Part One

Sue: I’m looking forward to this one, now that Doctor Who is good again.

Sue notices this story’s title.

Sue: The Happiness Patrol? Isn’t there a band called The Happiness Patrol?
Me: No, that’s Snow Patrol.
Sue: Oh yes. Sorry.

The story begins in a dimly lit street.

Sue: It sounds like the music to a Spaghetti Western. Is this Keff?
Me: No, it’s not Keff.
Sue: I didn’t think so. There’s a melody.

The Happiness PatrolA miserable woman is approached by a man named Silas P. He tells her there is a secret place where she can wallow in her sadness.

Sue: Is he a Scientologist?

No, Silas P is an undercover Happiness Patrol agent and the poor woman is brutally murdered by a gang of women dressed in pink.

Sue: Right, so on this planet they kill you if you are unhappy. Is that the basic gist?
Me: Yes, that’s about it.
Sue: If they employed that rule where I worked, the place would be a morgue.

The TARDIS materialises on Terra Alpha.

Sue: What is that terrible music? Are you sure this isn’t Keff?

Ace has exactly the same problem.

Ace: I hate that. Lift music.
Sue: Keff music.

The Doctor tells Ace that they have arrived on Terra Alpha, an Earth colony with a bad reputation. But Sue is only interested in one thing:

Sue: The Doctor has very large feet for such a small man.

The dictator of this colony is a woman named Helen A.

The Happiness PatrolSue: Now she is very famous. Like, proper famous.
Me: So what’s her name, then?
Sue: **** knows. But she is very, very famous.
Me: It’s Sheila Hancock.
Sue: Of course it is. She’s very good. I bet getting her to appear in this was a bit of a coup.

In the street, the Doctor and Ace encounter a census taker named Trevor. Sue doesn’t recognise John Normington under his bowler hat, which is a shame.

The Doctor: Actually, my nickname at college was Theta Sigma.
Sue: What was the Master’s nickname? I bet it was Beardy Bastard.

The Happiness Patrol converge on the Doctor’s TARDIS.

Me: What do you make of this lot?
Sue: It looks like the Pussycat Dolls are late for band practice.

The Happiness PatrolThe Happiness Patrol paint the TARDIS a bright shade of pink; a subtle homage to the cover of Target’s Doctor Who and the Daleks novelisation.

Sue: If they remade this story today, this planet would be run by Katie Price.

The Doctor and Ace want to be arrested, and a member of the Happiness Patrol named Daisy K is only too happy to oblige.

Daisy K: He is obviously a spy. She is obviously his accomplice.
Sue: That’s a bit sexist. Why can’t Ace be the spy and the Doctor be her accomplice? It’s very backwards, this society.

Helen A walks in on her husband as he’s watching a Routine Disappearance video.

Me: Does Helen A remind you of anyone?
Sue: Yes. Judi Dench.
Me: What?
The Happiness PatrolSue: She’s like M. She just said that video was ‘for her eyes only’. She’s the head of the intelligence services. She’s M. Or in this case, A.
Me: Okay, is there anybody else she reminds you of? You know, from the eighties.
Sue: Toyah Willcox? She was still going.
Me: NO! Someone more political. A woman from the 1980s. Come on, Sue.
Sue: She’s supposed to be Thatcher. I’m not stupid, you know. And he’s supposed to be Denis. It’s pretty obvious, really, although I don’t equate Thatcher with happiness – she was a miserable bitch – so it threw me at first.

The Doctor and Ace are sent to the waiting zone, where they meet Helen A’s ex-gag writer.

Sue: Did Kate Bush write this one? It’s very weird.

Meanwhile, a man with a marvellous moustache is facing imminent death.

Joseph C: It says here that you have been found guilty of an ostentatious display of public grief. Oh dear, dear, dear.
Sue: He doesn’t look very happy about that. Why hasn’t he been shot? This isn’t very consistent, is it?

And then we cut to the Kandy Kitchen.

The Happiness PatrolSue: Oh my goodness.

Yes, it’s the Kandy Man!

Kandy Man: What time do you call this?
Sue: But… But… But it’s the Bassett Man!
Me: Bertie to his friends.
Sue: Did Bassett’s sponsor this episode of Doctor Who?
Me: No. In fact I don’t think they weren’t very happy about it.
Sue: I’m not surprised. Look at it!

The mustachioed man is drowned in strawberry fondant.

Sue: It would have been a lot less messy if they’d just shot him. Who’s going to clean that mess up? Does this mean they are cannibals on this planet? Are they going to eat him now? I don’t get this at all.

The Happiness PatrolSue looks like she’s just swallowed a jar of Marmite by accident.

Helen A tends to her pet, Fifi.

Sue: That is a very small cage for an animal that size. And is the dog supposed to be Carol?

The Doctor and Ace steal a Happiness Patrol buggy.

Sue: It’s running on a lawnmower engine. It’s pathetic.

I try to take her mind of it by asking her about Terra Alpha’s set design.

Sue: It’s quite atmospheric for a studio-based story. It looks cheap but it’s getting away with it. I wish they were outside, though. I was spoilt by Remembrance of the Daleks.

Ace is captured by the Happiness Patrol. The Doctor escapes in his buggy.

Sue: It would have been quicker to walk. Actually, it would have been quicker to hop.

Ace chats to a Happiness Patrol member who is having second thoughts about her job. And no, she doesn’t recognise Lesley Dunlop in wig.

Susan Q: I couldn’t go on smiling. Smiling while my friends disappeared, wearing this uniform and smiling and trying to pretend I’m something I’m not.
Sue: I bet putting that uniform on was the hardest bit. She looks like a member of Sigue Sigue Sputnik.
Me: Or We’ve Got A Fuzzbox and We’re Gonna Use It. Remember them?
Sue: No.
Me: Don’t worry, I don’t think even they remember them.

The Happiness PatrolThe Doctor runs into Silas P.

Sue: He looks like Tony Hancock, which is weird because Tony Hancock wouldn’t have lasted five minutes on this planet.

The Happiness Patrol arrive in force.

Sue: There are theatre symbols on the front of their beach buggy. This implies that everything on the planet is one big act. That’s clever, I guess, but I’m struggling to get into it.

The Doctor is saved by a tourist named Earl.

Sue: Why would anyone want to visit this shit hole? It’s not exactly Disneyland.

The Doctor and Earl sneak into the Kandy Kitchen.

The Happiness PatrolSue: Seriously, Bassett’s must have hit the roof when they saw this. The last thing they want to have linked to their liquorice is torture.
Kandy Man: I can feel one of my moods coming on.
Sue: This is supposed to be funny, isn’t it?

The episode ends with the Doctor and Earl apprehended by the Kandy Man.

Sue: It’s not as good as Remembrance of the Daleks. But I’ve seen worse. It’s just a lot to take in.


Part Two

The Happiness PatrolSue: What the hell is that?

She’s pointing at Terra Alpha’s indigenous Pipe People.

Sue: There’s too much going on in this story already without Yoda turning up.

The Kandy Man prepares to kill the Doctor and Earl.

Sue: I’m surprised that the second episode was allowed to go out. Didn’t Bertie Bassett get his lawyers on the case after the first one?

The Kandy Man is a very tactile villain.

Sue: Did he just squeeze the Doctor’s balls?
Me: No, it was just his knee.
Sue: Are you sure? I wouldn’t put anything past this programme.

The Doctor and Earl escape from the Kandy Man when the cybernetic villain accidentally sticks himself to the floor with lemonade. The Doctor departs with a carefully aimed pun:

The Doctor: Sweet dreams.
Sue: That was the best delivery of a cheesy line ever. If you go with this and embrace the madness, it’s quite entertaining.

The Happiness PatrolIn the waiting zone, one of the Happiness Patrol tells Ace about the type of people they hunt down and kill.

Priscilla P: The killjoys. Depressives, manic reactive indigenous.
Sue: Smiths fans, in other words.

And then Sue makes an astute observation.

Sue: I’m sure Ace has two Blue Peter badges on her jacket. How is that even possible? Nobody is that good.

The Doctor and Earl make contact with the Pipe People.

Sue: Orcs. Does this story really need orcs? It’s confusing enough as it is.

Ace escapes from the waiting zone by pushing Priscilla P over.

Sue: They are definitely wearing the wrong type of heels for a death squad. They need pink combat boots.

Helen A lets Fifi out of its cage.

Sue: Her dog reminds me of our cat, Captain Jack. That’s the look he gives to you when he’s sitting on my knee. I’m the only one who can stroke him in that special way that he likes.

The Happiness PatrolEarl Sigma passes the time by playing the Blues.

Sue: He’s very good. He should do the music for the rest of the series.

A protest march appears in the street.

Sue: It’s a V for Vendetta convention.

Meanwhile, the Doctor, Earl and the Pipe People head for the pipes beneath Terra Alpha.

Sue: This looks great. That can’t have been easy to make or light. They are trying to make it as atmospheric as they can. I’m starting to come round to this story.

The Doctor finally confronts Helen A.

Sue: It’s a brilliant performance. Her head movements are so Thatcher. They were very lucky to get her. This wouldn’t have worked if they’d got Faith Brown in to do it.

The Doctor taunts Helen A as she prepares to initiate a Routine Disappearance.

Sue: I like this Doctor a lot. He’s very proactive. He likes to get stuck in.

The Happiness PatrolHelen A sends Fifi into the pipes.

Sue: Fantastic moving camera, here. Very nice. I’m happy with that.

Ace takes out Fifi with some Nitro 9.

Sue: I usually get upset when they kill pets in Doctor Who, but I couldn’t give a shit about that one.

In the Kandy Kitchen, the Kandy Man’s handler, Gilbert M, is taking the piss.

Gilbert M: You’re turning into a slab of toffee. I saw this at the planning stage.
Sue: This is very funny. **** knows what Doctor Who fans must have thought of this when they saw it, but I’ve decided to go with it.

The Doctor confronts a pair of snipers on a balcony. He talks one of them out of shooting him.

Sue: I could see Matt Smith doing something like that. That was excellent.

Gilbert M and the Kandy Man are still bickering in the kitchen.

