TARDIS Index File

The Husbands of River Song (TV story)

54,510articles in progress
Add New Page
Add New Page Talk26
The Husbands of River Song
River and Twelve at the Singing Towers
Doctor: Twelfth Doctor
Companion(s): River
Main enemy: King Hydroflax
Main setting:
Key crew
Writer: Steven Moffat
Director: Douglas Mackinnon
Producer: Nikki Wilson
Release details
Story number: 260
Season/series: 10
Premiere broadcast: 25 December 2015
Premiere network: BBC One
Format: 1x60 minute special
Production code: 10.X
←Previous Next→
Doctor Who television stories
Hell Bent TBA
Christmas specials
Last Christmas TBA
Official trailer
The Husbands of River Song Trailer - Christmas Special 2015 - Doctor Who - BBC00:37

The Husbands of River Song Trailer - Christmas Special 2015 - Doctor Who - BBC

Memorable moment
Doctor Who Christmas Special - It's Bigger On the Inside (Xmas spoilers) - BBC America02:32

Doctor Who Christmas Special - It's Bigger On the Inside (Xmas spoilers) - BBC America

Another memorable moment
Doctor Who Christmas Special - Hello Sweetie (Xmas spoilers) - BBC America02:04

Doctor Who Christmas Special - Hello Sweetie (Xmas spoilers) - BBC America

One more memorable moment
Doctor Who Christmas Special - River's Final Night (Xmas spoilers) - BBC America03:52

Doctor Who Christmas Special - River's Final Night (Xmas spoilers) - BBC America

The Husbands of River Song was the 2015 Doctor Who Christmas special. It was the show's eleventh Christmas special since its revival, and the second full Christmas special with Peter Capaldi as the Twelfth Doctor. It saw Alex Kingston return to reprise the role of River Song once more.

It was noteworthy for closing the book on River Song's timeline that began with her debut. It also showed the Twelfth Doctor's first encounter with River. For River, this was the final adventure with the Doctor before she met her demise in the two-part television story Silence in the Library / Forest of the Dead. It showed the Doctor turning up on River's doorstep with a new haircut and a suit, their night on Darillium to see the Singing Towers, and the Doctor giving River his sonic screwdriver, all of which had been previously mentioned by River in the character's debut story.

Synopsis Edit

The Doctor is on the planet Mendorax Dellora in 5343, where he is asked by a man named Nardole to follow him, thinking he is a surgeon, on the orders of River Song. A surgeon is required to remove a diamond from the head of the tyrannical King Hydroflax from a ruthless act of thievery gone wrong, and River seeks to recover it. Surprised that River cannot identify his newest face, the Doctor struggles to break the news to her while learning how she acts on her own- and how many other lovers she has had. However, both he and River soon find that the time is drawing close for the last page in the diary of their journeys together to be written...

Plot Edit

On Christmas Day, 5343, on the human colony of Mendorax Dellora, the Doctor is mistaken by a servant, Nardole, for a surgeon appointed by River Song to attend to her dying husband, King Hydroflax. River Song, who has not yet met the Doctor's present incarnation, fails to recognise him and increasingly frustrates him with her flirtations with Hydroflax. River takes the Doctor aside to discuss the operation he is supposed to be performing; the Halassi Androvar, the most valuable diamond in the universe, has become lodged in Hydroflax's brain during a raid on the Halassi Vaults and is slowly killing him. River wants "the surgeon" to remove his entire head, considering it quicker and easier.

They are interrupted by Hydroflax who has listened to their conversation. He detaches his head from his mechanical body and orders it to kill them. While River defends herself the Doctor grabs Hydroflax's head and threatens to put him in the garbage disposal, creating a stalemate and allowing Ramone, River's actual husband, to teleport her, the Doctor and Hydroflax's head outside of the ship. Believing Nardole to have information about River, Hydroflax's body decapitates him to use his head as its own.

Although the Doctor is convinced that River knows who he is, she denies it. She reveals she purposely crashed Hydroflax's ship in their location knowing the Doctor would be in the area with the TARDIS. Being unfamiliar with his new regeneration cycle, she has pictures of his first twelve incarnations. Ramone has only been able to find the TARDIS, not its owner; River decides they will just have to borrow it instead. However the TARDIS's safeguards prevent it from taking off when it detects that Hydroflax's head and body are respectively inside and outside the TARDIS.

