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Terry Nation

Writing For The Screen

By Paul Scoones

According to certain editions of the game Trivial Pursuit, Terry Nation created Doctor Who. This error is perhaps understandable when you consider just how important Nation was to the early success of the series. If he hadn't created the Daleks, which turned the show into an overnight success and Nation into a very wealthy man, Doctor Who would probably never have lasted beyond its first year. Although Terry Nation will always be most widely remembered for the Daleks, he has also received considerable recognition for two other BBC series which he did create, Survivors and Blake's 7. Nation also wrote for numerous other telefantasy and adventure series, including The Saint, The Avengers and MacGyver. Terry Nation died in March this year. This article pays tribute by charting the writer's prolific career and placing his Doctor Who work in context with his work on many other shows.

Born in Llandaff, South Wales in 1930, Terry Nation started work in his father's furniture company when he left school at the age of 16, and became a commercial traveller for the business. By the time he was 25, Nation had set his sights on show business and quit his job. Encouraged by the fact that his friends laughed at his jokes in the pub, he decided to make a career for himself as a stand-up comedian, writing and performing his own comedy. "I decided the trick was to go to London. I did a few auditions and I was... terrible! Really bad. Then somebody said 'The jokes are good; it's you that's terrible."' 1

Nation went to see Spike Milligan, who was involved in a small self-managed scriptwriters agency called Associated London Scripts. Milligan was very encouraging to the struggling comic, and advanced him the money for a Goon Show script. Nation wrote one that night, delivered it the next morning and although the script was never used, he was signed up by the agency and was soon established as a radio comedy writer, churning out scripts for many shows, including All My Eye and Kitty Bluett. Idiot Weekly, The Jimmy Logan Show, Val Parnell's Showtime and the Floggits. In all he wrote more than 200 radio comedy shows, producing material performed by comedians such as Peter Sellers, Harry Worth, Frankie Howerd and Eric Sykes.

After writing radio comedy for some time, Nation decided that he wanted to branch out into drama scripts, but found himself typecast. The only work he was being offered was on comedy shows. Nation wrote his own comedy theatre play, called Uncle Selwyn "which was incredibly well received wherever it was staged." 2 Uncle Selwyn was written on the advice of his good friend Clive Exton, a television drama writer who was working for Sydney Newman. In 1962 Newman was formulating a science fiction anthology series called Out of this World, at ABC (later Thames Television), and on Exton's recommendation, Nation was invited to write an episode. Nation's first script was Imposter, an adaptation of a short story by Philip K. Dick. He subsequently wrote two further episodes, Immigrant (an adaptation of a Clifford Simak story), and Botany Bay, which was Nation's own creation.

Although Nation had made a break into drama writing, he continued to accept comedy-writing work. Around the middle of 1962 the famous comedian Tony Hancock approached him. Hancock was planning a new theatre tour, and wanted a writer to help him develop fresh material for his act. Nation and Hancock hit it off immediately, both as friends and writing partners, and went for an entire weekend without sleep, just drinking, talking and writing. Nation helped Hancock rehearse his act and then went on tour with him during September and October 1962. Hancock had Nation positioned in the wings during every act, ready to deliver a prompt, but never called on him to do so. Hancock's career was declining as he turned to alcohol and became increasingly depressed and introspective. He insisted that Nation share a room with him. "I had finished the writing," Nation recalled, "and he could have got rid of me at any time. But he was paying me a hundred pounds a week virtually to baby-sit with him." 3

After the tour, Nation began work on an ATV television series for the comedian, simply called Hancock. Nation scripted the first episode, which screened in early January 1963, and when the series suffered an almost immediate ratings decline, Hancock brought Nation in as script editor. "The series was doomed anyway," 4 said Nation, because of Hancock's drinking problems and refusal to rehearse the scripts.

Soon after the series ended, Terry and his wife Kate went on a three week Spring holiday with Hancock and his wife Cicely on Hancock's boat in the South of France, and by July 1963 of that year Nation was once again accompanying Hancock on another theatre tour. Nation had written material for Hancock's stand-up routine every Thursday night at Nottingham's Theatre Royal. Whilst in Nottingham, Nation received a call from his agent telling him about an invitation to write for a brand new BBC family science fiction television series called Doctor Who. Nation's work on Out of this World had caught the attention of Doctor Who story editor David Whitaker, who was on the hunt for experienced science fiction scriptwriters to recruit for the series. Whitaker forwarded a copy of the writer's guide to Nation's agent, Beryl Vertue at Associated London Scripts, with an invitation to submit a story proposal.

