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August 28, 2015

Alex Kingston On River Song, Being Doctor Who's Equal, and Steven Moffat's Plans

by Nick Zaino, posted Apr 21st 2011 4:30PM
Alex Kingston as River Song on 'Doctor Who'Alex Kingston's River Song made her 'Doctor Who' debut in the Silence In the Library/Forest Of the Dead two-episode story arc in season four. Coincidentally, those episodes were written by Steven Moffat, who was announced as the new head writer shortly before the episodes aired.

Song, a time traveling archeologist, came back last year for season five, Moffat's first at the helm, and has been increasingly important to the storyline since then.

The character proves herself be even more important in season six, which debuts this Sat., April 23 on BBC America. Kingston recently told AOL TV she had no idea how involved she would eventually be in the show, but Moffat did. "Steven already had sort of like the whole journey of River Song planned in his head," she told us.

The British-born actress starred on 'ER' and in adaptations of classic literature, but the role of Song is a stand-out for her -- a rare part that allows her to "kick ass." She told us she wouldn't mind seeing Song pop up on the new 'Torchwood' on Starz, either.

Did you sit down with Moffat and some point, and did he tell you what the whole plan had been since the beginning?
Sort of. I sat down with him and he did say that this had always been his plan. He then started to reveal to me a little bit more about who the character was and in fact at the end of last season, he actually revealed quite a lot to me that I was then not allowed to tell the others. And then they found out that I had information or knew things that they didn't know. So for a while, there was quite a lot of one-upmanship. I felt very powerful because I had this knowledge that they weren't party to. So it was great for a while.

So they were trying to trick you into saying more?
Yeah, they were. And they were saying, well, we know stuff that you don't know. Like, we'll tell you what we know if you'll tell us what you know. But I wouldn't.

You never cracked?
I never cracked, no. Not even to my daughter. My daughter kept saying, "But I'm your child, mummy, you've got to tell me." I'm like, "Nope!"

How much do you know about River Song's future?
Well, not much, really. That's the one thing that Steven keeps very close to his chest. The one thing I do know is I can't be killed off. Because that's already happened to me. It can't happen again. But in terms of how often one sees River coming back, that I don't know.

How many Doctors has she known? Are we going to see Photoshopped pictures of her and Tom Baker?
We don't know. All I know is that when I was doing the first story with David Tennant and River arrived and she had her blue book, it's just filled with her past exploits with the Doctor. And I was flipping pages sort of matching his face to the faces in the book. So presumably, she has met many Doctors. And certainly, in that episode as well, I asked him whether we had done the Pandorica, the Byzantium. There were all these different adventures, and he didn't know what we were talking about. Well now, in the last season, two of those adventures, we've actually now been on.

I think the thing also that Steven explained to me is that every time River sort of finds the Doctor, for whatever reason, she's never 100 percent sure which Doctor it is she's going to be meeting. And what they have already experienced together or not. So even when I come back, every time I meet Matt, I never quite know where we are in our relationship or what we have revealed or what we know about each other. Because time travel isn't linear.

How does River compare to other roles you've played? She's a tough character, she's an adventurous character. She's killed a Dalek. Moll Flanders never did that.
No. I have to say, I'm loving having a chance to play this character. I mean, she's kick-ass. There aren't that many opportunities for women to play those sorts of roles. You never know from one episode to the net where they're going to be in time or whether they're going to be on another planet. So there's all sorts of opportunities for wearing weird and wonderful costumes and running around with ray guns or machine guns, or suddenly you're on some sort of strange alien ship. It's fabulous. This is really having the chance to relive one's childhood fantasies.

You also seem to be one of the few characters who's one step ahead of the Doctor.
Yes, yes. Which, again, I think makes it probably quite interesting in terms of just the tapestry of the show. Up until the arrival of River Song, the female companions were always completely innocent or inexperienced when it came to anything like time travel. The Doctor was always the one who was teaching and supporting and taking these women on this sort of amazing journey. And River adds a slightly different dimension to every episode she's involved in because she's coming to him as an equal. She doesn't know as much as he does, but sometimes she does.

