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The Husbands of River Song was the 2015 Christmas Special of Doctor Who. It was the show's eleventh Christmas special since its revival and the second Christmas special starring Peter Capaldi as the Doctor.

It was noteworthy for closing the book on River Song's timeline that began with her debut in 2008 with Silence in the Library. It also showed the Twelfth Doctor's first encounter with River. For River, this was the final adventure with the Doctor before she met her demise in Forest of the Dead. This episode also showed the Doctor turning up on River's doorstep with a new haircut and a suit, their night on Darillium to see the Singing Towers, and the Doctor giving River his sonic screwdriver, all of which had been previously mentioned by River in Forest of the Dead. Furthermore, the episode also revealed the Twelfth Doctor was the incarnation who gave River the sonic screwdriver that the Tenth Doctor would use to upload her Data ghost to CAL.

The story also introduced River's servant Nardole. Although he was just a head by the ending of this episode, his body would be reconstructed by the Doctor prior to The Return of Doctor Mysterio and Nardole would become his companion.

The story also introduces the Shoal of the Winter Harmony.


The Twelfth Doctor is on the planet Mendorax Dellora in 5343, where he is asked by a man named Nardole to follow him, thinking he is a surgeon, on the orders of River Song. A surgeon is required to remove a diamond from the head of the tyrannical King Hydroflax. It became lodged there due to a ruthless act of thievery gone wrong, and River seeks to recover it. Surprised that River cannot identify his newest face, the Doctor struggles to break the news to her while learning how she acts on her own - and how many other lovers she has had. However, both he and River soon find that the time is drawing close for the last page in the diary of their journeys together to be written...


On Christmas Day5343, on the human colony of Mendorax Dellora, a man named Nardole is searching through a town for something pictured on a piece of paper. He comes across the TARDIS, believing he's found what he was sent for; he knocks on the door, which has a sign saying "Carolers will be criticised." The Doctor opens the door, asking if there is something on his head; Nardole confirms that there are antlers on the Doctor's head. Closing the door, the Doctor yells at the TARDIS for trying to cheer him up with holographic antlers.

An electronic hum comes from inside, and the Doctor thanks the TARDIS for listening to him. The door opens again, with the Doctor now lacking the antlers; he asks what Nardole wants. Nardole asks if he's a surgeon. The Doctor tells him that's close enough, inquiring if he needs one. Nardole confirms this and begins walking away. He turns back to see the Doctor hasn't moved. The Doctor asks if there will be carolling where the emergency is; Nardole says no. Happy there will be no singing, the Doctor exits the TARDIS and locks the doors.

The Doctor follows Nardole through town. Nardole explains they weren't sure where his "capsule" would land. The Doctor says it's a common thing for him, before stating he's had a bad day of "people turning into lizards" and a piano falling on him. Moments after they pass someone, an elderly man with a bag approaches and asks the person if they were looking for a surgeon.

Hydroflax's flying saucer

Hydroflax's ship.

Nardole brings the Doctor to a crashed spaceship. A cloaked woman exits the ship, asking who the Doctor is. Noting the Doctor does not look like the surgeon's photos, the Doctor jokes that it's an on-going problem. Sensing that the woman is familiar, the Doctor asks if they've met. She states they have not, removing her hood to reveal herself as River Song. Smiling, the Doctor says her name. River is shocked he knows her name, asking how he knows her. The Doctor laughs, stating it would take a flowchart; however, River doesn't take the hint. Nardole tells the Doctor that he must refer to her as Dr Song, or Professor Song. Annoyed, River tells them to never speak her true name again or she will remove their organs in alphabetical order. Amused, the Doctor asks which alphabet. River scowls and heads back inside the ship.

Heading inside, the Doctor asks what the emergency is. River states that it's her husband. The Doctor is shocked, asking her to repeat that. River responds that her husband is dying. Stopping in his tracks, the Doctor is asked by Nardole if he's alright; the Doctor states "I'm going to need a bigger flowchart."

