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Jun 25, 2012

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, the official galactic censor, 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 in to 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 counter-balanced 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 did River Song (in writing) in The Pandorica Opens.
  • In the serial Battlefield, Mordred tells the Doctor, who is threatening him with a sword, to "Look me in the eye. End my life!", which is the same line the Doctor says to a sniper threatening his life in this story.


Serial details by episode
Episode Broadcast date Run time Viewership
(in millions)
"Part One" 2 November 1988 24:51 5.3
"Part Two" 9 November 1988 24:48 4.6
"Part Three" 16 November 1988 24:25 5.3
  • Working titles for this story included The Crooked Smile.[5]
  • In the story, the Doctor sings "As Time Goes By", the song famously sung by Dooley Wilson in the 1942 film Casablanca.
  • Helen A was intended to be a caricature of then British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. 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.[6] Most of this element was eventually toned down.[5]
  • John Normington played Morgus in The Caves of Androzani, and later appeared in "Ghost Machine", an episode of the Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood.
  • Patricia Routledge was originally going to play Helen A,[citation needed] but Sheila Hancock was later cast.
  • 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.[7]

Broadcast and reception

Bassett's complained over the similarity between the Kandy Man in this story and their trademark character.[8] 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]

In print

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.

Doctor Who book
Book cover
The Happiness Patrol
Series Target novelisations
Release number 146
Writer Graeme Curry
Publisher Target Books
Cover artist Alister Pearson
ISBN 0-426-20339-9
Release date 15 February 1990
Preceded by '
Followed by '

VHS and DVD releases

  • This serial was released on VHS on 4 August 1997.
  • This story was released on DVD on 7 May 2012 alongside Dragonfire as part of the "Ace Adventures" box set. [11][12]


  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. ^ "Doctor Who 'had anti-Thatcher agenda'", Daily Telegraph, 14 February 2010
  7. ^ BBC - Doctor Who Classic Episode Guide - The Happiness Patrol - Details
  8. ^ Cadbury Global :: Our Brands :: Bassett's Brand Information
  9. ^ Cornell, Paul; Day, Martin; Topping, Keith (1995). "The Happiness Patrol" (reprinted on BBC Doctor Who website). The Discontinuity Guide. London: Virgin Books. p. 343. ISBN 0-426-20442-5. Retrieved 21 April 2009.
  10. ^ Williams, Rowan (24 April 2011). "Archbishop of Canterbury's 2011 Easter Sermon". Retrieved 6 May 2012.
  11. ^ DWM 433
  12. ^

External links

Target novelisation