July 8, 2004 -- YOU have to admit, the story does sound like a sitcom.
Long before Mark Burnett became famous as the creator of "Survivor" and, subsequently, other reality shows such as "The Apprentice," he made the unlikeliest of career moves.
Fresh out of the British military, where he had been a member of the army's elite Parachute Regiment from age 17 to 22, he moved in 1982 to Los Angeles, where he sought and found work as a live-in nanny for a wealthy Beverly Hills family.
More than 20 years later, "Commando Nanny" was born.
That's the name of a new comedy series set to debut this fall on the WB, produced, of course, by Burnett.
The show is not only Burnett's first attempt at a scripted TV series, it is also probably the first time a TV series has ever been described by its network as "inspired by the real-life story" of its executive producer.
A look at the show's pilot episode — which was sent out to TV critics earlier this week — reveals that its basic outline adheres closely to the real story Burnett tells of his experiences as a nanny.
In the show, a lean ex-commando from England named Miles Ross (played by newcomer Philip Winchester) goes to work for a Beverly Hills real estate tycoon and his younger second wife, who hire him to take care of their three children — a teen-age son and daughter from the husband's first marriage and their own little boy (Max Wolf Burkholder).
The husband (played by a gruff Gerald McRaney) is skeptical about their new caregiver, but his wife is supportive. And for the ex-commando — who had seen action in Northern Ireland and the Falklands (just like Burnett) — the chance to live in luxury in Beverly Hills was a welcome change from army life.
These are also the particulars of Burnett's first nannying gig, according to him. He says he interviewed for nanny positions because he was desperate for work and a place to live. And he had also promised his worried mother he would quit the military — just like the character of Miles Ross.
" 'Don't put us through any more hell, that military stuff,' " Burnett quoted his parents as saying, when he was interviewed last fall about his nannying career in the British paper, The Guardian.
While Ross will likely stick with his Beverly Hills family, Burnett, 44, worked several nannying jobs over several years before breaking into the TV business.
"[Nannying is] a bit like the army," Burnett told The Guardian. "There were no real hours. You're on call from six in the morning until 10 at night. But I loved the kids, and I really enjoyed it."
"Commando Nanny" will be seen Friday nights at 8:30 on Ch. 11.