The Happiness PatrolSue: They are like an old married couple.
Me: Yeah, I can feel one of my moods coming on as well.

The Doctor blackmails the Kandy Man into diverting the fondant that has been sent to drown Ace and Susan Q. In the end, a pathetic splat of gunk falls from the pipe.

Me: That used to be Noel Edmond’s worst nightmare.

The Kandy Man isn’t very happy when the Doctor sticks him to the floor with lemonade again.

Kandy Man: Gilbert! Gilbert! Gilbert!
Sue: As far as catchphrases go, it’s not exactly “Exterminate!” is it? Funny, though.

Ace surrenders herself to the Happiness Patrol auditions at the Forum.

The Happiness PatrolSue: That bloke behind the counter is in a terrible mood. Why doesn’t anyone shoot him? It’s not very consistent.
Me: I think the point the story is trying to make is that the people in power are actually hypocrites.
Sue: Really? For a planet where everyone is supposed to be happy, no one is smiling.
Me: Yes. But surely that’s the point.
Sue: They should have said miserable dialogue with false smiles on their faces. That would have been creepier.

The episode ends with the Doctor pondering Ace’s forthcoming appearance on a lethal version of The X-Factor.

Sue: I really don’t know what to make of this. I really want to like it, but there’s something wrong with it. I’m still on the fence.


Part Three

Sue is very happy today. Two of her student groups won prizes at the regional RTS Awards last night. And one of them was for a documentary about Doctor Who fans! Wherever she goes, she just can’t escape it. Bless.

Sue: I met Chris Chapman. He’s makes some of the extras for the Doctor Who DVD range. He’s a lovely bloke and he’s just made a programme for CBBC called My Life: I Am Ethan which airs at 5.45pm this Tuesday (tomorrow). It’s got Doctor Who references in it, so tell the readers to watch it.
Me: Consider it done.

The Happiness PatrolMeanwhile, on Terra Alpha, Helen A tends to her injured pet.

Sue: The mechanics are very good but it looks fake. Turn down the lights!

Helen A gives Fifi some instructions.

Helen A: You take the vermin in the pipes, I’ll take the vermin in the Forum.
Sue: The what?
Me: Forum. Dangerous places, forums. Especially Doctor Who ones.

Priscilla P desperately wants to execute a killjoy.

Sue: She reminds me of someone.
Me: Wendy James from Transvision Vamp?
Sue: I met her once. She had green teeth.

The Happiness PatrolThe Doctor croons.

Sue: It’s a brave attempt but Sylvester McCoy can’t sing. He won’t go through to Boot Camp sounding like that.

Helen A sends Fifi back into the pipes again.

Sue: Is that her private commode?

The Doctor instigates an outbreak of happiness in the square.

Sue: Finally. Happy people in a programme about a happy planet. It’s only taken them three episodes.

The Happiness Patrol are very unhappy about this turn of events and they are forced to turn on themselves.

Sue: Okay, right. I get it now. It should end like Reservoir Dogs. They are all unhappy so they should shoot each other.
Me: They can all be Ms. Pink.

Priscilla P guards Daisy K in the waiting zone.

The Happiness PatrolSue: Daisy is definitely famous.
Me: To me, Georgina Hale will always be the woman John McVicar has breakfast with when he escapes from prison. She’s wearing nothing but an apron. It’s a formative memory that I just can’t shift.
Sue: I wonder why.

Meanwhile, down in the pipes.

Sue: I still don’t understand what these orcs have to do with anything.

The sound of Fifi howling echoes down the pipes.

Sue: Is Fifi really that much of a threat? You could just kick it down the pipe.
Helen A: We’ll leave Fifi to deal with him.
Sue: It’s a ****ing poodle!

But when Sue sees Fifi in the pipes.

The Happiness PatrolSue: If they had lit it like this from the word go, I could have taken it more seriously.

The animal is crushed by falling sugar.

Sue: I should feel sorry for it – it’s not its fault – but I hate Paris Hilton dogs. I’m sorry, but it deserved that.

The phone is ringing in the Kandy Kitchen. The Kandy Man takes the call.

Kandy Man: Kandy Man.
Sue: That is so funny. This shouldn’t work but the person playing the Kandy Man is really selling it to me. It’s his voice and attitude that makes it real. It should be a disaster but it works.

Ace threatens the Kandy Man with a red-hot poker.

Sue: Stick him in his liquorice hole. It’s basically a target, anyway.

The Kandy Man escapes into the pipes.

The Happiness PatrolSue: I hope he gets his just desserts. Ha! Do you get it?

The Pipe People invade the Kandy Kitchen.

Sue: It’s very elaborate for a kitchen. I bet the Kandy Man loves a good game of Mousetrap.

The Kandy Man is killed by his own confectionery.

Sue: Aww. I really liked him. What a shame.

Helen attempts to flee the planet but Gilbert M and Joseph C have beaten her to it.

Sue: They are so gay. Still, if I were a man on this planet, I’d be gay as well.

Helen A makes a run for it.

Sue: It’s very film noir, this.
Me: There’s a rumour that they were going to show some of this in black and white but they didn’t have the guts to go through with it.
Sue: Is it too late to turn the colour down on our TV? I bet it would have looked great.

The Doctor confronts Helen A.

Helen A: I’ll go somewhere else. I’ll find somewhere where there is no sadness. A place where people know how to enjoy themselves.
Sue: Kavos.

The Happiness PatrolBut when Helen A sees Fifi dying next to a manhole cover.

Sue: Awww, she really did love her pet, didn’t she. This is so sad. This is the saddest ending in Doctor Who ever.

Yeah, the death of Fifi is much worse than loads of Silurians getting wiped out. It’s official.

Sue: It’s very good, this. I get it completely now. That was quite profound.


The Score

Sue: I really enjoyed that, especially the last episode. I wasn’t sure at first but it won me over in the end. It wasn’t perfect but it was consistently entertaining and the guest cast were excellent. The Kandy Man was the best thing in it, though.



Next Time




  1. Lewis Christian  March 3, 2013

    Sue, I bloody love you. Happiness will prevail! So glad Sue found a liking for this controversial tale, and for the Kandyman himself. (Surely him answering the phone is one of Who’s most mental moments?) One of my favourites of the show’s history, so I’m glad Sue enjoyed it and 7/10 is a great score. And her liking this gives me high(ish) hopes for more of the McCoy era, if she’s willing to forgive a few issues with production etc.

    • Lewis Christian  March 3, 2013

      I only wish they had ended on *that* moment, with the camera rising and Helen A crying over Fifi. The extra scene isn’t needed really, and sort-of takes the shine off a wonderful moment.

      Also, wanna see a scene in B&W but with a coloured Kandyman? – 🙂

      • Jane  March 4, 2013

        Not so sure about that, Lewis. The final scene delivers the consolation that’s so crucial to a fairy-tale, and keeps the story aligned with its camp aesthetics. It’s ultimately a rejection of noir, even as it borrows heavily from that genre’s tropes.

        • Roundel  March 4, 2013

          “Not so sure about that, Lewis.”

          I thought you were channelling Inspector Morse for a second there…

      • BWT  March 4, 2013

        Indeed, I totally agree, Lewis: that moment should have ended the story and it would have been perfectly in tune with the pathos of the whole Helen A journey (as well as other characters) too.

        Bless Sue for vindicating my love for THE HAPPINESS PATROL! I still think it’s one of the cleverest stories they’ve attempted. (A shame it happened in the eighties – this would have been perfect with either Hartnell, Troughton, Eccleston or Smith!)

        • John Miller  March 4, 2013

          Hmm. I remember back in the 80’s there was a real prick who lived on our street. Anyways this non-White family moved into the street. So this guy, who didn’t like their “lifestyle”(which was no different to anyone elses’s) killed their dog to “show” them. All he got for it was a fine, though he left the neighbourhood shortly afterwards. When I saw the Doctor kill Fifi to “prove a point” to Helen A I remembered that arsehole. Some may say it’s apples and oranges, but really the Doctor dislikes someone that he considers unlike, so he kills her pet to make a point. So Season 25 has already given us genocide, and a man killing someone’s pet to “show them” something. All we need is to show some token Black man dancing and rapping like an 80’s version of the Black and White Minstrel Show and we’ve got a full set.

        • Brian  March 4, 2013

          Would genuinely love to see Smith versus the Kandyman, alas a dream that may never be.

        • Thomas  March 4, 2013

          The Doctor isn’t the one that kills Fifi, though. She just dies as a result of the events that transpire.

          (plus, the intent of that scene seems pretty clearly to be that Helen A. will become a better person because of this- I think we’re meant to feel sorry for her while also thinking she got her ‘just desserts’)

  2. Anonymous  March 3, 2013

    Amazing! I hated this as an 8 year old but LOVE it as a 32 year old. So well made and Sue’s right, the ending is very sad.

    Liking the way that Sue recognises McCoy’s talent as the Doctor and also the stylistic changes that accompany classic Who’s final flourish.

  3. jazza1971  March 3, 2013

    Yeah, I quite like this story too, but it does take a bit of getting used to. I used to hate it.

  4. Dave Sanders  March 3, 2013

    If Sue had been blogging on Terra Alpha at the time, this story would have been utterly redundant. ‘Beardy Bastard’, love it.

  5. Auntie Celia  March 3, 2013

    What a super review! X

  6. Dave Sanders  March 3, 2013

    I’d rather imagine the dog was Mark. Ghastly little squit.

  7. Charles Norton  March 3, 2013

    Of course, I hope you’re now going off to sample the truly superb production notes on ‘The Happiness Patrol’ DVD. Surely one of the best reasons for buying this particular release.

  8. Dave Sanders  March 3, 2013

    ‘They should have said miserable dialogue with false smiles on their faces. That would have been creepier.’

    And very Moffat – see The Beast Below, which has more than just a passing resemblence to this.

    • Cookey  March 4, 2013

      Interesting, i similarly feel that the Kandyman is cut from the same cloth as many of Moffat’s creations. Everyday things becoming the stuff of nightmares etc. His newest creation for series 7 is a perfect example (I won’t say their name, ‘spoilers’ and all that)

  9. encyclops  March 3, 2013

    Some days this is my favorite McCoy story. It’s a big sloppy mess, but it’s irresistible (to me) and finally gets the balance just about right.