Hearing Nardole calling for help, Ramone is tricked and uploaded into Hydroflax's body as well. Hydroflax's head allows his body to locate the TARDIS, and using Ramone forces its way inside. With Hydroflax's head and body now both in the TARDIS it is able to travel to the starship Harmony and Redemption, where River requests that the Maître d', Flemming, deadlock seal the baggage hold in order to prevent Hydroflax's body from pursuing them further.

Rather than return the diamond to the Halassi, River reveals that she intends to sell the diamond to a buyer named Scratch, who has secretly filled the meeting point with members of his own species. After receiving payment, River and the Doctor discover that Scratch and his compatriots worship King Hydroflax and are after the diamond in his honour. Despite attempts to hide the bagged head containing the diamond, they are stopped from escaping by Flemming, who was tricked into entering the baggage area by an under-duress Ramone. Flemming has promised Hydroflax's body an even greater head, the head of the Doctor, and believes that River Song will be the perfect bait to get it.

Sensing that Hydroflax's head is beyond recovery and will die imminently, Hydroflax's body destroys it, leaving only the diamond. River is asked for the whereabouts of the Doctor, but she explains that although she loves the Doctor they are mistaken in thinking that he loves her enough to find himself with her, as she believes the Doctor to be incapable of falling in love. Seeing the steady gaze and mild smirk on the Doctor's face, River realizes he's been with her all along and the Doctor confirms this by saying, "Hello, sweetie."

Being a time traveller, River is aware that the ship is about to be crippled by a meteor strike, which she uses as their escape plan, taking the diamond in the process. The Doctor uses Scratch's universal bank transfer device to overload Hydroflax's body, before heading to the ship's bridge. While the ship is crashing, River realises that they are heading towards the planet Darillium - home to the Singing Towers mentioned by the future River as the place where she spent her final night with the Doctor ("Forest of the Dead"). Realising that they're unable to save the ship, they flee back into the TARDIS, but the impact of the crash knocks River unconscious.

After avoiding taking River to Darillium for as long as possible to avoid their last date together mentioned by her future self, the Doctor decides to give in to the inevitable. After travelling to the next morning, the Doctor suggests to a man searching for survivors of the crash that he build a restaurant where they're standing, with a view of the Singing Towers, and gives him the diamond to fund its construction. Travelling forwards in time once again, the Doctor enters the now-built restaurant and books the table on the balcony for Christmas Day in four years' time. When River awakes, she is told that the Doctor is waiting for her at their table. Hydroflax's body, now peacefully controlled by the heads of Ramone and Nardole, was pulled from the wreckage and put to work as a waiter in the restaurant.

The Singing Towers of Darillium

The Singing Towers of Darillium.

The Doctor gives River a present; the sonic screwdriver she will use in the library. As the pair admire the Singing Towers, River notices the Doctor is crying, something he blames on having wind in his eyes. River reveals that her diary is nearly full, and asks whether the stories that this will be their final night together are true, to which the Doctor only responds by saying, "Spoilers": after knowing River for so long he had finally caught up with her in his timeline, and can't bring himself to reveal that this would indeed be their final night together before River travels to the Library and meets his Tenth incarnation, resulting in her dying. River begs him to find a way around this event, but he insists there's no way to avoid the end of their times together and refuses to tell River the future. They both discuss the fleeting nature of things, River pointing out that "happily ever after" does not mean "forever", just "time".

Fearful that not much time is left before they part, River asks how long a night on Darillium is. Smiling, the Doctor informs her that one night on Darillium lasts for twenty-four years. Overjoyed, River once more tells the Doctor, "I hate you." He again replies, "No, you don't." As the two smile at each other, the words "And they both lived happily ever after" are displayed on-screen. Little by little, the message dissolves into gusts of snow, becoming more truthful as it gets reduced to "And they both lived happily", then only "happily", until it has all been swept away.

Cast Edit

Uncredited cast Edit

Crew Edit

General production staff

Script department

Camera and lighting department

Art department

Costume department

Make-up and prosthetics



General post-production staff

Special and visual effects


Not every person who worked on this adventure was credited. The absence of a credit for a position doesn't necessarily mean the job wasn't required. The information above is based solely on observations of the actual end credits of the episodes as broadcast, and does not relay information from IMDB or other sources.

References Edit

The Doctor Edit

  • The Doctor mentions that his eleventh incarnation had a big chin.
  • Whilst thinking he was a stranger, River Song suggests that the Doctor would not approve of alcohol aboard the Doctor's TARDIS, or would not approve of her taking the alcohol while she borrows the TARDIS.
  • The Doctor still enjoys mocking archaeology, referring to River's sonic trowel as "just embarrassing".

