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The Happiness Patrol

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Subject: List of Doctor Who planets, Silver Nemesis, Ace (Doctor Who), Remembrance of the Daleks, Seventh Doctor
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The Happiness Patrol

149[1]The Happiness Patrol
Doctor Who serial
"The Kandy Man"
Writer Graeme Curry
Director Chris Clough
Script editor Andrew Cartmel
Producer John Nathan-Turner
Executive producer(s) None
Incidental music composer Dominic Glynn
Production code 7L
Series Season 25
Length 3 episodes, 25 minutes each
Originally broadcast 2 November–16 November 1988
← Preceded by Followed by →
Remembrance of the Daleks Silver Nemesis

The Happiness Patrol is the second serial of the 25th season in the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, which was first broadcast in three weekly parts from 2 November to 16 November 1988.


  • Plot 1
    • Continuity 1.1
  • Production 2
  • Broadcast and reception 3
  • Commercial releases 4
    • In print 4.1
    • Home media 4.2
  • References 5
  • External links 6


The Seventh Doctor and Ace visit a human colony on the planet Terra Alpha, and are unsettled by the planet's unnaturally happy society. Cheerful music plays everywhere; the planet's secret police force, the Happiness Patrol (governed by the vicious and egotistical Helen A, who is obsessed with eliminating unhappiness), roam the streets wearing bright pink and purple uniforms, while they hunt down and kill so-called 'Killjoys', and the TARDIS gets repainted pink so as not to look depressing. While exploring the planet, the Doctor and Ace encounter Trevor Sigma, an official galactic census taker, who is visiting Terra Alpha to discover why so many of the population have disappeared.

The Doctor and Ace have a brief period of incarceration in the Waiting Zone (Terra Alpha's version of prisons), to find out more about the planet's laws against unhappiness, and meet unhappy guard Susan Q, who becomes a firm ally, and allows Ace to escape when she is taken away from the Doctor to be enrolled in the Happiness Patrol. The Doctor, meanwhile, encounters another visitor to the planet, Earl Sigma, a wandering harmonica player who stirs unrest by playing the Blues. Earl and the Doctor venture to the Kandy Kitchen, where most of the missing population of Terra Alpha vanished to, and discover Helen A's twisted executionist, the Kandy Man; a grotesque, sweet-based robot, created by Gilbert M, one of Helen A’s senior advisers.

The Doctor manages to outwit the Kandy Man by gluing him to the floor with lemonade, and he and Earl escape through the candy pipes below the colony, where dwell the native inhabitants of Terra Alpha, now known as Pipe People. They want to help overthrow the tyranny of Helen A. The Doctor returns to the surface, and begins stirring up trouble, supporting public demonstrations of unhappiness, encouraging the people to revolt, and attempting to expose Helen A's 'population control programme' to Trevor Sigma.

Ace and Susan Q have meanwhile both been recaptured, and have been scheduled to appear in the late show at the Forum, where the penalty for non-entertainment is death. The Doctor and Earl rescue them both, and the four head off to Helen A’s palace for a final showdown, while a revolution takes full effect outside the palace walls. The first to be disposed of is Helen A’s pet Stigorax, Fifi, a rat-dog creature used to hunt down the Pipe People, which is crushed in the pipes below the city when Earl causes an avalanche of crystallised sugar with his harmonica. Then the Pipe People destroy the Kandy Man in a flow of his own fondant surprise (previously used to drown Killjoys). Realising that she is beaten, Helen A attempts to escape the planet in a rocket, only to discover that the rocket has already been commandeered by Gilbert M and Joseph C, her husband. She tries to flee, but the Doctor stops her, and tries to teach her about the true nature of happiness, which can only be understood if counterbalanced by sadness. Helen A at first sneers at the Doctor; but when she discovers the remains of her beloved pet Fifi, she collapses in tears, and finally feels some sadness of her own. The revolution complete, the Doctor and Ace slip away, leaving Earl, Susan Q and the Pipe People to rebuild the planet – but only once the TARDIS has been repainted blue.


The Doctor tells Ace about the events of Invasion of the Dinosaurs and mentions the Brigadier at the start of this story. The Seventh Doctor and Ace later meet the Brigadier in Battlefield.

The Doctor mentions his nickname in his academy days on Gallifrey was "Theta Sigma". The Doctor's classmate Drax referred to him by this nickname in The Armageddon Factor, as does River Song (in writing) in "The Pandorica Opens".


Serial details by episode
Episode Broadcast date Run time Viewers
(in millions)
"Part One" 2 November 1988 (1988-11-02) 24:51 5.3
"Part Two" 9 November 1988 (1988-11-09) 24:48 4.6
"Part Three" 16 November 1988 (1988-11-16) 24:25 5.3

Working titles for this story included The Crooked Smile.[5] The production team considered transmitting this story in black and white to fit with its intended film noir atmosphere.[5] A fan myth holds that the third episode was supposed to be animated, but this was never the case.[6] The entire serial was shot in studio in July and August 1988.[7]

Patricia Routledge was originally going to play Helen A, but Sheila Hancock was later cast. Helen A was intended to be a caricature of then British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.[8] Hancock stated that she "hate[d] Mrs Thatcher with a deep and venomous passion".[7] In 2010, Sylvester McCoy told the Sunday Times: "Our feeling was that Margaret Thatcher was far more terrifying than any monster the Doctor had encountered". The Doctor's calls on the drones to down their tools and revolt was intended as a reference to the 1984-1985 miners' strike.[8] Most of this element was eventually toned down.[5]

In the story, the Doctor sings "The Caves of Androzani, and later appeared in "Ghost Machine", an episode of the Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood.