    I think Sue’s right that the Pipe People are out of place; their role in the story should really have been taken by humans whose voices are actually comprehensible. When I watched this again recently, I was surprised at how little the Kandyman actually does in the story — I agree that the voice acting is improbably spot-on, but he doesn’t really have much effect on what’s happening as far as I can tell, apart from indirectly providing the means of Fifi’s demise. We could almost have used one more episode to build a little more plot, since this is one of the McCoy stories where it feels like mainly they just run around a lot until things start to collapse on their own. But the spirit is so much fun, and so unique to this era (I could see this as a Troughton or Smith story at a stretch, but the Doctor’s role would still be so different), that I love it anyway.

    Even with all the makeup Lesley Dunlop is completely adorable in this. I suspect that’s partly why I took to it as a teenager.

    • Lewis Christian  March 3, 2013

      “We could almost have used one more episode to build a little more plot, since this is one of the McCoy stories where it feels like mainly they just run around a lot until things start to collapse on their own.”

      Agreed, and probably set in the Kandy Kitchen and the Pipes. The rest of Terra Alpha/the plot gets just enough screentime, I reckon.

  10. Smith  March 3, 2013

    The Happiness Patrol is my favourite story of Seven’s era. Its lack of subtley is its greatest charm. 🙂

    • DPC  March 3, 2013

      That, ironically, might be why it doesn’t get a high rating.

      The sets are probably supposed to be tacky and garish, but they are – for all the wrong reasons (no budget). Only the Kandy Kitchen looks good, and it too has moments of “oops, we ran out of money again”. If given the B&W treatment, the resultant subtlety would probably ramp up 2 points with ease.

      The story’s lack of subtlety is definitely top notch, and I too find it to be the best of 7’s era. Even if other stories are made better, this one uses freedom of speech to great effect with its simplicity and just saying what it wants to say, with no shrouding.

  11. James411  March 3, 2013

    No no no. I am sorry, but Sue’s subjective opinion here is completely wrong. This story is objectively awful and embarrassing for all. Everyone must acknowledge this. Now.

    (Not really-but I just wanted to get that out the way)

    Actually I love this story, although it took me a second watch to warm to it. It is hilarious with a serious point. While the production design does jar at first (if only they’d done an outside shoot at Portmerion) it sort of makes the thing feel like a piece of fringe theatre.
    I’m so glad Sue could see past the (minor) shortcomings and enjoy this little gem.

    The kind of thing only Doctor Who can do.

  12. mattbartley  March 3, 2013

    As an eight-year-old, this didn’t scare me at all…but it got under my skin. I knew there was something *off* about it that made me feel slightly sick and I couldn’t work out what. In many ways, I still can’t, even as an adult and that is probably its greatest strength. I suspect some of it isn’t intentional, but the staginess, the wrongness of the Kandyman, the over-the-top make-up, the fact that the Doctor arrives there on a mission – it’s uncomfortable and silly and all kinds of brilliant. I have the suspicion Sue is going to end this experiment as a huge McCoy fan – this is a divider of a story.

    • seanalexander41  March 3, 2013

      I promise to watch this before commentating. Looks like it’s kicking-off again already.

      • Nick Mays  March 3, 2013

        Same here Sean. I haven’t seen this one since its first broadcast, when I “sort of” got that it was supposed to be tongue-in-cheek/ironic/satirical etc. but still didn’t warm to it. I think given the passage of a quarter century and – dare I say it – the influence of Nu-Who (plus a better understanding of satire et al) I might appreciate it more.

        Certainly what with Gilbert M and Jospeh C making a break for it hand-in-hand it would work on Nu-Who.

        But you know what? I’m actually very glad Sue liked it!

  13. Pete Galey  March 3, 2013


    Ahem. SOMEONE remembers Fuzzbox, it turns out…

    • Wask  March 4, 2013

      I used to be friends with Vix from Fuzzbox, some years ago.

  14. DPC  March 3, 2013

    “Sue: The Doctor has very large feet for such a small man.”

    That’s the most unusual and coolest compliment to give a man! 😀

    I wish Bassetts did product promotion for WHO. Then again, it’s a monster that uses candy to kill people so maaaaaaaaaybe they shouldn’t…

    Yeah, a low budget ensures that the motorcarts go slower than feet… 🙁

    It’s great Sue notes the colony is not quite like Disneyland – the police forcing everyone to be happy in a hellhole is a very grizzly concept. And one reason I love this story.

    And, being a fan of the Smiths (like that’s a shock, LOL), Sue’s reaction to Priscilla P’s dialogue is fantastic. 😀

    If the show were in B&W, I wonder if Sue would like it more. It wouldn’t look as cheap – I adore the story, but won’t disagree it’s not perfect… and, reading down in the blog entry, it’s awesome she actively makes a pondering with the “what if”. In B&W, this story would have packed more punch. And there are no wobbly Daleks…

    “Paris Hilton dogs” = LOL.

    Cute trailer as well – at least they don’t say “delete”. 🙂

  15. Rassilon  March 3, 2013

    I watched it once still & have no desire to watch it again.

    I was expecting a more traditional “This is shit!” reaction from Sue & rather disappointed that she didn’t.

  16. Scottieboy  March 3, 2013

    I really wish we could bring the Kandyman back. Seriously.

    • Dave Sanders  March 3, 2013

      Watch the Michael Grade episode of Room 101.

      • Nick Mays  March 3, 2013

        Yeah, the clip from The Happiness Patrol and the Dr Who Pattern Book, with Grade, egged on my Paul Merton, acting the like the complete tosser that he is and saying “I hated Dr Who – that’s why I cancelled it!””

        • John Miller  March 4, 2013

          To be fair, it was more a case of “Doctor Who was getting record low ratings”, “it was a public embarrassment” and “the Production Team didn’t have a clue what they were doing”….so it was put on ice until someone who didn’t think that this sort of puerile shit is funny and/or clever could try and breathe new life into it.

          • Thomas  March 4, 2013

            Pretending at all that anything the McCoy years did had any effect on the eventual cancellation is about as silly as pretending the Baker years didn’t.

          • Nick Mays  March 4, 2013

            You say Potato and I say Potatuh!

          • Brian  March 4, 2013

            The production team were doing a smashing job, this season is showing that.

          • John Miller  March 4, 2013

            Er, the Mccoy era had everything to do with the cancellation. It got crap ratings, and crap audience appreciation levels. Hence the show was cancelled.

            Whatever faults the C Baker era had, the fact was it was still renewed, and even after Colin was unfairly fired, there was still a sense of hope and possibility. By 1989, that enthusiasm was deader than anyone slaughtered by the Seventh Doctor, and the cancellation was a mercy killing.

          • Thomas  March 4, 2013

            It got low ratings because everyone stopped watching with Trial of a Time Lord. It’s not as if the ratings started high and then plummeted- they started extremely low and then fluctuated from there. And being scheduled against Coronation Street didn’t help, either.

            The show was already dead by the time Cartmel & co. took over, and there was next to nothing they could’ve done to change that.

          • Thomas  March 4, 2013

            Also, you’re wrong about the AI ratings, which certainly weren’t crap. The lowest was a 57, the highest was 72, with most of the them averaging around 65 or so. This might seem low, but it’s actually what the average AIs were since about Season 15- and before that, they were even lower!

            Judging purely from the AI ratings, the people that were watching Doctor Who at that point seemed to like it about the same as they always had- so it’s certainly not any reason to cancel the show based on that.

          • DPC  March 5, 2013

            And yet they brought it back with the same producer, who didn’t want to be there… with others wanting to do the show (“Paradise Towers” DVD has a documentary with a man who wanted to produce it)… now add in no time, no money, placed against THE most popular show being aired… in all fairness, there’s enough circumstantial and other evidence to show they wanted to kill it off without upsetting the fans again. Season 24 is a prime example of giving the execs what they wanted. I’m surprised they let it have a 25th and 26th season, but by then their work was done. Season 26’s publicity was, as I recall, very limited…

          • Wholahoop  March 5, 2013

            Although the antipathy of Mr Grade was obviously not going to help, having watched Jonathan Powell on Trials and Tribulations I think the more likely reason for cancellation was not only that the powers that were didn’t know what to do with the programme, they didn’t have the inclination to do anything about it. Cancellation was the easiest option.

          • Nick Mays  March 5, 2013

            Well, of course “the BBC” (as they were then) didn’t actually cancel it. They just didn’t make any more. There were the occasional fob-off statements about putting the show out to independent production and that it would return, but by 1992, nobody believed that.

            Apparently when Phillip Segal came a-knocking in 1989 enquiring about independently producing Dr Who, this was the perfect excuse for “the BBC” to “hold” production whilst “talks were in progress”.

            I also seem to recall that Gerry Davis and Terry Nation made a pitch to produce it but didn’t even get a call back.

  17. Thomas  March 3, 2013

    I LOVE this story. So much. Easily my second-favorite McCoy after Fenric. The whole thing is just wickedly hilarious and absolutely briliant in the campest way imaginable. The Kandyman and his kitchen (accompanied by Glynn’s wonderful “dark fairy tale” music) are easily the best part (though it does lead to my only criticism of the story- that the awesome potential we have in the character gets stuck to the floor for an episode and a half).

    Glad that Sue was able to appreciate its charms. Makes me want to go watch it again.

    • DamonD  March 4, 2013

      Completely agree with you about the Kandyman, I love Glynn’s Elfman-esque music for him but he does get just tuck to the floor too often.

  18. P.Sanders  March 3, 2013

    I’m another person who grew up to appreciate this one more. Aged 12 I thought it was ok but wasn’t sure what to make of the wigs and the Kandyman – but the juxtaposition of those and the darker moments did make it feel uncomfortable in a good way. Now I think it’s great – some lovely scenes, though it’s a shame that certain moments were cut for time (like Lesley Dunlop’s proper introduction scene). I love the idea that the Doctor isn’t just going to change things, but he sets himself the goal of doing it in a single night – almost setting himself a challenge to flex his muscles. The Kandyman is actually quite menacing – but like much of Season 24 before it, you need to take him out of the context of Who’s late 80s public persona: for many fans at the time it felt like another reason to be embarrassed to admit to being a fan. In fact it’s just a shame he doesn’t have much to do but be stuck to the ground – twice.

