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The Happiness Patrol was the second serial of season 25 of Doctor Who. It was intended (by the writers) to be a parody of Thatcherism, with Helen A representing Margaret Thatcher herself.[1]


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

The penalty for those found guilty of unhappiness is death in a stream of molten candy prepared by Helen A's executioners, the robotic Kandy Man and his associate, Gilbert M. The time travellers help 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 Kandy Man is destroyed and Fifi killed. Helen A finally realises the hard way that happiness is nothing without the contrast of sadness.


Part one[]

A woman wanders down a dark street playing melancholy blues when she is approached by a man calling himself Silas P. He says that there is a place for her to meet with others and outwardly discuss her sadness, and gives her his card. However, this all turns out to be a ruse, and Silas whistles for the 'Happiness Patrol' to arrest her. Elsewhere, the TARDIS materialises in another dark street, and the Seventh Doctor and Ace emerge. Ace is disenchanted by the chirpy 'lift music' playing through the speakers, and the Doctor explains it to be an Earth colony on the planet Terra Alpha, with a lot of rumours circulating it.

Silas P brings himself before Helen A, who presents him with a promoting badge for successfully capturing the 'killjoy'. She gets suspicious, however, when he brings up his ambition. The Doctor and Ace continue to search the corridors, when they encounter a bowler-hatted businessman who identifies himself as Trevor Sigma. A group of women from the Happiness Patrol arrive by the TARDIS in a security vehicle and begin painting it pink. Acknowledging something is off, the Doctor devises a plan to get arrested so they can investigate. Returning to the TARDIS, the pair are caught out by one of the Happiness Patrol, Daisy K, for not having identity badges; the Doctor is arrested as a spy, while Ace is to audition for the Happiness Patrol.

Helen A and her husband, Joseph C, watch one of her promotional broadcasts at home. In a detention area called the Waiting Zone, the Doctor and Ace encounter a former servant to Helen A, Harold V, formerly known as Harold F, playing a fruit machine, the prize for which is a video of Helen A delivering a terrible joke written by him. The Waiting Zone's guard, Priscilla P, explains that while they aren't in a prison, she would shoot the Doctor should he try to escape.

Silas P leads a recently arrested killjoy into a large room and places him beneath a large metal pipe ready for sentencing. Meanwhile, Harold V explains to the Doctor that the Happiness Patrol were the better aspect of Helen A's rule; the other would be being given to the Kandy Man, an unseen party to Helen A's rule who conducts experiments on citizens. Elsewhere, Helen A calls Gilbert M into her office wanting to know what punishment the Kandy Man has devised. The killjoy is declared guilty of displaying public grief, wearing dark clothing and is sentenced to execution. Helen A remotely drops the metal pipe to encapsulate the killjoy and signals the Kandy Man to fill the pipe with a flavouring mixture, drowning him.


The Kandy Man.

As the Doctor and Ace plot to escape the Waiting Zone, Helen A sends a signal to the game Harold V is playing, firing a fatal electric shock, killing him instantly. Meanwhile, Gilbert M is approached by the Kandy Man, who is annoyed by Gilbert M's lateness. Harold V's body is taken away by the Happiness Patrol, and the Doctor figures out a way to take a booby-trapped go-kart to escape. The Doctor disengages the bomb attached to the engine and Ace drives off; the guard does absolutely nothing to stop them.

Ace is recaptured by the Happiness Patrol and brought to audition, while the Doctor escapes in the go-kart. While auditioning, Ace has a heart-to-heart with Susan Q, a secretly depressed member of the Happiness Patrol who struggles under Helen A's reign. Seeing that Ace could help, she gives her the key and allows her to escape, but she is later discovered and recaptured by Daisy K. Silas P finds the Doctor and signals for the Happiness Patrol, but is knocked unconscious by a blues player called Earl Sigma, who helps the Doctor escape. The Happiness Patrol arrive and execute Silas P. The Doctor and Earl make their way into the Kandy Man's lair, the Kandy Kitchen. Gilbert M arrives for a meeting with the Kandy Man, and the Doctor and Earl are discovered.

Part two[]

Daisy K and the Happiness Patrol frogmarch Ace through the colony back to the waiting zone, while she questions their feelings about Helen A's rule. Priscilla P seems to determined for her execution. The Doctor and Earl are tied up by the Kandy Man, who explains his creative manners of execution. The Doctor plays on the Kandy Man's insecure temper to get him to stick himself to the floor using lemonade, while he frees himself and Earl and escapes.

