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Terry Nation

Last updated 09 October 2013


Terry Nation (1930-1997)
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Terry Nation

Born: Fri 8th August 1930
Died: Sun 9th March 1997 (age: 66)

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Terry Nation was a Welsh novelist and screenwriter best known for creating the Daleks for Doctor Who and the BBC series Survivors and Blake's 7.

Nation was born in Cardiff in Wales. He initially worked in comedy working for Associated London Scripts alongside Johnny Speight and John Junkin. He wrote for scores of British comedians including Terry Scott, Eric Sykes, Harry Worth and Frankie Howerd. His big break came in 1962 when he was commissioned to write material for the comedian Tony Hancock, initially for Hancock's new ATV television series and later for his stage show.

Nation accompanied Hancock as his chief screenwriter on tour in 1963, but Hancock continually fell back onto his old material and failed to use Nation's scripts. The two quarrelled and Nation was fired. At the same time nation was approached by Doctor Who script Editor David Whitaker to contribute to the new science-fiction series. Whitaker had been impressed with a script Nation had written for the science fiction anthology series Out of this World for ABC. Nation took up the offer, writing the second Doctor Who serial - The Daleks  which saw the introduction of the creatures that would become the show's most popular monsters

Nation went on to contribute several further scripts to Doctor Who. Various Dalek spin-off material appeared, including a comic strip in TV Century 21 and annuals. 

He also contributed episodes to such shows as The Avengers, The Baron, The Persuaders!, The Champions, Department S, and The Saint. In the late 1960s Nation attempted to launch the Daleks as a series in their own right in the United States, but this was not successful.

In the early 1970s the BBC commissioned  him to create a new science fiction drama series. Survivors was a post-apocalyptic tale of the few remaining humans, the population having been devastated by a plague. The show was well received, but Nation's vision for it conflicted with that of producer Terence Dudley and the other two seasons were produced without his involvement. 

His next BBC creation, Blake's 7, was more successful. The show told the story of a group of criminals and political prisoners on the run from the sinister Federation in a stolen alien space ship of unknown origins. It ran for four seasons from 1978 to 1981. Nation wrote the entire first season of the series. His input decreased over the run, the overall direction eventually being controlled by script editor Chris Boucher, with Nation not writing at all for the fourth and final season. 

In 1980 Nation moved to Los Angeles, California where he developed programme ideas and worked for various studios. Little of his work in this time was as successful as his original period in the United Kingdom. He contributed to the American TV series MacGyver, in addition to television series such as A Masterpiece of Murder and A Fine Romance.

Nation died from emphysema in Los Angeles on 9 March 1997.






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