The Guardian axes Clare In The Community | Cartoon strip that spawned a sitcom dropped after 25 years

The Guardian axes Clare In The Community

Cartoon strip that spawned a sitcom dropped after 25 years

The Guardian has axed its Clare In The Community cartoon, which also spawned a long-running Radio 4 comedy, after almost 25 years.

Created by Harry Venning, the strip about a well-meaning social worker has fallen victim to major cuts at the newspaper, which is expecting a £25million hit because of coronavirus.

Last month, the company announced up to 80 job losses, including 70 in editorial departments,  as it battled to reverse  what editor-in-chief Katharine Viner, called ‘unsustainable financial outlook’

Venning revealed the news on Twitter, posting: ‘Sad to announce that next week’s Clare In The Community cartoon will be the last ever. Cost cutting at @guardian means she will be hanging up her stripey top after nearly 25 years.’

The strip was made into a sitcom by Radio 4 in 2004 and ran for 12 series, ending last year and averaging 800,000 listeners per episode.

Sally Phillips took the lead role of a social worker ’who is white, middle class and heterosexual, but does not like to be reminded of it’, while co-stars over the years included Liza Tarbuck, Alex Lowe, Nina Conti, Sarah Kendall and Ninia Wadia.

Venning has announced an ‘end-of-an-era’ souvenir book to mark the strip’s demise, attracting almost twice the £8,000 needed via crowdfunding.

The cartoonist also received many messages of support on social media, including the 13,000-strong Social Workers Union, which said: ‘Everyone [here] are huge fans of your work and of course Clare.’

Another fan tweeted: ‘Short sighted. Do they not realise that Clare was the main draw to the Society section. Surely they don’t want to annoy the Social Workers - and I am a subscriber as many others will be too.’

And yet another messaged The Guardian with the simple message: ‘What were you thinking?’

The Cartoonists’ Club Of Great Britain called Clare In The Community ‘a great cartoon strip’ and its axing ‘terrible news’.

Before the radio series, ITV commissioned TV sitcom version in 2002 starring Julia Sawalha in the title role, but the pilot episode, which has never been broadcast, was not picked up for a full series. 

Here is the first ever strip, published  in 1996:

Published: 19 Aug 2020

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