River leads him to her dying husband, King Hydroflax. To the Doctor's disgust, Hydroflax recalls having many romantic nights with River. Due to the guards being genetically-engineered to have anger problems and sentient laser swords, Nardole tells the Doctor to not do anything upsetting, like crossing his arms; the Doctor tells Nardole that he's got cross arms, crossing them anyway. River then tells Hydroflax that she called in the best surgeon in the universe to save his life. The Doctor quietly tells Nardole that he made a mistake and not to "make puddles". Seeing he has no choice but to help, the Doctor approaches to study the patient, being told to bow in the king's presence. However, the Doctor states he cannot do so because of his back. The Doctor examines Hydroflax, determining that something is jammed in his head. River takes him to an adjacent room to discuss the operation.

River shows the Doctor a holographic x-ray of Hydroflax's head, which reveals that the Halassi Androvar, the most valuable diamond in the universe, has become lodged in Hydroflax's brain during a raid on the Halassi Vaults and is slowly killing him. Having been hired by the Halassi to recover the lost treasure, River posed as Hydroflax's nurse and pretended to love him; took less than a week for Hydroflax to propose to her. According to River, men will believe any story they are the hero of. River tells "the surgeon" to remove Hydroflax's entire head, considering it quicker and easier. "I'll kill the lights; you kill the patient." The Doctor is shocked, wondering if this is what she's like without him to keep her homicidal tendencies in check. He states that he'll decide what needs to be done because he's the Doctor; however, River doesn't get this obvious hint. She says he reminds her of someone; the Doctor starts to describe his last incarnation, but River exclaims that it's her second wife that he reminds her of.

They are surprised by Hydroflax, who has listened to their conversation. Hydroflax tells them that if they wanted his head, they should have just asked, promptly removing his head from his body; Hydroflax is truly nothing more than a head on a mechanical body. River notes she thought it was strange they never shared a bathroom. He demands to know who his wife really is; River tells him that she's Professor River Song, archaeologist hired to retrieve the diamond and give back to the people he's taken so much from. She's even got a sonic trowel. The robot body begins closing in on River and the Doctor per Hydroflax's orders. However, River threatens Hydroflax's head with her trowel, causing the body to halt. Despite Hydroflax ordering his body to attack, its AI tells him to chill as there is a high probability Hydroflax will be harmed. River shoves Hydroflax's head in a gym bag she has, despite his protests that it smells; she radios her contact Ramone, to teleport her and the Doctor.

The two end up a foot above the snow and fall. Annoyed, River radios Ramone, telling him to work on the landings. Hearing Hydroflax threaten them, the Doctor bursts out laughing. River tells him it's not funny; however, the Doctor points out the ridiculousness of being threatened by a bag. They both laugh as Hydroflax continues to yell threats. The Doctor now thinks River was just messing with him, asking if she really does know who he is. River states that she does not, as Ramone arrives; River pulls him into a kiss. The Doctor wonders "doesn't [kissing] get boring? It's not a varied activity." River reveals Ramone is another of her husbands, whose memory she wiped of their marriage because he was getting annoying. The Doctor sarcastically asks if she's going to murder him as well.

Ramone informs River that he has not found Code Name: Damsel in Distress, despite his capsule being in the village. River asks Ramone if he's sure as he has twelve faces. Ramone unfolds twelve pictures, which are of the First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, War, Ninth, Tenth and Eleventh Doctors; he adamantly states that none of these men are in town. River is flabbergasted as she crashed Hydroflax's ship in this location because it's where she had the best chance to meet up with the Doctor. Deciding to tease River, the Doctor states that he may have a face she doesn't know about; knowing the Doctor wasted a regeneration, River states that he has "limits."

Onboard Hydroflax's ship, his robot body decides to upload information about River Song from Nardole; it does so by decapitating him and placing his head in place of Hydroflax. It now has the information about where the TARDIS is located and that River is known to be associated with it.

The Doctor follows River and Ramone to the TARDIS, where River states she'll just borrow it. Taken aback by this, the Doctor notes that "Damsel" sounds dangerous and might be angry with her for stealing his ride. River states that he's never noticed before when she borrowed the TARDIS and put it back where it was before, so why would she worry about it now. Aggravated to hear this, the Doctor states that he'll start noticing NOW. River sends Ramone off to get ready for their beach holiday. She heads inside, telling the Doctor that it's not as snug as it seems inside. Seeing it's "his turn" to play the shocked companion, the Doctor pretends to be shocked by the "bigger on the inside", giving, in his opinion, a better monologue than others. The Doctor is then shocked to see that River turned one of the roundels into a cupboard for alcohol.

