Clare In The Community – Review

Clare is back. And she’s still a ball of haplessness and brilliance.

In this first episode, Clare is succumbed by the thrill of appearing in a documentary about the Sparrowhawk estate. However, blessed as the experience appears to be at first, the reality is somewhat distorted.

“If Martin Luther king had been an English woman from Surrey, he would have sounded like me.”

Meanwhile, in an attempt to coat himself in the 21st century alpha male camouflage, Brian becomes an oiled up chunk of man in his man group. Only to drip and puddle under a hot flame in the form of a marine who wants to join the group.

“Men’s group unequivocally denounces pornography as the exploitative objectification of women. And we all agree to stop using it, just as soon as someone comes up with a viable alternative.”

Clare in The Community once again let’s us slip back under the duvet of humour as we tuck ourselves in listen to our favourite Radio 4 characters experience catastrophes and calamities. Sharp humour and exquisite voice acting are all in there, as we have come to expect from the series that began way back in 2004 where is first aired on the 26th November.

Before Clare and her band of middle-lane companions made it to Radio 4, they were and still are characters in comic strip in the Guardian.

Clare 2

Creator, writer and cartoonist, Harry Venning explains how they sprouted from the page and developed voices on the airwaves.

“A producer at the BBC saw the strip- his mum pointed it out to him…

[He] called me in to discuss turning it into a sitcom for BBC 1.”

Harry Venning

From there the concept floated around the broadcast spheres before finally settling on Radio 4. And aren’t we glad it did? The most wonderful thing about the programme is everything sounds authentic. It’s the real life that most Radio 4 listeners struggle with. The fact that it was initially spotted by someone’s mum, who clearly identified with it, only adds to the authenticity.

The writing can only described as splendidly funny and to get to a 10th series of half an hour programmes is further testament to the strength of their written form. Our ears are treated to sublime performances by Sally Phillips as Clare, Alex Lowe as Brian and Sarah Kendall as Libby – all of it under the careful ear of the producer, Alexandra Smith.

Smith, who has a background in Fringe theatre, pulls the comic of the page but it very careful not to tear the edges. In series 10, we rekindle our love of characters but yet again, we’re kept from going soppy with lashings of sharp, witty dialogue.

Clare com

If you haven’t yet heard the 10th series, you can listen to it on the BBC’s iPlayer by clicking here. If you haven’t heard it before, then now is your chance to find your next favourite radio comedy series. Well done you!

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