It is possibly the longest-running comic book adaptation. But the BBC’s adaptation of comic book strip Clare In the Community has come to an end with its twelfth series, just broadcast on BBC Radio 4.
It was originally a cartoon strip by Harry Venning about a narcissistic, politically correct, self-serving social worker called Clare, her hen=pecked husband Brian and her only slightly less amoral workmates running in the Society section of the Guardian newspaper from the late nineties. The strip is still running weekly in the paper.
It was originally adapted as a TV sitcom for ITV in 2002, written by Harry Venning and David Ramsden and starring Julia Sawalha as Clare. A pilot was filmed but never aired.
When that failed to go to a series, it was re-adapted as a radio sitcom for BBC Radio 4 in 2004, by Venning and Ramsden, starring Sally Phillips (Veep, Alan Partridge, Bridget Jones’ Diary) as Clare. It has been running ever since and has just finished airing its twelfth season – quite an achievement for any sitcom in recent years. It is equalled by Red Dwarf, Mike and Angelo, Birds Of A Feather, Two And A Half Men, and only beaten by Chucklevision on twenty-one seasons and Last of The Summer Wine which lastest a massive thirty-one seasons, and the deaths of many of its cast members.
But that makes Clare In The Community the longest-running comic adaptation, in the English language at least. The final episode of Clare In the Community brought deaths, a resolution to Clare’s affair and the revelation that Nali, Clare and Brian’s Eastern-European nanny was an assassin hunted by secret services called Villainess, hiding out in their home for all these years. And a chance for actor Nina Conti to demonstrate some different accents…