A world-famous spy and swinger, Nigel Powers dropped out of the spy game shortly after the demise of his wife and their infant son Dougie Powers in a car bomb meant for him. He raised his surviving son, Austin Powers, who would grow to take his place as Britain's most-famous secret agent. Although a good man in most respects (save his xenophobic dislike of the Dutch), Nigel was a far cry from a good father. He was never really in Austin's life growing up, missing his graduation from spy academy (during which Austin was named International Man of Mystery of the year), and later his knighting by the Queen of England for capturing his arch-enemy Doctor Evil.
Nigel was abducted through time by the gold-obsessed supervillain Goldmember, and taken back to 1975 using Dr. Evil's time machine (although, much to Austin's disappointment, this was not the reason Nigel had missed his knighting; the kidnapping occured afterwards). Austin went back in time to the 1970s to rescue his father, but Nigel was quickly whisked away to the present by Goldmember and held captive aboard Dr. Evil's submarine lair.
During his stay aboard the sub, the crafty Nigel planted seeds of dissension into the mind of Mini-Me (not that he really needed to, as at the time Mini-Me was in heated rivalry with his "brother" Scott). When Dr. Evil sent Goldmember to retrieve the gold key to activate their tractor beam from Mr. Roboto of Roboto Industries, Nigel went with him as insurance. Sure enough, Austin showed up with Foxxy Cleopatra, and they were able to rescue Nigel before he had an "unfortunate smelting accident," courtesy of Goldmember.
Though grateful to his son for saving him, Nigel and Austin soon parted on unfriendly terms when it became clear to Austin that his father loved him, but did not respect him. When Austin and Foxxy (with some help from Mini-Me) infiltrated Dr. Evil's submarine lair, Nigel followed them and stopped Austin from killing Dr. Evil, dropping the bombshell that Evil was, in fact, the long-lost Dougie Powers, and therefore Austin's brother. When Goldmember used this distraction to activate the tractor beam, Nigel finally found it in himself to trust his son, and allowed Austin to save the world without his "help" for once.
There are several things about Nigel that are never explained and are left open to speculation, not the least of which is his dislike of the Dutch. For one, exactly how old is he? Both Austin and Dougie/Dr. Evil were frozen for roughly 30 years, but meanwhile Nigel was not and should have aged normally and thus been close to 80 by the time Goldmember takes place. And secondly, it is never explained how he figured out that Dr. Evil was Dougie, and how long he knew before he finally told both his sons.