Clare in the Community
Series Two

Written by: Harry Venning and David Ramsden
Starring: Sally Phillips, Alex Lowe, Nina Conti and Gemma Craven
BBC Audio
RRP: 15.99
ISBN: 978 1 405 67792 9
Available 01 October 2007

Clare Barker has entered a caring profession so that she can sort out other peoples problems rather than deal with her own. A control freak, Clare likes nothing better than interfering in other people's lives on both a professional and personal basis. Secretly regarding herself as a cross between Mother Theresa and Wonder Woman, Clare tends towards self-importance and considers most other professions as trivial. She is in her early thirties, white, middle class and heterosexual, all of which are occasional causes of discomfort to her. We join Clare in her continued struggle to control both her professional and private life...

Clare in the Community is a Radio 4 comedy series that is based on the long running cartoon strip in the Guardian's Society section. This radio series won a Sony Bronze award in the comedy section in 2005. Clare (Sally Phillips) is a social worker enduring the endless trials of bombed out estates and Byzantine bureaucracy (in a job that would be a lot easier but for the tiresome necessity of having to deal with members of the public). This release contains all six episodes from the show's second series.

This series opens with Past Caring, which sees Clare bump into someone that she vaguely remembers, but can't quite place. However this woman, who is stunningly beautiful and obviously very successful in her career, certainly remembers Clare with affection. Disturbed by this mystery woman, Clare confides in Brian that she has no idea who she is, even though she knows all about her and Brian. But when they meet again how long can Clare keep up the pretence that she knows her before she makes a fool of herself?

Relax: Brian persuades Clare to take a holiday, but Clare can't relax. Will the office fall apart without her - or worse, will the office flourish without her? Brian has made the decision to propose to Clare while away, but finding the right minute is not as easy as he thought - with Clare constantly making excuses to call the office.

Meet the Press: Clare is delighted to accept an invitation to be interviewed for Radio 4's Woman's Hour. Her colleagues are less than delighted that Clare alone will represent social workers. Meanwhile, Brian is having his own problems dealing with a disgruntled drama student.

Brian Come Home: Brian walks out on Clare and Megan eagerly offers her services as a relationship expert. Meanwhile the depressed Ray visits an medium in an attempt to get in contact with his dead mother.

Mean Streets: Clare and the team volunteer for the street count, but helping the homeless becomes a competition between Clare and Irene. Brian organises Simon's stag night - but it looks like it's going to be a rather dull affair.

Doolah's Choice: Megan's baby is due and, when Megan reveals she wants to have the baby at home, Clare agrees that she can use her and Brian's house to give have the baby in. Meanwhile Helen and Simon's wedding is imminent, and it appears that Helen is about to get back together with an ex-boyfriend.

Series Two of Clare in the Community builds well on the characters and situations that were introduced in Series One. While this is a great series, the only slight complaint I had was that a few of the supporting cast were not as impressive as others. While some play their roles quite subtly, other deliver their lines like they are acting in a pantomime.

But, on the whole, this CD collection is well worth the money and will raise quite a few chuckles from even the most humourless of listeners.

Darren Rea

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