Doctor Who: Alex Kingston and Jodie Whittaker have discussed River Song’s return


Spoilers, sweetie: The idea that Alex Kingston’s iconic River Song might return to Doctor Who one day isn’t as far-fetched as it seems.

When Jodie Whittaker was first cast as the first female Doctor on Doctor Who, people had a lot of questions.

What sort of companions would she have? Could Thirteen battle Daleks or other classic monsters? Wouldn’t it be neat if Missy was still alive somehow and the first female Master and the first female Doctor faced off? Or better yet, became friends?

Oh, and what about River Song?

River, River, River.

Throughout the months prior to Whittaker’s debut as Thirteen, it seemed like everyone wanted to know if and/or when the Doctor might run into her wife again, once she regenerated as a woman.

And fans seemed to really want that reunion to happen.

Well, it’s maybe not as out of the realm of the possibility as we always thought.

Alex Kingston — yes, River Song herself — has confirmed that she and Whittaker have actually discussed the possibility of her character somehow returning to the show.

In an interview with the Radio Times, Kingston shared that the two women hung out for a bit at last summer’s San Diego Comic-Con and chatted about just how we might see River again

"“Yeah I did meet her,” Kingston said. “We chatted about me coming back to Doctor Who! I love the character, and I think that, my gosh, there are wonderful potential opportunities down the road. But it’s not my decision.”"

In an interview with Vulture last year, Whittaker also expressed that she’d love to work with Kingston.

The idea of Thirteen and River interacting is certainly appealing — both from a character and a representation standpoint.

The two have a complicated, messy relationship that’s already stretched over many years and several regenerations. (Not to mention, goes in opposite directions for each of them.) Adding one twist to the mix certainly wouldn’t be the end of the world.

Though, let’s be real, River’s timeline is hard enough to keep track of without the assistance of a flow chart now.

Kingston’s River has starred opposite three different Doctors onscreen to date — David Tennant’s Ten, Matt Smith’s Eleven and Peter Capaldi’s Twelve. She’s also appeared opposite several other Doctors in the Big Finish audio adventures, including Paul McGann and Colin Baker — though it’s really better if you don’t ask how the timing on all that works out.

Yet, many fans are particularly thrilled by the new dynamics that this particular regeneration brings to the fore. The Doctor would suddenly be in a same-sex relationship, which certainly seems like a very big deal for such a longstanding and iconic franchise as Doctor Who. Even if there’s almost no way that the two would be physically together for more than an episode or so, the fact that the Doctor, as a woman, would be married to another woman, still feels groundbreaking.

Kingston, for her part, is all for it. In her interpretation, the Doctor is the Doctor, no matter what sort of gender her current body presents itself as. And that means River would still love Thirteen, and vice versa.

"“The fact is, because they’re all the same person ultimately, I don’t think she would think of her any differently to any of the others in a way,” Kingston told Radio Times. “Because they’re the same spirit inside. It’s just a different, deep love. And you know, technically the Doctor is River’s second wife. Cleopatra being the first.”"

It’s hard not to imagine that River’s reaction to Thirteen — the fact that the Doctor regenerated into a woman — would be fairly over the top and likely quite hilarious. She’s a bit like Jack Harkness in that regard.

It would, however, also be interesting to see if the fact that the Doctor is now a woman might affect how River presents herself, and whether it might allow her to pump the brakes a bit on her aggressive, femme fatale personality. After all, we can argue that River acts that way in large part to both impress and/or attract men. We’ve seen multiple male Doctors flustered by her, her overt sexuality and her refusal to back down in any way. Would a female Doctor react the same way?

It’s not entirely clear how River and Thirteen might run into each other in season 12 (or beyond), given that “The Husbands of River Song” makes it pretty clear that the next stop in her timeline is the infamous library from season 4, and we all know what happens there.

(Also, for a character as controversial and complicated as River Song, that 25-year date night on Darillium is a pretty fantastic way to go out.)

But, this is Doctor Who, the show that gave Clara an entirely new lease on life in the heartbeat before her death and cloned a Tenth Doctor for Rose to grow old with. Nothing’s impossible. Maybe just… complicated.

Perhaps Thirteen might simply visit the library that holds the upload of River’s consciousness.  Meeting a holographic representation of the woman that she once was isn’t quite the same thing as a real face-to-face reunion, but it still counts. (And wouldn’t break our brains with all the associated timey-wimey stuff.)

The Doctor could always simply reenter River’s timeline at a different or unexpected point, sort of the way that Eleven popped in and out of Stormcage at various points. Though one does have to imagine that had River ever met a female version of the Doctor, there’s no way she could have kept that information to herself all this time.

There are no official plans for Kingston to return to Doctor Who as yet. But as the actress herself put it: “I’m always at the end of the phone. We’ll see.”

Next. Ranking Doctor Who’s modern day companions. dark

Doctor Who season 12 is currently filming and will air sometime in 2020.