In and Out of the Kitchen/BBC Four; Nurse/BBC Two | reviews, news & interviews
In and Out of the Kitchen/BBC Four; Nurse/BBC Two
In and Out of the Kitchen/BBC Four; Nurse/BBC Two
Two comedy transfers from Radio 4 fare differently
In and Out of the Kitchen (***), created and written by Miles Jupp, was first heard on Radio 4, a delightful spoof of celebrity chefs and our modern obsessions with food and having the perfect kitchen. Now Jupp and director Mandie Fletcher have brought it to television.
Jupp plays Damien Trench, a food writer obsessed with good nosh, who lives with his partner, Anthony (Justin Edwards), an ex-banker now looking for a job. They're chalk and cheese; Damien has a range of sharp shirts and woolly cardigans, while Anthony spends most of his time loafing around the house in his pants or pyjamas. For him food is merely a fuel, not something to be described in loving detail before every mouthful is savoured; last night Anthony was making a foul-smelling courgette soup as part of his fad diet.
The voiceover of the radio show is maintained here, with Damien doing straight-to-camera pieces as he describes a few days in what he thinks is a busy life but in fact is not; last night's biggest task was baking a simple birthday cake while avoiding his scary agent Iain (Philip Fox), who had the episode's best joke - a wonderful payoff to a running gag about “Salman Rushdie”.
It's a life in which nothing ever quite works out to plan, except his delicious recipes, which are given in each programme (last night it was crab bisque and Victoria sponge.) The laconic Irish builder, Mr Mullaney (Brendan Dempsey), meanwhile, is working on a succession of jobs in the house with his young assistant Steven (Ade Oyefeso), while Damien's new magazine column for Waitsbury's lands him in legal difficulties. It's lo-fi comedy in which fart gags are set up but not delivered, as it were.
Part of the pleasure of listening to a radio show is in conjuring up the world described (including the never-ending building work and the awful restaurants Iain insists on taking Damien to); here we have it all done for us and I'm not sure it adds to the comedy, and it jars that Damien and Anthony's relationship seems rather tetchier here. But In and Out of the Kitchen is enjoyable enough – and the recipes are cracking.
Another transfer from Radio 4, Nurse (*****) fares rather better in the transition and is a delight. Paul Whitehouse has, with co-writer David Cummings, adapted this multi-role comedy, almost literally fleshing out the characters with much aid from prosthetics.
He plays most of the patients – or service users, as NHS jargon now has it – of the eponymous nurse, Liz (beautifully played by Esther Coles). She’s a community psychiatric nurse and in last night's opening episode of four we followed her as she attended to her charges - which seems to involve injecting most of them in the bum with their medication – while visiting them in their homes.
As first sight Liz’s patients may seem to be a gallery of grotesques – they include Graham, a morbidly obese young man who can barely move from his bed, a psychotic, agoraphobic ex-prisoner Billy, and ageing lech Herbert (shades of The Fast Show’s Rowley Birkin), long past his many sexual conquests – but they are beautifully observed and carefully constructed individuals, people we laugh with, not at.
Whitehouse and Co (aided by Ian Fitzgibbon's adroit direction) capture the huge array of mental health issues, and intelligently address the very real problem that some sufferers have - of people close to them with whom they are in dangerously co-dependent relationships. It's a recognised phenomenon that a loved one can still be jealous of the person getting, as they see it, all the attention, or that they fear the patient becoming well and leading an independent life means their role within it diminishes, and so may try to scupper their recovery.
Other roles in a very strong cast are filled by, among others, Ben Bailey-Smith (aka Doc Brown) as a joky police officer Liz deals with on a frequent basis; Whitehouse’s old confrere Simon Day, as Billy’s controlling friend Tony; and Rosie Cavaliero, who like Whitehouse plays more than one role – Graham’s overfeeding mum and April, a woman who lives alone with her monstrous regiment of cats, eating the same food: ”If it’s good enough for my little darlings, it’s good enough for me.”
Nurse is full of pathos and there are no Fast Show punchlines or catchphrases, but there are many, many laughs – often slipped in as throwaway lines or there to undercut the poignancy.
Created with evident affection for the institution of the NHS, and a deep respect for those working in it, Nurse has a real emotional pull while supplying some snortingly good comedy. Warmly recommended.
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