The Husbands of River Song
Doctor Who Logo 'The Husbands of River Song'
(Story Code 9.12)

by Steven Moffat
The Twelfth Doctor and River Song

“I’m the Doctor.” – The Doctor
“You’d better be, you’ve got an operation to perform!” – River Song

Christmas Day, 5343: the human colony on Mendorax Dellora. The Doctor is trying to avoid the festivities and carol singers, but the TARDIS is attempting to cheer him up by making him wear a pair of holographic antlers on his head. The fun is interrupted by the arrival of a bumbling little man called Nardole, who is looking for a surgeon to help with a medical emergency; the Doctor agrees to accompany him, unwittingly passing the real surgeon as they make their way. Arriving at a flying saucer parked in a nearby field, the Doctor is introduced to Nardole’s boss: none other than the Doctor’s ‘wife’, Professor River Song! However, to the Doctor’s surprise River does not recognise him, and she ignores his efforts to talk to her in favour of rushing him to the side of her actual husband, King Hydroflax – a man with a giant, red robot body, who lies dying on a bed inside the saucer, surrounded by armed warrior monks and watched via CCTV by four billion of his loyal subjects. The Doctor’s bedside manner as ‘the finest surgeon in the galaxy’ leaves much to be desired, and once River has calmed down her husband she takes the Doctor aside to explain the situation: King Hydroflax was leading a raid on a high-security vault when an explosion caused the Halassi Androvar, the most valuable diamond in the galaxy, to become lodged in his brain, an injury that is slowly killing him. River now wants the Doctor to remove her husband’s head – however, she isn’t really interested in saving Hydrofax’s life: she only married the ruthless murderer so that she could retrieve the diamond for her employers, the Halassi. Unfortunately for River and the Doctor, the king and his monks have overheard their conversation; the king is furious at River’s deception, and to her surprise he removes his head for her, his body placing it on the table before them. Quickly overcoming her astonishment at being married to a cyborg, River pulls out her sonic trowel (!) and overcomes the monks, then holds back the cyborg’s body while the Doctor threatens to chuck the king’s head down the garbage chute. As the robotic torso backs off, River orders the Doctor to stuff the King’s head into a duffel bag, contacts her colleague Ramone on her communicator and instructs him to teleport them all to safety. Materialising in mid-air, the Doctor and River make a soft landing in the snow; the Time Lord finds the situation hilarious, especially when he is threatened by the contents of the bag. The duo are met by River’s associate, Ramon – and to the Doctor’s discomfort, River snogs the handsome man and then introduces him as another of her husbands! The next stage of River and Ramone’s plan is to look for “the Damsel”, their codename for the Doctor, although River only has pictures of the Time Lord’s previous twelve incarnations, not the current version standing right in front of her. [Back at the flying saucer, Hydroflax’s body interrogates Nardole; after cutting off his head to wear, it flies off in pursuit of the king and his kidnappers…] River and her gang soon locate the TARDIS, standing on a street between some shops; to the Doctor’s chagrin River users her own key to ‘borrow’ the time-space ship, while Ramone heads back to their own vessel. With River still blissfully ignoring his hints at his real identity, the Doctor is forced to pretend amazement at the huge interior of the TARDIS. As River helps herself to the Time Lord’s secret drinks cabinet, King Hydroflax’s head powers down and starts emitting a homing beacon; River sets the ship’s controls, but the TARDIS refuses to leave, its safety systems having registered how Hydroflax’s head and body are both inside and outside the ship at the same time. [Out on the streets, Ramone encounters Nardole and his new body; the cyborg portion has a message for him to give to River…] In the TARDIS, River is all for killing Hydroflax, but the king wakes up and gloats that on his death his cyborg body will unleash the stabilised black hole that powers it, destroying the entire solar system. Answering a knock at the door, River is faced with Ramone – or rather his head, now installed atop the king’s body; the cyborg immediately goes on a rampage inside the TARDIS, while Hydroflax bellows for it to destroy everyone. Hastily activating the TARDIS’ controls, River orders the Doctor to grab the head; they then race outside the ship, which has now materialised inside the baggage hold of a luxurious starliner as it cruises into the Andromeda Galaxy. Having locked the TARDIS door, River asks one of the alien stewards, Flemming, to deadlock seal the hold, and then uses a handy spray to change her outfit to something more appropriate for dinner. River confesses to a disapproving Doctor that she has no intention of returning the diamond to the Halassi; instead she plans to sell it to one of the rich and unscrupulous passengers of the liner, the Harmony & Redemption. River takes the Doctor to the restaurant for dinner, with the king-in-a-bag hidden underneath the table. Learning that her guest has docked with the liner, River consults her diary; when the Doctor comments on it, River notes that it is nearly full, which she believes means that her time is coming to an end. Meanwhile, a steward reports to Flemming about the noise from the baggage hold; after speaking to Ramone on CCTV, Flemming inadvertently release the king’s cyborg body, and has to fast-talk to avoid becoming its latest head – instead he suggests the Doctor… River meets her contact, a creepy, pale-faced man named Scratch, who represents the Shoal of the Winter Harmony; when River demands to see his money, the man pulls apart his head to reveal a spherical, funds-transferral device hidden inside. However, when River pulls out the bag Scratch suspects duplicity, and he reveals that everyone in the restaurant is of his kind; River assures Scratch that she has the diamond, so he transfers one-hundred-billion credits into her account. As River hands over the bag, Scratch reveals that he and his people are auctioning on behalf of their revered king – which as luck would have it is Hydroflax! Thinking fast, the Doctor grabs the bag and tries to start an auction amongst the king’s followers; he then wakes Hydroflax, making Scratch and his people immediately prostrate themselves before their monarch. Flemming arrives on the scene with the cyborg’s body and a squad of gurads, causing panic amongst the diners. Scanning Hydroflax’s head, the cyborg body declares it to be irreversibly decayed, with just seven minutes before the diamond moves enough to kill him; preferring not to wait that long to get a new head, the cyborg atomises its former one, leaving behind the diamond amongst the remains. The fawning Flemming snatches River’s diary and reiterates the Doctor’s head as a suitable new king; reinstating Nardole from inside its casing, the cyborg confirms that River is the Doctor’s ‘consort’. River won’t deny her love for the Doctor, but insists that he would never reciprocate, and would certainly never come to her aid - and to prove it she challenges the cyborg to scan the ship for him. When the man next to her voices his concern at this course of action, River finally realises who he is; together they immediately settle into the old routine of formulating an escape plan: knowing that the ship is about to be hit by a meteor strike (a key factor in her choosing the starliner as a place to do business and have a free meal), River positions herself and the Doctor in the precise spot where the floor will collapse, allowing them both to drop to safety, and for River to catch the falling diamond in her cleavage. As River runs for the bridge to help steer the crashing ship, the Doctor stays behind to deal with the cyborg; offering it a bribe instead of his head, the Doctor connects the money-device into the cyborg’s cranial socket, allowing it to access all of the banks in the galaxy – and come under attack from countless bank firewalls, which overloads the cyborg’s systems. With two minutes before the Harmony & Redemption crashes onto the surface of the nearest planet, the Doctor joins River in the bridge to try and fix the controls. Glancing out the window, River recognises the approaching planet as Darillium, the site of the Singing Towers, where the Doctor has always promised to take her to dinner. Changing the subject, the Doctor uses his new sonic screwdriver to activate the internal teleport system, transporting River into the safety of the TARDIS. Refusing to leave the Doctor behind, River materialises the TARDIS around him, and then resumes work on the bridge controls. Both want to save the other, but when they eventually understand there is no hope for the starliner they race inside the TARDIS – only to get caught up in the crash, and knocked into unconsciousness…

