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The Happiness Patrol

Production Code: 7L

First Transmitted

1 - 02/11/1988 19:35

2 - 09/11/1988 19:35

3 - 16/11/1988 19:35


The TARDIS arrives on the planet Terra Alpha where the Doctor and Ace discover a society in which sadness is against the law - a law enforced with considerable zeal by the brightly uniformed Happiness Patrol. The planet is ruled over by Helen A with the aid of her companion Joseph C and her carnivorous pet Stigorax named Fifi.

The penalty for those found guilty of unhappiness is death in a stream of molten candy prepared by Helen A's executioner, the robotic Kandyman, and his associate Gilbert M. The time travellers help to foment rebellion amongst the downtrodden population and the subterranean Pipe People - the planet's original inhabitants - and Helen A is overthrown.

Joseph C and Gilbert M escape in a shuttle, while the Kandyman is destroyed and Fifi killed. Helen A finally realises that happiness is nothing without the contrast of sadness.

Episode Endings

The Doctor and a blues musician named Earl Sigma are captured trying to flee the Kandy Kitchen. The Kandy Man tells them that he likes his volunteers to die with smiles on their faces.

The Doctor discovers that Ace will be appearing at the Happiness Patrol audition at the forum that night. A member of the Happiness Patrol arrives and paints a large 'R I P' over a poster of a previous forum attraction, a woman named Daphne S. The forum doorman comments that she obviously didn't go down too well.

Ace picks up a paint pot to finish off the job of restoring the TARDIS to its normal blue, it having earlier been repainted pink by the Happiness Patrol. She asks the Doctor if he is all right. He replies that happiness will prevail.


Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (especially the film version).

Gloria Gaynor ('I am what I am').

The Prisoner.

Jean Surry's 'Teen Angel' (Ace's 'Dead Good Song').

Return of the Jedi.

The Trial.


Fahrenheit 451.

Hansel and Gretel.

The Wizard of Oz.

The Company of Wolves.

La Cage aux Folles.

Dialogue Triumphs

Kandy Man : "You see, I make sweets. Not just any old sweets, but sweets that are so good, so delicious that sometimes, if I'm on form, the human physiology is not equipped to bear the pleasure. Tell them what I'm trying to say, Gilbert."

Gilbert M. : "He makes sweets that kill people."

Sniper 2 : "Get back. Or he'll use the gun."

The Doctor : "Yes, I imagine he will. You like guns, don't you?"

Sniper 1 : "This is a specialised weapon. It's designed for roof duty. Designed for long range. I've never used one up close before."

Sniper 2 : "Let him go."

Sniper 1 : "No."

The Doctor : "No. In fact... let him come a little closer."

Sniper 1 : "Stay where you are."

The Doctor : "Why? Scared? Why should you be scared? You're the one with the gun."

Sniper 1 : "That's right."

The Doctor : "And you like guns, don't you?"

Sniper 2 : "He'll kill you."

The Doctor : "Of course he will. That's what guns are for. Pull a trigger. End a life. Simple, isn't it?'"

Sniper 1 : Yes.

The Doctor : "Makes sense, doesn't it?"

Sniper 1 : "Yes."

The Doctor : "A life, killing life."

Sniper 2 : "Who are you?"

The Doctor : "Shut up. Why don't you do it then? Look me in the eye. Pull the trigger. End my life."

Sniper 1 : "No."

The Doctor : "Why not?"

Sniper 1 : "I can't."

The Doctor : "Why not?"

Sniper 1 : "I don't know."

The Doctor : "You don't, do you. Throw away your gun."

The Doctor : "I can hear the sound of empires toppling."

Ace : "I want to make them very, very unhappy."

Kandyman : [To Gilbert] "What time do you call this?"

"This isn't a prison, but cross that line and you're a dead man."

Gilbert M : "Wallowing in their own weltschmertz."

Dialogue Disasters

Announcer : [On a trailer for episode two, the continuity announcer said] "Doctor Who's sticky situation with the Kandyman continues."


Reference is made to the Doctor's role in Invasion of the Dinosaurs. He can sing, performing 'As Time Goes By'. Theta Sigma was his 'nickname at college' (see The Armageddon Factor).

Ace loves dinosaurs, and hates lift music. She can't play an instrument, dance or sing.


