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Terence Joseph Nation (8 August 1930 – 9 March 1997)[1] was a Welsh television writer and novelist.

Terry Nation
Nation with a Dalek (left)
Nation with a Dalek (left)
BornTerence Joseph Nation
(1930-08-08)8 August 1930
Cardiff, Wales, UK
Died9 March 1997(1997-03-09) (aged 66)
Los Angeles, California, United States
OccupationTelevision writer
GenreScience fiction, comedy, horror
Notable worksCreating the Daleks for Doctor Who, as well as the TV series Survivors and Blake's 7
SpouseKate Nation
ChildrenJoel Nation and Rebecca Nation

Nation first made his name as a comedy writer before becoming a prolific writer for drama, working on many of the most popular British series of the 1960s and 1970s. He made a significant contribution to the long-running BBC science-fiction series Doctor Who from its outset, creating the villainous Daleks which established its early popularity and later devising the recurring character of Davros. Nation was also the creator of two series for the BBC, Survivors and Blake's 7.[2]

Life and careerEdit

Early yearsEdit

Born in Llandaff, Cardiff,[3] Nation initially worked in comedy, entering the industry in 1955 after a (possibly apocryphal) incident in which Spike Milligan bought a sketch that he had written because he thought that Nation appeared hungry.[4] During the 1950s, Nation worked with John Junkin and Johnny Speight for the writers' agency Associated London Scripts,[1] where he collaborated on hundreds of radio plays for comedians such as Terry Scott, Eric Sykes, Harry Worth and Frankie Howerd.[5]

His career break came in 1962, when he was commissioned to write material for Tony Hancock – first for Hancock's unsuccessful series for Associated Television broadcast on ITV in 1963, and then his stage show. Although Nation accompanied Hancock as his chief screenwriter on tour in 1963, Hancock would regularly neglect Nation's scripts in favour of recycling his old material. Following an argument over this, Hancock fired Nation.

Doctor WhoEdit

Prior to his association with Hancock, Nation had declined an offer from scriptwriter David Whitaker to write for a new science-fiction programme that was entering production at the BBC; Whitaker had been impressed by a script that Nation had written for the ABC anthology series Out of this World. Now unemployed, and with a young family to support, Nation contacted Whitaker and accepted the offer, writing the second Doctor Who serial, The Daleks (also known as The Mutants[6] and The Dead Planet). The serial introduced the eponymous extraterrestrial villains that would quickly become the series' most popular and enduring monsters, and resulted in a major merchandising success for the BBC.

Nation contributed further scripts to Doctor Who. In 1965, Nation and Dennis Spooner co-wrote the 12-part serial The Daleks' Master Plan, after which Nation, who still held the copyright to the Daleks,[7] attempted to launch a Dalek spin-off TV series in the United States. Various other Dalek tie-in material appeared, including comic strips in the children's weekly TV Century 21 and annuals; such material was frequently credited to Nation, even when written by others. Between 1966 and 1972, appearances by the Daleks in Doctor Who became less frequent and were written for the series by other authors.

In 1973, following an eight-year absence from scriptwriting for the series, Nation returned to writing for the Daleks on Doctor Who with the Third Doctor serial Planet of the Daleks. In 1998, readers of Doctor Who Magazine voted Nation's 1975 serial Genesis of the Daleks the greatest Doctor Who story of all time.[8] In the story, Nation introduced the character of Davros, the creator of the Daleks, who went on to appear in further storylines.[9]

Nation also wrote two non-Dalek scripts for Doctor Who, The Keys of Marinus[6] in 1964, which introduced the Voord and The Android Invasion in 1975,[6] which introduced the Kraal. During this time, Nation also wrote scripts for series such as The Avengers,[10] The Baron,[10] The Champions,[10] Department S, The Persuaders![10] and The Saint.[10]

Nation's work on Doctor Who was the subject of the documentary Terror Nation, a special feature on the BBC DVD release of the serial Destiny of the Daleks.[11]

Survivors and Blake's 7Edit

Having returned to writing for Doctor Who, the BBC commissioned Nation to create a new science-fiction drama series. First broadcast in 1975, Survivors is the post-apocalyptic story of the last humans on Earth after the world's population has been devastated by plague. Although the series was well received, Nation's creative vision conflicted with that of producer Terence Dudley,[1] and the final two seasons were produced without Nation's involvement.