    In terms of the set, Cartmel makes an interesting point on the DVD – the stylised sets looked great, but they weren’t built to be lit like a quiz show. A lot of the cheap-looking 80s sets are actually made to look bad by the lighting. Cartmel tells how BBC lighting bods would stand a stick on the ground and light it until there was no shadow – that was considered proper lighting. That’s why sets like Helen A’s palace look so cheap at times.

  19. Charles Norton  March 3, 2013

    The Bassett folk only called the dogs off after the BBC’s legal people promised that the Candy Man would appear in no further episodes of Doctor Who ever again. So, I wouldn’t put money on a return appearance.

    • Nick Mays  March 4, 2013

      A similar thing happened with Cyril the obnoxious schoolboy in ‘The Celestial Toymaker’ looking like Billy Bunter.

      Mind you, if the Kandyman was redesigned – as several retunring villains have been – and he doesn’t resemble Bertie Bassett or Fred Bassett or whatever, then maybe… just maybe… 😉

  20. John Callaghan  March 4, 2013

    I read somewhere that the Kandyman’s final moments would have had him sitting down saying “oh well – I gave it my best shot”, which I think would have been rather wonderful.

    If I understand correctly (and I probably don’t), if they’d painted *everything* green, they could have had the sets, costumes and props in black and white and had the actors in colour. I believe this was their original idea to show Rimmer was a hologram in Red Dwarf (by having him in black and white). This would have been a good move in Warrior’s Gate, too.

    • encyclops  March 4, 2013

      “oh well – I gave it my best shot”

      That would have been almost unbearably adorable. I can’t believe I’m saying that about the Kandyman.

      • Longtime Listener  March 4, 2013

        That was how it went in the novelisation – presumably another one of those bits of script that didn’t make the broadcast version but reappeared on the page.

        • Nick Mays  March 4, 2013

          A Colonel Trenchard moment!

  21. Jane  March 4, 2013

    Whew! So glad Sue liked this one.

    I don’t agree with all the B&W speculation. Yes, it’d be very noir, but color is so crucial to the camp aesthetic that pervades the story, especially all the relentless pinks. The Pipe People *are* redundant, though, screen time that could have been better spent on the named characters and their stories.

    • Thomas  March 4, 2013

      Yeah, I never really understood their purpose in the story. Maybe if this was a four-parter and they had more time to develop them it’d be worthwhile, but as is I think it would’ve been better off had they cut them and maybe spent more time on the Kandyman.

  22. Wholahoop  March 4, 2013

    Looks like I am going to have to watch this one again. I disliked it at the time. I think one of the things that disappointed me so much was that I was really looking forward to seeing John Normington again after Caves, and was so disappointed in his character. I also think I have an in-built bias against studio bound stories and I should be more open perhaps?

  23. gavinio  March 4, 2013

    Guess I’m in the minority of people who really don’t like this story much then?

    It just doesn’t do anything for me. I don’t mind the design and the Kandy Man has never bothered me, but there’s just something about it overall that doesn’t do it for me. On the plus side at least it’s a darn sight better than the next story!

    • John Miller  March 4, 2013

      Maybe on here, but among the majority, no you’re not. I despised this story was I first watched it.

      I watched it again recently, and it’s still crap. The whole thing needs to hang on one “clever” idea, that is poorly executed. And again, it’s one person preaching in one-dimensional tones. The really sad thing is the fine cast(and Mccoy) struggling to try and make something halfway decent out of the atrocious script.

      And Sue didn’t spot all the “with-it in 1988” references to the whole acid scene? Probably for the best, actually.

      • Thomas  March 4, 2013

        “The whole thing needs to hang on one “clever” idea, that is poorly executed.”

        Which one- the attack on hypocritical authority figures, the assertion that happiness can’t exist without sadness, the attack on consumerism via the Kandyman, the underlying camp aesthetic…and among those ideas, what exactly is poorly executed (that last point just boggles my mind, as this is one of the best-looking stories we’ve had in a while in terms of production design and overall feel. Just tone the lights down in Helen A.’s office and you’re all set).

        • John Miller  March 4, 2013

          No, it’s one thing. Someone making a one-dimensional attack on Thatcherism. Bizarelly, as Sue points out, there was more than enough wrong with Maggie and her policies, without having to come up with tripe like this.

          • Thomas  March 4, 2013

            All of the other things I mentioned are present as well. Say what you will about the story, but arguing that it only has one idea just isn’t true.

      • Nick Mays  March 4, 2013

        I’m not having a go here John, but are there ANY Dr Who stories that you really, really like?

        • John Miller  March 4, 2013

          Yes. Most Doctor Who in fact. All of Pertwee, most of T Baker, C Baker, Hartnell, Eccleston, The TV Movie, more Troughton, Davison, Tenannt and Smith than not.

          Which is why the Mccoy era is such a disappointment. The one Doctor where there’s far far more bad than good.

          • Nick Mays  March 4, 2013

            Fair enough, but maybe Sylvester had less (season) time to develop? (And I know you could say that about C Baker too…)

            He wasn’t my favourite Doctor by any means, but Iike all the different Doctors and programme eras, it’s impossible to totally generalise which Doctor was “good” or “bad”.

          • John Miller  March 4, 2013

            True, but it possible to make broad statements about which Doctor had more classic stories, or which Doctor had the biggest turkeys. I realise the blame can’t fairly go on Mccoy, as Tom Baker had people like Douglas Adams and Robert Holmes writing, whereas Mccoy had Ben Aaronovitch and Marc Platt. Tom Baker had companions like Sarah Jane Smith/Elisabeth Sladen and Romana/Mary Tamm/Lalla Ward. Mccoy had Mel/Bonnie Langford and Ace/Sophie Aldred.

            But one can still notice when an era is poor.

          • Cookey  March 4, 2013

            I can’t really say i agree with your thoughts on this era at all, but it’s refreshing to see that someone else likes the TV Movie. Musn’t say much though, Sue could be watching, don’t want to spoil it for her.

          • simon  March 5, 2013

            Your exactly right. I am a huge fan but hated the McCoy era when it went out. I just could not engage with the Doctor, because the actor playing him was so bad. Along with everything else being so terrible it was embarrassing watching it. To think it had gone from stuff like Pyramids of Mars / Seeds of Doom / Genesis of the Daleks etc to this…to the Hapiness Patrol.

            Thing is watching it now its even worse. The whole McCoy era is wright off for me….

  24. Wask  March 4, 2013

    This is another I haven’t seen since it was on the telly – and I was appalled. Right at the time when Doctor Who desperately needed to be taken seriously by the wider public, this isn’t what it needed. It was almost like it was committing suicide in front of us. Bertie Bassett! I have a pretty clear memory of being laughed at in school the following day.

    Taken in its own context, I’m sure I’d enjoy it much more. I need to catch up with it again.

  25. Roundel  March 4, 2013

    I quite like this one. Whatever problems it might have, it is quite interesting.

  26. Chris  March 4, 2013

    The Kandyman is a stroke of genius – a brilliant nightmare creation; a cutesy mascot with the power of a general and the temper of a toddler. Story is a bag of great ideas with some startlingly good scenes and performances that doesn’t quite hang together as a whole – but I love it’s ambition and message.

  27. DamonD  March 4, 2013


    For me, Georgina Hale will always be T-Bag.

    It has some problems, but I ended up liking this. I really like the underlying message – you can’t have happiness without sadness. One relies on the other. And deep down Helen A even seems to understand this, but she’s so messed up that she wants to put on that mask and pretend everything is not just fine but super-duper extra happy fine.

    Happiness Patrol is kinda daffy, but it does have something about it and it’s another brave experiment by the production team.

    • John G  March 4, 2013

      “For me, Georgina Hale will always be T-Bag.”

      Elizabeth Estensen was definitive, though… 🙂

      • DamonD  March 5, 2013

        I have to agree!

    • DPC  March 5, 2013

      T-Bag, LOL… (Granted, I’m an American and know what the modern day, so-called “TEA Party” claim to represent (despite ignorance on their part rending themselves as a group to be convoluted but laughable at best)…)

      And I do like the message – happiness needing sadness and all that. There’s a nifty Devo song as well (“Love without Anger”, from 1981 if I recall…)

      And I liked the fact the production team did experiment. That’s how standards, innovations, moving forward, etc, are found. Experiments don’t always work, but if nobody tried where would anyone be today…

      Especially as Helen A, warped as she was, had a sincerity that you don’t often see in villains. She thought she meant well, and frustrated that her little version of SimCity was falling apart. She was out of touch with the people, but didn’t realize it. That doesn’t make me like her, but it does add a dimension to her character one doesn’t often find in sci-fi. It’s better than Darth Vader’s inane little backstory in I-III, and it’s better than Davros’ childhood… and Helen A’s history is told in the same story, where there’s no chance to be cute to retcon or do anything else. They had to do it right the first time.

  28. David Staples  March 4, 2013

    I haven’t seen this since it first went out. At the time it was such a tonal shift from the previous story that I wasn’t terribly impressed.

    “Odd ball” stuff needs a darker edge IMO, such a shame Terry Gilliam couldn’t have directed it.

  29. Cookey  March 4, 2013

    It was ok, a bit of a step down from amazing Remembrance of the Daleks but it had its moments. Kandyman was a strange idea, but it worked…to a degree. I’m sure other kids were scared by it but i can’t remember watching this one at all as a kid, so i can’t really speak for other people. I guess you had to be there. Mccoy and Aldred are still a joy to watch at this point.

    “Forum. Dangerous places, forums. Especially Doctor Who ones”

    Yes Neil, the most dangerous the world has ever known.

