Originally released back in 2011, the book tells the story of Nation’s formative years as a boy in Wales, as a comedy writer for people like Spike Milligan and Tony Hancock and then onto his creation and protection of the Daleks and the name behind so many recognizable shows such as Survivors and Blake’s 7, and contributor to non-Dalek Doctor Who episodes, as well as The Saint, The Avengers, and even MacGyver in the USA.
As I remarked when interviewing the author:
The book is quite a read, and covers almost 50 years of television; this should come as no surprise to anyone that has read Turner’s previous works such as Crisis? What Crisis? and Rejoice! Rejoice!, two sizable accounts of usually nostalgic eras (the books cover Britain in the 1970s and 1980s) that are looked back on with some rare but welcome realism.
I also asked Alywn about Nation’s fondness for particular themes and character traits in his shows.
The same traits do turn up with great regularity in Nation’s work. He did like a hero who eschews violence and relies on his own improvisations to escape dangerous situations. And a lot of it comes from the thrillers he read as a child. Heroes like Sherlock Holmes, the Scarlet Pimpernel, the Saint – these characters might occasionally resort to fisticuffs or even, in extremis, to a weapon, but mostly they depended on their wits.
And that has an enduring appeal: the idea that brute force can be vanquished by intelligence and ingenuity, that a protagonist can triumph despite overwhelming odds. This is how we’d like to believe the world works, even if the evidence from real life suggests that it’s not quite true.
Turner has researched Terry Nation’s career with considerable detail and while the book is light on personal scandal it is heavy on charting one of televisions most auspicious careers. Whether you’re a Doctor Who fan or simply an admirer of classic TV, Terry Nation: The Man Who Invented the Daleks should be on your bookshelf.
Although the hardback edition is apparently no longer available online, the new paperback version is, costing just £7.19 from Amazon(the RRP is listed as £8.99). Meanwhile, The Man Who Invented the Daleks is also also available for Kindle-compatible devices for just £6.47.
Note that prices are subject to change!