Meanwhile, screenwriter Brian Clemens claimed that he had related the concept for Survivors to Nation in the late 1960s, having registered it with the Writers' Guild of Great Britain in 1965; Nation denied the allegations. Although the case was ultimately brought before the High Court, both sides withdrew from the proceedings after their legal costs mounted.[12]

The production of Nation's next BBC creation, Blake's 7, experienced fewer problems. This series follows a group of criminals and political prisoners who are on the run from the evil "Terran Federation", piloting a stolen spaceship of unknown origin. Blake's 7 ran for four series from 1978 to 1981.

Although Nation scripted the whole of the first season of Blake's 7, his creative influence subsequently declined[13] in the following two seasons despite writing some key episodes, as script editor Chris Boucher exerted a greater influence on those seasons. Nation didn't write any episodes in the fourth season of Blake's 7. In the 1980s, Nation attempted, without success, to secure funding for a fifth season of Blake's 7. During the 1970s, Nation wrote a children's novel for his daughter Rebecca (after whom he named the character of Rebec in the 1973 Doctor Who serial Planet of the Daleks) titled Rebecca's World: Journey to the Forbidden Planet, as well as a novel based on Survivors.[14][15]

United StatesEdit

In 1980, Nation moved to Los Angeles, where he developed programme ideas and worked for various production studios. Little of his work from this time was as successful as that of his earlier period in Britain. He wrote scripts for the TV series MacGyver (1985) and A Fine Romance (1989).[16]


Nation died from emphysema in Los Angeles on 9 March 1997, aged 66.[1] Shortly before his death, he had been collaborating with actor Paul Darrow on another attempt to revive Blake's 7.

Writing creditsEdit

Production Notes Broadcaster
The Idiot Weekly, Price 2d ITV
Friday the 13th
  • Television film (co-written with John Junkin, 1957)
Val Parnell's Startime
  • Unknown episodes (co-written with John Junkin, 1958)
The Ted Ray Show
  • 8 episodes (co-written with John Junkin, 1958–1959)
Hi, Summer!
  • 14 episodes (co-written with George Wadmore, Hugh Woodhuose and John Junkin, 1959)
The Jimmy Logan Show
  • 8 episodes (co-written with John Junkin, 1959–1960)
And the Same to You N/A
What a Whopper
  • Feature film (1961)
Out of This World
  • "Imposter" (1962)
  • "Botany Bay" (1962)
  • "Immigrant" (1962)
ABC Television
No Hiding Place
  • "A Run for the Sea" (1962)
  • "The Assistant" (1963)
  • "The Night Out" (1963)
  • "The Reporter" (1963)
  • "The Writer"" (1963)
Doctor Who

62 episodes (1963–1966, 1973–1975, 1979):

ITV Play of the Week
  • "Uncle Selwyn" (1964)
Story Parade BBC2
Out of the Unknown
  • "The Fox and the Forest" (1965)
The Baron
  • 17 episodes (1966–1967)
The Saint
  • 14 episodes (1964–1965, 1968)
The Champions
  • "The Fanatics" (1968)
  • "The Body Snatchers" (1969)
Department S
  • "A Cellar Full of Silence" (1969)
  • "The Man in the Elegant Room" (1969)
The Avengers
  • "Invasion of the Earthmen" (1968)
  • "Noon-Doomsday" (1968)
  • "Legacy of Death" (1968)
  • "Take Me to Your Leader" (1969)
  • "Thingumajig" (1969)
  • "Take-Over" (1969)
And Soon the Darkness N/A
The Persuaders!
  • 7 episodes (1971–1972)
The Incredible Robert Baldick
  • Television film (1972)
The House in Nightmare Park N/A
The Protectors
  • "Bagman" (1973)
  • "Baubles, Bangles and Beads" (1973)
  • "Route 27" (1974)
  • "A Pocketful of Posies" (1974)
  • "Color Him Dead" (co-written with Brian Clemens, 1974)