Ramone lighter

Ramone hears Nardole.

Outside, Ramone is heading back to his own ship to head to his vacation spot to wait for River. He hears Nardole calling for help. He finds the robot holding Nardole at gunpoint. Confused, Ramone asks why Nardole is aiming a gun at himself. Nardole states he's not, it's the artificial intelligence controlling the robot. The robot demands that Ramone deliver a message to the former queen River Song. Ramone asks what the message is that he's supposed to deliver.

Inside the TARDIS, River preps things for taking off; the Doctor suggests several buttons, which she explains actually don't help to fly the TARDIS. The Doctor learns to his shock that one button actually causes the waste tanks on Deck 7 to be released. Deciding to avoid Deck 7 for a while, the Doctor watches as River tries to take off; however, the TARDIS refuses to budge. With her confused, the Doctor reveals that the "real-time" envelope cannot be sealed as the TARDIS registers Hydroflax as inside and outside at the same time, due to the head's life-support being connected with the robot body. Being called good for a doctor, the Doctor is annoyed River still hasn't figured it out.

A knocking is heard on the door, with Ramone yelling for River. River opens the door to find Ramone's head on the robot body; apparently, the robot's answer to everything is to cut off someone's head and use it. It starts attacking, with the Doctor grabbing Hydroflax's head. He threatens to send Hydroflax down the trash chute if he doesn't "get himself under control." This works, with River piloting the TARDIS to land in the starship Harmony and Redemption. To the Doctor's surprise, River pulls his hand instead of the other way around, leading him out of the baggage area and shutting the door behind them.

Flemming bigger

Flemming sees River arrive.

River meets the Maître d', Flemming, who has met her before; apparently, his children have eaten their mother in a "lovely ceremony" and are still digesting her. River asks him to deadlock seal the baggage hold, reminding him of the trouble it caused when he didn't during the last time when she was transporting dragon eggs. Haunted by the very memory, Flemming tells her it will be done; the doors are locked just as the robot pounds on them to get out.

Flemming asks if the Doctor is here for dinner, which River confirms; he grabs the Doctor, saying that he'll have the cooks prepare him immediately. However, the Doctor stops him and River explains that he will be joining her for dinner. Flemming tries to pass off his blunder as suggesting her guest would need to be force-fed. Flemming leads them to the dining room, hearing Hydroflax's muffled yells. The Doctor passes it off as his stomach being upset.

River stops, stating she needs to change her clothes. She takes out a perfume bottle and sprays herself, turning her clothing into a dinner gown. "Not bad for 200, eh?" River smirks. The Doctor is taken aback by this; even though River has some Time Lord DNA, she is still mostly human and therefore should not have been able to live this long. River explains that she had her lifespan augmented. Taking a drink from a serving tray, River explains that the ship is full of people like her or worse. Suites are reserved for world destroyers. Even the staff need a provable history of indiscriminate murder. "This is where genocide comes to relax. Do try the fish."

In the dining room, River reads her diary as the Doctor fidgets nervously. The Doctor notes deadlock seals can be broken; "by geniuses" River retorts, and a robot body isn't going to be one. He inquires as to why they're there, to which River says she's waiting for the person who answered her advert for selling the Halassi Androvar. The Doctor is surprised, wondering why River would do this when she was hired to bring it back to the Halassi. Laughing, River asks if the Doctor was born boring or he had to work hard to be so. Seeing River frowning at her diary, the Doctor asks if it's a sad story; she notes the one who gave it to her knew how long it should be, and there are only a few blank pages left for her to write in.

Scratch tight

The diamond's buyer.

A man with a large scar across his face walks up to them asking for Song. Introducing himself as Scratch, a representative of Shoal of the Winter Harmony, he is silenced by River, who asks if he's empowered to purchase. They squabble over showing the merchandise or the payment. Scratch pulls the right side of his head open, removing an orb; disgusted, the Doctor tells him that he shouldn't be doing that where people eat. Scratch explains that the orb connects to every bank in the universe; once given commands, it will give River any amount of payment she desires. Happy, River gives him the bag, telling Scratch he might need a spoon to dig for the diamond. Annoyed, Scratch reveals that he filled the meeting point with members of his own species to ensure honest transaction.