The Doctor is the first to wake; taking the diamond from beside River’s prone form he looks out of the ship and finds it standing in the middle of the crash site. Taking the TARDIS forward in time, the Doctor steps outside and meets one of the rescue crew, who has been searching in vain for survivors; noting the two huge, rocky towers in the distance, the Doctor gives the man the Halassi diamond and tells him to use the reward money to build a nice restaurant there. Moving forward in time again, the Doctor steps into the new, plush restaurant and books a table for the next available slot, Christmas Day in four years’ time…

River wakes and leaves the TARDIS; stepping into the restaurant she is met by the receptionist, who escorts her to the balcony, where the finest table in all the galaxy awaits. Here River meets Ramone, now working as a waiter and still a head on the reprogrammed cyborg body, which he shares with Nardole. The Doctor appears, now suited and booted and carrying a Christmas present for River: her very own sonic screwdriver, much to River’s delight. The Doctor shows River to their table, which overlooks the Singing Towers of Darillium. Noticing how the Time Lord is sad, River suddenly realises what it means: this is their last night together. River is sad too – until the Doctor tells her that a night on Darillium lasts twenty-four years…


Peter Capaldi (The Doctor), Alex Kingston (Professor River Song), Matt Lucas (Nardole), Greg Davies (King Hydroflax), Phillip Rhys (Ramone), Rowan Polonski (Flemming), Robert Curtis (Scratch), Anthony Cozens (Concierge), Chris Lew Kum Hoi (Alphonse), Nicolle Smartt (Receptionist), Liam Cooke (King Hydroflax’s Body), Nonzo Anozie (Voice of Hydroflax)

Directed by Douglas Mackinnon
Produced by Nikki Wilson
Executive Producers Steven Moffat and Brian Minchin
A BBC Wales production


TX (BBC 1 & BBC 1 HD):
25th December 2015 @ 5.15 pm


Notes:
*Featuring the Twelfth Doctor and River

*This episode is sixty minutes long *The title sequence for this sixty-minute Christmas special is sprinkled with snow, with decorative baubles instead of planets

*Time-placing: for River, this story takes place immediately after the events of 'The Angels Take Manhattan'

*Alternate title: 'The Husband of River Song'