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Doctor Who and my wife

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Doctor Who fan Neil Perryman thought making his wife watch every episode of the venerable drama would be an interesting sociological experiment - and good for a few laughs. Steve Pratt reports

NEIL PERRYMAN doesn't dress up as Doctor Who. Or any of the characters in the BBC series celebrating its 50th anniversary. But he does call himself a "pretty hardcore" fan of the much-travelled time lord.

"I can differentiate between reality and fiction but I'm a fully functional Doctor Who fan.

That's probably the best way to describe me, " he says.

His wife Sue, a Sunderland University lecturer, interrupts: "I would go further and say that Doctor Who has probably influenced every major decision in his life.

"In terms of career, interests, even your PhD, they all revolved around Doctor Who. So you can't get much more into it than that."

But Neil hasn't finished. "You can have worse role models though. It could be a lot worse. It could be Star Trek.

"Doctor Who has been a constant companion from the age of three up to 43. It's always been there in some capacity and most of the friendships I've made in my life... it sounds terribly sad, but most of my friendships have been in that world."

The pair, who live in County Durham, have become a double act, brought together by the show's anniversary year. Neil - with interruptions from Sue - has written a book, Adventures With The Wife In Space, based on his successful blog wifeinspace. com Three years ago, he embarked on a quest to make Sue watch every available episode from the very beginning. It was an adventure through time and space with its own cliffhanger - would Sue last to the end or would she be found hiding behind the sofa, not at the thought of the Daleks but the idea of having to watch yet more episodes.

THE idea for the book came from one of the followers of the blog, who worked as an editor at publishers Faber and Faber.

"They wanted something that's not just for the geeks but more mainstream, " says Neil.

"The idea was to give the fans something they hadn't had before because fans are used to reading stuff by fans. So to have Sue, someone completely fresh who didn't have any of that baggage or didn't really care, was the unique selling point."

Sue became famous among bloggers for her role in the story. "Yeah, our lives were out there for a while and still are, I guess. That was a bit weird, " says Neil.

Sue says she thinks the book is great. But what about their personal life being splashed all over the place through the book? "Well, the blog's done that already. This goes into a little bit more detail, " she says.

"But it's life, isn't it? Everybody goes through the same things in marriages that we've gone through. Maybe not through Doctor Who but around something else, other passions and desires."

But what is it about Doctor Who that makes him a fan? "It's the most flexible television programme ever made. It can be anything you want it to be. It can go on forever and will go on forever."

He's a fan of the Doctor Who books too, the only way to experience an episode if you missed it in that pre-video recorder era. When the series went off the air for 16 years, the books kept it going.

Sue reminds him how upset he was when the series was off screen. "It felt like having the thing that belonged to you taken away. I worked at Sunderland University and no one would talk to me about Doctor Who for love or money. As soon as it came back they were stopping me in the corridor and saying, 'What's your theory about Rose Tyler?' and that kind of stuff, " recalls Neil.

He has some Doctor Who merchandise ("Sue limits me") but is very specific about what he collects - only the classic series. He loves the new series but it doesn't exert the same pull as the old episodes.

But what about Sue? "I always appreciated Doctor Who in terms of what it was doing for British TV and how the fans would engage with it, " she says. "Watching it all from the beginning, I understand where he gets his passion from and his love for the programme.

I don't share that but I understand where Neil is coming from a little bit more."

A new Doctor, played by Peter Capaldi, takes over in the series at Christmas. "I'm just relieved he's older than me, " says Neil of the new man. "It's the first time they've had a doctor for the past eight years who's significantly older than me."

Sue has the last word: "I think he's going to be great."

Adventures With The Wife In Space: Living With Doctor Who is published by Faber and Faber, £12.99.

GRAPHIC: AGELESS: BBC Doctor Who actors, from left, William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, Paul McGann, Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant and Matt Smith taken from archive material to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who. Inset, Peter Capaldi, who takes over the role of the time lord at Christmas DATE WITH DOCTOR: Neil and Sue Perryman

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