River Song Edit

  • River states that the Doctor has planned to take her to Darillium numerous times but has always cancelled at the last minute.
  • River Song owns the book History's Finest Exploding Restaurants with the tagline "The Best Food for Free, Skip the Coffee". She used it as a source when plotting her escape from the meteor strike that hit the Harmony and Redemption.
  • River has a unique perfume spray that lets her change her clothes as she pleases.


  • The roundels are once again used for storage purposes. In this instance, alcohol is inside a cupboard behind one of them.
  • The TARDIS is able to produce a pair of Hologrammatic Antlers for the Doctor.

Technology Edit

Sonic equipment Edit

Planets Edit

Darillium Edit

  • The Singing Towers "sing" due to the flowing of wind through the numerous cave structures in the towers which harmonises with the crystal layer.
  • At the restaurant on Darillium, a string orchestra plays "The First Noel".

Mendorax Dellora Edit

Story notes Edit

  • This is the first episode of Doctor Who since the 2012 Series 7 episode TV: The Angels Take Manhattan, and the first starring Peter Capaldi, to not feature Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald.
  • Gary Russell previously attempted to have the Twelfth Doctor and River meet in his novel Big Bang Generation, but as Steven Moffat set up The Husbands of River Song to be the Twelfth Doctor's first, last and only meeting with River before she sacrificed her physical body, Russell chose to replace River with Bernice Summerfield in the story. [source needed]
  • This is the first Christmas episode to have no scenes take place on Earth.
  • This is the first time in a main story that Alex Kingston's name has appeared in the opening titles.
  • When River's sonic screwdriver is revealed as her present, an excerpt of the Series 4 soundtrack "Silence In The Library" is heard, foreshadowing the events to come in River's last adventure.
  • As Mels, River used the phrase "penny in the air" when someone was oblivious to something important, following up with "and the penny drops" when they finally figured it out, seen in TV: Let's Kill Hitler. Ironically, River is guilty of becoming the butt of her own joke for being oblivious to the fact that the Doctor is right in front of her until it is made indubitable.
  • This is the first time outside of mini-episodes that River has been in a story not to feature one of the Doctor's companions alongside her and the Doctor.
  • The little town set used for Mendorax Dellora appears to have been repurposed from the trap street set used in TV: Face the Raven.
  • A variation of The Doctor's Theme is played when River and Ramone discuss the "Damsel in distress".
  • No cast details accompanied the programme listing in Radio Times, which had the synopsis "When a crashed spaceship calls upon his help, the Time Lord finds himself launched on a chase across the galaxy. Greg Davies and Matt Lucas guest-star." However, the listing for the repeat on Boxing Day (26th December) included a cast list as well the same synopsis (but excluded the final sentence).
  • This is the first episode where both the Doctor and his companion are played by people over the age of 50.
  • River's pictures of the Doctors are screencapped from The Smugglers, The Two Doctors, Carnival of Monsters, The Hand of Fear, Resurrection of the Daleks, Mindwarp, Survival, Doctor Who, The Day of the Doctor, The Parting of the Ways, The Runaway Bride and The Bells of Saint John.
  • The Doctor is heard to say "when the wind stands fair and the night is perfect, when you least expect it, but always when you need it the most, there is a song". Though he is referring to the Singing Towers in this context, his statement could also apply to River herself, either symbolically or as a compliment. This is due to his inclusion of the word "song", which is her last name. Moreover, "song" is another name for "melody", which the towers produce; River's birth name is Melody Pond, and her alternate name, River Song, is the result of her birth name being translated into the language of the Gamma Forests, seen in TV: A Good Man Goes to War.
  • In the opening titles, some of the planets/cogs are replaced by baubles.

Production errors Edit

If you'd like to talk about narrative problems with this story — like plot holes and things that seem to contradict other stories — please go to this episode's discontinuity discussion.
  • When King Hydroflax's talking head is resting on the console's telepathic panel, the panel is bending inward. When his head is removed, the TARDIS console is fine again. This is most likely due to the production staff having replaced the panel with a fake one, which would accommodate Greg Davies' head with comfort.

Ratings Edit

  • BBC One Overnight: 5.77 million (29.4% overall audience share)
  • BBC America Overnight: to be added
  • Final UK ratings: 7.69 million

Filming locations Edit

to be added

Continuity Edit

Video game adaptation Edit

  • On the 16th of February a The Husbands of River Song level pack was released for the game Doctor Who: Legacy. It used ten non-dialogue levels to visually retell the episode's story.

Footnotes Edit

External Links Edit

Also on Fandom

Random Wiki