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Clare Barker, the social worker who has the right jargon for every problem she comes across, but never a practical solution. Society itself has improved little, so there are still plenty of challenges out there for an involved, caring social worker. A control freak, Clare Barker likes nothing better than interfering in other people's lives.
Harry Venning (Author) 'Clare in the Community began as a strip cartoon in the social work magazine Care Weekly. Six weeks later Care Weekly ceased publication, but no link was ever established between the two events. After this less than auspicious start she transferred to The Guardian, where she has been ever since. In 2004 Clare made the leap from a printed page to the airwaves of Radio 4 as a sitcom, which demanded her character be fleshed out considerably. We decided that she should be white, middle class and heterosexual - all of which are causes of discomfort to her - and that her obsessive involvement in other people's lives was the way she avoided addressing the problems of her own. At first we had a bit of a dilemma regarding Clare's professional competence. Although we were keen to avoid joining in with the national pastime of denigrating social workers, as popularised by certain right-leaning newspapers, Clare was funnier the more insensitive, oblivious, self-absorbed and generally useless she was. Ultimately, we went for the funny option and so far no social workers have complained of misrepresentation. In fact, quite the opposite. Social workers often compliment us on how accurate the shows are, and are surprised that we have no background in the profession. This is particularly flattering, since we have always prided ourselves on writing the shows from a position of profound ignorance. We have our moles on the inside who feed us workplace jargon and steer us away from glaring inaccuracies, but apart from that we have studiously avoided any kind of research. First, because for the show to have mass appeal it has to be accessible to an audience without any specialist knowledge, and secondly because we are too lazy. People often think it's the actors who make comedies funny, but it isn't. It's the writing. Having said that, Clare in the Community has been particularly lucky in its cast. So, grudging thanks to them. And since we're thanking people we really should mention our infinitely patient, endlessly resourceful, multi-talented producer Katie Tyrell.' Harry Venning & David Ramsden, writers of Clare in the Community, June 2007