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Clare in the Community

Clare in the Community
Genre Sitcom
Running time 28 mins
Country United Kingdom
Language(s) English
Home station BBC Radio 4
Creator(s) Harry Venning
Writer(s) Harry Venning,
David Ramsden
Producer(s) Katie Tyrell (series 1-8, Es)
Alexandra Smith (series 9)
Air dates since 26 November 2004
No. of series 9
No. of episodes 55

Clare in the Community is a British comic strip in The Guardian newspaper, written by Harry Venning. The title is a play on words relating to care in the community. The strip has been successfully adapted for radio on BBC Radio 4, starring Sally Phillips as Clare.[1]

Clare is a social worker with all the right jargon who likes to sort out other people's problems while ignoring her own. She is white, middle class and heterosexual - but doesn't like to be reminded of it. She is a control freak but both her personal and professional lives are out of control.

TV pilot

In 2002 ITV commissioned a sitcom based on Harry Venning's comic strip. Two episodes were commissioned and a pilot episode, written by Harry Venning and David Ramsden and starring Julia Sawalha in the title role, was produced by Tiger Aspect. The pilot wasn't picked up for a full series and has never been broadcast.

Radio series

In 2004 a radio sitcom, co-written by David Ramsden and produced by Katie Tyrrell, was made for BBC Radio 4, starring Sally Phillips as Clare. Repeats have also been broadcast on BBC7 (now Radio 4 Extra). Series 1 to 5 have been released on CD by BBC Audio. Series 6 was broadcast in 2010. Series 7 was recorded in August & September 2011, with broadcast scheduled from 23 September to 28 October.

The first series won the Bronze Comedy Award at the 2005 Sony Radio Awards

The series occasionally 'breaks the fourth wall', with references to (for instance) a comic strip in the Guardian's social-work supplement which (the somewhat humourless) Clare doesn't understand, or an old schoolmate of Brian's named Richard Lumsden who wanted to be an actor but was never heard of again. The series regularly makes references to other comedies, such as Clare mimicking the catchphrase of Mrs. Doyle from Father Ted and Brian imitating Tony Hancock from The Blood Donor episode.

Clare often brings home her work problems which is just one of the main reasons why her and Brian's relationship struggles. They often attend couples-counselling classes. Clare not only wears the trousers in their relationship but her self-centred neglect of Brian stresses him out he often talks to his disconcerting friend Simon about her.

Clare's fellow social workers are often involved in her storylines. These include the rich yet unhygienic Ray; Megan, Clare's Scottish mother-of-one former student; and team leader Libby. Helen, the laziest of the workers, is played by two actresses during the series; in series 6 Libby replaces the previous team leader, Irene, a black lesbian.

Although having a son clare leaves her child duties primarily to Nali and husband Brian. Despite their child however both continue to argue and have problems in their relationship. In series 9 clare leaves Brian only to return to him in the series finale after her love interest has shown little knowledge of remembering who she is.

Simon Elmes called it "an instant hit, capturing the PC tone of our times".[2] The Stage reviewed series 8 positively, praising the first episode as "a brilliant opener", and after the series finale calling it "the best comedy on radio" and Phillips "the mistress of comic timing".[3][4]

Cast

Character Season 1 Season 2 Season 3 Season 4 Season 5 Season 6 Season 7 Season 8 Season 9
Clare Barker
Sally Phillips
Megan Whardby
Nina Conti
Helen Golightly
Gemma Craven
Liza Tarbuck
Brian Harris
Alex Lowe
Ray Bishop
Richard Lumsden
Irene
Ellen Thomas
Simon Burrows
Andrew Wincott
Philip Pope
Andrew Wincott
Nali "Ramsbottom" Jakovlivicz
Nina Conti
Libby McKenzie
Sarah Kendall

Episodes

Series one

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Series two

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Series three

At the start of the series, Clare and Brian have 'removed themselves from the property chain' and are staying at Simon's flat. Megan's daughter Brenda is now almost a year old.

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Series four

Irene has been promoted to team leader which causes resentment between her and Clare. Brian and Clare make frequent trips to couples-counselling and have also been trying for a baby.

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Series five

Clare and Brian now have a son, Thomas—and a full-and-total-time nanny for him, the east-European Nali (also played by Nina Conti). Helen is now played by Liza Tarbuck.

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Series six

Clare's position at the Family Centre is now challenged by Irene's replacement, Libby, "an Aussie and a lesbo--and proud of both" (Sarah Kendall); and Brian harbours erotic fantasies about Nali. In this series Simon is played by Philip Pope.

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Series seven

Brian is eventually forgiven for his infidelity with Nali's sister and Clare accepts his proposal of marriage, while Nali enters Conservative politics. Andrew Wincott returns as Simon.

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Series eight

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Edinburgh special

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Series nine

Joan Hastings becomes a regular character (introduced in series 8, episode 6) as Megan's maternity cover.

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Christmas With...

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References

  1. ^ Stoker, Gill (2004). "Clare in the Community". British Theatre Guide. Retrieved 7 March 2013. 
  2. ^ Elmes, Simon (2009). And Now on Radio 4: A Celebration of the World's Best Radio Station. Random House. p. 132. 
  3. ^ Petty, Moira (4 January 2013). "Radio review: The Eustace Diamonds; The Reluctant Spy; Second Body; Clare in the Community". The Stage. 
  4. ^ Petty, Moira (18 February 2013). "Radio review". The Stage. 

External links