Terra Alpha, some centuries in the future, during a single night

Future History

Terra Alpha is an Earth colony of at least 3 million people, the humans having driven the native inhabitants underground. Earth is known, but isn't the centre of power, which has shifted to the galactic centre, home of the Galactic Census Bureau [maybe a bit near Gallifrey?: see Terror of the Autons].


The Doctor met a Stigorax (like Fifi) in Birmingham in the 25th century.


In the scenes set in the underground tunnels in Part Three the Kandy Man has no metal brace around his mouth. This was added to the costume following these initial recordings to try to disguise the features of the actor inside.

The howl of Helen A's pet Stigorax Fifi was actually the modulated sound of director Chris Clough's own voice.


Part Three of this story was originally intended to consist of animation rather than live action. (It wasn't.)


Why do the Patrol shoot Silas P? (They know who he is.)

The Kandyman's microphone picks up quite a bit of Sylvester McCoy's dialogue in episode 2.

The aliens' costumes display maps of Paris.

The man at the box office is so unhappy he's lucky not to be arrested (but the vagaries of the law are part of the point, one suspects).

In episode one, as the Doctor is repairing the buggy, one of the patrol runs on too soon, realises, and runs back.

Cast & Crew


The Doctor - Sylvester McCoy

Ace - Sophie Aldred

Daisy K. - Georgina Hale

Earl Sigma - Richard D Sharp

Forum Doorman - Tim Scott

Gilbert M. - Harold Innocent

Harold V. - Tim Barker

Helen A. - Sheila Hancock

Joseph C. - Ronald Fraser

Kandy Man - David John Pope

Killjoy - Mary Healey Although identified only as 'Killjoy' in the closing credits to Part One, the character played by Mary Healey is named Daphne S, as confirmed by the poster at the conclusion of Part Two.

Newscaster - Annie Hulley

Priscilla P. - Rachel Bell

Silas P. - Jonathan Burn

Sniper - Steve Swinscoe

Sniper - Mark Carroll

Susan Q. - Lesley Dunlop

Trevor Sigma - John Normington

Wences - Philip Neve

Wulfric - Ryan Freedman


Director - Chris Clough

Assistant Floor Manager - Lynn Grant

Costumes - Richard Croft

Designer - John Asbridge

Incidental Music - Dominic Glynn

Make-Up - Dorka Nieradzik

Producer - John Nathan-Turner

Production Assistant - Jane Wellesley

Production Associate - June Collins

Script Editor - Andrew Cartmel

Special Sounds - Dick Mills

Studio Lighting - Don Babbage

Studio Sound - Scott Talbott

Studio Sound - Trevor Webster

Title Music - Ron Grainer and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, arranged by Keff McCulloch

Visual Effects - Perry Brahan

Writer - Graeme Curry

Bottom Line - from The Discontinuity Guide

Deep, joyful in its anarchistic kicking of right wing fantasies, and criticised for its jolly design. Easily the most anarchistic Who story. The Doctor tests his muscles by bringing down a government in one night.

The story deals with Thatcher (Helen A gets lines like 'I like your initiative, your enterprise' and 'Families are very important for people's happiness') and gay pride (there's entrapment over cottaging, the TARDIS is painted pink, and the victim of the fondant surprise is every inch the proud gay man, wearing, as he does, a pink triangle).

The Kandyman is capitalism itself, killing with sweeties, the power behind the throne. It's a pity that it's studio bound, and that there are odd script nods to the old telefantasy cliche, the Planet of Women.

The Kandyman is very successful, being, to adults, a fun villain (we love it when he picks up the phone and says 'Kandyman') and to children a walking nightmare.

Still, more than anything else, this is our Doctor Who - that which is appropriate to our age and generation. It goes beyond camp into protest. It's not sad, it's angry. And we love it to pieces.

Analysis - from Doctor Who, the Television Companion

The Happiness Patrol is, on the face of it, a colourful fantasy with a simple moral. As the Doctor puts it in Part Three: 'Happiness is nothing unless it exists side by side with sadness.' The scenario is in some ways similar to that of season four's The Macra Terror; both stories involve a human colony where the inhabitants are expected to be contented and cheery at all times - or else. However, whereas in The Macra Terror the penalty for dissent was brainwashing, or possibly being sent to work in the mines, on Terra Alpha things are rather simpler: disobedience of the rules brings a sentence of death. Happiness Patrols - gangs of brightly dressed women with big guns - roam the city killing or arresting anyone believed to be a 'killjoy'. There are formal executions at which attendance is compulsory, and labour camps where drones toil under the watchful eye of guards. Terra Alpha is, in short, not a nice place to live.

