannah and Sarah Barnes who tell Nancy they dislike Jake and his treatment of Nancy. Nancy denies that Jake is mistreating her, further distancing herself from them. Jake later breaks her phone so that she can not contact them. When Charlie falls ill Nancy is unable to call for an ambulance so she has to leave Charlie and go for help. Jake blames Nancy for Charlie's condition. Charlie is diagnosed with leukaemia and needs a bone marrow transplant, leading to Nancy discovering Jake is not a donor match and thus not Charlie's biological father.
Nancy reluctantly agrees to a rushed wedding in a hospital chapel and Jake controls all the arrangements. When Hannah and Sarah try to persuade her not to go through with the wedding, Nancy becomes hysterical and forbids them attending. The wedding reception is poorly attended and Nancy, subdued, has to be coaxed in to dancing. Nancy returns to her flat to sleep, but Jake grabs Nancy and violently attempts to rape her until Steph Dean walks in the flat. Nancy regrets marrying Jake and when he he launches a tirade of insults at her, she realises that Jake lied to the police about Newt. Nancy leaves Jake despites his pleas for her to stay. A custody battle ensues with Nancy enlisting Charlie's biological father Justin to help her to gain custody of him. Nancy reveals to Jake's mother Frankie Osborne and the customers of The Dog in the Pond that Jake tried to rape her, with Steph backing her up.
Jake kidnaps Charlie and attempts to kill him and himself by gassing his car. Nancy finds them and saves Charlie but leaves Jake for dead. Jake wakes up minutes after and leaves the car. Jake breaks in to Nancy's flat, violently attacking her. He tries to take Charlie but Nancy hits Jake with a frying pan, rendering hum unconscious. Jake is later sectioned. Frankie obtains custody of Charlie. Nancy begins dating Ravi Roy, however she begins an affair with Kris Fisher, who is also having sex with Ravi. When Nancy discovers this she decides to keep seeing both Ravi and Kris, but she ends both relationships when Ravi and Kris kiss in her presence. When Russ Owen saves Nancy from being attacked by student Gaz Bennett, the pair begin a relationship. Russ asks Nancy to run away with him and his son Max McQueen, but she offers him an ultimatum, her or Max; initially he chooses Nancy but when he admits Nancy is a consolation prize she has sex with Kris and is caught by Russ, who is unable to forgive Nancy so kidnaps Max and leaves Hollyoaks.
Nancy is told that Jake is being released from the psychiatric hospital so she visits him, telling him she hates him and warning him to stay away from her. Jake tells her he has no where else to go and he soon returns to the village. Nancy resumes her relationship with Kris who sees how affected she is by Jake's return and supports her. Nancy calls the police when she witnesses Jake meeting with Charlie. Jake is arrested for breaking his bail terms but is released when it is explained that the meeting was accidental. It is decided it is unsafe to have Charlie live with Frankie, so she gives Nancy custody to prevent him being put in care. Nancy and Kris end their relationship. Jake's ex-girlfriend Loretta Jones begins stalking him and only Nancy believes him. Loretta takes Nancy hostage. Jake comes to Nancy's rescue and convinces Loretta to have herself sectioned in, which she does. Nancy admits she believes Jake has changed and Jake later leaves Hollyoaks village.
Nancy decides to become a journalist and plans to write a report on Mitzeee. Nancy accompanies Mitzeee to a footballer's party. There, Nancy meets Dean, who Mitzeee warns Nancy of. Nancy does not take notice and is drugged and almost gang-raped by Dean and his friends, but she is saved by Mitzeee. Nancy later bonds with Mitzeee. Nancy, Darren Osborne and sisters Texas and India Longford begin online dating. Nancy and Darren realise they have feelings for each other and begin a relationship. India is murdered after going on a date she set up online, upsetting Nancy who comforts Texas. Nancy and Darren become engaged but she ends their relationship when Suzanne Ashworth returns to the village, pregnant with Darren's twins. After Suzanne gives birth, she returns to Spain. Nancy and Darren reunite. Lynsey Nolan is attacked and claims that Nancy's colleague and friend Silas Blissett is responsible and that he also killed India. Nancy doubts Lynsey and clashes with her, but when it is revealed Silas is guilty, several villagers believe Nancy knew of Silas' guilt. Nancy blames herself for failing to believe Lynsey and for not seeing Silas' guilt but she is ultimately forgiven by the villagers and Lynsey. Mitzeee discovers her boyfriend, Warren Fox killed his ex-girlfriend Louise Summers. Mitzeee writes the details in a letter which she gives to Nancy, telling her to only open it if something happens to her. Nancy reads the letter when Warren starts acting suspiciously and saves Mitzeee's life as a result.