  30. Wholahoop  March 4, 2013

    Just rewatched episode 1 again. Am prepared to view this one more positively providing they don’t spend too much time on those buggies. To paraphrase an actor who played a non-canonical Doctor in Curse of the Fatal Death, those buggies are slower than an asthmatic ant carrying heavy shopping

  31. Wholahoop  March 4, 2013

    And it’s years since I watched McVicar and there’s only two things I can recall, firstly was laughing out loud at Roger Daltrey threatening to break someone’s nose; secondly was a consequence of a spilled fried egg that ended up being a bit of a mouthful. I think I said “You jammy bastard” at that point

  32. chris-too-old-to-watch  March 4, 2013

    I know this story is admired because of it’s clever ideas and (generally) well-carried out design and direction……..but……I’m afraid it never grabbed me. Perhaps the comedy-threat combination just didn’t gel, which is a shame as Sheila Hancock is one of my favorite actressess.

    • DPC  March 5, 2013

      It’s a hard mix and a tough sell, mixing comedy and threat. Dark comedy rarely works… “Death Becomes Her” being the only example I can remember right now of a movie that merges humor and threat effectively, and mostly because the threat isn’t subtle or immediate (the aging process)

      I adore “Patrol”‘s daring to use free speech to criticize and parody the ruling government as brazenly as it had. It’s a little heavyhanded, but it’s definitely not subtle. Which might be why I like it. And I like subtle subversion as well… but mixing the overt with the subtle is something I’ve rarely seen – if one is overt, there’s no need to be subtle, much less having a point in being subtle… If one is being subtle, then one isn’t going to overpower it by being overt anywhere else… or that’s the usual routine I’ve seen from movies; it’s one or the other but almost never trying to somehow juggle both.

      What drives down the story for me is the mishmash of comedy with threat (the Kandyman needed to be more serious, but he’s usually screaming for Gilbert – which ruins his credibility as a big scary monster, even if other characters tell us he makes sweets that kill people (a very grizzly concept, indeed)), and that everything looks a little too fake. It doesn’t gel… which is strange to say as I’ve sat through many lower-budget WHO stories that use visible cloth backdrops and those don’t drag down the experience…

  33. phuzzphuzz  March 4, 2013

    “She looks like a member of Sigue Sigue Sputnik.”
    Until right now I thought it was Zee Zee Sputnik…

  34. Richard Lyth  March 4, 2013

    Like several others here, hated it at the time but found it a lot more palatable watching it now. I didn’t recognise John Normington either, but I did notice Priscilla P was the woman from “Dear John” and kept expecting her to ask the Doctor and Ace if they had any sexual problems…

    I’m surprised they didn’t do an extended edit of this for the DVD, there’s a lot of deleted scenes there that would have made the story flow much better if they were edited back in. They could have taken the opportunity to make the street scenes black-and-white as well. Maybe for the next re-release?

  35. John G  March 4, 2013

    There’s no question that this is a story that divides opinion, and to be honest I have very mixed feelings about it. I admire its ambition and desire to do something different, and the Kandyman is a brilliant creation (the moment where he picks up the phone is probably the best scene of the McCoy era). Sadly, he is underused and the rest of the story is rather underwhelming in comparison. As with Paradise Towers, the highly stylised production comes over to me as artificial and off-putting, and this was probably not the kind of aesthetic the show required at a time when it was fighting for its life, making it all too easy to mock again after Remembrance had restored some credibility.

    Sue’s reactions to the next one will be interesting – I don’t mind it myself…

  36. seanalexander41  March 5, 2013

    i got ten minutes into this and then I had to stop. It does start well: some nice moody sets which bely the cheep studio setting and even the music hasn’t been mangled by a casio synthesiser for once. And then it all goes terribly wrong. Now, before you all leap on my head, there is a definite congruence between ‘The Happiness Patrol’ and the RTD reboot. To start with, this is very thinly veiled satire about totalitarianism and the repression of human rights. And yes, it is principally about being Gay in the late 1980s (even the TARDIS is pink for the majority of the story). But there is such a lack of subtlety in Graeme Curry’s script that all his good intentions are laid waste. Sheila Hancock does her best in (another) half-hidden satire of Thatcher and Conservatism. Sylvester and Sophie are still working nicely (and McCoy is as settled in the role now as much as Baker was by ‘The Ark in Space’. But I can’t even bring myself to mention The Candyman (oh, I just did. Bugger). Bassetts really should have sued. And Orwell and Burgess should have joined the queue.

    • chris-too-old-to-watch  March 5, 2013

      “And yes, it is principally about being Gay in the late 1980s”

      Is it? I must have missed the hot man-on-man and woman-on-woman action, the blatant homophobia from the rulers, the ordinary people spitting at the participants in the Gay Pride marches, the bricks being thrown through windows, and the gay pubs being raided by Police on spurious grounds of drug searches. I also missed the demonising of the homosexuals because of the spread of a killer virus and the death of many of my close friends.
      Oh no, that wasn’t the Happiness Patrol: that was real life.

      • seanalexander41  March 5, 2013

        Well, The Happiness Patrol are exterminating Killjoys, people who refuse to conform to a Thatcherite idyll and whose favourite colour is pink. Paul Cornell certainly thinks so, and he could teach Curry a few lessons in literary subtlety.

        • Pete Galey  March 5, 2013

          It’s the baddies who like pink. Oh, and it’s a baddie who gets the line “I am what I am”. I think Happiness Patrol has something to say about teh gays, but unfortunately it’s not as clear cut as everyone seems to think.

          • DPC  March 5, 2013

            Assuming there is a subtext.

            Do a web search on which colors are deemed ‘happy’. Guess what? Bright, saturated pink is one of them.

            The story is about a regime that forces people to be happy and kills them if they are not.

            And the Patrol uses lots of bright, garish colors as part of their motif.

            Do we web search, with keywords like “happy colors bright pink”. Everything is so simple that it’s hilarious people are looking for subtle clues in a story that’s too busy shouting everything about the root cause of a problem to be bothered with smaller details.

            I’m gay (bi, Kinsey 5), but I don’t see a subtext in the story about GLBT people.

            It really could be as simple as that.

            Given how it doesn’t bother to hide itself as being a loud critique of Thatcher, it’s not going to hide much of anything. You don’t loudly parody a leader that’s, in turn, going to sift through every line of dialogue to find anything subversive. “Patrol” lacks the subtlety, it tells it like it is, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

            I used to work at a store in a shopping mall, which used pink and purple as well. It’s not a big gay shopping mall, and the owners at the time did not know of “Doctor Who”. The colors were used to uplift customers’ emotions with, since happy customers spend more – impulse purchases. It’s remarkably simple. And the color scheme was not unpopular in the early-mid 1990s… People say marketing and color theory are useless classes… how wrong they are… Which is ironic; we also say history is a waste of time and money, but since our modern society wants people to be uneducated and spend tons of money at the drop of a hat and not know about how things work (from the crap they buy to entire sociological paradigms, or other things)…

        • John Miller  March 5, 2013

          I’ve come to the conclusion that if Paul Cornell thinks something about Doctor Who, chances are the opposite is true.

        • chris-too-old-to-watch  March 5, 2013

          Speaking as a gay man, I do not, and never have, owned anything that was pink. I think you may be confusing the fact that gay men were forced to wear pink triangles when placed in extermination and labour camps by the Nazis in World war II. Hardly a good definition of their “favourite” colour…..

          • Wask  March 5, 2013

            In fairness, there’s “the pink pound”, Pink News, the Pink magazine, Pink Punters nightclub in Milton Keynes (doubtless not the only gay club with the word pink in the title), the pink pages, etc., and a lot of pink on show in the gay pride marches I’ve seen. I’m sure that most gay people don’t wear pink of a daily basis, but it’s unfair to suggest the colour is *only* associated with the Nazi death camps. If the colour was that abhorrent to gay people, there would be no Pink News for starters.

            Not that I think The Happiness Patrol is anything to do with homosexuality, that seems like an almighty stretch.

          • chris-too-old-to-watch  March 5, 2013

            To Wask: Pink was adopted by many gay movements in the 60’s and 70’s simply because it was used in the camps. However, many people see it as a prolongation of the subjugation gay people have been under, which is why the Rainbow is now used, as a measure to include all gay people. Only male homosexuals, for example, were givent he pink triangle to wear. Lesbians were given the same triangle as political prisoners, or undesirable, or gypsies – depending on the camp commander.

          • DPC  March 5, 2013

            Wask, chris-too-old-to-watch already stated why we use pink. As a reminder, to why it was forced on us in the first place. And the shade of pink used tends to be more noticeable than the purple used for the triangle accorded lesbians. The pink became de facto. And not because gay men chose that color over all others, but because Hitler’s despicable lot forced it onto gay men in the concentration/labor/extermination camps.

            It’s there as a reminder of the past, to never forget, and to educate.

            Or “brand identity” – if we need a modern day, free market parallel.

            If anything, maybe we choose to keep bright pink to subtly remind people not to forget the past, since there’s an old cliche that suggests people who don’t learn from history tend to repeat it… or something along those lines. Oh well.

            But why would we ditch pink in favor of some other color? What would the point be? None. It is adopting a symbol, or a property of a symbol, meant to hurt us, and use it as part of a historical context. “Never forget”, except lots of people have done so.

            I do agree with your last paragraph; I don’t think “Patrol” has any GLBT themes, though. Given Helen and her lot wore bright pink, and they were forcing happiness unto people (and killing them if they didn’t smile), and bright pink is a party-themed color, it might just be as simple as that. Especially as the dark blue of the TARDIS conflicts with the Patrol’s paradigm. (the show should have been in B&W, but – then or now – many people wouldn’t “get it” either…)

      • Anonymous  March 5, 2013

        Be fair, seanalexander41 has seen 10 minutes of the story so he’s clearly an expert.

      • Roundel  March 5, 2013

        The way in which the Patrol practice entrapment on people has been compared by to how the police used to try to arrest gay men.

        • chris-too-old-to-watch  March 5, 2013

          Or indeed prostitutes, con men, sellers of fake goods, etc. etc. etc.

