Welsh television writer and novelist. “Terry” Nation was born 8 August 1930 in Llandaff, Cardiff, 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. During the 1950s, Nation worked with John Junkin and Johnny Speight for writers’ agency Associated London Scripts, where he collaborated on hundreds of radio plays for comedians such as Terry Scott, Eric Sykes, Harry Worth and Frankie Howerd. His career break came in 1962, when he was commissioned to write material for Tony Hancock – first for Hancock’s unsuccessful series broadcast on Associated Television 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.
BBC scriptwriter David Whitaker had been impressed by a script that Nation had written for the ABC anthology series Out of this World so he asked him to write for the BBC science-fiction programme Doctor Who. Nation began writing the second Doctor Who serial, The Daleks (also known as The Mutantsand The Dead Planet).Nation went on to contribute 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,[ 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 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. This story features the introduction of Davros, the creator of the Daleks. Nation also wrote two non-Dalek scripts for Doctor Who, The Keys of Marinus in 1964, which introduced the Voord and The Android Invasion in 1975, which introduced the Kraal.
Nation also contributed scripts to The Avengers, the Baron,The Champions, Department S, The Persuaders! and The Saint. 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. 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, and the final two seasons were produced without Nation’s involvement. Nation was involved in legal proceedings after screenwriter Brian Clemens claimed that Nation had stolen the idea for Survivors from him after he’d 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, it was subsequently dropped due to cost.
Nation’s next BBC creation, Blake’s 7, followed a group of criminals and political prisoners who are on the run from the evil “Terran Federation”, piloting a stolen spaceship of unknown origin. Running for four seasons from 1978 to 1981. Nation scripted the whole of the first season, however his creative influence waned as script editor Chris Boucher exerted a greater influence on later seasons. 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. In 1980, Nation moved to Los Angeles, where he developed programme ideas and worked for various production studios Where He penned scripts for the TV series MacGyver and A Fine Romance.
Unfortunately Nation suffered from poor health in his final years, and died from emphysema in Los Angeles on 9 March 1997. Shortly before his death, he had been collaborating with actor Paul Darrow on another attempt to revive Blake’s 7. In 2013, Nation was commemorated with a blue plaque at the house in Cardiff where he was born