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The Life and Scandalous Times of John Nathan-Turner [Paperback]

Richard Marson
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Miwk Publishing Ltd (31 May 2013)
  • ISBN-10: 1908630132
  • ISBN-13: 978-1908630131
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 13 x 3.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 34,059 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Richard Marson's book, JN-T: The Life and Scandalous Times of John Nathan-Turner tells the story of the most controversial figure in the history of Doctor Who. For more than a decade, John Nathan-Turner, or "JN-T" as he was often known, was in charge of every major artistic and practical decision affecting the world's longest-running science fiction programme. Richard Marson brings his dramatic, farcical, sometimes scandalous, often moving story to life with the benefit of his own inside knowledge and the fruits of over 100 revealing interviews with key friends and colleagues, those John loved to those from whom he became estranged. The author has also had access to all of Nathan-Turner's surviving archive of paperwork and photos, many of which appear here for the very first time. "(The) book is extraordinary - a great piece of work. A major piece of Doctor Who history and the history of an entire industry - an entire age, really. I read it in two days flat, I couldn't stop. I've never seen a biographer enter the story like that, it was brilliant and invigorating. The ending is devastating, genuinely tragic. All those hopes and dream poisoned and rotted by alcohol. By writing about it, you have made something elegant and even beautiful out of such a wretched mess. And I think that's very kind of you indeed. This book says a lot about JN-T, but it says a lot about your good and kind heart, too." Russell T. Davies (Writer/Producer)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A sparkling and scurrilous portrayal 1 Jun 2013
By Sussex by the Sea VINE VOICE
This is a biography of John Nathan-Turner, producer of Doctor Who from 1979 until 1989. With detailed research and interviews with many of those who knew him, this book builds up a picture of a gregarious man who epitomised the "life of the party" but found the aftermath harder to deal with. As with all good biographies, the character that emerges is complex and contradictory but also was clearly deeply loved by many.

It it must be emphasised that this is an adult book, not a Doctor Who book suitable for children, and one that does not hesitate from turning over stones that undoubtedly some may think were better left as they were. It pulls no punches and confronts issues with the health and lifestyle of the subject in a reasoned manner, but one clearly not afraid of creating a scandal or two itself. The world of Doctor Who fandom is laid bare in a way not previously seen and it doesn't benefit from the experience.

Occasionally the style and constant quotation from interviewees does grate a little, and at one point I found myself wishing that the writer had adopted an authorial voice separate from the need to recount his own experiences. But these considerations are minor, and there's no denying that this book is both a riveting page-turner and masterful at bringing to life a character who would have loved the staring role that this book affords him. The final chapters are very moving, and this biography should deservedly find an audience beyond those interested in the world of theatre, TV and fandom it describes.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 'It's the BBC that got small' as Norma might say 28 Jun 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Pleased that this was not merely a mix of scandal and Doctor Who regurgitated information. A lot of the Doctor Who stuff was told from a new slant and I couldn't help thinking JNT was his own enemy though not his WORST enemy. Also felt he was maligned and a fair part of criticism of his Who tenure can be heavily shared with the script editors as can the good stuff,
I was interested in his life before and after Doctor Who and it was sad he ended up as he did. I was interested to hear what went on at the BBC - breaking up TV Centre has its pluses I think, too cosy by half - but not shocked particularly.
A well put together biography which will probably be judged by it's OTT title for good or ill in much the same way it's subject was judged by the public image he projected - for good or ill.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Doctor Who's Marmite Producer 24 Oct 2013
By Timelord007 TOP 500 REVIEWER
Review Of The Scandalous Times Of John Nathan Turner.

This is a excellent biography of John Nathan Turner ho the longest running producer of Doctor Who to date from 1980-89.

This book covers his life as Doctor Who's producer & his at times scandalous personnel life.

JNT is the marmite producer of Doctor Who from 1980's season 18 through to it's classic series final episode in Season 26 fan's are divided into a love/hate view of his 9 year tenure.

The researcher Richard Marson has certainly done his homework here getting into the nitty gritty of his behind the scenes spats & clashes with actor's, Writer's, Directors etc..., Marson having access to JNT pictures & memoirs.

Some fans think he was Doctor Who's saviour keeping it on air during it's later seasons when it was constantly on the brink of being axed.

Other's view is he overstayed his welcome & should maybe have left with Peter Davison & gave a new producer a chance to take the show in another direction.

Self confessed drinker & chain smoker one thinks part of JNT fall from grace was he seemed a lonely self critical human being who's aim to please Doctor Who fans became his downfall as some of his decision making defys belief like the Question Mark on the Doctor's shirts & yet on the other hand JNT was a producer of inner steel protesting at Jonathan Powell & Michael Grades attempts to take the show off the air in 1985 & the hard work during the 18 month hiatus & returning the show back on Saturdays on BBC1 with Season's 23 Trial Of A Timelord epic.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Extremely well researched and revealing 7 Sep 2013
There's not much I can say about this fascinating biography that hasn't already been said in lots of other reviews. It's a book for DOCTOR WHO fans, but it's not about DOCTOR WHO.

Whether you loved, hated or were indifferent to John Nathan Turner's long tenure as producer of the programme - and few people fell into the last category - there will be something here to interest you. Inevitably, newspapers seized on the "sex scandal" aspects of the book, but I put these in inverted commas as there really wasn't any scandal. Having said that, people who knew nothing about JNT may raise an eyebrow at some things in the book. Those who had heard rumours will find the clarification and debunking of many stories both revealing and highly readable.

The book doesn't seek either to lionise or demonise JNT, but presents a fair, well balanced and thoroughly researched account of what, in the end, was a tragic life.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stay tuned! 10 Jun 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Could this be one of the best television biographies ever written? I think possibly so. John Nathan-Turner was the producer of Dr Who throughout the turbulent 1980s, as the programme hit the high notes of Peter Davison's first year or so and then slowly limped to a death painful for all concerned. For years JN-T has shouldered the blame, but now at last another version of the truth can be told.

Ah, but if you're not a fan, what then? Is there anything here for you? Well, yes. All it takes to find this fascinating is a love of people, their flaws, their flair and an interest in television and particularly the massive cluster of badly-run amateur nonsense that was the BBC in the 1980s.

All the faces are there- Johnathon Powell (widely quoted, doing himself no favours) Michael Grade (as obnoxious as you'd expect), Peter Cregeen, the fans- Ian Levine, Gary Leigh, all of them praising or slating the man as the situation demands. There are chapters of knuckle-biting horror, as we follow a vulnerable tv producer on the slide to alcoholism and death, utterly shocking sexual stories that only shock us utterly because we live in a different age now and such things are frowned upon, all coming together into a sprawling document of JN-T's life.

It's well-written, gossipy at times, but maintains a decent, fair, distance that never paints the man as the monster others have claimed. Well, not really. The book eventually settles for showing us a picture of one of the most incredible, fascinating, complicated, vulnerable, predatory, monstrous, sweetest, most fabulous, loyal, demanding characters in television history. John Nathan-Turner's life did not have a happy ending- there's no valediction at the end, and he didn't live to see Dr Who back on the tv and loved.
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