Priscilla P continues to hold Ace at gunpoint, when the Happiness Patrol drag Susan Q into the Waiting Zone, having discovered her duplicity. The Doctor and Earl wander through a pipe which had carried a form of syrup for execution. The Doctor deduces that the pipe had not been used for a while, and suggests Earl not play his harmonica, as certain noises could bring down the crystallised syrup formed within the pipe. Back in the Kandy Kitchen, Gilbert M returns and threatens Kandy Man back into submission. The Doctor and Earl continue through the pipe and find a footprint, before being running into a group of creatures, referred to as Pipe People. Ace and Susan Q remain under Priscilla P's guard, and Susan Q continues to feel grief at the fact that she wouldn't be missed after her execution, despite Ace's pleas that she can help.

One of the Pipe People, Wences, holds the Doctor and Earl at spear-point, before Earl manages to distract them by playing the harmonica. Another, named Wulfric, uses "wicked" as an expletive and the Doctor realises that it has spotted Ace. It tells him that she was captured. Helen A gives Daisy K the order to have Susan Q, to Ace's disgust and fury. Wulfric arrives and distracts Priscilla P long enough for Ace to escape. Wences lead the Doctor and Earl through the pipes to a manhole. The Doctor climbs through the manhole and encounters Trevor Sigma again, while Earl goes off on his own.

Helen A discusses the rebellion with Daisy K, who informs her that they have travelled into the tunnels. Helen A sends her pet Fifi to search for them. Meanwhile, Earl hides from a group of factory strikers protesting against the Happiness Patrol. Ace is escorted through the tunnels by Wulfric, while the Happiness Patrol sets Fifi in after them. The Doctor is brought before Helen A, who explains her rule to him and Trevor Sigma (who he had tricked using reverse psychology). When Helen A goes into her office for a broadcast, the Doctor sneaks in after her. Helen A then calls for security and the Doctor leaves.

In the tunnels, Ace and Wulfric are attacked by Fifi, whom Ace manages to subdue using a can of Nitro-9. Elsewhere, Gilbert M is still taunting the Kandy Man over his predicament. The Doctor runs into Earl again, who informs him of the two snipers targeting the strikers. The Doctor makes his way up to the snipers, who hold him at gunpoint. The Doctor manipulates the sniper into handing him his gun and throws it away, and the other sniper does the same. Meanwhile, Daisy K presides at Susan Q's sentencing and declares her guilty. Helen A signals for the flavouring to be delivered, forcing Ace and Wulfric (who are still in the pipe) to flee. The Doctor returns to the Kandy Kitchen and offers the Kandy Man an ultimatum; divert the flow and be unstuck from the floor. The Kandy Man agrees and the Doctor uses water to unstick him. While Wulfric flees into another pipe, Ace slides from the main pipe into the execution chamber where Susan Q is set to be executed, but the Kandy Man diverts the flow and the pair survive. To Helen A's anger, Trevor Sigma informs her that they cannot be executed by those means again, however, he then states that an alternate execution can be arranged.

The Kandy Man continues to threaten the Doctor with death and he once again sticks the Kandy Man to the floor with lemonade and flees. Ace and Susan Q are brought before Helen A, who tells them that they will be publicly auditioning for the Happiness Patrol. While they are taken for their auditions at the Forum, the Doctor finds a poster advertising Ace's audition (which bills her as "ACE SIGMA") and sends Earl to fetch the demonstrators. A Happiness Patrol member comes and paints a large "R.I.P." on a poster of a previous audition contender named Daphne S (who is the killjoy tricked by Silas P). The doorman comments to the Doctor that she obviously didn't go down too well.

Part three[]

The patrol escorts Ace and Susan Q to the Forum, while Helen A watches the strikers on her monitor and orders the Happiness Patrol to make them all 'disappear'. The Forum Doorman confirms Ace's place in the Forum and the Doctor goes to find her. Meanwhile, Helen A discusses her plans for revenge with Fifi. The Doctor is approached by Trevor Sigma, who gives him a list of everyone Helen A has made disappear over six months and leaves the planet. Helen A sets Fifi loose in the pipes again, causing Wences to panic and flee. Ace and Susan Q are brought into the Forum by the Happiness Patrol and the Doctor distracts them with bouts of hysterical laughter and bringing in a group of happy citizens. While Priscilla P holds Daisy K and the others at gunpoint, the Doctor, Ace and Susan Q escape in the security vehicle.