Vertue phoned Nation in Nottingham to tell him about the offer and the writer sought Hancock's opinion. Hancock, possibly motivated by insecurities over the possibility of losing Nation to other work, derided the BBC's offer to work on what was touted as a children's series. Nation agreed that he wasn't suited to the task and instructed his agent to refuse the offer. "I remember feeling vaguely insulted at being asked to write for 'children's hour'. As Hancock said, 'A writer of your calibre being asked to work for flippin' kids!' I turned the job down immediately." 5 That evening, Nation tried to get Tony Hancock to try a new piece of material that he'd written. Hancock refused, and they had a heated argument. "I'm not sure if I was fired or if I walked out," 6 recalled Nation but he found himself on a train to London suddenly unemployed.

When he arrived back in London, he contacted his agent who had fortunately not yet passed on Nation's refusal to the BBC, and met David Whitaker. Nation's proposed storyline, entitled The Survivors, was commissioned as a six-part story (later expanded to seven parts), under the title The Mutants. Nation did not regard the project with any special regard, believing that the series would be short-lived. "When I wrote that first block of Dalek episodes I worked on the assumption 'Take the money and fly like a thief'. 'What a dumb show,' I said." 7 Although Nation had little faith in the series' success or longevity, his agent Beryl Vertue had very shrewdly negotiated a contract with the BBC which gave Nation ownership over his creations. "My agent very cleverly did that for me," recalled Nation. 8 This move secured Nation's financial success. "Nobody can use the Daleks without my consent in any situation. And if they use the Daleks, then I benefit financially from their use anywhere in the world." 9

Just after Nation was commissioned, Eric Sykes offered him a job which involved going to Sweden and writing a series of comedy shows on a cruise liner, which he also accepted, leaving him with very little time to complete the Doctor Who serial. "I started writing Doctor Who very quickly. Indeed, I wrote one episode per day, completing the serial in a week. I did the Swedish stint and then moved on to write episodes for Roger Moore in The Saint." 10 Initially Nation's story was placed fourth or fifth in the running order of the series, but in late September following the abandonment of an Anthony Coburn story called The Robots (also known as The Masters of Luxor), Nation's story was suddenly moved up to second place. What Nation did not know at the time was that his story was intensely disliked by Sydney Newman as not being at all what he had envisaged for Doctor Who. As there was nothing ready to replace it, The Mutants (later known as The Daleks to avoid confusion with the 1972 story of the same name), went into production.

The first appearance of the Daleks generated a huge amount of public interest in not only the series itself but also in the creator of the Daleks. "As a writer you are a very anonymous figure. Nobody notices your name on the screen. And, for the first time in my life, I started to get mail. It wasn't just a couple of letters: it was thousands of letters. They were coming by the sack-load." 11 "I was getting letters addressed to Dalek Man, London - which says much for the British Post Office actually getting the letters there!" 12

Although the popularity of the Daleks is undoubtedly due in part to their appearance, which was the work of BBC staff designer Raymond Cusick, Nation did conceive of the basic image he was after. "I'd been watching a performance of the Georgian state dancers and they seemed to me to be gliding across the floor, their feet invisible under their long costumes. It was the strangeness of this movement I wanted to recapture in the Daleks: creatures with no apparent motive power." 13

Before the success of Nation's story had been realised, he had been commissioned by David Whitaker in September 1963 to write a second story, called The Red Fort. This was to be an historical drama set during the Indian Mutiny of 1857 in Delhi. Public reaction to the Daleks convinced the production team to focus more on science fiction themes than had been originally intended, and Nation was asked to abandon The Red Fort story in early 1964 in favour of a new, six-part story with a futuristic theme, to occupy fifth place in the schedules which had at one time been the slot for Nation's Dalek tale. The Keys of Marinus was commissioned as a last minute replacement for Malcolm Hulke's The Hidden Planet story which had been dropped, and with production due to begin in March, Nation had just four weeks to deliver the scripts for the story. David Whitaker held a script conference with the writer at Nation's Maida Vale flat in early February. A draft version of the first episode script was ready three days later, and the six scripts were ready on time, but at the cost of other television work which Nation had agreed to do for Out of the Unknown (the BBC's answer to ABC TV's Out of this World) . "I had to be released from that contract so I could do... The Keys of Marinus." 14 Nation eventually wrote an episode for Out of the Unknown, broadcast in late 1965.

Nation was extremely busy during 1964. Early in the year he had been approached by Harry W. Junkin, the script editor of the popular television series The Saint, starring Roger Moore. Nation's first Saint script was well received and resulted in an immediate commission for six further episodes.

Around 1964 Nation also wrote a drama series adaptation of Ira Levin's novel A Kiss Before Dying for the new BBC-2 channel and an adaptation of the Isaac Asimov novel The Caves of Steel as a one-off, 75-minute play for the BBC's Story Parade series.

By the end of February 1964, Nation had agreed to write a third story for Doctor Who, with the working title The Return of the Daleks. David Whitaker recommended to producer Verity Lambert in April 1964 that Nation be appointed senior writer on the team, but perhaps in consideration of Nation's commitment to other shows such as The Saint, this proposal was not taken up. In October, during the making of The Dalek Invasion of Earth, Nation was commissioned for a new six part story to end the second season of Doctor Who. This story was, for reasons unknown, quickly abandoned and between December 1964 and February 1965, Nation wrote a new six-part story, featuring the Daleks with the working title of The Pursuers, which was later retitled The Chase. The story featured the Daleks meeting a robot adversary in the form of the Mechanoids. Nation had hoped that these creatures would similarly capture the public's imagination "You had your eye on the chance that anything could possibly catch on. The Mechanoids were manufactured as toys, but of course they didn't take off." 15

Nevertheless, Nation's ownership of the Daleks rapidly made him a very wealthy man, with earnings derived from merchandise license fees and the sale of the cinema rights of his first two Dalek serials in late 1964, by which time he had purchased Lynsted Park as a country residence for himself and his family, including both his and his wife's parents. Lynsted Park was a £15,000 Elizabethan mansion set in 35 acres of parkland near Teynham in Kent. "I wanted to have a house in the country where I was fairly self-reliant on food and water and things... We actually did buy a house in the country with some land. Once in a while it was even used for filming. I would somehow fund it with my writing. You will find this idea reflected throughout all of my work, a fear of the future, a fear of things going wrong. That you needed a fort where you could retreat and pull up a drawbridge." 16

Nation and David Whitaker collaborated on the writing of two annuals published by Souvenir Press. The first, published in June 1964 was The Dalek Book followed by The Dalek World published in October 1965. 1965 also saw the publication of The Dalek Pocketbook and Space Travellers Guide from Souvenir Press and Panther Books, credited as 'compiled and presented' by Terry Nation.

In February 1965, soon after the scripts for The Chase had been completed, Nation once more met with the Doctor Who production team to discuss what had become the obligatory annual Dalek serial. Story editor Dennis Spooner, producer Verity Lambert and Nation came up with the idea of foreshadowing the next six-part Dalek story with a single episode 'trailer' story featuring none of the regular cast. Nation immediately began work on this project, referred to as Dalek Cutaway (later retitled Mission to the Unknown).

In May 1965, at which point The Chase was in production, Nation had delivered the script and started work on the six-part story, for which he had not yet been formally commissioned. At this time, BBC Programme Controller Huw Wheldon passed down the instruction that the story was to be doubled in length (reputedly because his mother was a fan of the Daleks), and consequently Dennis Spooner had to ask Nation to rethink his ideas for the story. "Somebody way up top at the BBC thought it was a terrific show and if we had three months of it, we could really make a big impact. It was a terrible mistake to think that you could do three months of the same thing, but we did. I imagine by the end, people were getting very bored with the Daleks." 17

Incoming story editor Donald Tosh commissioned Dennis Spooner to write the additional six episodes of The Daleks' Master Plan, and Spooner in turn commissioned from Nation his six parts. The first five episodes and the seventh were written by Nation, and the rest, following basic a storyline discussed with Nation, by Spooner. "We may have met on a few occasions, and given a broad direction as to where the show was going. Dennis was script editor at that time, and we talked about it, and I went away and did my six, and then he did his six. We certainly didn't write them together." 18

Following his work on The Daleks' Master Plan, Nation took a break from the Daleks. He was credited as co-writer of the stage play The Curse of the Daleks, which made its debut in London in December 1965, but Nation reputedly had little to do with the writing of the script, and David Whitaker is said to have been responsible for most, if not all, of the script.

Nation was by this time hard at work on the ITV series The Baron, for which he was the script editor and also wrote 17 stories himself, including several which were co-written with Dennis Spooner.

By May 1966, Nation had formed his own production company, Lynsted Film Productions Limited. An agreement was reached between this company and the BBC to collaborate on a series of half-hour episodes called The Daleks. Nation wrote the script for the pilot episode, entitled The Destroyers, and filming was planned to begin in December 1966. The series concept featured the exploits of members of the Space Security Service in their battles with the Daleks. The SSS agents included Sara Kingdom (who had appeared in The Daleks' Master Plan), Jason Corey, David Kingdom (Sara's brother), and an android, Mark Seven. In September 1966, as Nation was gearing up to make the pilot episode, Souvenir Press published The Dalek Outer Space Book co-written by Terry Nation and Brad Ashton, which contained stories about SSS agents Sara Kingdom, Mark Seven and others.

Then in late November, the BBC pulled out of the project. During 1967, Nation tried to sell the series to the American NBC network, but without success. "I went to the United States and said I wanted to make a series called The Daleks. I went there to hustle and got very close to doing it... I had no copyright on the Doctor character but I could take the Daleks away and do it. I might have had to pay the BBC for their interest in the design, but they're my characters. Indeed, the BBC was going to go with me on this series at one point. But they weren't - at the time - a very good business organisation. And the whole thing sort of crumbled to dust." 19

The Doctor Who production team contacted Nation in December 1967 to discuss the possibility of doing a story featuring both the Daleks and the Cybermen. Nothing came of this approach, and it is uncertain as to whether discussions with Nation even took place.

Nation was featured in a January 1968 episode of the television series Whicker's World, hosted by Alan Whicker, in which Nation was filmed in and around his mansion estate with the Dalek props that had been given to him by the makers of the two Dalek films.

During 1968, Nation wrote four more episodes of The Saint. Dennis Spooner was script editor on an ITC series called The Champions, and commissioned Nation to write a couple of episodes. When Spooner later moved on to script-edit another ITC series called Department S in 1969, he once again commissioned a couple of episodes from Nation.

Nation had written a script for the long-running popular adventure series The Avengers in 1967. Nation's story, entitled Invasion of the Earthmen, impressed producer, Brian Clemens, and when script editor Philip Levene quit the show in June 1968, Clemens invited Nation to replace him. The seventh and final season (the Tara King episodes) was a turbulent period for The Avengers. The eventual transmission order of the 33 episodes differed considerably from the production order, so that the first story Nation wrote was screened third of the six episodes he wrote. Nation particularly enjoyed his time working on The Avengers. "Brian Clemens and I knew each other very well... We would tend to write and write for each other." 20 Clemens and Nation collaborated on a film script for Associated British, which was a film company headed by Clemens and Albert Fennell. The film was a thriller called And Soon the Darkness, which was released in 1970. Clemens later wrote scripts for a Nation script-edited series, The Persuaders!.

The Persuaders! was a big adventure series from ITC, starring Tony Curtis and Roger Moore. It was Nation's close association with ITC and The Saint star Roger Moore that earned him the post of associate producer and story consultant on The Persuaders! Nation also wrote seven episodes of this series. "A script editor," Nation said, "is not, necessarily, a bright, incredibly witty, funny man - he's a nuts and bolts man. It's hard graft. I never script edited Doctor Who, but I did The Persuaders! and The Avengers and so on - quite badly, I think. They never asked me to edit Who, though they did ask my advice - I remember suggesting Dennis Spooner. It always seemed to me it would be easier to write it myself than to try to adapt somebody else's script to fit in with our particular mould." 21

It was whilst working on The Persuaders! at Pinewood that Nation was approached by Barry Letts and Terrance Dicks, the then producer and script editor of Doctor Who, who explained that they were in pre-production of a Dalek storyline but had neglected to seek Nation's permission to use his creations. A deal was struck between Nation's agent, Roger Hancock, and the BBC so that the writer received a fee and a creator's credit on Louis Marks' Day of the Daleks, plus an assurance that Nation would be given first refusal on future Dalek stories.

When The Persuaders! came to an end after one season due to poor American ratings and reported problems with Tony Curtis, Nation once again worked as a freelance writer. Teaming up with long-time colleague Clive Exton, the two writers penned a comedy thriller film script that was produced by EMI films and released in 1973. The House in Nightmare Park, also known as Crazy House and Night of the Laughing Dead, starred comedian Frankie Howerd.

Nation pitched an idea to the BBC for a Victorian fantasy series about a scientific investigator entitled The Incredible Robert Baldick. The BBC made the pilot episode entitled Never Come Night for transmission in the Drama Playhouse season in 1972, but a series failed to eventuate.

Since he was no longer busy on a permanent series, when the Doctor Who production office approached Nation for permission to make a Dalek story for the show's tenth season, he exercised his right to pen the story himself. Destination: Daleks was written in mid 1972, and script editor Terrance Dicks reworked the scripts and changed the title to Planet of the Daleks. A character in the story, Rebec, was named after Nation's daughter Rebecca.

The Dalek serial for Season Eleven arose from discussions between Dicks and Nation in early 1973. Dicks outlined the idea of a space expedition discovering a once great civilisation that had fallen into barbarism. Nation's storyline, entitled Doctor Who and the Exxilons, was handled by incoming script editor Robert Holmes. Holmes performed a great deal of editing on Nation's draft scripts and changed the title to Death to the Daleks.

That same year, Nation wrote four stories for the Gerry Anderson ITC detective series The Protectors, and towards the end of the year was commissioned to produce another Doctor Who Dalek storyline for Season Twelve. His outline was felt by Letts and Dicks to reuse too many elements from previous Dalek serials, and instead Letts suggested to Nation that he tell the story of the Daleks' origins. Nation was delighted by this idea, and developed a new storyline following discussions with incoming script editor Robert Holmes. Nation's storyline, entitled Daleks - Genesis of Terror, was quite close in structure to the finished serial. All six scripts were commissioned on 1 April 1974, and Nation had to deliver the completed scripts by 14 July. Genesis of the Daleks was to become Nation's favourite Doctor Who story. Acknowledging that his original conception of the Daleks was based on Hitler's totalitarian Nazi regime, Nation devised the Kaled Elite run by Davros. The writer was also horrified by the idea that only a select elite might survive a global war.

Survival after a major disaster, and civilisation breaking down and returning to the basics were themes that interested Nation a great deal. Since 1973 he had been developing a BBC series that followed the progress of a small group of people following the decimation of the world's population by an outbreak of a killer disease. The series, Survivors, was produced around the same time as Genesis of the Daleks and made its debut shortly after Genesis of the Daleks ended transmission. "I was very committed to that series and still very concerned about our increasing reliance on technology. In Survivors I was trying to say 'Here am I, a man of the generation that landed men on the moon, and I don't know how to make an iron axe-head'... That bothers me because I think at some point I am going to be thrown on my own resources by either world cataclysm or personal cataclysm. And I don't know anything. That's the message that Survivors was supposed to offer." 22

Nation wrote seven episodes of the show's first season, but his vision for the series differed from that of producer Terence Dudley, and Nation consequently decided not to write any more episodes of Survivors. He submitted a new storyline for Doctor Who, which went under various working titles during its development, including The Enemy Within, Return to Suknan and The Kraals. Renamed The Android Invasion, the story was produced in mid-1975. "The Android lnvasion was a nice idea. It was an intriguing mystery and I quite liked the idea of setting up a bizarre situation. I don't think the story fulfilled my vision, but overall, I think it was an interesting story." 23

1975 also saw the publication of Terry Nation's first novel, Rebecca's World: Journey to the Forbidden Planet. This was a children's book about a young girl who is spirited away to a distant planet, where she embarks on a dangerous quest. Nation dedicated the book to his family, but particularly to his daughter Rebecca. The book was first published by Andre Deutsch and has remained in print ever since. Nation then wrote a second novel, this time for adults, based on the Survivors television series. Futura Publications first published the novel in 1976. He found writing the Survivors novel very tough and was disappointed by the reviews it received. "If I write a novel I am instantly dismissed as being a television writer who has ventured into the rarefied world of the book writer. I sell a lot of copies, but I really shouldn't be there." 24

Between 1975 and 1978, World International published four editions of Terry Nation's Dalek Annual. The stories in these books featured the android Mark Seven, who had previously appeared in Nation's 1966 The Dalek Outer Space Book. The lead characters in all four books were Joel Shaw and Reb Shavron. The stories, although uncredited, were copyrighted to Terry Nation and considering that the lead characters were clearly named after Nation's children Joel and Rebecca, there can be little doubt over the identity of the writer of these annuals. The Doctor Who and the Daleks Omnibus from Artus Publishing Ltd in 1976 is credited as 'edited by Terry Nation'. Again, the text material (other than two abridged novelisations by Terrance Dicks) is copyrighted to Nation.

During 1975, Terry Nation was invited by the BBC to submit proposals for a new series. After pitching several prepared ideas, none of which were accepted, Nation came up with another suggestion on the spot. "I had this idea: 'The Dirty Dozen in Space'... I said it was the Dirty Dozen, led by Robin Hood!" 25 Nation was almost immediately commissioned to write all 13 episodes of the first season of what he called Blake's 7. Nation contributed a further six stories, three for the second season and three for the third. He also acted as a series consultant, assisting producer David Maloney and script editor Chris Boucher in determining the running themes of each season and new regular characters. Nation's involvement in Blake's 7 decreased during its second season. He had aimed to write five of the thirteen episodes, including a two-part climax, but ran out of time to write the final two episodes of the season, This two-part climax was to have revolved around an alien invasion threat in which the Liberator crew and the Federation joined forces to fight off the alien invaders, and although this basic idea was retained, Nation had hinted in interviews during 1978 that the Daleks would appear in the second season, and it seems likely that the Daleks were originally intended to be the alien invaders.

Nation's involvement in the second series of Blake's 7 had to be curtailed due to his commitments to another project he was developing, a television movie called Bedouin. This was conceived as a mystical fantasy adventure story set in the Arabian Desert around the tenth to twelfth century. The project was to have been made either for cinema or for an American television network and had the backing of a production company in Geneva but it failed to materialise.

Instead, Nation began developing the third season of Blake's 7. He scripted the first two episodes, which established two new Liberator crewmembers following the departure of Blake and Jenna. Nation's last contribution to Blake's 7 was an episode called Terminal, which ended the third season and was, at the time it was made, intended to be the final episode of the show.

At the same time as he was beginning work on the third season of Blake's 7 Nation also started discussions about a new Doctor Who Dalek story with the new script editor, Douglas Adams. In November 1978, Adams approached Nation requesting permission to make a new Dalek story as an audience drawcard to open Season Seventeen. The terms of Nation's contract with the BBC that dated back to 1972 gave him the right of first refusal to any new Dalek story, and Nation agreed on the conditions that he could write the story himself and bring back Davros, a character on which Nation also owned the copyright. By mutual agreement between Nation and the production team, K9 was omitted from the story. Following Nation's late delivery of the scripts for Destiny of the Daleks in March 1979, Adams had to perform some hasty re-writes to bring the serial within Doctor Who's budget. Adams also introduced a lot of humorous dialogue that Nation disliked.

Shortly after delivering the scripts for Destiny of the Daleks Nation and his family immigrated to California in the United States. "I needed some new excitement in my life. I packed the family up and said, 'We're going out for a trial couple of months."' 26 In fact the Nation family never returned to live in England. Upon his arrival in America, Nation was immediately hired by Columbia to work on developing new series, beginning with one called The Young Arthur, based on the early years of King Arthur. "They paid me a lot of money, gave me an office and a secretary and paid my expenses. The idea was that I was to come up with ideas for television. So that was wonderful; there I was, making this bundle of money, but getting nothing on, which was very frustrating." 27

Nation then worked for Twentieth Century Fox, then MGM for two years and then a year at Paramount, at which time he was involved in the development of MacGyver. He served as a producer and writer on the first season of MacGyver, and found it a very frustrating experience. "We were never able to determine which way the character was to go. We would make a decision and then the other producers would say 'change this,' and we would change it and then the network would say 'change this,' and we would change that. Richard Dean Anderson was absolutely wonderful, but making the show was very frustrating." 28 Nation wrote the opening sequences (called 'Gambits') for three early episodes.

His location and work for Hollywood prevented Nation from having any involvement with the fourth and final season of Blake's 7. "I had nothing to do with the fourth year. I regret that enormously... My name is on the show, I should have been looking after it. I didn't." 29 Nation was also unable to continue to write for Doctor Who. He was invited to write a Dalek story in late 1981 for the show's twentieth season, but had to turn down the offer. Although he gave permission for other writers to use the Daleks, he requested script approval.

Nation eventually became disillusioned by the Hollywood studio system. Very little of his work went into production, other than MacGyver, episodes of a short-lived series called A Fine Romance, and a 1986 made-for-television movie called A Masterpiece of Murder. "I... got very little on the air, and I was very frustrated by it. I just didn't want to work at the studios any more, so I quit and waited for people to say, 'Good God, he's available!' But nobody did!" 30 For a while Nation seriously considered Blake's 7, and in 1994 had plans to write a 'fifth season' as a novel. He became a regular figure at science fiction conventions, always willing to discuss his extensive career in telefantasy. He was also peripherally involved in the development of Philip Segal's Doctor Who film project, which in an earlier version of the script was to have featured Davros and a new design of Dalek. Commenting on his involvement in the project, Nation said, "I'm listed as a consultant. Nobody asks me anything, but... We negotiated the rights." 31

Terry Nation suffered from ill health in his last few years, and finally succumbed to emphysema in his sleep at his home in Pacific Pallisades, California, on 9 March 1997, aged 66. He is survived by his wife Kate, and two children, Joel and Rebecca.


  1. Interview by John Peel. "Terry 'Dalek' Nation: A Man of Ideas." Starburst No.200 (April 1995), p.33
  2. Starburst No.200, p.34
  3. Quoted by Freddie Hancock & David Nathan. Hancock (1986), p.128
  4. Hancock, p.132
  5. Interview by Peter Haining. Doctor Who: A Celebration (1983), p.33
  6. Interview by Joe Nazarro. Doctor Who Magazine No.145 (February 1988), p.18
  7. Quoted by Marcus Hearn. "The Dawn of Knowledge." Doctor Who Magazine No.207 (December 1993), p14
  8. Interview by Patrick Daniel O'Neill. "Terry Nation: Of Tin Cans and Rebels." Starlog No.106 (May 1986), p.34
  9. John Fleming. "Terry Nation: The Starburst Interview" Starburst No.6 (January 1979), p.8
  10. Doctor Who: A Celebration, p33
  11. Starburst No.6, p.6
  12. Jean Airey & Laurie Haldeman. "Dalek Man, London. Starlog No.150 (January 1990), p.66
  13. Doctor Who: A Celebration, p.28
  14. Starburst No.200, p.35
  15. Doctor Who Magazine No.145, p.20
  16. Starburst No.200, p.36
  17. Doctor Who Magazine No.145, p.21
  18. Doctor Who Magazine No.145, p.21
  19. Starburst No.6, p.6
  20. Starburst No.200, p.35
  21. Interview by John Peel. "Nation States." for In-Vision No.39: Destiny of the Daleks (October 1992), p.5
  22. Starburst No.6, p.7-8
  23. Doctor Who Magazine No.145, p.21
  24. Starburst No.6, p.8
  25. Starburst No.200, p.37
  26. Starburst No.200, p.37
  27. Starburst No.200, p.37
  28. Jean Airey & Laurie Haldeman. "Terry Nation: More Blake's 7 to Tell?" Starlog No.117 (April 1987), p.32
  29. Starlog No.11 7, p.33
  30. Starburst No.200, p.38
  31. Starburst No.200, p.38


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    • "Interview: Terry Nation." Doctor Who Magazine No.145 (February 1988): p.17-21
    • "Terry Nation: Daleks, Davros and the Doctor." TV Zone No.35 (October 1992): p.16-19
  • O'Neill, Patrick Daniel. "Terry Nation: Of Tin Cans and Rebels." Starlog No.106 (May 1986): p.34-36
  • Peel, John. "Nation States."
    • In-Vision No.39: Destiny of the Daleks (October 1992): p.4-5
    • "Terry 'Dalek' Nation: A Man of Ideas." Starburst No.200 (April 1995): p.33-38
    • "Terry Nation Remembered." TV Zone No.90 (May 1997): p.20-23
  • Peel, John & Nation, Terry. The Official Doctor Who and the Daleks Book. St Martin's Press, 1988.
  • Pixley, Andrew.
    • "Archive: The Android Invasion." Doctor Who Magazine No.193 (November 1992): p.23-30
    • "Archive: Planet of the Daleks." Doctor Who Magazine No.202 (August 1993): p.23-30
    • "Archive: Genesis of the Daleks." Doctor Who Magazine No.250 (April 1997): p.34-41
  • Rogers, Dave. The ITV Encyclopedia of Adventure. Boxtree, 1988
  • Russell, Gary (editor).
    • Terry Nation's Blake's 7 Summer Special (1995)
    • Terry Nation's Blake's 7 Winter Special (1994)
    • Doctor Who Magazine Summer Special: The Definitive Guide to Thirty Years of the Daleks (1993).
  • Vahimagi, Tise. British Television: An Illustrated Guide. Oxford University Press, 1996.
  • Walker, John. Halliwell's Film & Video Guide 1997 Edition. Harper Collins 1996
  • Wiggins, Martin. "dalek/'da:lek/n M20..." Doctor Who Magazine No.252 (June 1997): p.6-11

Thank you to Jon Preddle for information, advice and providing many of the publications consulted in the preparation of this article.


Out of This World (ABC TV)

  • Imposter (21/7/62) based on a story by Phillip K Dick
  • Botany Bay (28/7/62)
  • Immigrant (8/9/62) based on a story by Clifford Simak

Doctor Who (BBC)

  • The Daleks (21/12/63 - 1/2/64)
  • The Keys of Marinus (11/4 -16/5/64)
  • The Dalek Invasion of Earth (21/11 -26/12/64)
  • The Chase (22/5 - 26/6/65)
  • Mission to the Unknown (9/10/65)
  • The Daleks' Master Plan (13/11/65-29/1/66) *
  • Planet of the Daleks (7/4 - 12/5/73)
  • Death to the Daleks (23/2 - 16/4/74)
  • Genesis of the Daleks (8/3 -12/4/75)
  • The Android Invasion (22/11 -13/12/75)
  • Destiny of the Daleks (1/9 -22/9/79)

* co-written with Dennis Spooner

Story Parade (BBC)

  • The Caves of Steel (5/6/64) based on a novel by Isaac Asimov

The Saint (ITC)

  • Lida (1 5/10/64) *
  • Jeannine (22/10/64) *
  • The Revolution Racket (5/1 1/64) *
  • The Contract (7/1/65) *
  • The Inescapable Word (28/1/65) *
  • The Sign of the Claw (4/2/65) *
  • Sibao (25/2/65) *
  • The Crime of the Century (4/3/65) *
  • The Man Who Could not Die (5/8/65) *
  • Invitation to Danger (6/10/68)
  • The Desperate Diplomat (20/10/68)
  • The Time to Die (10/11/68)
  • Where the Money is (29/12/68)

* adapted from stories by Leslie Charteris

Out of the Unknown (BBC)

  • The Fox and the Forest (22/11/65) adapted from a story by Ray Bradbury

The Baron (ITC)

  • Script editor
  • Epitaph for a Hero (5/10/66)
  • Something for a Rainy Day (12/10/66)
  • Masquerade 1: Masquerade (2/11/66) *
  • Masquerade 2: The Killing (9/11/66) *
  • And Suddenly You're Dead (23/11/66) *
  • Red Horse, Red Rider (19/10/66)
  • Portrait of Louisa (21/12/66)
  • There's Someone Close Behind You (28/12/66) *
  • Storm Warning 1: Storm Warning (4/1/67)
  • Storm Warning 2: The Island (11/1/67)
  • A Memory of Evil (25/1/67) *
  • The Seven Eyes of Midnight (15/2/67)
  • Night of the Hunter (22/2/67)
  • So Dark the Night (15/3/67) *
  • Roundabout (29/3/67)
  • The Man Outside (5/4/67)
  • Countdown (12/4/67)

* co-written with Dennis Spooner

The Champions (ITC)

  • The Fanatics (11/12/68)
  • The Bodysnatchers (19/2/69)

The Avengers (ABC)

  • Script editor, 1968-69
  • Legacy of Death (21/11/68)
  • Noon-Doomsday (28/11/68)
  • Invasion of the Earthmen (1 7/1/69)
  • Take Me To Your Leader (28/2/69)
  • Thinguma jig (28/3/69)
  • Take-over (18/4/69)

Department S (ITC)

  • A Cellar Full of Silence (23/3/69)
  • The Man in the Elegant Room (13/4/69)

The Persuaders! (ITC)

  • Story consultant
  • Take Seven (1/10/71)
  • Someone Like Me (29/10/71)
  • Chain of Events (26/11/71)
  • A Home of One's Own (31/12/71)
  • Five Miles to Midnight (7/1/72)
  • A Death in the Family (4/2/72)
  • Someone Waiting (25/2/72)

Drama Playhouse (BBC)

  • The Incredible Robert Baldick: Never Come Night (2/10/72)

The Protectors (ITC)

  • Bagman (28/9/73)
  • Baubles, Bangles and Beads (19/10/73)
  • Route 27 (1/2/74)
  • A Pocketful of Poises (22/2/74)

Survivors (BBC)

  • Series creator
  • The Fourth Horseman (16/4/75)
  • Genesis (23/4/75)
  • Gone Away (30/4/75)
  • Garland's War (21/5/75)
  • The Future Hour (25/6/75)
  • Something of Value (9/7/75)
  • A Beginning (16/7/75)

Blake's 7 (BBC)

  • Series creator & consultant, 1978-80
  • The Way Back (2/1/78)
  • Space Fall (9/1/78)
  • Cygnus Alpha (16/1/78)
  • Time Squad (23/1/78)
  • The Web (30/1/78)
  • Seek-Locate-Destroy (6/2/78)
  • Mission to Destiny (13/1/78)
  • Duel (20/2/78)
  • Project Avalon (27/2/78)
  • Breakdown (6/3/78)
  • Bounty (13/3/78)
  • Deliverance (20/3/78)
  • Orac (2 7/3/78)
  • Redemption (9/1/79)
  • Pressure Point (6/2/79)
  • Countdown (6/3/79)
  • Aftermath (7/1/80)
  • Powerplay (14/1/80)
  • Terminal (31/3/80)

MacGyver (Paramount)

  • Co-producer, 1985
  • Pre-credits sequence ('Gambit') writer for:
  • The Golden Triangle (6/10/85)
  • The Thief of Budapest (13/10/85) *
  • Target MacGyver (22/12/85)

* co-written with Stephen Downing

[Sunday Star Times clipping]
Sunday Star Times, 16 March 1997
[Evening Post clipping]
Evening Post, 20 March 1997

This item appeared in TSV 51 (June 1997).