There are two curious things about Doctor Who fans (well, frankly there's more than two - but there's no point in listing them all because we'll be here all day).
The first is that few of us have resisted the temptation at one time or another to introduce the joys of the classic series (1963-1989,1996) to our husband/wife/significant other - despite the fact they may lack any interest in the show.
The second is that whilst Doctor Who fans are more than happy to rip the programme to merciless shreds we get a little upset when an outsider, or in Doctor Who-speak a "Not-We", does the same thing.
Neil Perryman's blog Adventures With The Wife In Space did both of these things, as Neil introduced his wife Sue to the many highs and lows of classic Doctor Who and then reported her findings. Her comments didn't always go down too well with some people as Sue slaughtered some sacred cows. But she was also perceptive, hilariously funny and brought a fresh perspective to what must be one of the most written-about and analysed shows in history.
There are countless blogs which have done the same thing (watch Doctor Who in story order) but AWTWIS was something special and quickly built up a loyal and vocal following. The story of the blog is part of the book, but it also covers a lot more ground.
So the book isn't a transcript of the website, and although you don't need to have read the blog first in order to get the most from the book, if you have then it's a good companion to the web experience. But there's plenty of new stuff too, for example the Sue/John Levene encounter is priceless and worth the purchase price alone!
AWTWIS is a lovely little read that ultimately has shown how a funny little TV series from long ago can help to bring a marriage even closer together. And Doctor Who was notable for featuring some top-notch carpentry too, which was nice.
on 7 November 2013
I didn't expect it to be an extract of the website, mainly due to being prepped by Neil and the Tachyon TV massive through Facebook and the other announcements. Frankly (as I always am) I would not have been happy with "choice cuts" from the blog alone.
The book is very satisfying indeed, being not only a complement or companion to the (superb) blog - which I had the joy to follow as it unwound its spontaneous magic - but a rather affecting and personal insight into the life of a fan and a family man. A few things mirrored my own experience, some were radically different, and though I've had my moments of acute fandom embarrassment I didn't come into conflict with John "the suit" Levene, so for that I am eternally thankful.
But the blurb for once wasn't exaggerated and there's something moving about Neil Perryman's account (with lovely interjections from Sue). There are lots of Who books about what Tom calls "fan love" towards the show itself, or even its actors/makers. There are precious few - I can't think of any others - that manage to integrate fan love and the warp and weft of real life love. i.e. the life of an enthusiast combined with stuff about actually being in a relationship / family. This book manages that and so earns its space (and time) because it gets closer to what the show is - half of it is the work up to broadcast, but the other half is how it affects us, on the more important side of the screen.
It's an under-explored area, and I don't believe for one minute it's because of what Doctor Who Magazine would describe as autism, calling it "the fan gene" or implying any kind of sociopathy - if someone as nerdy as me can have a full social life and then a stable family life, it can't be that rare amongst fans.
Anyway, stuff all that - I devoured the book in a night, and loved it, and wanted more. It's the best amongst any Who memoirs, save Barry Letts's. Let's say any comedy Who books. Except it's not just comedy. "The three things... I'll come in again". It brought back so many happy memories of the decades of Who-love - including following, enjoying, and commenting on Neil and Sue's blog, which was a high point of my 40-year fandom. I bet the Trekkers don't have anything like it.
Neil's a good writer too - honed by the many blogs no doubt (and the teaching/lecturing); to include stuff like the unicorn hair was brave and commendable. As I tried to cope with my own tonsorial disaster today, it gave me strength :)
All I really want to know is - who is going to play Neil in the film?
on 31 October 2013
Neil Perryman persuades his wife to watch every episode of Doctor Who. From the earliest episode with William Hartnell playing the original Doctor Who up to and including the final episode of Sylvester McCoy's incarnation as the Doctor in 1989 when the show was quietly cancelled by the BBC.
Mr Perryman records his wife's opinion on each episode and having created a blog, ([...] relates his wife's reaction to the world.
Though I am a Doctor Who fan, though certainly not an obsessive, I didn't believe I was going to enjoy this book as much as I did. This pessimism was due mostly to my having read previous books based on blogs and being astounded by their blandness.
However, Mr Perryman has written a very funny, literally laugh out loud, book that deserves to be read by more than just Doctor Who fans. Anyone who is a fan of shows like Star Trek, Blake's 7, Babylon 5, Battlestar Galatica, Star Wars, Firefly etc will be very aware of the author's situation at being in a relationship with someone who doesn't share their obsession. No matter what tricks or ploys one tries. No matter how many times you explain the merits of the Star Trek TNG episode, `Remember Me' or the allegorical nature of the excellent Battlestar Galactica series your partner refuses to take part in your life's obsession. But, the author succeeds where so many have failed and over a period of two and half years he and his wife sit down every night to bond over an episode of Doctor Who.