          • Roundel  March 5, 2013

            I’m thinking here not just of Paul Cornell, but also Matt Jones, who later wrote a long article looking at the subject in response, in ‘Skaro’. I no longer have a copy of it, so can’t refer to it now, but as I recall, he made the above parallel, and also referred to Helen A’s line about the death squads and so on only coming later, that she gave them a chance to be happy but they wouldn’t, and compared it to the Thatcher government’s line on ‘family values’ in particular. The point he made was that it was a story satirising the mentality whereby some governments can uphold or inly permit one rigidly defined ideal, and persecute or neglect those who don’t live up to ideal, especially those who reject it for themselves, and that, in this sense, there was a connection that could be made, in that being gay was something which the governments of the 80s clearly disapproved of, with reference to, for example, Section 28.

            Anthony Brown, writing in a later issue of the same fanzine, commented that he thought the gay rights reading was too limiting, and expounded on how he thought the Thatcher government, or its ideology, had tended to exclude anyone who didn’t aspire to be a suburban enterprise-driven mother or father with 2.4 children.

            So, the idea is basically that similarities can be perceived between the attitudes of a ruling order seeking to consolidate a hegemony to those are considered to be not just part of said hegemony but antithetical to it, with the example in this story being a purposely absurd one, so as to help demonstrate how ludicrous it is discriminate in this way. The thinking being that certain parallels can be drawn to the relevant example, without necessarily assuming that the writer was consciously intending a fable exclusively concerning gay rights.

          • Roundel  March 5, 2013

            A typo: that should have said “not just not a part of said hegemony”.

      • xxiworld  March 5, 2013

        Its as much about being Gay in the 1980s as a show aimed partially at children could possibly get away with in the 1980s. See Phil Sandifer’s excellent article on the subject in Tardis Erruditorum. As he explains, it is a story about authenticity and perfomativity, with a critique of both a set of cultural norms which mandate that people deny their own internal experience, and a critique of the Camp aesthetic as an ineffectual form of oblique resistance to those norms, when direct, revolutionary political action was called for.

        • Nick Mays  March 5, 2013

          It’s beginning to sound like “The Unfolding Text” or “Pseuds’ Corener”! on here. Do you think that some people are perhaps over-analysing this fuin little story just a tad?

          • NIck Mays  March 5, 2013

            It’s beginning to sound like “The Unfolding Text” or “Pseuds’ Corner” on here! Do you think that some people are perhaps over-analysing this fun little story just a tad?
            [Slight Edit]

        • Thomas  March 5, 2013

          Sometimes I’d agree with you (Sandifer’s reading on ‘Delta and the Bannermen’, for example, is I think very credulous), but here, especially seeing Curry on the documentaries…I think he’s actually very close to the mark on this one.

          • Dave Sanders  March 6, 2013

            He’s completely right – a reaction to Clause 28 is *exactly* what the story was about at the time.

  37. Pete Galey  March 5, 2013

    Seems to me one of the strengths of HP is that it’s structure is general enough to be mapped onto many political situations – even limiting it to Thatch is too narrow, it has plenty to say about issues around now that weren’t priorities then. (I’ve got that issue of Skaro somewhere – I’ll see if I can get a scan of the article up later if I have time.)

  38. Wholahoop  March 5, 2013

    I suppose if you wanted to shoehorn in a Thatcherite analogy the most appropriate would be her question as to whether a particular person was “One of us”?

    • Dave Sanders  March 6, 2013

      Get dunked in the fondant and you’re officially a ‘wet’.

  39. zygons01  March 5, 2013

    Humph…I dont get it. Fair enough if Sue liked it. But I thought it was rubbish in the 80s and I still think its rubbish now. The rest of the McCoy era is not much better. Much hyped stories like Battlefield and the Curse of Fenric are vastly over rated. I am a fan, just not of McCoy…

    • DPC  March 5, 2013

      As produced, the stories are iffy, but the behind-the-scenes stuff (no time, no money) acquits the production team (IMHO)…

      On paper, most McCoy stories have the level of depth and quality the show needed. They just didn’t get the attention needed to be put on screen.

    • Dave Sanders  March 9, 2013

      Battlefield isn’t exactly ‘much-hyped’; Aaronovich’s own novelisation gets far more love than the transmitted version does.

      • Thomas  March 9, 2013

        Didn’t Platt novelize that one?

        • Wholahoop  March 10, 2013

          Which may explain why it “gets far more love” 🙂

  40. Marcus  March 5, 2013

    Just for Sue’s information the two Blue Peter badges on Ace’s jacket actually do belong to Sophie Aldred, who wrote into Blue Peter when she was younger. Interestingly (well I found it interesting) Sophie’s stunt double doesn’t have those badges because she’s not ‘entitled’ to, never having written to or appeared on Blue Peter.

    • Nick Mays  March 5, 2013

      I had two Blue Peter badges when I was a kid. I won them on two different occasions for writing in with ideas. Maybe Ace did the same?

  41. frankymole  March 6, 2013

    Sue’s final summing-up is exactly how I feel about this story. Late in the experiment I finally agree 100% on something!

  42. FrPip  March 7, 2013

    First comment on this website (only just caught up with it, and very glad I did). I remember this one when I was young, and after Remembrance felt cruelly let down. I’d been encouraging my schoolfriends to watch after Remembrance, and then this. It wasn’t just that it was rubbish (which in my opinion it was and still is) the tone was that of a completely different programme from Remembrance. It belonged in a Play for Today or a student project. I know it’s a matter of taste, but I felt it played to all of Sylv’s weaknesses, including the ‘famous’ dialogue with the soldiers, when even I, who hated guns even in those days, would have happily blown his head off. the Candyman was an embarrassment, as was large sections of the design and direction, Lots of shows at the time were running out of steam and deciding to “go wierd” – Bergarac, St Elsewhere, Moonlighting. It was a sign Who was all but over, and I hated the production team for it. I felt like someone had taken my best beloved toys and were having fun smashing them.

    • John Miller  March 7, 2013

      Since some people are convinced that I am “coming up with theories”(?!), here is one(although there’s an excellent others have got there first, long ago)…

      After the disaster that was Season 24, Doctor Who’s days were numbered. In addition, the shift to essentially outsourcing BBC Drama to independent productions meant that longtime dramas were in for a major overhaul. Most of the True Who writers etc. had either died(Hulke, Holmes etc). or had been alienated by Cartmel(Dicks etc.)

      In light of this, you end up with a group of people like Cartmel, Curry, Aaronovitc, Platt etc. who realise they are working on a show that is on lifesupport, and that the BBC themselves couldn’t care less about. So they deliberately screw with the show, making the most ridiculous, un-Doctor Whoish nonsense available, and probably at least partially designed to piss off fanboys and continuity bores(like me!) Blow up Skaro? Check! Doctor commits genocide? Check! Bertie Bassett as a villain? Check! A pisspoor attempt at ‘satirisng’ Thatcherism? Check! Making continuity references to the show’s past, and getting it wrong? Check! And more to come…

      • Thomas  March 7, 2013

        Yes. A crew of writers who are admitted fans of the show, continue working on spin-off material and have always exuded a complete love for the show, actively tried to be terrible at their jobs on purpose, for no apparent reason. That makes perfect sense.

        • Nick Mays  March 7, 2013

          Absolutely! And the Moon landings were faked too. 😉

          • John Miller  March 8, 2013

            Haha! But since mankind was supposedly having manned missions to Mars in the 1960’s, and since it’s not even our universe, the first manned missions to the moon in the “Doctor Who Universe”, then Armstrong could not have been first. I suppose in the “Doctor Who Universe”, the first moon landings were in when…the 1940’s? But no, because they threw in clever-dick references to Quatermass, not to mention Ben and Polly(from 1966) coming from a time BEFORE the moon landings. So, in order for the “Doctor Who Universe” and “UNIT in the late 60’s/early 70’s” theories to hold together, we need either a)man landing on Mars BEFORE landing on the moon or b)there were no moon landings. So now we know who started it!!

          • Roundel  March 8, 2013

            Mind you, according to The Christmas Invasion and one of the Sarah Jane Adventures stories, there still haven’t been any landings on Mars by the 2000s…

          • Roundel  March 8, 2013

            Actually, maybe that’s it. The Mars landings in Doctor Who were faked, but not by the humans. It was really the alien ambassadors who were hypnotising the astronauts into thinking they’d landed on Mars, and maybe faking any TV broadcasts they sent back to Earth, in the same way that they made the captured ones think they were watching football.

            The aliens later admit this in the aftermath of the story before leaving to return home, and when it emerges that the Space Programme hasn’t really succeeded in reaching Mars after all, it falls into relative disrepute, and little more is heard of it except when, a couple of years later, Guy Crayford goes missing after his rocket gets sucked into the space warp thing. It later gets wound up by penny pinching governments after the confused business of Crayford’s return to Earth, which he hasn’t survived.

            Hence by about 2006, the state of play concerning Mars is pretty much what we’d expect for that year, with Earth launching probes etc rather than ships with crews.

          • Nick Mays  March 8, 2013

            Well… the answer is simple really…

            Time War/Timewrym/Crack In The Wall/Different Productions Team
            Delete as applicable 😉

          • Nick Mays  March 8, 2013

            And talking of Mars, have you seen which sibilant reptilian race of Martians are back in the new series next month?

            Incidentally, didn’t one of those convoluted New Adventures try to square several circles about Mars in Who by explaining the Fendahleen and the Osirons having some sort of pact and thus forcing the Ice Warriors off Mars? Not sure if the Mars Probe missions were explained away in some sort of way too.

          • jazza1971  March 8, 2013

            I’m rather pleased by the new design. It’s basically the same…if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

          • Nick Mays  March 8, 2013

            Agreed! Slightly less hairy with better hands, but basically the same. They’ve been away a looooong time but welcome back! 🙂

        • John Miller  March 8, 2013

          Well, at the very least, they didn’t give a toss about what anyone thought. It was a sense of just mucking about, rather than trying to make a good show that will attract the highest possible number of viewers. I find it unbelievable that a group of people would deliberately set up about making something like The Happiness Patrol with the intention of making the best tv possible under the circumstances. Unless they’re all talentless hacks, which isn’t the case.

