IT is a shocking tale of dark secrets and double lives and the acclaimed TV drama has won praise from critics and viewers alike.
For many, the series telling the real-life story of bigamist Alexander Wilson seemed too fantastic to be true.
Not Mary Turner Thomson, however, and watching the drama, Mrs Wilson, unfold was like seeing her own life played out on screen.
Just like Alison Wilson, Mary, 53, thought she had found her perfect husband – kind, caring, attentive and a wonderful father to their two children.
In reality, American-born William Allen Jordan was a serial liar, who fathered at least 13 children with six women, and had another wife throughout their six-year relationship.
“Watching the series has been very like looking at my own story,” said Mary, who lives in Edinburgh.
“I met William online when I was a single mum with a nine-month old baby.
“He was very charming, and we sent emails back and forth before meeting up about two weeks later.
“We started dating and he actually asked me to marry him within two weeks of meeting – I said no, but we did eventually get engaged then we were married for four years.
“After six months of being together I fell pregnant, which was a huge surprise because he told me he was infertile after having mumps as a child.
“I thought he was going to think I’d had an affair because he was so utterly convinced he couldn’t have kids.”
Lying about his fertility was just the tip of the iceberg, and over the years William manipulated Mary and led her to believe he was a CIA agent on secondment to MI5.
Time spent away on missions provided the perfect cover for seeing his other families – an eerily similar story to the one told by Alec Wilson.
Such was his hold over her, William even persuaded Mary to part with almost £200,000 to pay blackmailers who, he said, had threatened to kidnap their children, Robyn, now 19, from a previous relationship, Eilidh, now 16, and Zach, now 13.
She said: “In 2004 when I was pregnant with Zach, he told me somebody he met on an undercover operation was blackmailing us. They said they were going to kill our kids, kidnap them, rip bits off and send them to us in the post if we didn’t give them money.
“By this stage, I was four years in and completely under his control, so I sold everything I owned – my house, my car, my life insurance, everything.
“It was a feeding frenzy and, once it started, there was just more and more and more.
“I thought if we didn’t give them money, they would kill the kids. I was living in abject terror.”
Of course, there was no blackmailer, no undercover missions, and no threat on their children’s lives. But Mary soon discovered there was a whole other side to her seemingly devoted husband when she received a call from another woman claiming to be the real Mrs Jordan.
“William’s other wife phoned me in April 2006 and said, ‘Are you Mary Turner Thomson?’ I said yes. Then she asked, ‘Are you also Mrs Jordan?’ I said yes, and she replied, ‘Well I’m the other Mrs Jordan’.
“We met in a café and talked for about 12 hours. When she left at six in the morning, I sent him a text and dumped him. I thought that was appropriate.
“He tried for months to persuade me, but there was nothing he could say that would ever suck me back in again.
“I carried on talking to him for months to get some information, but he never wavered from his story and always said that time would vindicate him. It was all nonsense.”
After William’s lies began to unravel he was arrested then later charged and jailed for bigamy, illegally possessing a stun gun, fraud, and other offences.
He served two and a half years of a five-year sentence, and was deported to America on his release.
Mary documented her story in her best-selling book, The Bigamist: The True Story Of A Husband’s Ultimate Betrayal but, 10 years later, the story is far from over.
Today, William is again at large, duping innocent women into parting with their love and money.
Mary said: “He went back to online dating after he was released from prison. Within six months I was contacted by a pregnant lady who had lost her home because he convinced her to come live with him.
“He changed his name and I didn’t hear anything for three years. Then I was contacted by a lady, who is quite like my American counterpart.
“She carried on dating him after she found me, and I helped her set up hidden cameras in her home.
“We set up a police sting and he was arrested, and spent another three years in prison in America, from 2014 to 2017.
“He came out of prison last year and he’s at large again. The last I heard was from a lady only last week who had met him on a dating site.
“We think he averages about six women at a time.”
Despite having to entirely rebuild her life after such cruel deceit, Mary believes the ordeal gave her the opportunity to help other women, and uses her experience to encourage more victims to come forward.
She said: “I had a relationship a couple of years after I found out about William but it didn’t last.
“I didn’t want to have another man come into my children’s lives and be a disaster – I felt it was more important to show them it’s OK to be on your own and happy than with the wrong guy. So, I made a decision to not date.
“But my experience has not been wasted. It has made a difference.
“My mission has been to encourage other women to come forward, and often people say to me, ‘I feel liberated – if you can do it, so can I’.
“And that means what I went through wasn’t a waste.”
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