When Neil Perryman suggested to his wife Sue that they watch every episode of ‘Doctor Who’ for his online blog, it showed a man confident in the strength of his marriage, and her patience.
What starts as him calling in a favour becomes an epic task, taking in 697 episodes and lasting 30 months, with the duo watching every episode of ‘Doctor Who’ from ‘An Unearthly Child’ to Sylvester McCoy’s last outing in ‘Survival’. He also begrudgingly watches ‘Doctor Who: The TV Movie’ for the sake of completion, as well as some fan-made reconstructions of missing episodes due to the BBC’s previous policy of binning old footage.
Rather than a copy and paste job of the 500,000 or so words that are on the blog, this book gives the back story of how the idea came about. ‘Doctor Who’ is so intrinsically linked to Neil’s life that it’s important to find out about the first episode he watched, the lengths he went to in order to watch the show in age before video recorders and catch-up TV and the bonds it helped him create with his family and friends. Interspersed with comments from Sue, we get an insight into an ambitious fan keen to be more involved with the show he loves.
Neil’s self-depreciating humour makes him an excellent narrator and he’s willing to poke fun at himself quite often but not too much that he comes across as embarrassed about his lifestyle choices. He’s also excellent at sneaking in some very touching scenes, especially when he asks Sue’s daughter if she’d be okay with him adopting her and if it’s okay if he marries her mum. You may think, surely this should have no place in a Science Fiction book but it shows that one can have a balanced personal life along with an unbalanced obsession towards a TV show.
For anyone who is a passionate fan of a TV show, book, film or any media, the constant fear that this will bore someone you’re showing it to will resonate. That two big parts of your life simply don’t gel and you can never enjoy them both at the same time is something that no doubt we’ve all felt. This book encapsulates this feeling perfectly as well as conveying the support that Sue and Neil show each other as they embark on projects of differing scales – Neil’s is the blog and book while Sue builds a house – proving that geeks can love as well.
It’s also interesting to note how Sue, who was somewhat apathetic towards ‘Doctor Who’, becomes a fan of the show. Perhaps it’s Stockholm Syndrome or maybe she looked beyond the Science Fiction trappings and saw a show that set out to inspire and educate as well as entertain. There’s something in there for non-fans of shows as well, why not give them a chance?
It’s an easy and engaging read that is probably consumed once you’ve gone through Neil’s blog as you get a better idea of his sense of humour. He’s also adamant that he won’t be doing any episodes of the rebooted series, aside from the ‘Name Of The Doctor’ as a treat, so it’s unlikely there’ll be another edition of this book in a year’s time. Treat yourself to this book and look for similarities to your own attitudes to life.
(pub: Faber & Faber. 304 pages paperback. Price: £ 6.95 (UK). ISBN: 978-0-57129-810-5)
check out website: www.faber.co.uk/