One of those loose questions was the marriage question at the end of the last episode of season five. I'm expecting you to have to dodge most of this, but how does that play into season six?
Well, let's just say that that question is taken further and explored. And I may be lying, of course.

Were you a fan of the show before you were on it?
Obviously when I was a child, I was a huge devotee. All children in England watched 'Doctor Who' when I was growing up. It wasn't even a question of whether you were going to watch it or not. You just did. And it's absolutely sown into the fabric of British culture, like the royal family. It's unbelievable.

Alex Kingston as River Song on 'Doctor Who'Do you view it as a kids' show? There's been debate as to whether it's a kids' show or an adult show or even a sci-fi show.
The children of England absolutely believe and hold onto 'Doctor Who' as being their show. And it's their show that their parents are allowed to watch with them. And it's sort of always been that. Whereas in America, it's all of the sci-fi clan who have embraced the show, and now Twitter and everything, more and more people are getting to hear about it. But it seems to be much more the adults and older kids who are getting excited about it. And I hope with the bigger launch and the bigger push we're doing with 'Doctor Who' this season, I really hope that more young children get involved.

The difference between kids' shows in America, or how children watch television in America versus how children watch television in England, is that there's a huge number of families in England who still watch television as a family. And certainly 'Doctor Who' is a show where all of the family sits down together and enjoys watching it. Whereas I think in America, children tend to sit and watch TV on their own more. And they eat their supper on their own more. And I think if it continues like that, then children may not ever get to see 'Doctor Who.' It may be something that they miss because it's up to the parents to turn it on. It would be lovely if parents and children sat down to watch this show because it's a great opportunity for everybody to enjoy it.

What can you tell me about "The Silence?"
[Pauses] The Silence will fall. That's all I can tell you.

I thought if I tossed that one in after a longer answer I might be able to catch you off guard.
[Laughs] Basically, you're saying, "Alex, shut up."

Is being a time-traveling archeologist cheating?
No! I mean, my goodness, there are so many worlds out there to discover.

But everybody else has to piece things together. They can't talk into their wrist and go back and look.
Yeah, but I bet Indiana Jones is kicking himself, because he would have loved to have been a time-traveling archeologist, I'm sure.

What does River Song do when she's not in the Doctor's timeline?
She's in prison, playing with her Sonic Screwdriver. She's in the Storm Cage, like 25 years in the Storm Cage. But she seems to be able to get out whenever she wants. She torments the soldiers.

But as a time traveler, she could be anywhere.
I'm sort of hoping that maybe she could be on 'Torchwood,' which is filming at Warner Brothers.

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She's not his equal shes a horrible character . Romana was the Doctor's equal. river Song is just some mary Sue that moffat is in love with.
please keep her away from Torchwood, ruining one show is quite enough

July 17 2011 at 10:48 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

She's not his equal shes a horrible character . romana was the Doctor's equal. river Song is just some mary Sue that moffat is in love with.

July 17 2011 at 10:47 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
John Bryans Fontaine

IMHO, the Doctor and River Song should consummate their relationship.

May 02 2011 at 1:23 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

River Song would be great on her own show as a time traveling archeologist. And she did bring it to Doctor Who with her experience and knowledge that is equal to Doctor Who. I agree she should not be on Torchwood, as that is a different type of show.

April 26 2011 at 11:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Why doesn't Doctor Who have it's own tag here? Make it a lot easier to find posts.

April 25 2011 at 12:04 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Matthew Drummey

Please keep her away from TORCHWOOD she's already helped ruin Dr. Who and TORCHWOOD does not need to be stained by her presence,

April 21 2011 at 10:17 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply

I'd love to see River Song in a spin off. That could be a fun show!

April 21 2011 at 4:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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