Helen A and Joseph C hear over the loudspeakers that infighting is happening within the Happiness Patrol ranks and Helen A has Joseph C wait for Fifi, who continues to chase Wences through the pipes. Priscilla P has Daisy K playing the rigged cash game when a live feed from Helen A appears and she tells Priscilla P to take her gun away from Daisy K and wait. Wulfric and the Wences run through the pipes and into the Doctor, Ace, Susan Q and Earl and they all flee from Fifi. Daisy K informs Helen A that the Doctor is in the pipes and she insists on letting Fifi deal with him. The Doctor sends Ace and Susan Q with the Pipe People and has Earl play his harmonica to lead Fifi to them. Fifi's howling brings the crystallised syrup down on her, fatally injuring her.

Helen A and Daisy K see that Priscilla P has been bound by Susan Q and Earl and signal the Kandy Man to bring the Doctor to them. At that moment, the Doctor and Ace arrive in the Kandy Kitchen. The Doctor distracts Kandy Man while Ace readies a heated poker as a weapon. The Doctor opens the oven, which erupts in flames, and Kandy Man flees into the pipe. The Doctor and Ace find Susan Q and Earl destroying the loudspeakers around the colony. Wulfric and the Wences storm the Kandy Kitchen and direct the flow of flavouring into the pipe he is in, destroying him, to Gilbert M's amusement. Tracking her falling empire, Helen A prepares to flee in an escape shuttle.


Helen A mourns the death of Fifi, finally feeling sadness.

The Doctor and Ace say farewell to Wulfric and Wences and exit the pipes, while Helen A's shuttle takes off without her. Helen A, contacts the shuttle and discovers that Gilbert M and her husband Joseph C have left her behind. The Doctor and Ace arrive looking for Helen A and are held at gunpoint by Daisy K when Susan Q disarms her and Earl ties her up. Helen A tries to escape through the tunnels, but she runs into the Doctor. He accuses her of lacking emotion and forcing it onto her subjects, but Helen A spitefully declares that she will flee to a new planet and indict strict happiness yet again. However, as Helen A leaves, she spots a dying Fifi lying outside the pipes and breaks down into tears.

With Helen A's reign over, the Doctor and Ace make their goodbyes to Earl and Susan Q and prepare to leave in the TARDIS, after Ace finishes repainting it blue.


Uncredited Cast[]



The Doctor[]

  • The Doctor notes that Theta Sigma was his 'nickname at college'.


  • The Doctor sings a verse of "As Time Goes By".
  • The letter behind each person's name appears to be a kind of status marker. The leader has an A after her name, and her husband a C. The killjoy Harold V was called Harold F when he was the gag writer for Helen A, but was later degraded. All off-worlders on Terra Alpha are referred to by the designation Sigma.
  • Terra Alphans use the word "killjoy" to describe the people who rebel against Helen A.

Foods and beverages[]

  • The Doctor uses lemonade to stick the Kandy Man's feet to the ground and water to unstick him.


  • Ace loves dinosaurs and hates lift music. She can't play an instrument, dance or sing.
  • Ace wears a Charlton Athletic badge on her jacket.


  • Franz Kafka's The Trial - the main character Josef K leads a regime that battles against oppressive forces.



  • The Doctor last met a Stigorax in Birmingham in the 25th century. He describes them as 'Ruthless, intelligent predators.'


Story notes[]

