Sunday, 5 August 2012

Terry Nation

His name may be synonymous with the creation of the Daleks, but Terry Nation also contributed 2 non-Dalek stories to Doctor Who - The Keys of Marinus and The Android Invasion. He also had a story idea for a historical adventure for the first season - 'The Red Fort' - which would have been set in Victorian India.
Born in Cardiff in 1930, he was deeply affected by a wartime childhood. Heavily industrial South Wales was a natural target for the Luftwaffe. Preferring the local cinema to the classroom, he developed a love for cinema and for story telling.
He found his way into comedy writing in the 1950's - claiming Spike Milligan bought a joke as he felt sorry for him. Joining Associated London Scripts, he soon found himself employed by the comic actor Tony Hancock. It was whilst working with Hancock that the offer of a script for Doctor Who came in. Hancock advised him to decline, as he thought that writing for kids was beneath him. The erratic and temperamental star then promptly sacked him.
Luckily the Doctor Who job was still on offer - and the rest is history. A canny business man, he made sure that he had co-rights on the Daleks, and so made a great deal of money out of them over the years. His estate continues to benefit from them.
He wrote the first four stories for his creations, and collaborated with Dennis Spooner on the fifth (the 12 part Daleks' Master Plan). He did not return to writing for the programme until 1973's Planet of the Daleks. He wrote a further three Dalek stories in the 1970's, introducing Davros along the way, as well as the one and only appearance of the Kraals.

Nation had tried to launch the Daleks in their own series in America (hence their absence from the programme between 1967 and 1972), but this came to nothing.
Nation also worked on a number of the glossy ITC adventure / espionage series of the late 1960's, such as 'Man in a Suitcase', 'The Persuaders' and 'The Champions'.
His two other popular BBC television contributions are, of course, 'Blake's 7' and 'Survivors'.

He spent the last years of his life in the US, contributing to 'MacGyver' amongst other productions.
Nation was always protective of his creations, and did not like them to be used as figures of fun. His agent (Roger Hancock - brother of the man who sacked him) continued this tradition.

Terry Nation died in Los Angeles in 1993. What would he have made of the renaissance of his creations in the new series? I'm sure he would have approved greatly, as they are back to being the clever, murderous, fascistic empire builders that he envisioned back in their first golden age.

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