WHAT could be more strong than the love between a man and his wife?
Maybe the life-long love he has for television’s Doctor Who.
Hartlepool man Neil Perryman’s obsession with the Time Lord got so strong that he set out on an epic quest to make his wife, Sue, who isn’t a Doctor Who fan, sit through every episode of the classic sci-fi series – all 697 of them.
The couple spent two-and-a-half years watching the episodes each evening and Neil wrote about the experience for an online blog at www.wifeinspace.com, which attracted over a million hits.
Now the zany experiment forms part of a book called Adventures With The Wife In Space: Living With Doctor Who, which encompasses how The Doctor has impacted on all aspects of Neil’s life.
But far from driving the couple apart, they say spending time together during the experiment brought them closer together.
Neil, 43, who lives near Elwick, on the outskirts of Hartlepool, said: “It started out as an experiment to see what someone coming to the programme from the outside thought, rather than regurgitating what fans thought. “A lot of people joked it could be the grounds for divorce, but it was quite the opposite.”
The book release coincides with the show’s 50th anniversary episode, called The Day of the Doctor, which is being screened on Saturday, November 23.
It reunites current doctor Matt Smith with past companions and incarnations of himself.
Neil and Sue, 52, who have been together for more than 20 years, embarked on the TV adventure in 2011 and completed it in June.
But some original episodes have been lost and the couple had to watch “reconstructions” of the missing shows.
Sunderland University lecturer Sue says her favourite Doctor was played by Patrick Troughton and the scariest villains for her were the Cybermen.
Sue, mum to Nicol, 25, added: “I would comment on things like how the production value wasn’t very good in the early days.
“I love the newer series because of the high production value and great stories.
“It was a relief when we finished in May, but after a while I started to miss it.”
Neil, a former Sunderland University lecturer who is now a freelance writer, fell in love with the show as a three year old and says his favourite Doctor Who actor is Tom Baker.
Neil, whose favourite villains from the show are the Daleks, said: “It’s more a reflection of what it’s like to take something you love and share it with the person you love and to see what happens.”
He said he is pleased there is soon going to be an actor, Peter Capaldi, playing the Doctor who is older than he is, for a change.
The couple are even planning on a second experiment – this time with 1970s BBC science-fiction series Blake’s 7.
The book is published by Faber and Faber and priced £12.99.