This is an interesting idea in itself, but on closer examination The Happiness Patrol can be seen to work on more complex levels too. What first-time writer Graeme Curry has given the viewer is, in essence, an Orwellian parable: a cautionary tale reflecting on the state of British society at the time of the story's original transmission. Many reviewers have spotted the fact that the planet's dictatorial ruler, Helen A, was intended by Curry to be a representation of one-time Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, with Joseph C in the supporting role of her husband Dennis, but the allegory appears to go much deeper than that. The demoralised drones marching in silent protest against Helen A's harsh policies are the planet's 'working class', while the Pipe People - a literal underclass - are disenfranchised members of this 'happy' society, perhaps the equivalent of the poor and the unemployed in Thatcher's Britain (although some commentators have suggested that there is also a gay rights message here).

'The political parable was kept mercifully subtle,' suggested Jonathan Way in DWB 61, dated December 1988, 'and Sheila Hancock's take-off of Margaret Thatcher was a joy. I don't always think that layering of a story in this way works very well, but this case is an exception, and I enjoyed it.' 'As well as being a political allegory of Thatcher's Britain, The Happiness Patrol was ultimately a morality tale,' added Craig Hinton in DWB No. 65, dated May 1989. 'Helen A had attempted to set herself up as a paragon of efficiency and ruthlessness. Her marriage to Joseph C was clearly a frigid, loveless one. Yet there was a chink in her armour, and we had observed it throughout the three episodes. Once her empire had fallen, Helen A refused to accept that she was responsible. How could she compromise her infallibility and admit that she was wrong? Even the Doctor's impassioned speech failed to move her. Symbolically she was her own undoing. At the sight of a dying Fifi, her candy-covered shell cracked. Her soft centre revealed, Helen A rejoined the human race.'

The most contentious aspect of the story is undoubtedly the Kandyman. This creature, creating lethal sweets in its brightly-lit Kandy Kitchen and taking a real pleasure in its job, is a masterpiece of design work and easily the story's most striking and memorable image. Actor David John Pope imbues it with great personality, too, and it comes across as part spoiled child and part scheming psychopath. Many reviewers, however, have found the whole idea of a robot made out of sweets unacceptably bizarre, and the Kandy Man's undoubted similarity to the Bertie Bassett marketing character, used for many years to promote a range of liquorice confectionery in the UK, has also been cited as a major failing. 'Nothing in the world could have prepared me for the sight of the Kandyman,' commented Way. 'Oh yes, I'd heard reports, mutterings of discontent from fans who had seen glimpses of the costume, but somehow my imagination could not rise to the challenge. But then, on 2 November, there it was - squeaky voice and all. A sight to challenge the Nimon as the series' all-time clanger.'

Director Chris Clough and his team apparently decided to avoid dwelling on the more sinister aspects of Graeme Curry's scripts and instead to present the story in a more light-hearted and whimsical vein. A conscious effort seems to have been made to avoid a naturalistic style - the sets and costumes, for instance, are obviously artificial and stagey - and in that sense The Happiness Patrol is rather akin to the previous season's Paradise Towers. Where it has the advantage over that earlier story, however, is in the strength and conviction of its performances. If Doctor Who is going to work, it has to be played for real; that didn't happen on Paradise Towers, but here, thankfully, it does. Best of all is Sheila Hancock, who gives a nicely understated portrayal of Helen A, although special mention must also go to the regulars, Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred, who are by this point shaping up into a really excellent Doctor and companion team. Other less prominent characters, such as Earl Sigma, Susan Q and the Pipe People, are also well-played, although sadly not as well developed as they might be - a fact no doubt attributable in part to the shortage of time available for characterisation in a three-part story.

The Happiness Patrol has sometimes been referred to as an 'oddball' story, and in many ways this is justified as it is certainly not what might be considered 'traditional' Doctor Who. Its experimental nature has won it many critics, but also many admirers; and if nothing else it proves that in its twenty-fifth anniversary year the series still had the capacity to provoke controversy, even amongst its staunchest supporters.

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This episode guide is made up of the text of The Discontinuity Guide by Paul Cornell, Martin Day and Keith Topping, and Doctor Who: The Television Companion by David J. Howe and Stephen James Walker.

The Discontinuity Guide © Paul Cornell, Martin Day and Keith Topping 1995.
Doctor Who: The Television Companion © David J Howe and Stephen James Walker 1998, 2003.

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