Doctor Who offers an expansive and seemingly endless universe full of distant planets, galaxies, and aliens. The show’s penchant for keeping a consistent rotation of characters means that there are ample stories to explore in other formats. Big Finish Productions bridges the gap between what we see on TV and fans’ imaginations with full-cast audio dramas. And, one of their most popular series is The Diary of River Song, which fills in the gaps of the time traveler’s life when we don’t see her with The Doctor. The Diary of River Song Series 8 is the latest installment with Alex Kingston reprising her role once again for time and space exploits.
Big Finish Audio
River Song is certainly the perfect character for all sorts of off-screen adventures. She pops in and out of the TV series, often running into The Doctor under strange or haphazard circumstances. Her ability to time travel and regenerate along with her incredible intellect and sharp wit make her leading lady material. In fact, her TV diary gave her future Big Finish audios a foundation years before The Diary of River Song‘s existence.
“Her diary was featured in her very first episode, Silence of the Library,” Kingston tells Nerdist in an interview ahead of the new installment’s release. “[Doctor Who showrunner] Steven [Moffat] had already filled that diary with all of these adventures. I mean, it was the most beautiful prop I had ever seen. There were intricate drawings and some adventures that we filmed further down the line. That book has given us the opportunity for River to carry on and have other adventures.”
The Diary of River Song is a continuous growth process for River in terms of expanding her individual story. She’s certainly a well-developed character with a twisty timeline in the show; however, a lot of her arc centers on her relationship with The Doctor. Her audio series gives her an absolutely fantastic theme song and space to be the time traveler in charge. River gets to right wrongs, solve crimes, and pick up some random companions too. Listeners get a deeper understanding of who she is as an individual and what drives her travels.
The Diary of River Song Series 8 includes four feature-length stories with River meeting new robot friends and dangerous foes. Song reunites with Rachel, a humanoid android she met back in series two. River feels a protective duty to the character, which is interesting considering Kingston’s real-life daughter Salome Haertel voices Rachel. Kingston says she treats recording with her daughter like she would with any professional actor and speaks further on River and Rachel’s dynamic.
Kingston says, “I always find there’s a real poignancy between the character of River and this AI Rachel…Because she’s a robot, she’s trying to understand and learn about feeling and being human in each story that we meet her. And I find it very moving, actually, that River is not trying to teach her that, but River is observing her learning about feeling and emotion.”
River Song will also meet Doctor Who’s iconic good dog K9, whom we last saw with Sarah Jane Smith. It’s sure to be a fun adventure, especially with a robot cat named FE- (pronounced feline) in the mix too. Kingston promises that this latest installment will be “raucous, thrilling, and naughty,” three words which perfectly encapsulates River Song’s persona.
Kingston loves being River but is eyeing a non-Who role: a James Bond villain. “I’d love to be the female villain, the big one, because they’ve never had a woman being the [main] villain. I’d want to be a villain who actually does not find James Bond sexy at all and doesn’t succumb to his charms at all as the real nemesis. I’d love that.”
We would love to see it too; however, we are also thankful that she doesn’t want to leave River Song behind any time soon. She hopes to continue The Diary of River Song series as long as Big Finish writers keep penning fantastic stories. If she had her way, a River Song and Ninth Doctor meet-up would be the next big collaboration on the list. It’s certainly possible considering the Ninth Doctor is now a part of the Big Finish lineup. Similar to River, Kingston says she feels a connection to anyone who’s ever been The Doctor.
“The Doctor Who family is such an incredible family and whoever comes on, playing The Doctor, one immediately feels that one knows them already because one knows The Doctor,” she affirms. “And every time I work with somebody who has been The Doctor in the past, I already feel like I’ve known them forever, even though I’ve only just met them, because they have been The Doctor. And so, there’s this just immediate warmth and camaraderie.”
Kingston wouldn’t mind pulling a Jack Harkness and reappearing on the show, perhaps to meet Thirteen. “My TARDIS door is always open,” Kingston quips with a smile on her face. Does this statement hint at potential SPOILERS? Who knows.
For now, River Song fans can dive into her audio stories to get their fix. The Diary of River Song Series 8 is available now on Big Finish’s website with a digital and CD/digital combination option.