Page Turner: The Man Who Invented the Daleks

I don’t think this will come as a shock to anyone, but I am a Whovian. You can blame my mum, she loved the series almost her whole life, so when it was rebooted back in 2009 she made my sister and I watch it. I fell head over heels for the show from the first episode.

Without a doubt, my favourite villains are the Daleks. I always got excited when they showed up, I even had my own remote-controlled Dalek that I remember naming Dahila. Recently I started binge-watching old episodes of Doctor Who and my favourites tend to still be the Dalek episodes, not to mention the two Peter Cushing Dalek films.

Yet despite my love for the deadly pepper pots, I didn’t know much about the man behind them. No, not Davros I know all about him. I mean Terry Nation. Thankfully, I managed to find a book all about him.

The Man Who Invented the Daleks: The Strange Worlds of Terry Nation by Alwyn W. Turner is about the late screenwriter Terry Nation. As the title says, he was the creator of the Daleks and wrote for several British television shows, though he is mostly remembered for creating the Doctor’s most famous enemy. 

The book talks about his career before and after the Daleks. It also discusses how British television has changed over the years and mentions a bit of the political climate at the time. I will admit that I was expecting to learn more about him as a person but besides comments from those he worked with, there isn’t much. The Man Who Invented the Daleks is focused on his work and how his work made an impact on “the golden age of British television”.

Nation may have struck gold with the Daleks, but it was not an easy road for him. He had so many doors slammed in his face yet he proceeded to push forward regardless. That is honestly inspirational to me. 

It’s funny to think that Doctor Who as we know it probably would exist if it wasn’t for Nation. The original premise for Doctor Who is so different from what it became you probably would not recognise it. Hell, the Doctor was originally a human! The show was meant to be aimed at children and be somewhat educational. Then, Nation created the Daleks. Doctor Who was never the same after.

Sidenote, to all those who say “Doctor Who is too political now!” have you ever seen Doctor Who? It has always been political! At least, ever since the Daleks showed up it has been. 

Nation, in my opinion, was a brilliant writer, but he was not subtle. It was made clear from day one that the Daleks were based on the Nazis. Later appearances hammered that home, especially in my favourite Dalek story, “Genesis of the Daleks”. If you haven’t seen that miniseries, please do yourself a favour and check it out, it’s Nation’s best work.

I started reading this book expecting to learn some trivia, maybe a few facts to bring up during discussions about the Doctor. Instead, I walk away with a new perspective on classic television and a lot more appreciation for those who worked behind the scenes, creating shows that defined an era.

I suspect it is apparent that I recommend The Man Who Invented the Daleks for fellow Whovians. I will also encourage anyone interested in British media or television to check it out. Clocking in around 300 pages if you don’t count the references, it isn’t a dense read but it is comprehensive. It is an insightful and informative read, one I thoroughly enjoyed. 

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