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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Radiation levels are high but we should be safe for a few hours
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...
Published on 7 May 2011 by P. Rowe

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars All very well, but what was he like?
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...
Published on 5 Aug 2011 by Andrew R Kent


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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
By 
Andrew R Kent (Cambridge, Cambridgeshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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
4.0 out of 5 stars Radiation levels are high but we should be safe for a few hours, 7 May 2011
By 
P. Rowe "wheathill" (UK) - See all my reviews
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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.

Purchasing this is a no brainer if you are a Doctor Who or ITC fan. It's also well worth a look if you followed the less remembered Survivors series which Alwyn Turner quite rightly suggests might be Nation's best work. What you're getting is a well researched account of one of the writers who helped shape television in the sixties and seventies and a lot of mostly skillfully expressed background detail. It really is well worth a look.

Now where is that biography of Brian Clemens?
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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 (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Terry Nation: The Man Who Invented the Daleks (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. There are lots of cool facts that Doctor Who fans will lap up, for example, Dalek means 'remote' or 'alien' in Croatian - a complete coincidence! I was astounded to find out that the Dalek's popularity even rivalled that of the Beatles at one point and there was Dalekmania in Britain after their first appearance on TV.

For me, the best part about this book was the part about the first appearance of the Daleks on television. There are quite a few funny anecdotes and for the modern Doctor Who fans it's astounding to see just how popular the Daleks were. I think this book would appeal to older audiences who lived through this time, as well as younger British television fans who'll be fascinated by TV history. If I'm perfectly honest, I wouldn't have thought a non-fic book about TV history to be that entertaining a read, interesting for sure, but not gripping like this page turner of a book turned out to be.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Exterminate! Exterminate! Biography Is Imperfect., 7 Oct 2013
By 
timelord007 (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Terry Nation: The Man Who Invented the Daleks (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.

You also get his thoughts on Survivors & how he's ending may have differed to what was broadcast but at the end of this book we know next to nothing of the actual man himself.

Maybe another author could release a more detailed book of the man who gave us the greatest baddies in the universe.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Where do Daleks come from?", 18 May 2011
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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 picture of Terry Nation the author. This is not so much of a biography of the man and information on his personal life is briefly covered e.g. a smallish section on his Cardiff childhood does cover the sort of family and setting he grew up in & likely influences on his writing but we are quickly joining him in London; writing his own material as a stand-up and being told "great material, poor delivery" leading to an inevitable change to writing full-time.
There's a great deal here that isn't so well known e.g. the help he was given in the form of money by Spike Milligan with a loose agreement to write some Goon Show material and his time at Associated London Scripts-home of Milligan, Galton & Simpson and Eric Sykes.
His association with Tony Hancock is a well known one (leading of course to the Daleks once Hancock sacked him and he needed work immediately) but we learn in some detail what it was like for Nation, writing for a truly talented man on the downslide in his career, who had some immense emotional problems-the audition to become a writer involved over 24 hours drinking & debating philosophy.

It's these sections of lesser known material that really make this books for me e.g his start in variety based radio shows, writing science fiction before Dr Who ( notably an adaptation of Isaac Asmiov's Caves of Steel)& his extensive work for ITC. For ITC in their golden age he worked on The Saint, The Baron, The Avengers & The Persuaders in the capacity variously as writer, script editor and some associate producer type role.

For his work on Dr Who, Turner's research is extensive enough to be aware of his abandoned historical The Red Fort. He covers the 2 non-Dalek stories but devotes more time to the Daleks, splitting them into 2 parts-the 60's when Dalek mania was at unequalled heights & the return to a smaller but more sustained popularity when he wrote new stories for Jon Pertwee & Tom Baker. Here as well as the well known stories behind this time he covers things such as the part ancillary merchandise played e.g Turner implies that having been thwarted in leaving a sign Davros did not die at the end of Genesis of the Daleks, Nation had an article on the character in a Dalek Annual include the idea that Davros was still alive, pre-empting his return in Destiny of the Daleks.

Blake's 7 & Survivors are also covered in detail, how the ideas for them came, what his input beyond being a writer was (e.g. suggesting a kind of story arc in series 2 of Blake)& why he ultimately walked from both. There's also detail on the other series he created "The Incredible Robert Baldick" which only ran to a pilot.

Turner traces Nation's sources from his own work and from other's, not without success but it does lead to my only critcism. It gets a little repetitive to be constantly told that there's an element of Caves of Steel in this script or that script. Play a Caves of Steel drinking game while reading and you won't go into work the next day!

Turner does not pretend that he was an unalloyed genius, he outlines why certain scripts are generally not considered a success, but in the main he successfully argues Nation's strengths as a writer.

The last section of the book is bittersweet, Nation finally realising a dream of working in Hollywood but at the price of seeing very little come to the screen. His time was often taken up with fruitless attempts to revive, Blake's 7, Survivors and after its cancellation, Dr Who.

Peppered with quotes from many including the man himself, I recommend this warmly to all fans of Terry Nation's work, who will all learn things about him. I'd love to see similar volumes on other writers such as Robert Holmes.
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3.0 out of 5 stars LACKING AS A BIOGRAPHY, 21 April 2013
By 
This review is from: Terry Nation: The Man Who Invented the Daleks (Paperback)
Now don't get me wrong, this book is thoroughly well researched but the writer tends to drift into depths that weren't needed. Maybe this is to flesh out the book a bit but it appears Mr Turner forgets partway through that he's writing a biography about Terry Nation and instead seems to prefer to write in great detail about other writers, actors and comedians.

Too little about Nation, too much about others and no happy medium. Maybe with a different title the book would be fine but I felt that the title of Terry Nation - The man who invented the Daleks was a bit misleading.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A BEAUTIFUL BOOK, 12 Feb 2013
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 science-fiction status of a man who gave rise to 'THE DALEKS' along with the timeless 'BLAKE'S 7' - to name but a few. Intelligently approached so its 5 stars from me.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dalek Man, 4 Mar 2012
By 
Shaun Cryer (Lancashire, England) - See all my reviews
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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. It's not just a gushing: Terry is wonderful affair, it also recognises the man's weaknesses as well as his strengths. Very entertaining, Nation wasn't keen on Whitaker's Dalek stories which in my opinion were two of the very best Dalek tales ever told... and his treatment of the designer was at best rather shoddy. The whole episode leaves a bad taste in the mouth. It reminds me of the Stan Lee / artist debate. Were the artists in question just artists working on Lee's concepts, or did their involvement constitute Co creation? Yes Nation created the Daleks in concept, but would they have been as successful without Ray's iconic designs?

All in all though a very good read.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A terrible disappointing book, 20 Jun 2012
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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 society. Terry Nations name isn't even mentioned until about 10 pages in! In fact, i couldn't even get past the first chapter as it is nothing do do with the life of Terry. I wouldn't recommend this book to anybody.
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3 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Man Who Invented Daleks, 11 Jun 2011
By 
C. Healiss (Cheshire, England) - See all my reviews
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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. The book could have been cut in half and still have space to describe the actual person it is supposed to be about. Not a good addition to my book collection, in fact I just left it behind on holiday.
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Terry Nation: The Man Who Invented the Daleks
Terry Nation: The Man Who Invented the Daleks by Alwyn W. Turner (Paperback - 3 Jan 2013)
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