Broadcast and reception

Bassett's complained over the similarity between the Kandy Man in this story and their trademark character. The BBC agreed not to use the Kandy Man again.[5]

In The Discontinuity Guide, Paul Cornell, Martin Day and Keith Topping identify a gay subtext to the story: "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."[9] The story ends with Helen A's husband abandoning her and leaving with another man.

Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, referred to this story in his 2011 Easter sermon, on the subject of happiness and joy.[10] Marc Sidwell has described it as an expression of national unease at rave culture.[11]

Ian Berriman of SFX wrote that The Happiness Patrol was "far superior" to Dragonfire, particularly praising the Kandyman and the supporting cast. However, he felt that "while the script is brimming with witty, provocative ideas and droll one-liners, it struggles to piece them together into a satisfying narrative".[12] Radio Times reviewer Patrick Mulkern described it as a "clever and funny satire" and praised the acting and political commentary.[7] DVD Talk's John Sinnott gave The Happiness Patrol five out of five stars, calling it a "minor masterpiece". He commended the irony, social commentary, and McCoy's acting.[13]

This story is frequently used as an example of how the show declined during the 1980s. A clip was used in a 2001 show called "Top Ten: Sci Fi", to accompany an interview with Kim Newman in which he dismissed much of 1980's Doctor Who as "A fairly shoddy pantomime of its former self", and a series of interviews in which people discussed the causes of the show's demise.

In the 2003 Documentary "The Story of Doctor Who", clips from this story were used to accompany interview with Verity Lambert about how she disliked the show's later years, and an interview with Sylvester McCoy as he discussed why the show was taken off air.

In 2005, The Kandy Man's appearance was labelled one of the "50 Most Shameful TV Moments" in a Channel 5 show of the same name.

The scene where the Doctor talks two Happiness Patrol guards out of using their weapons by emphasising the easiness of the kill versus the enormity of ending a life received high praise.

Commercial releases

In print

The Happiness Patrol
Author Graeme Curry
Cover artist Alister Pearson
Series Doctor Who book:
Target novelisations
Release number
Publisher Target Books
Publication date
15 February 1990

A novelisation of this serial, written by script-writer Graeme Curry, was published by Target Books in February 1990. Adapting his scripts rather than the televised version, Curry's book includes scenes cut during editing and his original envisioning of the Kandy Man with a human appearance, albeit with powdery white skin and edible candy-cane glasses. An unabridged reading of the novelisation by Rula Lenska was released by BBC Audiobooks in July 2009.

Home media

The Happiness Patrol was released on VHS on 4 August 1997, by BBC Worldwide. It was then released on DVD on 7 May 2012 alongside Dragonfire as part of the "Ace Adventures" box set.[14][15] This serial was also released as part of the Doctor Who DVD Files in Issue 119 on 24 July 2013.


  1. ^ From the Doctor Who Magazine series overview, in issue 407 (pp26-29). The Discontinuity Guide, which counts the four segments of The Trial of a Time Lord as four separate stories and also counts the unbroadcast serial Shada, lists this story as number 153. Region 1 DVD releases follow The Discontinuity Guide numbering system.
  2. ^ Shaun Lyon; et al. (2007-03-31). "The Happiness Patrol". Outpost Gallifrey. Archived from the original on 2008-05-11. Retrieved 2008-08-30. 
  3. ^ "The Happiness Patrol". Doctor Who Reference Guide. Retrieved 2008-08-30. 
  4. ^ Sullivan, Shannon (2007-08-07). "The Happiness Patrol". A Brief History of Time Travel. Retrieved 2008-08-30. 
  5. ^ a b c d The Happiness Patrol at Doctor Who: A Brief History Of Time (Travel)
  6. ^ BBC - Doctor Who Classic Episode Guide - The Happiness Patrol - Details
  7. ^ a b c Mulkern, Patrick (17 September 2012). "Doctor Who: The Happiness Patrol".  
  8. ^ a b Adams, Stephen (14 February 2010). "'"Doctor Who 'had anti-Thatcher agenda.  
  9. ^  
  10. ^  
  11. ^ Sidwell, Marc (21 August 2014). "Who’s back: The Doctor is the unexpected freedom fighter our civilisation still needs". City AM. 
  12. ^ Berriman, Ian (4 May 2012). "Doctor Who: Ace Adventures Review". SFX. Retrieved 13 October 2012. 
  13. ^ Sinnot, John (19 May 2012). "Doctor Who: The Happiness Patrol".  
  14. ^ DWM 433
  15. ^ "DVD Schedule Update". Doctor Who News. 2011-03-05. Retrieved 2013-10-09. 

External links

  • The Happiness Patrol at BBC Online
  • The Happiness Patrol at the Doctor Who Reference Guide
  • issue 42, January 1995)Time Space Visualiser, by Jon Preddle (Script to Screen: The Happiness Patrol
  • The Happiness Patrol reviews at Outpost Gallifrey
  • The Happiness Patrol reviews at The Doctor Who Ratings Guide
Target novelisation
  • The Happiness PatrolOn Target —
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