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We've all seen 'em. Some of us have been them. You know, those parents whose demonic children are horrifically out of control, causing exasperation for them and any unfortunate bystanders in restaurants, movie theaters, etc. Since smothering the little anklebiters with a pillow isn't an option, these moms and dads clearly need help to improve their parenting skills. That's where Fox's Nanny 911 (debuting tonight at 9 pm/ET) comes in.
Unlike Trading Spouses, however, this reality series doesn't invite strangers in to discipline people's kids for them. Four seasoned British nannies — Lilian, Deb, Stella, Yvonne — deal directly with the harried American parental units to solve their child-rearing problems.
"I go in and observe them for a day and tell them what they need to do," Nanny Deb, 40, tells TV Guide Online. "It's different from a regular nanny documentary show because I teach [the adults] how to handle their children. Ultimately, we're there for a week. The parents are there for the rest of their lives.
"This week's family does a complete turnaround," she says. "These parents have lost it, can't handle it anymore and they've called us in to rescue them. They haven't set firm limits and the kids have been allowed to get away with things. In [tonight's] episode, we have a little boy who's almost 5. He swears hits, spits, kicks, screams and yells. There's also a little girl who's almost 3 and throws tantrums and runs after her mother whining. It's just complete and utter chaos. It's very high drama."
The U.K.-born 911 nannies don't mind the inevitable comparisons to Mary Poppins. "I actually embrace her," Nanny Deb laughs. "It doesn't bug me at all. Mary Poppins brought wonderful structure to kids' lives and an element of fun, which is what we all try to do. I only wish I could fly with an umbrella and click my fingers to clean up children's rooms that way."