Unlike so many other books based on blogs Mr Perryman hasn't simply transferred the blog verbatim onto the printed page. He writes about his earliest memories of Doctor Who and the effect this had on the rest of his life. His wife, Sue, also writes a very funny chapter on her first encounter with the author and the subsequent events that led to them to getting married.
This book is a thoroughly entertaining read which made this reader wish that he had been aware of the blog while Sue and Neil were watching the Doctor Who episodes. However, this book more than makes up for that disappointment and I look forward to their next series watching escapade; as long as it's not Crossroads.
Neil Perryman is a huge Doctor Who fan. His wife, Sue, is not. Perryman hits on the idea of getting his wife to watch every single episode of Doctor Who - even the ones that technically no longer exist - and recording her reactions as a 'civilian', someone who isn't immersed in the fandom, someone who doesn't visit Doctor Who websites and someone who doesn't know that Robots of Death is supposed to be really good.
The result is not this book. Instead it's a blog, to be found here ([...]). The experiment took in watching 700 episodes and 156 serials over the course of two years, accumulating half a million words in the process. It would have been cheap and easy to simply condense the blog into a book format, but fortunately Perryman doesn't do that. Instead, the book is more about the experience of being a Doctor Who fan and the love/hate relationship that inspires with the show. It's also about the relationship between someone who is a geek and SF fan and someone who is - apparently - a 'normal person'. The result is a book that works surprisingly well on number of levels. It can be read by Doctor Who fans - the author slips in a few in-jokes only they will get - as well as their spouses/children/partners, who will find themselves sympathising more with Sue and her daughter as Neil makes another doomed attempt to get them into the show. The relationship dynamics at play are quite interesting, and it is amusing to discover the things that Sue obsesses over as well (such as carpentry and house renovations).
It helps that Neil Perryman is an engaging writer, with prose skills honed by many years working on various Doctor Who websites, attending conventions and working as a university lecturer. He has a dry sense of humour and a level of self-awareness over the crazier aspects of Doctor Who fandom - which sometimes inspires him to do ill-advised things as a wince-inducing encounter with Colin Baker demonstrates - which is entertaining. Perryman knows when to explore a subject in further depth and when to briskly move on to more interesting topics. There's also occasional, Dave Gorman-ish diversions into statistics and how Sue's view of individual episodes compares to the fandom's, which could be dry but ends up being amusing (especially how Sue's least-favourite Doctor ends up providing the highest-rated episodes). Mostly, it's a book about a relationship between two people with very different interests and how they manage to bridge that divide. The cover blurb that the book may work as therapy may not be as far-out as it sounds.
Adventures with the Wife in Space (****½) is a book for Doctor Who fans and non-fans who have to put up with them. It bridges the gap between SF fans and non-fans and presents differing perspectives of fandom. It's also funny and occasionally even sweet (without ever getting twee). The book is available now in the UK and USA.
on 31 October 2013
Excellent book, very funny and we'll worth reading. An interesting insight into the creator of the wife in space blog.
on 29 November 2013
When this book popped through my box I knew I was in for a treat. If you've never read the blog on wifeinspace.com you really should. The tears of joy have rolled down my cheek many times. Sue just nails what sometimes had never even occurred to me.
If there's one book you should have for your "not-we" partner then this is it. It initially sent me back to the 70's world of Pacers, Sherbet Pips and Kia Ora and of course that Time Lord who was "All teeth and curls".
Of course I wasn't expecting to pop up in it myself...and a very strange mention it is too. What Neil did after hearing me on UK Gold should never have been put in print, and it now makes me retrospectively feel a little dirty! Oh no, I'm not giving you the plot. Buy the book.
In 2011, Neil Perryman (a life-long committed Doctor Who fan) convinced his wife Sue (a life-long commited non-Doctor Who fan) to watch every available episode of Doctor Who in order from beginning to end. She would rate each episode, he would capture her comments and blog every viewing on his website. The results of that are on his blog website.
This book is about two things; the first part really is about Neil’s discovery of Doctor Who, and his life up to the time he convinced his wife to join in his social experiment, and how entwined Doctor Who was with that life. There are some very funny anecdotes in this part of the book, and it really did make me laugh at times.
The second part of the book is about Sue’s viewing experience – not a repeat of what is on the blog, but Neil’s view of Sue’s experience of her viewing. Sue approached the whole experience with a refreshing lack of awe and respect that a lifelong Doctor Who fan brings to any Doctor viewing, and her cynicism and sometimes brutal comments interspersed in the book are really funny.