In the meantime, Flemming is informed by another member of the staff of a situation in the baggage hold. Ramone appears on the monitor, stressed and demanding to be let out; unknown to Flemming, the robot body is holding a gun to his head off-screen. Flemming decides to go down and check things, getting held hostage by the robot body. It wishes to take his head for new information, but Flemming offers to give the body a head fit for a king instead.

Back in the dining room, River and the Doctor discover that Scratch and his compatriots worship King Hydroflax and are after the diamond in his honour. Despite attempts to hide the bagged head containing the diamond, they are forced to reveal the truth to create a distraction. Though it's considered heresy to try paying for the king, the Doctor laughs; "He can't be much of a king if you can't put a price on his head." They toss Hydroflax away and flee, only to be stopped by Flemming. The robot body enters, with Hydroflax happy he will be whole soon; however, the body stops short and scans him. The brain damage is now beyond recovery. Hydroflax orders his body to do whatever it takes to save him; it comes to the wrong conclusion that it needs a new head and disintegrates Hydroflax, leaving the diamond behind.

Flemming takes River's diary, explaining it is a guide to the best replacement head in the universe: the head of the Doctor. Scratch backs this up as the Doctor is a legendary being with multiple faces, which would be Hydroflax's crowning achievement. Flemming reads the diary, noting River's been to Asgard for a picnic, the crash of the Byzantium (which was turned into a movie), has met Jim the Fish (who is known by everyone in this era) and has just been to Manhattan (which Flemming thinks is a planet).

River is asked for the whereabouts of the Doctor, to which she truthfully doesn't know. The robot confirms it with a scan. However, Flemming believes that putting the Doctor's consort in danger will draw him in. However, River snaps at him; though she loves the Doctor, he never once said that he loved her. River tells them to scan for two hearts and stupid clothes, but they won't find him. The Doctor tries telling River who he is, but stops when River tells them the Doctor is above falling in love; "You don't expect a sunset to admire you back. When you love the Doctor, it's like loving the stars themselves." She then adds that he wouldn't be sentimental enough to be stuck in this situation with her. Breathing heavily from venting her feelings, River notices the Doctor's steady gaze and mild smirk. She gives a confused look, to which he says "Hello, sweetie."

Seeing how dense she's been, River tells him he'll be doing his roots, as the Doctor taunts her with the romantic poetry she used to describe her love for him; she then tells him she was just buying time until "it" happens. The robot body tells them to stop talking but is ignored. River asks the Doctor where the safest place would be if a meteor strike were to hit, and the Doctor tells her right where they are as it doubles as an escape route. Flemming asks what she means as the speakers announce the meteors' arrival; he asks River how she could have known. Smiling her usual smirk, River tells him that she's the archaeologist that dug his remains up in the future. The meteors hit and the floor gives way, allowing the Doctor and River to flee into the lower floor.

River tells the Doctor that she bought a guidebook that tells her when a restaurant will be destroyed; therefore, as a time traveller, she can get a free meal, as long as she doesn't go to the same place twice and create a paradox. The Doctor asks River if she likes his new body, to which she says she hasn't seen properly yet; however, she then wonders how he has a thirteenth one, as he ran out of regenerations. He tells her that "a thing" happened, to which she knows is usual with him. The diamond falls down towards them, with River catching it in her dress.

Hydroflax's body arrives to take the Doctor's head; the Doctor tells River to go stop the crash while he deals with this moron. The robot body cannot comprehend that even if it gets the Doctor's head, it won't survive the crash. Seeing the orb Scratch gave River, the Doctor grabs it and tells the robot that all kings need money. It demands he demonstrate. With a manic smile, the Doctor attaches it the base of the robot's neck and the A.I. begins sputtering randomly. "Welcome to the best firewalls in the universe. Nothing is protected like money." The robot garbles that it doesn't understand, to which the Doctor says is the same for everyone else. "He had a bad day at the bank." the Doctor tells an employee as he laughs at his own jokes and runs to join River.

