"Was Bowie really a bender or was he putting it on?" is one of the questions that come tumbling from the mouth of former glam-rocker Ray, a "service user" visited by the titular mental health professional in Nurse (Wednesday, 11pm, Radio 4). Ray feels that everybody did better than he did: Bolan, Springsteen and, unaccountably, Peter Andre.
Like all the male characters in this serious comedy, Ray is played by Paul Whitehouse, who created the show along with David Cummings. The nurse, played by Esther Coles, provides reassurance to each of them, from the bed-bound middle-aged man who lives with his mother to Ray, still furious that his star-spangled peers managed to spin out their careers longer than he did.David Hepworth, The Observer, 2nd April 2016
Written by Paul Whitehouse and David Cummings, it features a community mental health nurse (Esther Coles, who contributes additional material). She sounds as patient, good-humoured and capable as you'd want a community mental health nurse to be. She visits a host of people in their own homes, almost all of them Paul Whitehouse.
In episode four (my episode one) there's a chat about the value of gardening, with Billy "finding God at the end of a spade". Ray has some brilliantly funny lines (I cannot repeat here the one involving the Isle of Man), but his bravado can't mask the hints at his troubled life. Herbert believes in the art of letter-writing. He's written to Kingsley Amis and won't countenance the suggestion that he's dead: "No... he's just having a break."
Tommy challenges Nurse: "You think I'm away with the fairies." And Lorrie, one of the few characters not played by Whitehouse, explains why she won't take her medication, even though her daughter has been taken away from her: "When I take my pills, me no hear Jesus."
Luckily the Radioplayer is our friend. Catch up with Nurse while you can.Eddie Mair, Radio Times, 12th March 2014
Radio 4 launched us on Wednesday night into the inexplicably late-scheduled Nurse (11.15pm!), co-written and starring Paul Whitehouse. Johnny Depp once described Whitehouse, without seeming irony, as "the greatest actor of all time", and it's not wholly impossible to understand the compliment.
This was dark and enthralling comedy. It will attract faint criticism - what does Whitehouse, with his comfy Aviva ads, know of mental illness? - but it turns out that Whitehouse, without being quite as close to it as Jo Brand, had, during his Fast Show years, done a little clever research into mental illness. This show, also featuring Esther Coles as a community psychiatric nurse, is, essentially, all about bewilderment: the bewilderment of those on fringes who simply can't understand the way the rest of us think, nor why we should insist on doing so. It's deeply subtle, and the subject matter doesn't lend itself to LOL-itude, but it was a quiet (if inexcusably late-night) delight, and executed with only about four squillion times the sensitivity of Ricky Gervais's Derek.Euan Ferguson, The Observer, 22nd February 2014
An unusual venture from Paul Whitehouse, who co-wrote and co-stars in this new series about a community psychiatric nurse's working day and the clients she visits in their homes. I struggled with Whitehouse's voice as the first client, which sounds like he is pinching his nostrils together as he talks, but the character he is playing soon shifts from being a silly voice to a heartfelt examination of loneliness. I think this series is a slow burner that will warm us with familiarity.Jane Anderson, Radio Times, 19th February 2014