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The Man Who Invented the Daleks: The Strange Worlds of Terry Nation [Hardcover]

Alwyn W. Turner
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Book Description

25 May 2011

The Daleks are one of the most iconic and fearsome creations in television history. Since their first appearance in 1963, they have simultaneously fascinated and terrified generations of British children, their instant success ensuring, and sometimes eclipsing, that of Doctor Who.
They sprang from the imagination of Terry Nation, a failed stand-up comic who became one of the most prolific writers for television that Britian ever produced. Survivors, his vision of a post-apocalyptic England, so haunted audiences in the Seventies that the BBC revived it over thirty years on, and Blake’s 7, constantly rumoured for return, endures as a cult sci-fi classic. But it is for his genocidal pepperpots that Nation is most often remembered, and on the 50th anniversary of their creation they continue to top the Saturday-night ratings.
Yet while the Daleks brought him notoriety and riches, Nation played a much wider role in British broadcasting’s golden age. He wrote for Spike Milligan, Frankie Howerd and an increasingly troubled Tony Hancock, and as one of the key figures behind the adventure series of the Sixties – including The Avengers, The Saint and The Persuaders! – he turned the pulp classics of his boyhood into a major British export.
In The Man Who Invented the Daleks, acclaimed cultural historian Alwyn W. Turner, explores the curious and contested origins of Doctor Who's greatest villains, and sheds light on a strange world of ambitious young writers, producers and performers without whom British culture today would look very different.



Product details

  • Hardcover: 356 pages
  • Publisher: Aurum Press Ltd (25 May 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1845136098
  • ISBN-13: 978-1845136093
  • Product Dimensions: 3.5 x 16.2 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 426,810 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

‘The book can’t be faulted. Doctor Who wonks will lap it up’ - Roger Lewis

(Daily Mail)

‘Well-researched and down-to-earth... Turner, who takes pleasure seriously, is an excellent cultural critic’

(TLS)

‘There are few British SF writers more deserving of appraisal than Terry Nation … so it’s pleasing that accomplished author Alwyn W. Turner has taken up the task… compelling biography’

(SFX)

‘An incisive social history of British TV’s golden age’

(The Word)

'An utter delight... an excellent summation of Terry Nation's amazing and influential career'

(Doctor Who Magazine)

‘Alwyn W. Turner’s book tells the entire fascinating and immersive story … the author has done a remarkable job with this book and fans of TV and Dr Who will much enjoy it… Well worth purchasing’

(Kooltvblogspot.com)

‘Packed with informed opinion and analysis of all Nation’s work, Turner’s book is pretty much essential reading not only for anyone with an interest in Doctor Who and its most famous monstrous creations but also anyone interested in the history of British TV. Very highly recommended’

(Starburst)

About the Author

ALWYN W TURNER is the author of Crisis? What Crisis?: Britain in the 1970s, Rejoice! Rejoice!: Britain in the 1980s and the ebook Things Can Only Get Bitter: The Lost Generation of 1992, all published by Aurum. An acclaimed writer on post-war British culture, his other books include The Biba Experience, Halfway to Paradise and My Generation. He is currently writing A Classless Society, a history of Britain in the 1990s.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars All very well, but what was he like? 5 Aug 2011
Format:Hardcover
Alwyn Turner has written some very good social history books about the seventues and eighties, apparently. And this is another one. Unfortunately it's supposed to be about Terry Nation. And although Nation drifts in and out of the book as a biography it's very disappointing. There's very sketchy biographical information, no opinions of his personality and precious little analysis of his work (was he actually "good" writer, or was he a hack? Was his comedy actually funny? Did his peers think he was good? Did he feel he cheated Raymond Cusick?) You get the distinct impression that Turner wanted to write a general history of light entertainment throughout the sixties, seventies and eighties and Nation just happens to be the peg he has hung it from. I don't even feel that Turner cares about Nation's work, or has even seen much of it - he certainly seems to be more of a detached observer rather than a fan. He seems much happier describing the effects of the rise of TV on the cinema, the social upheaval of the Welsh miners and the impact of Lew Grade than he seems writing about Nation and analysing his work. In addition, the book isn't exactly chronological, so you have to piece together the often confusing timeline yourself. Too much social context without ever getting to grips with what the context is a backdrop for - Nation as a man and as an author. There's an interesting story there, but this isn't it.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
By P. Rowe
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
As you might expect with any book about Terry Nation, this first ever biography is a little prone to repetition. Throughout its almost 300 pages we are regularly reminded of what inspired Terry Nation and how his work paralleled or (and I hope Roger Hancock - Nation's rottweiler agent isn't looking,) copied ideas from pulps and movies of the 1930s so that you feel like screaming when a point is made about that Saint episode with the ants for what seems like the umpteenth time. However what the author is trying, and in fact, for the most part achieves remarkably well, is to put Terry Nation and his work into context. He may also be subtly reminding us that Nation was one of the most ecofriendly writers you could find - recycling old cliches was his forte!

