A British writer and producer (1930-1997), born in Wales.
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.
He created two very well-known UK shows.
- Blake's 7. He wrote every episode of the first series, and occasionally thereafter, gradually reducing his role until he did not write anything for the fourth and final series.
- Survivors. An After the End show, about the aftermath of a massive plague. Nation only worked on the first season, before leaving due to creative differences with the producer, Terence Dudley (who would also work on Doctor Who). He also wrote a novel adaptation, which formed the basis for the 2008 reimagining.
His most famous creation, though, was the Daleks. He came up with the concept and wrote the original Dalek story for Doctor Who, while Raymond Cusick devised the iconic design. Contributing in a huge way to the show's longevity, Nation was asked to write several other stories over the years (with his writing contributions spanning from the show's first season in 1963 to "Destiny of the Daleks", airing in 1979 to open Season 17) , all but two featuring the Daleks.
Because of how character rights worked in BBC scriptwriters' contracts at the time, Nation maintained ownership of the Daleks himself, which he parlayed into a very successful run of annuals and comics during the "Dalekmania" of the Sixties. In later years, he barred The BBC from publishing books about the Daleks that didn't have his story approval- the writer John Peel (not the DJ) was the only writer he allowed to novelise the Sixties Dalek serials (including the two actually written by David Whitaker), and the Virgin New Adventures never did a Dalek novel at all (though they made some cameos). Even after his death, his estate maintains a tight hold on the Daleks and nearly scuttled the eponymous Dalek episode of the revived series. The frequent claim that the Nation estate mandate the Daleks are obliged to appear at least once every year is a myth, though. The actual ownership situation is slightly complicated, because while the Nation estate owns the concept, the designer Raymond Cusick was a BBC staffer, so the Beeb owns the visual design. The two parties have a gentleman's agreement to "share custody", as it were, and neither can do anything with the Daleks without the approval of the other.
This author provides examples of:
- Crapsack World/Dystopia: His science-fiction stories all take place in these sorts of worlds/universes/governments.
- Creator Thumbprint:
- Characters named Tarrant.
- Snarking. Lots of snarking.
- Villains who are basically just fantastical Nazis.
- Plagues and biological warfare. Most notably in Survivors but also used in many of his Doctor Who stories and at times in Blake's 7.
- Evolution imagined as a teleological force with predictable goals.
- Man Eating Plants and jungle warfare.
- narrative padding-out where a lot of screentime is spent on an attempted escape from captivity that is foiled at the last minute. A very specific type of
- Twisted Ankle:Terrance Dicks: He had a habit of falling into patterns. There were a lot of recurrent themes: people planting bombs, and being chased and spraining an ankle. In Terry's scripts, people were always spraining their ankles at moments of crisis.