In the bridge, the Doctor finds the crew has gone and River working at the controls. They start arguing over the marriages that the other had; the Doctor married Elizabeth I, Marilyn Monroe and Cleopatra, while River married Hydroflax, Ramone and Stephen Fry. While the ship is crashing, River realises that they are heading towards the planet Darillium. River remembers that he always promised to take her there to see the Singing Towers, but always cancelled at the last minute. The Doctor retorts "I'll make sure to give them a wave as we pass by." Trying to save River, the Doctor tricks her into being teleported back to the TARDIS. However, she pilots it back to him. As they have entered the planet's atmosphere, they give up on saving the ship and take shelter in the TARDIS. The resulting impact of the crash knocks River unconscious.

Seeing that the universe is telling him to finally have his last night with River, the Doctor decides to give in to the inevitable. After travelling to the next morning, the Doctor suggests to a man searching for survivors of the crash that he builds a restaurant where they're standing, with a view of the Singing Towers, and gives him the diamond to fund its construction. Travelling forwards in time once again, the Doctor enters the now-built restaurant and books the table on the balcony for Christmas Day in four years' time. The Doctor doesn't mind as he can just jump to the date of his reservation.

When River awakes, she exits the TARDIS and is told by the receptionist that the Doctor is waiting for her in the restaurant. Changing for the occasion, River asks if they have a good table, to which she is told is the best in the house. To her shock, River runs into Hydroflax's body, now peacefully controlled by the heads of Ramone and Nardole; thanks to the Doctor attaching the orb to the robot, the A.I. was deleted in a bank merger. The body was pulled from the wreckage and the two of them have been working as a waiter in the restaurant since then. River shows attraction to Ramone's new body but is told to calm down by the Doctor, who has arrived in a new suit.

River compliments him, to which the Doctor tries to return the favour. However, River notes that her husband never knows when she looks good, but it was kind of him to try; at best, the Doctor has only noticed that River's hair has moved around a bit. The Doctor gives her a box, stating it's Christmas; River notes that the Doctor has never given her a gift before.


River Gets Her Own Sonic Screwdriver - Doctor Who The Husbands Of River Song - BBC

The Doctor gives River her own sonic screwdriver.

To her surprise and joy, it contains the sonic screwdriver she will use in the Library; "I saw the sonic trowel, and thought it was embarrassing." The Doctor demonstrates it to River, discreetly scanning her into the neural relay hidden in it, so his tenth incarnation can upload her data ghost into the virtual world in the Library computer. River laughs with joy, as the Doctor hands her Christmas present back to her. The Doctor leads River to the balcony, which has an amazing view of the Singing Towers.

River listens in awe to the beautiful music. She then notices the Doctor is crying, something he blames on having the wind in his eyes. The Doctor states that it is the wind blowing through the crystal formations inside the towers that causes the music, according to some legends. He asks why River is ignoring the Towers, to which she sadly says "[they're] ignoring me." River reveals that her diary is nearly full, and asks whether the stories that this will be their final night together are true, to which the Doctor only responds by saying; "Spoilers", after knowing River for so long he had finally caught up with her in his timeline, and can't bring himself to reveal that this would indeed be their final night together.

River and Twelve Happy

"And they both lived happily ever after."

River begs him to find a way around this event, but he insists there's no way to avoid the end of their times together and refuses to tell River the future. They both discuss the fleeting nature of things, River pointing out that "happily ever after" does not mean "forever", just "time"; it doesn't have to be much, just a little extra. Fearful that not much time is left before they part, River asks how long a night on Darillium is. Smiling, the Doctor informs her that one night on Darillium lasts for twenty-four years. Overjoyed, River once more tells the Doctor, "I hate you." He again replies, "No, you don't," As the two smile at each other

The words "And they both lived happily ever after" are displayed on-screen. Little by little, the message dissolves into gusts of snow, becoming more truthful as it gets reduced to "And they both lived happily", then only "happily", until it has all been swept away.


Uncredited cast[]


General production staff

Script department

Camera and lighting department

Art department

Costume department

Make-up and prosthetics



General post-production staff

Special and visual effects


Not every person who worked on this adventure was credited. The absence of a credit for a position doesn't necessarily mean the job wasn't required. The information above is based solely on observations of the actual end credits of the episodes as broadcast, and does not relay information from IMDB or other sources.

