We last saw Alex Kingston’s River Song in the 2015 Doctor Who Christmas special “The Husbands of River Song” alongside Peter Capaldi’s twelfth Doctor. At the finale of that installment, it seemed like her time loop had been closed when the Doctor gave her the Sonic Screwdriver she’d used in one of her earliest appearances in “Forest of the Dead.” The episode concluded with the Doctor and River Song spending one last romantic night together, with the caveat that a night on the planet they live on lasts 24 years.
Ever since then, fans have wondered whether the character could one day make a return to the show, and what she’d think of Jodie Whittaker’s first female Doctor. Well, there’s no indication that the next season will feature her, but Alex Kingston sure seems enthusiastic about returning. In an appearance on British breakfast TV show This Morning, she said that she’s “always up” for a comeback.
That’s in line with her other recent comments, where she explained that she’d met Jodie Whittaker and spoken about what their characters coming face to face would be like, saying:
“I did meet her. We chatted about me coming back to Doctor Who,” she said. “I love the character, and I think that, my gosh, there are wonderful potential opportunities down the road. But it’s not my decision.”
She also spoke about her reaction to the news that for the first time in its history, the newest incarnation of the Doctor would be played by a woman, explaining:
“To be honest, at first I was a little conflicted because I just thought, ‘All those little boys, how are they going to handle it? But then I thought when Peter Capaldi played the Doctor, I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, how are those young kids going to be able to relate to – sorry Peter – somebody who could be their grandfather? But, they all totally embraced him and it’s because he is the Doctor and Jodie is the Doctor because it’s the same spirit inside so it doesn’t matter.”
Anyone who’s seen the current series will know that Whittaker certainly has the Doctor’s innate spirit down, even if the variable quality of the episodes hasn’t given her a big Doctor moment yet.
But will River Song return? Well, I always saw her as Steven Moffat’s pet character and I’m not sure that current showrunner Chris Chibnall has the same affection for her. Plus, his tactic for Doctor Who seems to be to look forward and try new things rather than dredge up the past, so I think right now it’s unlikely. That said, River Song has since met up with various incarnations of the Doctor in the Big Finish audio series, meeting Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy and Paul McGann’s Doctors, so it seems inevitable that one day she’ll meet Jodie Whittaker’s, too.