Dr Who provides a happy place

JAMES CROOT
Last updated 05:00 23/02/2014
Dr Who
ALEX LIU/FAIRFAX NZ

DR WHO: An obsession of a generation.

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ADVENTURES WITH THE WIFE IN SPACE: Living with Doctor Who

Neil Perryman

Faber  $30

While I can't claim to have studied for a PhD on the subject or written fan fiction set in a lingerie store, I have to admit I found Neil Perryman's account of his and his wife's varying relationship with Doctor Who somewhat spooky.

After all, like him, I've had a near-four-decade relationship with the show, had Tom Baker as my childhood Doctor, suffered the heartbreak of the show's cancellation in 1989, and have marvelled as it has been resurrected to critical and audience acclaim during the past decade.

I also have a long-suffering "female companion" (in the parlance of Who) who has gone from ignoring the show to becoming addicted to the antics of the travelling Time Lord, particularly in the guises of David Tennant and Matt Smith.

But I would not, repeat not, attempt to make her watch every single episode of the classic series (nearly 700 of them) and blog about the process (as Perryman did throughout 2011 and 2012) - my wife would be far more comfortable doing a Julie Powell and cooking a new recipe every day for a year.

However, as Perryman's slim but entertaining and easily readable tome suggests, it certainly made for some interesting insights and discussions.

He claims that it would help to bring them together, while she (Sue, in one of her many interjections in the book) points out that his proposal was more likely an act of revenge for making him live in a caravan for 3 years with a teenage girl, a golden lab and a ginger tomcat while they built her "dream house".

Luckily for non-Whovians, the experiment itself is limited to the final third of the book (the minituae of particular storylines is likely to be lost on those unfamiliar with them), with the rest devoted to how Perryman's devotion to the Doctor has survived rugby, Star Wars, Buck Rogers, five months in New Zealand (where it actually thrived, thanks to daily repeats of the show here in 1979) and the horribly disappointing 1996 TV movie.

The short chapters also include a number of listicals on things like his loves and hates, and words Perryman learned from Doctor Who - which, while sporadically funny, could easily be skipped over.

Like the original series, the anecdote-filled Adventures has its good and bad stories, but at its best (Sue haranguing Tom Baker during an appearance on a TV shopping channel, and Perryman's run-in with sixth Doctor Colin Baker at a fan event) it is funny, exciting and unique.

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