          • Thomas  March 8, 2013

            Okay, wow, there’s a difference between disliking a story and then making bizarre and insulting assumptions about the creative team behind it. I mean, do we extend the same charity to Saward and JNT for Twin Dilemma, or Dicks and Letts for Monster of Peladon, or even Hinchcliffe and Holmes for Revenge of the Cybermen? Sometimes stories just aren’t very good, and if you choose to dislike some of them don’t make it indicative of how ‘they were trying to be terrible’ or something like that.

            Seriously, if you refuse to see the effort being put into a story (especially here, because this is a story that clearly had a lot of thought and effort put into the script, production design, and overall concept), then that’s your own fault.

          • Cookey  March 8, 2013

            I think they tried their best, i don’t think anyone could really say honestly that there was a lack of effort on their part. From the interviews i’ve seen since, they really tried hard to produce stories on mere peanuts and i couldn’t detect any indication of deliberate sabotage or anything like that, maybe they are just clever liars? Although i doubt it.

            There’s a few stories here and there, such as the Twin Dilemma for example, that make you really wonder why they didn’t just skip them and invest the money in all the other stories which could benefit from it (I think Colin would have benefitted from that too, Attack of the Cyberman would have made a much better debut story). But hindsight is a wonderful thing and pretty useless at the end of the day, best to just acknowledge that writers can’t write masterpieces all the time.

      • Anonymous  March 7, 2013

        Fair play, that’s one of your worst theories to date.

      • Barry T  March 7, 2013

        You clearly have never met any of these people in the real world, as someone who has, i can wholeheartedly say that you are wrong on all counts.

    • encyclops  March 7, 2013

      Though I do like this story, I agree that “end my life” speech is really overrated. It fits in a story like this, adding to the theme of these dictatorships not being well-oiled fascist machines but rather houses of not particularly dedicated cards, but the form of it is inescapably cliché. That is, we’ve heard (or think we’ve heard) this kind of speech a thousand times in other shows and movies by this point and it just feels expected in this situation. McCoy does his best and sells it as far as is possible, at least.

      • Thomas  March 7, 2013

        Of course, the intention of that scene (that these men bragging about guns earlier find themselves incapable of actually putting them to use) is a bit less cliche…but the crucial set-up scene is oddly not overt enough to make it work as it should (plus it gets derailed by the ‘women get the best guns’ line).

        I think the scene works well enough as is, if only because of McCoy’s performance. Absolutely chilling, and as much as it’s something we’ve seen countless times before in other media, it’s not something we’ve ever seen the Doctor do before.

        • encyclops  March 7, 2013

          I respect your take on the scene even if I don’t agree that it works. 🙂 I think you’ve put your finger on the problem, which is that we don’t want to see the Doctor do things we’ve scene before. Against this I’d put what might be the best moment of the 1996 movie, where (being careful of spoilers) the Doctor shows us a novel way to elude the cops. I can’t think of a time I’ve ever seen that before or since and it’s delightful in exactly the same way this isn’t (IMO) chilling. It’s just one moment in an episode I otherwise really like, though, and if you could swap the “end my life” malarkey out for, say, the only bright spot in Dragonfire (the expectation-subverting Adamsish exchange with the guard about philosophy), it would all be mended.

          • encyclops  March 7, 2013

            “we’ve SEEN before,” obviously. Wow, did I type that?

          • Thomas  March 7, 2013

            For the most part I think I agree with you- as I’ve said before what saves the scene for me is how McCoy pitches it- it’s one thing to say that sort of stuff, and another to deliver it with that much menace and determination…he really sells it, which for me manages to paper over some of the flaws you mention.

  43. bryan simcott  March 7, 2013

    In light of this, you end up with a group of people like Whitaker, Nation, Spooner, Cotton etc. who realise they are working on a show that is on lifesupport, and that the BBC themselves couldn’t care less about. So they deliberately screw with the show, making the most ridiculous, un-Doctor Whoish nonsense available, and probably at least partially designed to piss off fanboys and continuity bores(like me!) Kill all the Daleks? Check! Doctor comits acts of viloence? Check! butterflys as a villain? Check! A pisspoor attempt at ‘satirisng’ Reign of the romans? Check! Making continuity references to the show’s past, and getting it wrong(there is no continuity, except for that which the script writer wishes and the producer condones? Check! And more to come…

    People get very hung up on the Mccoy years (and the baker C years) as something that was not Doctor who, and yet for every happiness patrol there is a Curse of peladon and for every Silver nemsis there is a gensis of the Daleks. Continuity wasnt and isnt something any writer writes to or for. it was write and be broadcast if it cocks up soemthing 10 ,20 or 30 years ago then hard luck.*

    *See Deadly assasin

    • Nick Mays  March 7, 2013

      By the same token, I can remember back in 1966 when Pat Troughton took over some people saying: “Oh, I don’t like the way Dr Who’s got with this new bloke. It’s not proper Dr Who.”

      Plus ca change!

      • Nick Mays  March 9, 2013

        I also remember being 6/7 years old when Jon Pertwee became the Doctor and being scared shitless by the Autons (twice) and (don’t laugh) the Tyrannosaurus Rex in ‘The Silurians’. In fact, it all felt very weird, very grown up and frightening and not all like the Dr Who I knew up to that point.

        But that feeling didn’t last long. Fact is, it’s all relative – production teams change and so does the tone of the show. I’m still a big fan of Dr Who, always will be, but there have been some cringe-worthy Nu-Who stories too.

  44. Chris  March 8, 2013

    Nick, since you’re the right age, do you have memories of seeing any of the now missing Hartnell/Troughton stories?

    • Nick Mays  March 9, 2013

      Hi Chris, prior to about 1967, some I remember clearly, others just snatches. I remember ‘The Web Planet’ and ‘St Bartholemew’s Eve’, ‘The Savages’, snatches of ‘The Smugglers’, ‘Dalek Invasion of Earth’ and ‘The Tenth Planet’. I can clearly remember ‘Power of the Daleks’ (“Dr Who changed!!!”) and ‘Evil of the Daleks’, snatches of ‘The Highlanders’ and ‘Underwater Menace’ then from early ’68 onwards I can clearly remember all (or most of) the Troughtons, Pertwees etc.

      There’s so many parts of my life that I can recall by using Dr Who as a marker… I’m sure many others long=term viewers and fans can do the same. 🙂

      • Thomas  March 9, 2013

        Sandifer and Lawrence Miles have written essays on that very point.

      • encyclops  March 9, 2013

        I envy you this ability. I can’t do it at all. It might be just the way my mind works; it might be that as an American I saw most of the classic series out of order and in omnibus format; it might be that I recorded so many stories and watched them so many times as a kid that they’re no longer tied to any single time in my life. I’ll never forget the first two novelisations I read (the Pinnacle editions of The Android Invasion and The Dinosaur Invasion, in that order), but I have no idea which story I first saw on TV.

        The most vivid memory I have of watching a specific story for the first time was “The Stones of Blood.” I was sleeping on my grandparents’ couch during a Christmas visit, and I watched it before bed, and was convinced the Ogri were going to crash through their windows and come after me just like in the story. It was just scary enough to be fun.

        • Nick Mays  March 9, 2013

          But that’s a memory to cherish too Encyclops! That’s what “Who” is all about – the fond memories. Okay, so you didn’t see it all in order first time round – but it made its mark on you and got you hooked. Now you’ve no doubt seen the stories in order or worked out how they flow chronologically (as much as any stories involving time travel can), but the magic’s still there, it’s in your blood, am I right?

          Thomas – Thanks for this – I’ll have to see if I track those essays down. I’ve never had much to do with Dr Who fandom as such – DWM for “official stuff” and DWB for “subversive stuff” (back in the day), and ‘Wife In Space’ is the first blog on Dr Who I’ve ever bothered with (oh, and Neela Debnath’s own experiement too). You wouldn’t have copies by any chance, would you?

          • Thomas  March 9, 2013


            Miles actually wrote several articles tracing years of his life through Doctor Who- he begins in 1975 and goes to 1979. Here’s the link to the first of those articles:

            Sandifer’s post can be found here (and if you have the time, his blog is extremely good and well-worth reading for any fan of the series):

          • Nick Mays  March 10, 2013

            Thomas: Many thanks! I shall study these at my leisure. Much appreciated! 🙂

          • Polarity Reversed  March 10, 2013

            Context is odd, isn’t it. I’m not of a vintage to have Unearthly Child indelibly tagged to JFK, but was well aware of most of the 70s and 80s issues. Certainly recall missing a few episodes due to blackouts.

            Ultimately it doesn’t matter, any more than being able to enjoy and appreciate Pride & Prejudice depends on having been alive at the time and privileged or slippery enough not to have had to trudge through Spain with Wellesley.

            But I do confess to feeling a little odd when people treat my living past in the manner of an earnest undergrad essay on the Vikings. Of course sources come to light later, and I wasn’t everywhere, but I was there. And some of the points that get made from time to time strike me as rather more “ography” than “histori”. I suppose it was ever thus.

            I shall wear my trousers rolled.

      • Chris  March 10, 2013

        Interesting! Thanks, Nick. When you say, “I can clearly remember ‘Power of the Daleks’ (“Dr Who changed!!!”) and ‘Evil of the Daleks’,” do you remember them as being especially good or spooky? i.e. do they live up to the hype? and at the end of The Tenth Planet, did you have forewarning, did you have any idea what was coming – or were you just WTF??

        • Nick Mays  March 10, 2013

          Personally speaking Chris I’d say that yes, they did/do live up to the hype. I think JN-T was right to a certain extent when he said “the memory cheats”, because with ‘Evil of the Daleks’, although I saw it twice (it was repeated in the summer of 1968- and what a rare treat THAT was!), at the time I was oblivious to the rather obvious toy Dalek shots which later emerged as stills and from the behind-the-scenes filming that appeared on the ‘Lost In Time’ DVD. But at the time, the whole final battle bit was mind-blowing! “Oh God! That one got its head blown off – there’s the jelly monster inside!” and “Look at the size of that thing!” (The Emperor Dalek).

          ‘Power’ I certainly remember because of the new Doctor and the Dalek Production Line. When, years later in 1990 I bought DWB’s stills book of Power, I was soooo happy that it was exactly like I’d remembered it! Even down to the bit where the newly regenerated Doctor looks in the mirror and briefly sees his old face.