7 episodes (1975)

  • "The Fourth Horseman" (1975)
  • "Genesis" (1975)
  • "Gone Away" (1975)
  • "Garland's War" (1975)
  • "The Future Hour" (1975)
  • "Something of Value" (1975)
  • "A Beginning" (1975)
Blake's 7

19 episodes (1978–1980)

  • "The Way Back" (1978)
  • "Space Fall" (1978)
  • "Cygnus Alpha" (1978)
  • Time Squad" (1978)
  • "The Web" (1978)
  • "Seek-Locate-Destroy" (1978)
  • "Mission to Destiny" (1978)
  • "Duel" (1978)
  • "Project Avalon" (1978)
  • "Breakdown" (1978)
  • "Bounty" (1978)
  • "Deliverance" (1978)
  • "Orac" (1978)
  • "Redemption" (1979)
  • "Pressure Point" (1979)
  • "Countdown" (1979)
  • "Aftermath" (1980)
  • "Powerplay" (1980)
  • "Terminal" (1980)
  • "The Golden Triangle" (1985)
  • "Thief of Budapest" (co-written with Stephen Downing, 1985)
  • "Target MacGyver" (1985)
A Masterpiece of Murder
  • Television film (co-written with Andrew J. Fenady, 1986)
A Fine Romance
  • "The Tomas Crown Affair" (1989)

Awards and nominationsEdit

Year Award Work Category Result Reference
1975 Writers' Guild of Great Britain Award Doctor Who Best Children's Drama Script (with Brian Hayles, Robert Holmes, Malcolm Hulke and Robert Sloman) Won

In 2013, Nation was commemorated with a blue plaque at the house in Cardiff where he was born.[3]


  • Survivors (1976, ISBN 0698106644)
  • Rebecca's World: Journey to the Forbidden Planet (1978, ISBN 0903387069)


  1. ^ a b c d "BFI Screenonline: Nation, Terry (1930-97) Biography". Retrieved 10 September 2016.
  2. ^ "Celebrating the life of Terry Nation - creator of the Daleks". Wales Online. 11 June 2011. Retrieved 26 June 2015.
  3. ^ a b "Doctor Who: Daleks' creator Terry Nation has blue plaque at Cardiff home". BBC News. 20 November 2013. Retrieved 26 June 2015.
  4. ^ "Kasterborous Doctor Who News and Reviews / Dalek Creator Terry Nation Chats In Archive Fanzine Interview!". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 10 September 2016.
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b c "BBC Two - An Adventure in Space and Time - Terry Nation". 1 January 1970. Retrieved 10 September 2016.
  7. ^ Lewis, Paul (16 April 2008). "Publisher's daleks claim exterminated". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media Limited. Retrieved 2 February 2015.
  8. ^ Martin, Dan (23 May 2013). "Genesis of the Daleks: Doctor Who classic episode #7". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 26 June 2015.
  9. ^ "Terry Molloy: I, Davros". BBC. Retrieved 26 June 2015.
  10. ^ a b c d e Hardee, Malcolm (28 January 2012). "Terry Nation, Creator of The Daleks, 'Blake's 7' and 'Survivors', Really Wanted To Be A Stand-Up Comedian". Huffington Post. Retrieved 10 September 2016.
  11. ^ Brew, Simon (6 December 2007). "Doctor Who: Destiny of the Daleks DVD review". Den of Geek. Retrieved 26 June 2015.
  12. ^ Bignell, Jonathan and O'Day, Andrew: Terry Nation, p. 21, Manchester University Press, 2004; ISBN 978-0-71906-547-7.
  13. ^ "Media : Nation, Terry : SFE : Science Fiction Encyclopedia".
  14. ^ Tarrant, Graham "Obituary: Terry Nation", The Independent, 13 March 1997.
  15. ^ Barker, Dennis. "Obituary: Terry Nation – The Man who Invented the Daleks". The Guardian, 13 March 1997.
  16. ^ Terry Nation on IMDb

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit