Noël Coward wrote this comic song in the Spring of 1944 while traveling on an overnight train in South Africa. Though incredibly complex both rhythmically and lyrically, he performed it "hot from the oven" and dried up dead as he started the first verse. His audience was forgiving, and he started again, but Coward was furious with himself, and "ashamed of my casual non-professionalism... before I attempted 'Nina' again it had been rehearsed two hours a day for a week."
It may have been that the song was inspired by the Portuguese-born Brazillian singer Carmen Miranda
. Coward did in fact write some alternative lyrics alluding to her for the second verse, in July 1945, but dropped these after being advised they could have been construed as defamatory.