This is no cut and past account of him. Admittedly there are old interviews and quotes liberally sprinkled in (it's not as if Nation is still around to answer Turner's questions after all) but alongside these there are interesting and previously unknown details about his work. These seem to come most frequently from the ever candid Brian Clemens and Steven Moffat's mother in law - Beryl Vertue. These and other sources provide the kind of insight that hasn't (thanks possibly to the aforementioned Hancock, yes he was Tony's brother) previously been available. Significantly Terry Nation comes out as a well liked professional who could be relied upon to meet a deadline but who was notoriously prone to churning a script out rather than refine, hone or polish a story until it really gleamed. Where there was someone sitting by ready to do that his work could sparkle however those hits could just as easily become misses in the wrong hands and this book is quite prepared to remind us of that.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Bit too wordy but very interesting 4 Jun 2013
By Laura Hartley TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
When I first received this book, I thought it was about the creation of the Daleks and a history of the man behind their conception, but it's so much more than that. The man who invented the Daleks is actually a history of British television with a particular focus on Terry Nation and the Daleks. There's lots about other works by Nation such as Blake, The Avengers and Survivors as well as some stuff about other prolific writers during those years. This book focuses on the 20th century development of British television, particularly the BBC, but there are also some references to how American television was developing at the same time. I even learnt quite a lot about the history of Britain in general, I.e. the state of Britain after the war and how politics affected the media etc. A lot of this book is made up of quotes from writers about other writers and it's also really interesting to see how they influenced each others work and, for lack of a better word, the bitch-fights they had.

Obviously Im far too young to have seen any of the shows that are talked about when they were on television, but I've heard about the more popular ones or seen my Dad watching the reruns. This wasn't a problem for me as it was fascinating to read about the sort of TV shows that made the 1960s Britain's 'Golden Age' of television. If you, like me, don't have much more than a basic knowledge of the development of British television then these parts will take a little longer to read and absorb otherwise you'll just get yourself into a muddle.

I absolutely flew through the parts about the creation of the Daleks and their popularity and I learnt so much about their significance for British television, which I hadn't realised before.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Timelord007 TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Positive.
Good in-depth information on Terry Nations work for ITC such as Tv shows as The Avengers, The Baron, The Persuaders & then in the seventies his BBC creations Blakes7 & The Original Survivor's series.
The Dalek chapters are best part of the book.

Negative.
We learn very little about who is actually Terry Nation?.

Review.
This book is a mystery as on one hand it's poorly researched about Terry Nation the person but on the other hand the detail to his work as a writer & creator of the Daleks, Blakes7 & Survivors is exellent.

We learn very little about the actual man, His life is skimmed over instead focusing on his written work although this section of the book well researched the biography part of the book is patchy & not up to scratch.

This book goes into detail about Nation's creation of the Daleks & how his vision of Skaros Pepperpots came to life.

Terry Nation could write a script & write it fast but usually wrote the same type of story as Doctor Who script writer Terrance Dicks points out with Genesis of the Daleks first draft "You've already gave us that story last series Terry".

His Daleks storys lacked the finesse usually relying on the script editor to edit, Change or polish the scripts to production standard.

His withdrawal of the use of the Daleks in Doctor Who in 1967 seems a little egotistical & snubbing the show that made his creation famous & his attempts to get funding for a Dalek series, (Big Finish adapted this in the Second Doctor's Lost Stories Boxset) that was never made is detailed quite well.

Terry Nation's work on ITC shows is researched well as is his Creations of BBC's Blakes7 writing the first 13 episode series himself.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars LACKING AS A BIOGRAPHY
Now don't get me wrong, this book is thoroughly well researched but the writer tends to drift into depths that weren't needed. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Mr. S. J. Claringbold
5.0 out of 5 stars A BEAUTIFUL BOOK
I have the hardback of this book and can tell you that I found it fascinating; the author cleverly depicting the climate change regarding the television industry and the... Read more
Published 17 months ago by STEPHEN MASON
1.0 out of 5 stars A terrible disappointing book
I had very high expectations for this book when i first ordered it. As a biography, I expected it to be all about the life of Terry Nation, but it is all about the changes in... Read more
Published on 20 Jun 2012 by Jack Grimshaw
4.0 out of 5 stars Dalek Man
A very enjoyable book, not only because of the Dalek content but also for the other shows Nation instigated and worked on. I loved the objective nature of the book. Read more
Published on 4 Mar 2012 by Shaun Cryer
2.0 out of 5 stars The Man Who Invented Daleks
I found this book so disappointing: It is written half like an academic book, half like a retrospective on some of the classic TV output of the 60's & 70's. Read more
Published on 11 Jun 2011 by C. Healiss
5.0 out of 5 stars "Where do Daleks come from?"
Writer Terry Nation was celebrated for creating the Daleks, Blake's 7 & Survivors. He also wrote a lot of other stuff to & Turner has done a sterling job giving us the whole... Read more
Published on 18 May 2011 by Bob Marlowe
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