Darren begins planning a surprise wedding for Nancy on valentines day. However, Nancy grows suspicious that Darren is having an affair with his ex-girlfriend, Cindy Cunningham. Nancy's mother, Margaret, visits and fuels Nancy's doubts. Nancy decides to leave to live with her mother in Canada but she is stopped by Darren who reveals his plan. Nancy forgives Darren and they marry. Nancy begins to suspect that she may be pregnant and confesses this to Darren. They take a pregnancy test together and discover she is pregnant. Weeks after, after an argument with Darren, Nancy suffers a miscarriage. They agree to try for another baby and Nancy soon after discovers she is pregnant again. Darren and Nancy discover they are having a boy. Nancy supports Mitzeee when she is falsely imprisoned for stabbing Mercedes McQueen. Nancy is convinced Mercedes stabbed herself and she helps Mitzeee when she escapes from prison. Darren discovers Nancy is helping Mitzeee and tells her to stop as she will endanger their baby. Nancy begins having pains when she is helping Mitzeee and she is taken to hospital. There, she is told she is in labour. Nancy is given medication to prevent her giving birth but when this fails, she is given an emergency caesarean. Nancy gives birth to a son who she and Darren christen Oscar Osborne. Darren soon after asks Nancy for a divorce. When Nancy collapses with a blood clot she soon after recovers and Darren apologises, telling her he will be a better husband and father and they reunite.
In January 2013 Nancy Darren and Oscar went to vist Ruth in London
Jessica Fox received a nomination in the "Best Actress" category at the 2007 British Soap Awards for her portrayal of the character. The following year, Fox was again nominated for the "Best Actress" award at the British Soap Awards. At the 2008 Inside Soap Awards Fox was nominated in the "Best Actress" category. Fox and Dawson earned a nomination for "Best On-screen Partnership" at the 2012 British Soap Awards.
On Nancy's becoming pregnant, All About Soap's Claire Crick said that it was good news as "Our favourite soapy couple, Nancy and Darren, discover they’re going to be parents [...] They might be poles apart in personalities, but it seems that when it comes to Mr and Mrs Osborne, opposites really do attract – and we couldn’t love these two more. What with Darren’s cheeky escapades and Nancy’s no-messing attitude, they’ll make the perfect parents". She added that if Nancy is "as organised at being a mum as she is at being a journalist, then they will cope brilliantly! We’re hoping the writers will leave them to be a happy for once and let Nancy have a stress-free pregnancy, but we don’t fancy their chances". Crick's colleague Laura Morgan commented on Nancy going in to premature labour saying "Our hearts were breaking for the couple as they faced the reality of their situation [...] we’re keeping our fingers crossed there will be a happy ending to their nightmare". Morgan added that "Despite the sad nature of the storyline, it’s been amazing (as always) to watch Jess Fox (aka Nancy) and Ashley Taylor Dawson (Darren) acting their socks off, and proving to us once again they’re two of the best actors in soap right now".
The character of Nancy has been hailed for her involvement in the domestic abuse storyline from a charity called Tender. The charity aims to educate under-25s about violence in relationships. A survey conducted by the group found that 96% of participants thought the scenes were effective in bringing the issue to viewers' attention. They went onto say that "As a national platform, Hollyoaks played a vital role in educating the public about the issue of abusive relationships". Holy Soap said that Nancy's most memorable moment was "Ravi and Kris both begging her to choose them"