It is with deep sadness that BlogtorWho reports the death of Doctor Who writer Graeme Curry.
Graeme Curry wrote the 1988 Doctor Who story ‘The Happiness Patrol’. Curry also novelised the story for Target books, later recorded as an audiobook with Rula Lenska narrating. He also discussed the story at great length in the audio commentary and documentary feature ‘Happiness Will Prevail’ on the BBC DVD release. Additionally, Curry was an uncredited tourist visiting Windsor Castle in ‘Silver Nemesis’.
Script Editor of ‘The Happiness Patrol’ Andrew Cartmel shared the sad news on Twitter.
My dear friend the wonderful writer Graeme Curry died yesterday after a serious illness. He’s left a huge hole in the world. I miss him already.
— Andrew Cartmel (@andrewcartmel) February 25, 2019
A Happiness Tribute
‘The Happiness Patrol’ is a superb and vastly underrated Doctor Who story. It is often overlooked or dismissed largely because of the colourful creation of the Kandyman. The creation bore a stark resemblance to Bertie Bassett, a copyrighted mascot for Bassett’s Liquorice All Sorts sweets. Following negotiations it was agreed that the Kandyman was going to be a one-off villain. Removing the Kandyman, as was achieved in the novelisation, the remaining story is a tremendous example of sci-fi world building.
Of course the story was brought to life during the era of Margaret Thatcher as Prime Minister. With a central female lead, a dictatorial megalomaniac, many made a connection to Thatcher. However, beneath the thinly veiled satire of Thatcherism is a deeply thoughtful piece. Terra Alpha is a human colony which persecutes the unhappy. Instant gratification from sugary treats are turned into a deadly terror. ‘Lift music’ attempts to conceal the horrors beneath the surface.
Although let down a little by the production, ‘The Happiness Patrol‘ deserves revisiting. Ultimately, the Seventh Doctor takes down a oppressive regime in a night. That scene where he disarms a sniper is sublime. Exploring themes of melancholia as a crucial element of the human experience is fascinating. There is also the subtlety of population control and maltreatment of the Pipe People, the indigenous inhabitants of the planet before human colonisation. It is a vastly rich script.
‘The Happiness Patrol‘ also serves as a fitting tribute to a great Doctor Who writer who told an excellent story. He captured the Seventh Doctor and the show as a whole. Rescuing the oppressed and allowing people to be human.