Doctor Who – Christabel – tape 593

We catch the very end of a Wogan on this tape, then a trailer for Crimewatch.

Then, episode one of the Doctor Who story The Happiness Patrol. The Doctor and Ace land on Terra Alpha, a planet where happiness is mandatory, and sadness is punishable by death. Ruling the planet is Sheila Hancock as Helen A.

Sheila Hancock

Her henchman is the Kandyman.


How Bertie Bassett didn’t sue I’ll never know.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 2nd November 1988 – 19:35

More Wogan before part two, with the actor Glyn Owen doing a rousing rendition of Old Man River. This is followed by an advert – for Pop Facts! celebrating 25 years of Top of the Pops.

Then part 2 of The Happiness Patrol. Lots more running around, getting captured, escaping, you know the drill.

Helen A has a pet – some kind of dig-like creature. The modelling work on this is very good, as was a lot of creature work at this point in the programme.

Helen A's pet

BBC Genome: BBC One – 9th November 1988 – 19:35

Before the next episode, the end of a Wogan tribute to Cliff Richard.


There’s a trailer for Thanks a £14 Million, looking at where the money donated to Children in Need goes.

Then, episode three of The Happiness Patrol. I’m a bit torn with this story. On the one hand, there’s some interesting ideas, but I can’t help thinking the production design and the shiny floors really work against the story.

However, one thing I can’t argue with is Sheila Hancock. Her performance as Helen A is excellent all the way through, especially when she breaks down in grief on discovering her pet monster is dead.

Sad Helen A

This is a performance that could easily have gone way over the top (I’m looking at you, Richard Briers) but Hancock plays it perfectly.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 16th November 1988 – 19:35

After this, there’s an advert for Radio Times looking at 25 years of Doctor Who and the first episode of The Chronicles of Narnia.

Then, recording continues with the start of an episode of Rockliffe’s Folly.

After a bit of this, recording switches to BBC2 and the end of an episode of MASH.

Then, there’s the first part of Christabel, by Dennis Potter, starring Elizabeth Hurley as an English woman who marries a German man before the war, and then has to live in Germany as the war approaches. It co-stars Stephen Dillane as her husband, although he’s credited as ‘Stephen Dillon’.

Elizabeth Hurley

Her parents aren’t at all happy with her choice of husband. Just before the wedding, her father, Geoffrey Palmer, gives her a speech about ‘English Grass’ and war memorials.

Geoffrey Palmer

It’s a depressing story, with the build-up to war made more stark by having all the scenes in Germany played with British accents, underlining the fact that it was ordinary people who made the Nazis happen.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 16th November 1988 – 21:25

After this there’s a trailer for Billy Budd.

Then a brief look ahead to Children In Need.

This is followed by Newsnight, leading with Thatcher’s last visit to meet Ronald Reagan. There’s 25 minutes of this before the tape stops.


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