Excitement around the BBC's big Doctor Who reveal has sparked widespread discussion, as showrunner Chris Chibnall shook up over 50 years of the traditionally male-led series by casting a woman in the lead role. It seems like everyone from Gallifrey to Akhaten has an opinion on the Doctor's gender, but for the most part, people are beyond excited for Jodie Whittaker's take on the Doctor — including the show's existing cast.
We've heard nothing but positivity from Twelve's Peter Capaldi, former companions, and now the Doctor's Wife herself. Alex Kingston, the actress who stars as part-human, part-Time Lord River Song, was being interviewed by fans at Rayleigh SuperCon in the UK when the #BBC dropped Jodie Whittaker's big reveal, and her reaction is likely to make #LGBT fans very happy indeed.
When talking about plot points and how good she is at keeping secrets, Kingston was asked whether she knew who the next Doctor was. When she admitted she didn't, the audience was very happy to fill her in. Kingston responded:
"Oh my goodness! God, I'm always the damn cradle snatcher! Oh that's lovely, she's a really great actress. She's fantastic. Oh my god that's so exciting! How fabulous!"
But wait, wasn't River's storyline wrapped up with her 24-year dinner date on Darillium with Twelve in 'The Husbands of River Song,' just before she died in 'Silence in the Library'? Why does Kingston refer to herself as "always the damn cradle snatcher," unless she's set to interact with Whittaker's Doctor? Does this mean River and Thirteen will travel time and space together once more? Does this mean their relationship could get a little... sapphic?
The Eternal Love Story of River Song and The Doctor (A Brief History)
Let me just get this out there right now...
Alex Kingston's River made her first appearance in what is possibly the best two-part episode of Doctor Who ever: 'Silence in the Library'/'Forest of the Dead'. In the episodes, David Tennant's beloved Tenth Doctor met River for the first time, but for River (because timey-wimey-wibbly-wobbly) it would be their last hurrah. Ten treated her with distrust and suspicion, before River revealed that she knew his real name, and was therefore very important to the Doctor in future timelines. River (sort of) died at the end of the episode, but played a big role in Matt Smith's Eleventh regeneration of the character, marrying him in the final episode of the sixth season.
Look, I am not going to go into the lore and history of River and the Doctor — because, well, look at this flowchart. Even River has a hard time keeping track, hence the "spoiler"-filled notebook she's always carrying around. River's timeline is thought to be flowing in the opposite direction to the Doctors, meaning his first meeting was her last. This is why the 2015 Christmas Special was so important for River's arc, as it ended with her finally getting the life with the Doctor she had always wanted for one very long night, bringing her story full circle (kinda) before her inevitable death in the Library.
Will River Song Return?
While Alex Kingston's #RiverSong storyline looks like it's been all wrapped up, there is definitely a chance she will return. How? Because it's Doctor Who! Infinite timelines mean infinite possibilities! Also, Steven Moffat said so:
"Well, yes, that does seem like the end to me. Except, of course, it isn’t, and can’t be. There’s always the chance that River will show up again, at some other point in her timeline, with a stolen camel, seven more husbands, and a nuclear submarine."
Having said this, Moffat's involvement with River's storyline is, in his words, over. But with head writer and executive producer Chris Chibnall poised to take over for Season 11, anything could happen.
"But for me, I think, I’m done. Back when I thought I might be leaving at the end of 2015, I specifically planned the Darillium scene as my goodbye – bringing everything full circle, to the moment (in Forest of the Dead) just before I took over."
River could return in any number of ways. A younger regeneration of River (Melody Pond, perhaps?) could become one of Thirteen's companions, and the show could become a powerful representation of female friendship — the purest love there is. Secondly, River didn't die, not really. She was saved. Her data ghost was uploaded to the Library's data core, meaning that a part of River — Ten, Eleven, and Twelve's River — still exists somewhere in the universe.
However, with River's eternal love and admiration for the Doctor, and given the Doctor's memories of River from previous regenerations, it will be an interesting dynamic for Thirteen to play with, if the character was to return — because River will always be the Doctor's Wife, regardless of gender or sexuality.