Uncredited crew[]


The Doctor[]

River Song[]

  • River states that the Doctor has planned to take her to Darillium numerous times but has always cancelled at the last minute.
  • River alludes to her father, Rory Williams, by pointing to her nose and stating "Don't tell dad" while offering alcohol to the Doctor.
  • When searching through her bag at the beginning of the episode, River pulls out a red fez. The Eleventh Doctor was fond of fezzes, thinking they were cool, though River openly disagreed with his statement.
  • River Song owns the book History's Finest Exploding Restaurants with the tagline "The Best Food for Free, Skip the Coffee". She used it as a source when plotting her escape from the meteor strike that hit the Harmony and Redemption.
  • River has a unique perfume spray that lets her change her clothes as she pleases.


  • The roundels are once again used for storage purposes. In this instance, alcohol is inside a cupboard behind one of them.
  • The TARDIS is able to produce a pair of hologrammatic antlers for the Doctor.


Sonic equipment[]



Story notes[]

  • The special didn't have a title until Steven Moffat discussed the matter with Tom Spilsbury. He ultimately opted for The Husbands of River Song over the singular The Husband of River Song, although they also jokingly contemplated the title Bigamy in Space!
  • The opening titles to this episode have several modifications. The cogs are accompanied by snowflakes. Like in TV: Last Christmas, the clock tunnel is icy, the names for the actors and show title appear/dissipate into snowy particles, the emerging rings have snowflake decals, and the TARDIS is covered in snow, except this time, the snow does not disappear mid-way into the sequence. The planets are also replaced by Christmas baubles.
  • This is the first episode of Doctor Who since the 2012 Series 7 episode The Angels Take Manhattan, and the first starring Peter Capaldi, to not feature Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald.
  • This is the first Christmas episode to have no scenes take place on Earth.
  • This is the first time in a main story that Alex Kingston's name has appeared in the opening titles.
  • When River's sonic screwdriver is revealed as her present, an excerpt of the Series 4 soundtrack "Silence in the Library" is heard, foreshadowing the events to come in River's last adventure.
  • As Mels, River used the phrase "penny in the air" when someone was oblivious to something important, following up with "and the penny drops" when they finally figured it out, seen in Let's Kill Hitler. Ironically, River is guilty of becoming the butt of her own joke for being oblivious to the fact that the Doctor is right in front of her until it is made indubitable.
  • This is the first time outside of mini-episodes that River has been in a story not to feature one of the Doctor's companions alongside her and the Doctor.
  • A variation of The Doctor's Theme is played when River and Ramone discuss the "Damsel in distress".
  • No cast details accompanied the programme listing in Radio Times, which had the synopsis "When a crashed spaceship calls upon his help, the Time Lord finds himself launched on a chase across the galaxy. Greg Davies and Matt Lucas guest-star." However, the listing for the repeat on Boxing Day included a cast list as well the same synopsis but excluded the final sentence.
  • This is the first episode where both the Doctor and his companion are played by people over the age of 50.
  • River's pictures of the Doctors are screencapped from The Smugglers, The Two Doctors, Carnival of Monsters, The Hand of Fear, Resurrection of the Daleks, Mindwarp, Survival, Doctor Who, The Day of the Doctor, The Parting of the Ways, The Runaway Bride and The Bells of Saint John.
  • This was originally meant to be the end of Steven Moffat's tenure as showrunner. Chris Chibnall was expected to take over, but when his appointment would be delayed due to his commitment to the third season of Broadchurch, Moffat stayed on for one more year.
  • Steven Moffat felt that Last Christmas had turned out to be a rather darker narrative than he had originally intended, so he wanted to write a much more comedic adventure, which would also serve as a tonic for the Doctor's vengeful, selfish disposition following Clara's apparent death.
  • Russell T Davies encouraged Steven Moffat to use River Song. Moffat felt that she was the ideal character for his romantic comedy narrative and to possibly close out his era.
  • Alex Kingston was delighted to return, as she thought that The Name of the Doctor would be River's last appearance.
  • The diamond was originally called the Kalezzi Androvar.
  • The special entered production immediately after the completion of Series 9, effectively making it Block Nine.
  • Douglas Mackinnon was delighted to be working on the special, because it meant that he would be prominently involved with both the Christmas and New Year's schedules on BBC One; the latter project was Sherlock's The Abominable Bride.
  • For the appearance of Hydroflax's spaceship, Douglas Mackinnon wanted to evoke the stereotypical image of a flying saucer, which he thought resembled a traditional Christmas tree decoration.
  • Matt Lucas had previously appearaed in The One Doctor. He had subsequently become better-acquainted with the programme via his ex-husband, Kevin McGee, who had been a big fan. However, McGee's suicide in 2009 left Lucas with complex feelings towards the show; fortunately, he already had a good working relationship with Peter Capaldi from their time making Paddington.
  • The street on Mendorax Dellora was repurposed from the trap street from Face the Raven.
  • After finishing his work on the special, Matt Lucas appeared in Russell T Davies' adaptation of A Midsummer Night's Dream, which reunited him with some of the same crew and was made at Roath Lock during the series' hiatus.
  • Peter Capaldi had a stomach ailment while filming the scene in the dining room.
  • A deleted scene saw the Doctor check on Alphonse's progress at the Capital Quarter building in Cardiff, which was then under construction, and advise an older Alphonse to adjust his architectural plans for the restaurant to include a balcony with a view of the Singing Towers.
  • In post-production, the visual inspiration for the Singing Towers was the Old Man of Storr, a rocky prominence on Douglas Mackinnon's native Isle of Skye, which was said to be formed from the fingers of a giant who perished and was buried there.
  • Steven Moffat said about the special: "That's been a riot to do. That's been sort of a big fun chase episode, really. Just Mr and Mrs Who battling their way past nonsense and that's been great fun. Alex is always great value."
  • Chris Lew Hum Hol was dubbed by Phillip Rhys, while Robert Curtis was dubbed by an unknown actor.
  • The Doctor says that River was once married to Stephen Fry, who had previously voiced the Minister of Chance in Death Comes to Time and would later play C in Spyfall.
  • The special enjoyed a limited run in cinemas, with screenings in Austria, Canada, Denmark, Germany and the United States.