While the book is ostensibly about Sue’s watching of all the episodes of Doctor Who, I think it’s really more about Neil and his relationship with Doctor Who in all its aspects – tv, comics, Target novelisations, fanzines, websites, conventions – they all make their appearance and every one of these aspects reminded me of my own experiences with Doctor Who, and reminded me why I have been, and will always be a great fan of the good Doctor. Neil’s experience with Colin Baker at a convention made me cringe as well as laugh, and you’ll have to read the book to find out how Sue upset John Levene – that really cracked me up.
This is great fun, and the blog website is also great to visit. A book that may not convert non-Whovians, but which will certainly touch a few funny bones in Whovians. It reminded me how we felt when the BBC put the show ‘on hiatus’, and how much we all look forward to, and then hated the tv movie. And it reminded me why I still think watching Doctor Who should be a solitary, silent sport – people who don’t ‘get’ Doctor Who the same way you do just ruin your viewing experience with gratuitous comments during tense episode watching. Great stuff.
on 29 January 2014
Found this book at my local library, in excellent condition too - always a bonus. Being familar with the online site, having followed it particularly through its Pertwee/Baker years ( the best years of course! ), I looked forward to the read. The book brought back good memories of growing up in the 70's, 80's and the not so good memories of just what it was like to be a fan of something which..well wasnt really that good and certainly wasn't cool. It did indeed feel like the WHO word couldnt be mentioned in my school!
I too lived in Coventry ( in my case, sadly - and couldn't wait to leave! ) , I too remember Cov' market and the outside small carousel ( although not the dalek ). I remember being introduced to the Dr in the final season of Pertwee ( and blaming the spiders episodes on my lifelong fear of them! ), hating the new Dr and within 10minutes loving every mad breath he, Sarah Jayne and Harry took , I had the Baker pants and revolving tardis. Being a WHO fan doesnt really ever leave you although I do recall losing my 'obsession' around '78 which is probably for the best.
I don't recall this book mentioning Cov's 'Barnaby' toyshop ( close to the revolting..I mean revovling..well circular resturant /sandwich emporium..probably either a coffee shop or closed it's doors completely by now! ), but this book had that nostalgic Peter Kay type effect on me, remembering my yoof! I would of thought Blackpools Tardis exhibition would of gotten a mention ( appologies if you did and I missed it ), certainly a highlight for me for many years running.
So the book succeeds in forming fond memories, like the online site it is filled with enjoyable banter, wonderous and informative comment/facts/figures all very enlightening. It's a nice idea. I did find myself glazing over re the 6 things Neil hates, loves etc, not really intrested in the chap himself but dotted inbetween all that are stories of conventions and a few WHO escapades which I found of more interest.
They say theres a book in us all and certainly with the age of the internet and ebooks it's never been easier. I would argue that this book is a classic example of a chap writing about something he loves. Less of an 'adventure' ( a trek up Kilimanjaro and a couple of parachute jumps aside ) it's more of a journey through the eyes of what it's like being a fan of WHO. If you like your WHO you will enjoy the read I'm sure. Could say I've read it twice, one of those types of books you can dip into - which i did at first and then read it proper.
on 1 December 2013
Genuinely one of the funniest books I have ever read - think Fever Pitch, but replace football with another predominantly male obsession, Doctor Who. I laughed out loud so many times my second heart almost exploded, prompting curious enquiries from my own wife (who is 100 per cent Dawson's Creek and Anne of Green Gables by the way), who took an instant delight in Sue's musings, especially their shared love of sarnies and the C-word. There are so many parallels in this book to my own failed attempts at growing up over the last 40 years. And I was so relieved to find out that I'm not the only one who has tried to wean my partner on to the classic series via Genesis of the Daleks! (Nah... didn't work)
on 7 December 2013
Both an entertaining and personal memoir and a funny and insightful book about finding common activities in a relationship, "Adventures with the Wife in Space" is one of the best memoirs I've ever read. It builds well, setting the stage with childhood memories of school, growing pains, and of course "Doctor Who", and then really takes off when Neil meets Sue. The whole book is entertaining, written in a light-hearted style, but once Sue comes on the scene, the magic really begins. It's a moving and funny look at a truly loving relationship and I can say that I learned a thing or two about my own relationships reading it.
The blog "Adventures with the Wife in Space" inspired the book, but the two stand on their own - the book is almost entirely new content, referencing and occasionally quoting the blog. Where the blog was about the show and gave some insights into it, this is about the author and the loves of his life, and it is moving, funny and excellent.
If you're a fan of the original series, this book is nostalgic and insightful and will make you want to watch old stories all over again. If you enjoy the new Doctor Who, this book will help you discover the charm of the original series. And if you're ever trying to share one of your hobbies or passions with the person you love, this book can be your instruction manual.
An excellent celebration of Doctor Who and love and building a home.