  • This story had the working title The Crooked Smile. (This title also appeared as that of a local news-sheet read by some of the characters.)
  • During the age of William Hartnell, there had been a proposal for a story called The Jokers. Although the plot was similar, it featured the opposite concept as in the proposed story, laughter was forbidden and being serious was the law, while with this story it's the other way around.
  • 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 Chris Clough's own voice.
  • The character of Helen A was intended to satirise then-British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. The character would say, "I like your initiative, your enterprise" while her secret police rounded up dissidents. In the story, the Doctor persuades "the drones", who toil in the factories and mines, to down tools and rise up in revolt, an echo of the miners' strikes and printers' disputes during Thatcher's first two terms in office. [2]
  • The Radio Times programme listing for part three was accompanied by a black-and-white photograph of Helen A holding Fifi, and Joseph C alongside, with the accompanying caption "Helen A (Sheila Hancock), Joseph C (Ronald Fraser) and furry friend are less than happy with the Doctor's interference / BBC1, 7.35 p.m. Doctor Who". (original published text)
  • According to Sylvester McCoy in an interview for DWM 425, this story was originally planned to be filmed in black-and-white. McCoy said that he had only known this after it was filmed and said that he would've begged the production team to film in black-and-white, as he thought the sets were lacking.
  • After part two aired, HB “Bev” Stokes, the chairman and CEO of Bassett Foods wrote a letter of complaint to John Nathan-Turner, stating that the Kandy Man infringed on the copyright for his company's mascot, Bertie Bassett ― a man made of liquorice allsorts. A representative of the BBC Copyright Department replied, saying that there had been no violation of Bassett's copyright, but assured the company that the Kandy Man would not return to the series.[3][4][5]
  • Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, referred to this story in his 2011 Easter sermon, on the subject of happiness and joy.[6]
  • John Normington (Trevor Sigma) is credited as "Trevor" in Radio Times for part two.
  • Steve Swinscoe and Mark Carroll are credited together as "Snipers" on-screen, but the Radio Times programme listing for part two gives their character names as David S and Alex S.
  • David John Pope (Kandy Man) is credited as "Kandyman" in Radio Times.
  • Tim Scott (Doorman) is credited as "Forum Doorman" in Radio Times for part three.
  • In the original script, the story took place over several weeks. To compensate for the fact that all the action now took place over a single night, Graeme Curry decided to have Helen A's regime already crumbling at the start of the adventure.
  • The script originally contained a prison area called Arcadia, complete with dozens of fruit machines and an elaborate go-kart game, but because of budgetary restrictions this was replaced with the far simpler Waiting Zone.
  • In the original script, Ace tricked Susan Q into helping escape instead of Susan doing so willingly.
  • Earl Sigma originally played the trumpet, but Richard D. Sharp couldn't play the instrument, so he was changed to a harmonica player, since it would be less conspicuous that the actor was simply miming along to the soundtrack.
  • In the original script, the Doctor and Ace were forced to entertain their audience or be executed. This was felt to be too similar to elements of The Greatest Show in the Galaxy and so was excised.
  • The Kandy Man was originally human in appearance and was originally envisaged as a cheerful but bored killer, as opposed to one who was cruel and zealous. The fact that he was made out of sweets was rather subtle, chiefly being exhibited through having powdery white skin. However, Chris Clough and John Nathan-Turner wanted him to look more robotic. Graeme Curry disliked the final design and used his original concept when he novelised the story in 1990.
  • Annie Hulley (Newscaster) is married to the director of this serial, Chris Clough.
  • Ben Aaronovitch claims to have taken part in a four-day rewrite where he contributed the Waiting Zone and dialogue about prisons not being needed.
  • The ending was John Nathan-Turner and Chris Clough's idea, over the Helen A breakdown finale in the script.
  • Sheila Hancock only accepted the role of Helen A if she could play her as Margaret Thatcher, whom she "hated with a passion".
  • George Baker, Keith Barron, John Carson, Peter Cellier, Kenneth Cope, Frank Finlay, Nigel Hawthorne, Glyn Houston, William Lucas, Michael Robbins, Clifford Rose, Moray Watson and Frank Windsor were considered for Joseph C, Gilbert M and Trevor Sigma.
  • Harold Innocent and John Normington were considered for Joseph C before being cast as Gilbert M and Trevor Sigma respectively.
  • Patricia Routledge was originally going to play Helen A.
  • Georgina Hale thought she had been cast as Helen A and was upset she had been cast as Daisy K.
  • This was meant to be the fourth and final story of Season 25, but the season was reshuffled to ensure that Silver Nemesis was broadcast in the exact week of the show's 25th Anniversary after the start of the season was delayed by coverage of the Olympics. This creates continuity errors with Ace already wearing Flowerchild's brooch on her jacket in this story and Silver Nemesis.
