Doctor Who Christmas Special: The Husbands of River Song

Posted on Dec 27, 2015


The Storyline

The Husbands of River Song by Stuart Manning

The Husbands of River Song by Stuart Manning

It is the year 5343 on the human colony of Mendorax Dellora and a man named Nardole arrives at the stationary Tardis to ask the Doctor for medical assistance for a woman on a flying saucer who turns our to be none other than the magnificent River Song, little realising who he is; telling him she needs his help to mend her husband, the King Hydroflax. The Doctor is confused, the whole operation about to be performed live to 4 billion people and River is none the wiser as to who the Doctor is; only needing his help to steal a head containing a valuable diamond artefact.

They escape to the Tardis with the head and try to leave but it refuses to move until the head and cyborg body are reconnected. Two heads later and the cyborg attacks River Song in the Tardis where eventually it moves to the Harmony and Redemption; a cruise ship in space.

Suddenly chaos ensues and double crosses occur as the Doctor and River are trapped in a confused mess as the Doctor’s head becomes the target of the Hydroflax body. Their captors demand of River to the whereabouts of the Doctor but she tells them that she honestly does not know for he is never around when she needs him, nor does he love her in the way that she does him. Whilst she is ranting at her captors, the Doctor looks at her sadly and says quietly to her when she looks at him, “Hello Sweetie“. River then realises who her companion is much to her pure joy and they plan their escape from the crashing ship. They both set the ship to crash safely and escape in the Tardis.

The Doctor gives a would-be hero the diamond to build a restaurant where River has always wanted to go to on a date with him looking out to the Singing Towers on Darillium where she will meet her eventual death in the Library. And that is where they end up on Christmas Day, a short trip in the Tardis a few years down the line, River being given her own Sonic Screwdriver by him as a Christmas present. They talk of sadness and loss and of her possible demise and leaving the Doctor forever. She is concerned that when her diary runs out so will her life but a day lasts 24 years there and they both smile sadly and yet happily.

The Review

River Song is back! Hurrah! One of the best characters in the modern era of Doctor Who finally returns in style with a story really about the Doctor and River than the rampaging cyborg after them which is really just a back-story to fit around our heroes.

River is such a strong character and suits the Doctor well. Alex Kingston is a revelation playing her and she deserves a spin-off in her own right; something I have long said and have written down over thirty ideas of my own for her even though there seems to be an audio version just started by BBC Big Finish as well as a Gallifrey spin-off that I have recently found out is also on there. You can tell that she adores the part and the show and I see no reason why she cannot have a television spin-off and yet I get the impression that the writers and producers will not let her have one; denying fans who want it the chance to see her in her own adventures in time and space. Alex Kingston deserves a spin-off like no other character before or since. Even Clara and Ishildr/ME have the possibility now for a spin-off as they flew off into time and space in a stolen Tardis.

This seems to be a running theme of late where the writers give us what we do not want and take away what we do want. Not for the first time I wonder who they think they are to make these dramatic changes. If something works well then keep it. If people do not like something then abandon it or keep it on a back-burner until a later date when it may be accepted.

This though was once again a story of love, loss and regret and the challenges and changes we all face.

I loved the role reversal when River tells the Doctor what to expect when entering the Tardis; that it is bigger on the inside than the out and he pretending that he does not know what the Tardis is whilst River is clueless to his identity.

Something else I found strange was how River did not know this regeneration at all and yet she told the tenth that she spent her last night with him on Darillium but how can she if she died in a one of his past regenerations and only knew him up until the eleventh? It is also hinted that she may be back when she asks the Doctor if the stories are true that this is their last night together and he replies teasingly, “spoilers…”

There are some really touching moments between the two of them and I sincerely hope that she will be back in the next series somehow. As ever, anything is possible in science fiction, especially Doctor Who and I see no reason why her ‘death’ cannot be reversed or repaired? It is an easy thing to fix.

I will be watching the whole series again with another eye.

If you are interested in the above poster or any of the brilliant work done by Stuart Manning you can buy his prints and he does commissions too. You can view his work here and buy them here and please visit the BBC Doctor Who website here.

The Cast

Peter Capaldi – The Doctor
Alex Kingston – River Song

Matt Lucas – Nardole
Greg Davies – King Hydroflax
Rowan Polonski – Flemming
Phillip Rhys – Ramone
Robert Curtis – Scratch
Chris Lew Kim Hoi – Alphonse
Anthony Cozens – Concierge
Nicolle Smartt – Receptionist
Liam Cook – King Hydroflax’s body
Nonso Anozie – Voice of Hydroflax


Writer – Steven Moffat
Director – Douglas Mackinnon