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The Man Who Invented the Daleks: The Strange Worlds of Terry Nation Hardcover – 25 May 2011

3.8 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 356 pages
  • Publisher: Aurum Press Ltd; First Edition edition (25 May 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1845136098
  • ISBN-13: 978-1845136093
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 3.3 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 667,105 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


‘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’


‘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’


‘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’


‘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’


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

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Strictly speaking this isn’t a biography of Terry Nation and in truth it isn’t marketed as such. It’s ‘The man who invented the Daleks’. If you are looking for information on Terry Nation as a person then this really isn’t the book for you and there isn’t one anyway. Any references to the personal life of the man are few and far between and are largely culled from interviews he gave for Horizon magazine which was the fan mag for Blakes 7. There is no claim anywhere in the book that this is a revelatory biography about him. It is very much a book of his professional writing life and the contribution he made to popular TV culture from the 1960s to the 1990s. His contributions are put in a wider context of the development of comedy and science fiction on TV.

In reality, from reading between the lines it would seem that Terry Nation is not really biography material. By all accounts of those who worked with him he was an affable family man who worked hard. He stayed married to the one woman all his life, wasn’t an alcoholic or drug user (although he was a chronic smoker which eventually killed him). He wasn’t a womaniser, gambler or obnoxious to all around him like Hancock or Waugh. So far so bad for a biographer. The further reading section on page 331 isn’t very extensive reflecting how much he kept a low profile although he was very protective of his Daleks and their image. Most of that protective work was carried out in conversations and correspondence with officials at the BBC and not in the public domain.
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