River Song

Portrayed by: Alex Kingston
Travelled with: Tenth Doctor, Eleventh Doctor
Series: Four, Five, Six

River Song’s first appearance with the Doctor occurred during Series 4 (Silence in the Library (Series 4 : Episode 8) and Forest of the Dead (Series 4 : Episode 9) alongside the Tenth Doctor and Donna Noble. Although this is River’s first appearance, it is apparent that she and the Doctor know each other very well, or will do in his future. The Doctor is untrusting of River, but she gains his trust by whispering his real name, which he told her for reasons as yet undisclosed. River worked with the Doctor to find the mystery of why The Library closed and where the 4022 people that were in it vanished to. Although this was River’s first appearance with the Doctor, it was also the last adventure of her life, as she sacrificed herself to save the Doctor. She remarks that whenever the Doctor meets her next, he will know how she dies. Although this sacrifice is permanent in the real world, a future Doctor gave her a sonic screwdriver. The current Doctor realises that he would have done it knowing how River dies, and finds a data chip concealed within the sonic screwdriver, which holds River’s data ghost. The Doctor uploads this into the computer that controls the Library, and River lives on in the virtual world.

The Doctor and River in the Library.

One of the items River always has with her is a TARDIS shaped diary, in which she records her meetings with the Doctor. She refers to it as “spoilers” whenever he tries to read them and keeps the diary from him at all times. When the Doctor next meets River, he has regenerated into the Eleventh, which she is more familiar with than the Tenth. River has been imprisoned within the Storm Cage Facility for killing the “best man she had ever known” until she was put into the custody of Father Octavian where she was to complete a mission and earn her pardon (Series 5 : Episode 4 and Episode 5). Here, River and the Doctor fought the Weeping Angels, and River was the only one of her team to make it out of the Maze of the Dead alive. River is shown to have exceptional TARDIS flying skills, skills that far outreach the Doctor’s skills for his own TARDIS, however it is implied that the Doctor in his future taught her, and is shown to be able to write in Old High Gallifreyan language, which she uses to attract the Doctor.

The Doctor and Amy say goodbye to River after their encounter with the Weeping Angels.

The Doctor next meets River at the end of Series 5 (The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang (Series 5 : Episode 12 and Episode 13)). River is again imprisoned when she receives a phone call from Winston Churchill, who is trying to contact the Doctor, and tells River about the Van Gogh painting that depicts the TARDIS exploding. River escapes her prison and finds the painting, owned by Liz 10 before bargaining a Time Vortex Manipulator to travel back in time. River travels back to the oldest planet in the universe and writes a message in the cliff face to attract the Doctor to Earth during the Roman Era. Here, River is disguised as Cleopatra until the Doctor arrives, before showing him the painting and taking him to Stonehenge. When the Doctor examines the Pandorica, he instructs River to fetch his TARDIS, but the TARDIS is acting of its own accord and takes River to Amy’s house. River is then trapped inside the TARDIS as it begins its explosion, but is rescued by the Doctor when he uses her Vortex Manipulator.

The Sonic Screwdriver and TARDIS shaped diary that River always carries.

River returned again at the beginning of Series 6 (The Impossible Astronaut and Day of the Moon (Series 6 : Episode 1 and Episode 2)), again in her past and the Doctor’s future. River was still imprisoned in the Stormcage facility, and chooses to return to it rather than travel with the Doctor at the end of the two part story. Together with Amy and Rory, River assists in defeating the Silence that are on Earth, as part of the team called by an older Doctor to assist the current Doctor in America during 1969. River is saddened during this encounter with the Doctor when she kisses him, as she realises it’s the first time he’s kissed her, which means it’s the last time she will kiss him and that she is nearing the end of her adventures with him. It is also revealed within this encounter that the Doctor, despite himself, holds a soft spot for River’s willingness to resort to lethal force to solve a problem. However we will continue to delve deeper into the River Song mystery, as her “past is his future”.

River Song in The Impossible Astronaut

River’s next appearance came in the mid-season finale of Series 6 (A Good Man goes to War (Series 6 : Episode 7)), when she was asked by Rory to join the Doctor in finding Amy. However, River declined joining the Battle of Demon’s Run because that would be the Doctor’s darkest hour, and she couldn’t be with him until the end. At the end of the battle, River did arrive on the Demon’s Run asteroid, where the Doctor was furious at her for not coming sooner. However, River merely told the Doctor to read what was in front of him and he softened, becoming cheery with her again. After the Doctor’s departure in the TARDIS from Demon’s Run, Amy rounded on River demanding answers, to which River revealed her deepest secret, she is Amy and Rory’s daughter, Melody Pond. The revelation came from a prayer leaf created by Lorna that had Amy’s daughter (Melody Pond) written on it in the language of the Gamma Forest people where Lorna was from. But the Gamma Forest people don’t have exact translations for Melody Pond, so the translation became Song River, or as we know her – River Song. It was also revealed that River contains some Time Lord DNA due to her creation beginning on the TARDIS while it was in the time vortex.

River tells Amy and Rory who she is in A Good Man goes to War

River Song – Appearances in her order: