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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. (DOC: Happiness Will Prevail)


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 1[]

A woman wanders down and dark hallway 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 hallway, 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 businessman who identifies 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 sent to audition for the Happiness Patrol.

Helen A and her husband, Joseph C, watch one of her promotional broadcasts at home. The Doctor and Ace encounter a former servant to Helen A, Harold V, formerly known as Harold F, playing a cash game, the prize for which is a video of Helen A delivering a terrible joke written by him. The 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, Helen A sends a signal to the game Harold V is playing, firing a fatal electric shock, killing him instantly. Meanwhile, Kandy Man is approached by Gilbert M, whom is annoyed by Gilbert'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-cart 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-cart. 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 Kandy Man, and the Doctor and Earl are discovered.

Part 2[]

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 Kandy Man, who explains his creative manners of execution. The Doctor plays on 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 or Wences. 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.

The Wences hold the Doctor and Earl at spear-point before Earl manages to distract them by playing the harmonica. One of the creatures, 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. The 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 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 the creature (who are still in the pipe) to flee. The Doctor returns to the Kandy Kitchen and offers Kandy Man an ultimatum; divert the flow and be unstuck from the floor. Kandy Man agrees and the Doctor uses water to unstick. 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 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.

Kandy Man resumes to threaten the Doctor with death and he once again sticks 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 in the Forum, the Doctor finds a poster advertising Ace's audition and sends Earl to fetch the demonstrators. A citizen comes and paints on a poster of a previous audition contender: "R.I.P."

Part 3[]

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 the 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 the 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 the Wences and exit the pipes, while Helen A's shuttle takes off. Helen A, not on board, 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 run to a new planet and indict strict happiness yet again. However, as she leaves, she spots a dying Fifi lying outside the pipes and breaks down into tears.

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.




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.
  • 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.



  • 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 director 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. [1]
  • The Radio Times programme listing for part three was accompanied by a black-and-white photograph of Helen A holding Fifi, and Joseph C standing 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".
  • 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, 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 humanoid figure made of liquorice allsorts). A representative of the BBC Copyright Department replied, saying that there had been no violation of Bassett's copyright, but assuring the company that the Kandy Man would not return to the series.[2][3][4]
  • Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, referred to this story in his 2011 Easter sermon, on the subject of happiness and joy.[5]
  • Steve Swinscoe and Mark Carroll are credited 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 the Radio Times.
  • Tim Scott (Doorman) is credited as 'Forum Doorman' in the 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.
  • 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 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".


  • 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 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. 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.
  • 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 mistakenly refers to her as "Ellen Hay."


Home video and audio releases[]

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

DVD Contents:

External links[]