Doctor Who has always had unconventional monsters. Blobby things in pepper-pots. Malevolent turkeys in jars. A cactus. But perhaps the strangest of them is the Kandyman: a monster constructed entirely of licorice allsorts.
The Kandyman is the Dragon to Helen A’s Big Bad in “the Happiness Patrol.” (tvtropes lists Daisy K as the Dragon, but I don’t really remember that character). In any event, if Helen A is the villain of the piece, then the Kandyman is the monster. He’s a mandmade creation - a robotic frame with a confectionary exterior - but has a will and existence of his own.
Uniquely among Killer Robots, the Kandyman doesn’t act like a machine - he acts like a serial killer. He is Helen A’s torturer and executioner, and he has real creativity and considers what he does Art. He even has a lair of his own, the Kandy Kitchen, where he performs mad culinary experiments and concocts novel and sinister creations. The chief of these, and Helen A’s preferred method of execution, is hot strawberry fondant. The Kandyman is in charge of not just making this stuff, but controlling all the machinery for pumping it through ducts and tubes, scalding or suffocating his victims to death.
You’d think there would be disadvantages to being entirely composed of sugar. And, in fact, you would be right. One such is that he can react with other things made of sugar…like sparkling lemonade (or, as it is called in Europe…lemonade). I really appreciate the internal consistency here. I also really appreciate the idea of the Doctor repeatedly sticking a monster’s feet to the floor by spraying them with bottles of lemonade. You have to admit it’s really really different. And you’d think that someone in the Kandyman’s position wouldn’t choose to work with products that could melt him or dissolve him, or glue him to things he doesn’t want to be glued to - but such are the sacrifices he makes for his art. He is eventually killed by his own strawberry fondant, dissolved away to nothing and leaving behind just a twisted metal skeleton drenched in sticky redness.
The Kandyman shows very viscerally how absolutely anything can be taken too far and made to be utterly terrifying and thoroughly evil. He’s candy, he should be sweet and tasty - and indeed he is - but there is nothing at all “nice” about him. This is the basic point of “the Happiness Patrol,” of course, but while other elements of the episode are thought-provokingly sinister and laden with dystopic symbolism and all that, the Kandyman bypasses the intellectual and hits you right in the “OH DEAR GOD WHAT IS THAT THING!?” (He also provides an awesome vindication for those of us who hate licorice - I knew those things were evil!) I tend to also like chefs - and his “killing people with food” approach is refreshingly different from the “killing people and turning them into food” Sweeny Todd style of evil chefdom (which I also love).
Plus, it’s always nice to have a big, horrifying, and more than a little bit ridiculous monster to break up the hardcore social commentary and dark satire of the episode. Every one else is human (or close enough) with the exception of the mole people, but the Kandyman is blue and pink and completely over the top. In some sense it’s that very fact - the understanding that he ought to be ridiculous - that makes the Kandyman as scary as he is. Campiness subverted. The Kandyman is a category all his own, and somehow manages to really work as a villain and a monster. He’s like an evil Willy Wonka …made of allsorts. He freaks me out, but I love him.