Production errors[]

If you'd like to talk about narrative problems with this story — like plot holes and things that seem to contradict other stories — please go to this episode's discontinuity discussion.
  • When King Hydroflax's talking head is resting on the console's telepathic panel, the panel is bending inward. When his head is removed, the TARDIS console is fine again. This is most likely due to the production staff having replaced the panel with a fake one, which would accommodate Greg Davies' head with comfort.


  • BBC One Overnight: 5.77 million (29.4% overall audience share)
  • BBC America Overnight: 1.70 million[4]
  • Final UK ratings: 7.69 million[5]


  • A fragment of Rigsy's portrait of Clara Oswald, which disintegrated at the end of TV: Hell Bent, is visible on the TARDIS door. Inconclusive: some viewers claim it can be seen, but it could also be snow. A special TARDIS panel was created for the portrait (and later featured in the Doctor Who Experience exhibition), whereas the regular TARDIS shell would have been used for filming the episode.
  • Clara Oswald would appear. False. Originated from speculation that Jenna Coleman might have filmed a scene before completing her work on Series 9, similar to how Matt Smith filmed his cameo for TV: Deep Breath.

Filming locations[]

  • Leigh Court Business Centre, Bristol
  • MOD St. Athan
  • Aberthaw Cement Works in East Aberthaw


Home video releases[]

DVD and Blu-Ray[]

  • The Husbands of River Song was released as a standalone DVD and Blu-Ray in in region 1/A on 23 February 2016, in region 2/B on 25 January 2016 and in region 4/B on 27 January 2016.
  • It was also later released as part of the Complete Ninth Series DVD and Blu-ray boxsets in region 1/A on 5 April 2016, in region 2/B on 7 March 2016 and in region 4/B on 9 March 2016.

Digital releases[]

  • In the United Kingdom, this story is available on BBC iPlayer as part of Series 9.

Video game adaptation[]

  • On the 16 February 2016, a Husbands of River Song level pack was released for the game Doctor Who: Legacy. It used ten non-dialogue levels to visually retell the episode's story.


External links[]