          As to the Doctor changing, I think my older brothers and parents had said there was “going to be a new Doctor Who” as they’d read it in the paper, but I don’t think I believed them. So whilst I can’t remember the Cybermen’s debut in ‘Tenth Planet’, I can clearly remember the bit at the end where the Tardis controls start operating themselves and the Doctor collapses and then ‘changes’. That was November 5th 1966 and I can clearly remember lying in bed that night, watching the sky being lit up by fireworks (and sulking a bit that i wasn’t out there with my brothers) but thinking over and over again that Dr Who Had Changed!!!

          This then led into ‘Power’, which I watched with rapt attention over the next six weeks. Right at the very end of the last episode, where the Doctor and co are leaving they find a crumpled, burned-out Dalek by the Tardis. But the very final shot which the telesnaps DON’T show is that as the Tardis dematerialises, the camera goes into close up on the Dalek, and its eye stalk slowly points upwards, at which point a stream of jelly-mush pours out from beneath it. Oh how I LOVED that bit! I’d be interested to know if any other fans of a certain age can remember that bit.

          I’d honestly and truthfully say that Dr Who has informed large parts of my childhood – and my life, then later my kids’ lives – and I’m so much the happier for those memories!

  45. John P Reid  March 10, 2013

    I thought Happiness patrol was like V for vendetta , Andrew Cartmel admired Alan Moore has anyone ever asked Cartmel was it a direct influence, Sue the Wendy James teeth comment was true, but she’s still a looker, and we’ve got a fuzz box guitarist passed away for cancer last month

  46. Smaller on the outside  March 10, 2013

    Are you finishing this blog after the TV Movie or are you making Sue with Big Finish, novels and so? Will you be commenting in the new series starting with Rose?

    • Neil Perryman  March 10, 2013

      We are finishing with the TV Movie. As for the novels and Big Finish, are you insane? 😉

  47. John P Reid  March 10, 2013

    As you had A Fix with sontarons , in your selection, I recall there was a Seventh doctor story, search out science with K-9 you could have that, I believe it’s on the Survival DVD, never seen it myself as it’s not on youtube!

    • John Miller  March 11, 2013

      Don’t forget Dimensions in Time! Maybe Sue should also have to watch the BBV and Reeltime stuff? And the webcasts.

  48. Chris  March 11, 2013

    Thanks for those memories, Nick, that’s fascinating.

    It really hits home that had Patrick Troughton failed to connect – if he hadn’t managed to pull off the feat of making the viewers accept the transition – the series would’ve died right there.

    • John Miller  March 11, 2013

      Double fascinating!

      • Nick Mays  March 11, 2013

        Just out of interest Guys, what are your earliest or “defining” “Who” memories? Or maybe we should take this onto the FB page?

        My kids do gently poke fun at me that I’m older than Dr Who (but only just!)

        • jazza1971  March 11, 2013

          My oldest memory of “Doctor Who” isn’t actually of an episode as such, but rather the reaction to an episode. I clearly remember being in bed crying and being comforted by my Mum and saying “Doctor Who should have daleks in it and not giant spiders”. Obviously I was referring to an episode of “Planet of the Spiders” which was shown when I was slightly over 3 years old. However, I was aware that DW contained daleks, so this would seem to suggest that I had watched a story with daleks in it, presumably “Death to the Daleks” which started 12 days after my third birthday. I was obviously a cool toddler!

          After that my next memory is of “Genesis of the Daleks”. I remember a scene of Davros in the bunker and thinking to myself that it was a bit boring because the daleks weren’t in it enough. The stupidity of youth!

          I remember flashes of “Pyramids of Mars” particularly the priory being destroyed at the end. For some years I convinced myself that every series of DW ended with a building being destroyed in a huge explosion.

          I can recall being scared shitless by “The Hand of Fear” and being sad that Sarah Jane was leaving, although I have a limited memory of her appearance in the show other than a lingering thought, and yet she has always been “my assistant” – the one that was in the show when I was young.

          From “The Face of Evil” onwards I remember seeing every story. I loved Leela, I loved K9 and I loved Romana. I was thrilled to bits when the daleks smashed through the black glass in “Destiny”, I really liked Adric. It was all good. When I see stories from that era and the negative response to them I find it hard to equate with my own childish thrill at seeing them all at the time. I thought “Horns of Nimon” was fantastic! Even today, when watching some of the “clunkers” the inner child in me stops me from rating them too harshly.

          • Nick Mays  March 11, 2013

            I think that’s it… even the “clunkers” were awesome when you were a youngster and enjoyed them! One of my fave sequences on ‘Power of the Daleks’ was the production line, followed by the gathering of LOADS of Daleks, after which seemingly hundreds of Daleks head off down the corridors yelling “Exterminate, Annihilate and Destroy!”

            Of course, the clips that remain show that the production line Daleks were models, the ‘loads’ of Daleks were mainly photographic cut outs and the stream of Daleks in single file were the same 3 Daleks going round and round again. But that wasn’t what the 5 year-old me saw!

          • jazza1971  March 11, 2013

            Exactly. The stories from when we were 5 will always be the best because we saw past the limitations and took the story as it was intended. It was years before I realised that “Doctor Who” was actually fiction! 😀

          • Chris  March 11, 2013

            My earliest memory is The Seeds of Doom, and a recent viewing of the scene where Sarah discovers Keeler turning into a Krynoid (“You want me to die!!!”) is exactly as I remembered it. Many old episodes don’t hold up – “the memory cheats!” – but that one I think absolutely does. It is just like I remembered, and it was well-directed, well-acted, well-written with very few cheesy moments. Even the giant Krynoid looks pretty good.

            I remember being delighted with Baker’s and Sladen’s chemistry, and being rivetted by the performances of Mark Jones and Tony Beckley as Arnold Keeler and Harrison Chase (“I must know what happens when the Krynoid touches human flesh!”). I was also shocked that such a sympathetic character as Keeler could come to such an end; with the almost Sawardian body count, Seeds prepared me for a television series where anything goes and anyone could die at any time.

            My memory did not cheat – not that time – though so many other episodes are a let-down now. I guess I was lucky that my first exposure to the programme was one of the better stories of the era.

    • Nick Mays  March 11, 2013

      You may well be right Chris. What I think saved it was that it was early in Season 4 that Hartnell regenerated into Troughton just two stories in. Then the Second Doctor was pitted against the Daleks, which was a master stroke. The production cycle meant that other stories were already ongoing, so Troughton was given a chance to ‘bed in’, rather than the later accepted “tradition” of the Doctor regenerating at the end of a season (Colin Baker excepted).

      What you have to bear in mind that this was pretty radical back in the day. It wasn’t a Hartnell lookalike, it wasn’t simply recasting or saying it was a younger version of the Doctor, this was a whole new person… and yet the same!

      Anyway, I think Troughton was pretty much accepted by ‘The Moonbase’ and the strength of his performance carried the stories and the show forward. In time, people just used to refer to the “old Dr Who” if talking about Hartnell and referred to Troughton simply as “Dr Who”.

      But yes, if they’d done it at the end of Season 3, chances are Pat Troughton wouldn’t have been accepted and the show would have died. Would any of the tapes been left at all? Would the show still be fondly remembered 47 years on?

      Equally, the series was going to be cancelled when Troughton left, and Season 7 was a radical, more grown-up ‘try out’ a la Quatermass to see if it was worth saving. Thanks to Jon Pertwee and some belting good stories it was… and the rest, as they say, is history. 🙂

  49. P.Sanders  March 11, 2013

    Okay, all these bizarre rumours flying out about why Doctor Who was cancelled. Who died because the BBC had no faith in it. Certain unfortunate budgetary and production decisions, together with the usual cultural shifts, meant that the BBC and the public had ceased to take it seriously. It was put against Corrie to quietly kill it off. The production team (well, Cartmel and the writers) were trying new things and experimenting to give it new life and new direction. Me personally, I loved this period of the show. But equally I can’t imagine Who surviving long into the 1990s had it continued, whatever had been done to it. I think the times were against it.

    As to why the BBC didn’t move JNT – apart from the (well-documented) fact that they didn’t want it to continue, you should read this quote from SFX’s review of the forthcoming warts-n-all biog of JNT:

    ‘Perhaps just as shocking, in a different way, are the views of JN-T’s superior Jonathan Powell (then controller of BBC1), which are so brutally uncensored they may leave you gasping for breath. His answers drip with undisguised contempt for both the programme and his former employee. Asked why he didn’t move the producer to a different assignment, he says, “What was I going to do with fucking John Nathan-Turner? I didn’t want him doing anything else, because I didn’t think he was good enough. You didn’t want to give him stuff because you didn’t trust him. And the worse the programme got, the less you were going to trust him. I wanted him to fuck off and solve it – or die, really.”’

    • John Reid  March 11, 2013

      Got a link to the JNT biog, sounds very interesting, I have since seen search out science on dailymotion, 23 year wait!

    • Nick Mays  March 11, 2013

      As Sue would say “What a ****!”

      Okay, I know we all have our opinions about JN-T (and Gary Downie), but Powell – and Grade – were very, very unprofessional in their dealings with him and the show.

      Actually, I do feel sorry for JN-T because he wasn’t as talented as he’d like to think he was, but he was bouyed up by a wave of early adoration from the fans who liked his “serious” approach to Who, and then just a few years later, was despised in equal measure.

      One of my saddest memories about JB-T was how he apparently used to drive around to town fetes with some actor friend of his whom he billed as “The New Dr Who” in an attempt to get PR and backing for his own independent version of the show (allegedly). And then you see his frayed shirt collar and cuffs in close-up photos and you realise that the guy had probably hit hard times and, due to Dr Who (and Grade/Powell/the BBC) couldn’t find proper work.

      The older I get the more I realise,there’s no black and white, no total heroes or villains, there’s just people and how they react and interact with each other. Maybe history may judge JN-T a bit more kindly by the time the 60th anniversary rolls around.

      • P.Sanders  March 11, 2013

        Yeah it’s a pretty horrible way to destroy someone.