  • In creating the world of Terra Alpha, Graeme Curry thought in terms of an American-style veneer, complete with vintage 1950s automobiles and colours like a fast food restaurant.
  • The Kandy Man came about when Graeme Curry thought of candy as a way that modern society latched onto ephemeral pleasures.
  • Graeme Curry suggested that the muzak he loathed should be heard all over Terra Alpha in order to emphasise the fake, antiseptic nature of Helen A's society. Furthermore, the narrative initially took place over several weeks as the Doctor gradually contrived to bring down the government. Once it was agreed that the action should unfold over just a single night, it was decided to have a strong throughline of blues music, since there was concern that the muzak might be too annoying and distracting for viewers.
  • The Kandy Man's design was inspired by the Michelin Man, which literally seemed to be composed of giant sweets.
  • In post-production, all three episodes were found to overrun severely, and a number of cuts were made. These included a scene in which the Kandy Man sliced off his own finger only to calmly reattach it, Susan Q revealing that she was demoted from Susan L because of a smuggled blues record, the Doctor fleeing the Kandy Kitchen at the start of Episode Two but returning to rescue the captive Earl, and Ace and Susan Q using sniper fire to effect an unsuccessful escape from Daisy K and the Happiness Patrol early in part three. Also dropped was the Kandy Man being overwhelmed by fondant in the Doompipe; Clough was dissatisfied with the execution of the shot. Episode Two originally ended with Daisy K telling Ace that it was “showtime”. This scene was moved to the start of part three, meaning that the revelation of Daisy S's fate now formed the cliffhanger.
  • With many of the sets consisting of streets and building exteriors, Chris Clough found it challenging to plan interesting camera angles. To compensate, he wanted to give the adventure a film noir feel by using various off-kilter and tilted perspectives, as in The Third Man. This idea was vetoed by John Nathan-Turner, who worried that audiences would find the technique too disorientating.
  • It was thought for a time that the Pipe People might be achieved using puppets; eventually, however, eight child actors were hired to play the roles in costume. Conversely, Fifi the Stigorax was going to be played by an actor, but the diminuitive size John Nathan-Turner wanted meant that he was a puppet.
  • The story was partially inspired by Augusto Pinochet's government in Chile and massacres in South Africa.
  • An early idea Graeme Curry had was that Helen A's execution victims would be forced into an arcade with hundreds of fruit machines. The victims would be forced to play the machines until they were called for execution. The idea was dropped, although a sole fruit machine, for different purposes, was retained.
  • The original design notes for Terra Alpha highlighted that it should be represented as a bright and lively place to live, inspired by American musicals of the 1950s. However, Chris Clough and set designer John Asbridge envisioned it as a place of ruin and decay with ruined paintwork and dark street lighting.
  • There was some debate over the ending. Graeme Curry opted for Helen A crying over Fifi's body to show the necessity for negative emotions, while John Nathan-Turner andChris Clough favoured the characters walking off into the sunset.
  • The makeup and costumes for the Pipe People caused problems for the juvenile actors whilst in the studio. Between takes, they were kept cool with fans.
  • This was the last story produced entirely in studio (excluding mini-sodes) until Boom over 35 years later.
  • Sheila Hancock later described the story as "weird" and remarked that her performance would "not get me listed on anyone's roster of great performances".


  • Part one - 5.3 million viewers
  • Part two - 4.6 million viewers
  • Part three - 5.3 million viewers


  • Part three of this story was originally intended to consist of animation rather than live action. (It wasn't.)
  • This story was to promote homosexuality. (This is not the case at all. In The Discontinuity GuidePaul CornellMartin 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. The story ends with Helen A's husband abandoning her and leaving with another man." However, the homosexual themes were not noticed by the BBC until this article was written.)

Filming locations[]

Production errors[]

If you'd like to talk about narrative problems with this story — like plot holes and things that seem to contradict other stories — please go to this episode's discontinuity discussion.
  • At multiple points during the scenes in the Kandy Kitchen, the voice modulator used for the Kandy Man's dialogue can be heard affecting the speech of other characters.
  • During the sequences of the Kandy Man in the underground tunnels in part three, the metal brace around the character's mouth is missing.
  • When Gilbert M greets Helen A from aboard the escape shuttle in part three, he commits a Spoonerism - calling her "Ellen Hay."


Home video and audio releases[]

DVD releases[]

  • The story was released on DVD in the 'Ace Adventures' box set, along with Dragonfire, on 7th May 2012.

Special Features[]

Video releases[]

External links[]