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Adventures With the Wife in Space by Neil Perryman

Something a bit different today from The Eloquent Page. A bit of non-fiction with its own unique sci-fi slant.

Neil loves Sue. He also loves Doctor Who. But can he bring his two great loves together? And does he have the right?

In January 2011, Neil Perryman set out on an insane quest to make his wife Sue watch every episode of the classic series of Doctor Who from the very beginning. Even the ones that didn’t exist any more. And so, over the next two and half years, Sue gamely watched them all: William Hartnell (the Miserable Git); Patrick Troughton (the Scruffy Drunk); Jon Pertwee (the Pompous Tory); Tom Baker (the Mad One); Peter Davison (the Fit One); Colin Baker (the Court Jester); Sylvester McCoy (the Crafty Sod) and Paul McGann (the One-Night Stand). The result was a wildly successful and hilariously revealing blog called Adventures with the Wife in Space.

But the adventure continues. From awkward years at school, terrified of giant insects, Daleks and rugby players, to even more awkward years as an adult, terrified of unexpected parenthood and being called a Whovian, here Neil tells the all too true story of life as a Doctor Who fan. Funny, honest and surprisingly brave, he also captures perfectly the joys – and fears – of sharing the thing you love with the people you love.

Adventures With the Wife in Space is, at its heart, the story of Doctor Who, and its fans, seen through the eyes of two people – one who knows almost nothing about the programme and another who knows way too much.

I’m not just a book geek you know, I’ll also happily admit that I happen to be a huge geek when it comes to television and film. Put it this way, if I’m not reading a book there is a pretty good chance that I’ll be starring at a screen. Some of you may have spotted that the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who will soon been upon us, one of my favourite shows, and I can’t even begin to contain my excitement. I decided I wanted to do something on the site to celebrate this impressive feat. I heard about Adventures With a Wife in Space and it seemed liked a perfect fit. Still geeky, but fact rather than fiction. I dove in with gusto.

I’m more than a little jealous of anyone who has an all-consuming passion in their life. Neil Perryman appears to be one such man. Reading about his life and how big chunks of it revolve around a certain time-travelling Gallifreyan is far more entertaining than it has any right to be.  It takes a genuinely special book to make me want to read non-fiction. I read primarily as an escape and normally non-fiction isn’t for me. There is an exception to every rule however and I’m glad to say I found it.

What really makes the book for me? Well, there are certainly plenty of entertaining moments to enjoy. I adored Sue’s blisteringly honest reactions to Who, not just the episodes but the fandom as a whole.  Fan communities can often become terribly caught up in their own feelings of self importance. It’s nice to see an outsider’s point of view – the good and the bad laid bare.

There is something for everyone in this little chronicle, including a plethora of Whovian statistics for those that way inclined.

It pleases the raging sentimentalist deep within me that this is essentially a love story. One man’s love for a television show and for a woman whose infinite patience knows no bounds.  Candid, insightful and, on more than one occasion, laugh out loud funny. I’m so pleased that people like this exist and that they are willing to share their experiences. Life is horribly short, find something you love and if you’re lucky enough, share it with others. Sounds pretty close to perfect from where I’m sitting.

Adventures with the Wife in Space is published by Faber and Faber and is available from 7th November 2013.

PS – Just in case anyone was curious the Mad One remains my Doctor to this day (my wife knitted me a scarf and everything, it’s great).

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