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Peter Capaldi
The Husbands of River Song
Twelfth Doctor Logo


King Hydroflax's Bodyguard
King Hydroflax's Bodyguard
 It is Christmas Day on a remote human colony, and The Doctor is hiding from Christmas carols and comedy antlers. But when a crashed spaceship calls upon The Doctor for help, he finds himself recruited into River Song's squad and hurled into a fast and frantic chase across the galaxy.

 King Hydroflax is furious, and his giant robot bodyguard is out of control and coming for them all!

 Will Nardole survive? And when will River Song work out who The Doctor is?

 All will be revealed on a starliner full of galactic super-villains and a destination The Doctor has been avoiding for a very long time.

Source: BBC Website

General Information

Season: Thirty Five (New Series 9)
Production Code: 9-X2
Story Number: 262 (New Series: 106)
Episode Number:826 (New Series: 130)
Number of Episodes: 1
Percentage of Episodes Held:100%
Production Dates: August - September 2015
Broadcast Date: 25 December 2015
Colour Status: HD Colour
Studio: BBC Wales (Roath Lock Studios, Cardiff)
Writer:Steven Moffat
Director:Douglas MacKinnon
Producer:Nikki Wilson
Executive Producers:Brian Minchin and Steven Moffat
Assistant Directors:Alex Miarli, Chris Thomas and Gareth Jones
Script Executive:Lindsey Alford
Script Supervisor:Nicki Coles
Script Editor:David Davis
Editors:Adam Green, Becky Trotman (Assistant) and Robbie Gibbon (Assistant)
Head of Production:Gordon Ronald
Production Executive:Tracie Simpson
Production Assistants:Jade Stepenson, Jamie Shaw, Sheryl Bradford and Sion Crowle
Post Production Supervisor:Samantha Price
Production Designer:Michael Pickwoad
Director of Photography:Suzie Lavelle
Casting Director:Andy Pryor CDG
Line Producer:Steffan Morris
Costume Designer:Ray Holman
Make-Up Designer:Barbara Southcott
Cameramen:Cai Thompson (Assistant), Matthew Lepper (Assistant), Scott Waller (Assistant) and Mark McQuoid (Operator)
Incidental Music:Murray Gold
Special Sounds (SFX Editor):Harry Barnes
Sound Recordist:Deian Llyr Humphreys
Visual Effects:Axis VFX
Special Effects:Real SFX
Prosthetics:Millennium FX
Special Creature Effects:Millennium FX
Stunt Co-ordinators:Crispin Layfield, Dani Biernat and Jo McLaren
Stunt Performers:Belinda McGinley and Rob Jarman
Title Sequence:Billy Hanshaw
Title Music:Ron Grainer and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. Arranged by Murray Gold
Kahler Created By: Toby Whithouse
Music Performed By: The BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Music Conducted and Orchestrated By: Alastair King
Music Mixed By: Jake Jackson
Music Recorded By: Gerry O'Riordan
Number of Doctors: 1
The Doctor: Peter Capaldi (The Twelfth Doctor)
Number of Companions: None Number of Acquaintances: 1The Acquaintance: Alex Kingston (River Song) (Rejoins and Departs) Guest Cast: Matt Lucas (Nardole) Additional Cast: 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 Cook (King Hydroflax's Body), Nonso Anozie (Voice of Hydroflax)Setting: Mendorax Dellora (Christmas 5343), starship "The Harmony and Redemption", Darillium Villains:King Hydroflax and Shoal of the Winter Harmony

The Episodes

No. Episodes Broadcast
Duration Viewers
In Archive
826The Husbands of River Song25 December 201558'07"7.7Yes

Total Duration 58 Minutes

Audience Appreciation

Average Viewers (Millions) 7.7
Doctor Who Magazine Poll (2016)73.70%  (Position = 6 out of 9)


 This story exists and is held in the BBC's Film and Videotape Library.

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Only the First 50 Story Notes are shown below - Click to Show All Story Notes

This is the show's eleventh Christmas special since its revival in 2005, and the second full Christmas special with Peter Capaldi as the Twelfth Doctor. It has been written by Lead Writer and Executive Producer, Steven Moffat. It has been produced by Nikki Wilson and directed by Douglas Mackinnon.

This story sees Alex Kingston return to reprise the role of River Song and is noteworthy for closing the book on River Song's timeline that began with her debut in the 2008 Tenth Doctor story "Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead".

This story marks her first appearance alongside the Twelfth Doctor and for River Song her final adventure with The Doctor. It showed The Doctor turning up on River Song's doorstep with a new haircut and a suit, their night on Darillium to see the Singing Towers, and The Doctor giving River Song his sonic screwdriver, all of which had been previously mentioned previously by River Song in her debut story.

This is Alex Kingston first appearance as Professor River Song since the 2013 story "The Name of The Doctor". River Song has appeared in 12 stories to date.

Alex Kingston commented on her reappearance saying: ‘To be honest, I did not know whether River would ever return to the show, but here she is, back with The Doctor for the Christmas special. Steven Moffat is on glittering form, giving us an episode filled with humour and surprise guest castings. I met Peter for the first time at Monday’s read through, we had a laugh, and I am now excited and ready to start filming with him and The Doctor Who team. Christmas in September? Why not!’.

Steven Moffat, Lead Writer and Executive Producer, commented: ‘Another Christmas, another special for Doctor Who - and what could be more special than the return of Alex Kingston as Professor River Song? The last time The Doctor saw her she was a ghost. The first time he met her, she died. So how can he be seeing her again? As ever, with the most complicated relationship in the universe, it’s a matter of time...

The announcement that Alex Kingston would reprise her role of recurring character River Song was made in September 2015. Then in November 2015 it was revealed that this story’s guest cast would include Greg Davies as King Hydroflax and Matt Lucas as Nardole.

The part of Scratch is played by Robert Curtis and although this is his Doctor Who debut, he appeared in "Prisoner of the Judoon", a story from the 2009 season of The Sarah Jane Adventures.

This is the first story, since the 2012 story "The Angels Take Manhattan", and the first starring Peter Capaldi, not to feature Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald. It is also the first story where both The Doctor and his companion are played by people over the age of 50.

Director Douglas Mackinnon recently won the Doctor Who Magazine award for the Best Director of the 2014 series, for his work on "Listen", "Time Heist" and "Flatline". He is acclaimed throughout the television industry for his work on dramas such as Silent Witness and he was also the director of the Sherlock Christmas Special, which also aired over the 2015 festive period.

The read through for this story took place on the 31st August 2015 with filming beginning the following day. Filming was completed on the 26th September 2015.

This is the first Christmas story, since the show’s revival in 2005, to have no scenes that take place on Earth.

The little town set used for Mendorax Dellora appears to have been repurposed from the trap street set used in "Face the Raven".

The Doctor is heard to use both of River Song's catchphrases – ‘Hello, Sweetie’ and ‘Spoilers’.

The Twelfth Doctor gives River Song her own sonic screwdriver. This is the version seen during her investigation of the Library in "Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead".

It is revealed that a night on Darillium lasts for 24 years.

The Doctor has avoided visiting Darillium, and is shown to be tearful when he finally makes good on his final date with River Song. She will go on to recall this to the Tenth Doctor, in "Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead". The Doctor has mentioned that he does not like endings (see "The Angels Take Manhattan", "The Name of The Doctor", "The Time of The Doctor" and "Heaven Sent/Hell Bent").

The Doctor once again rewards someone with the means to gain a substantial amount of money (see "School Reunion" and "The End of Time"). Interestingly, several people, who have encountered The Doctor during the festive period have found themselves coming into large sums of money (see the 1996 Eighth Doctor film "Doctor Who: The Movie", "Voyage of the Damned" and "A Christmas Carol").

In this story River Song claims she had at least two wives.

When The Doctor argues about River Song's marriages, she recounts several of The Doctor’s previous relationships: Elizabeth I (whom he apparently marries in "The Day of The Doctor"), Marilyn Monroe (the Eleventh Doctor’s off-screen relationship with her is mentioned in "A Christmas Carol") and Cleopatra. Again, we never saw The Doctor with ‘the Queen of the Nile’ but in "School Reunion" it’s revealed he knew her well enough to call her Cleo! Additionally, River Song suggests The Doctor was involved with Cleopatra whilst The Doctor suggests she had a similar connection to Stephen Fry.

The Doctor says that a flow chart is required to follow his and River Song's timelines; when he learns she has married another man, he is heard to say ‘I think I'm going to need a bigger flow chart’. This echoes a line from the film JawsI think you're going to need a bigger boat’.

It is revealed that The Doctor had planned to take River Song to Darillium on numerous times but had always cancelled at the last minute.

The Singing Towers of Darillium were first mentioned by River Song in "Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead". In that story River Song told The Doctor ‘You took me to Darillium to see the Singing Towers. Oh, what a night that was! The towers sang and you cried. You wouldn’t tell me why, but I suppose you knew it was time...’ She even mentioned his new suit and haircut in the same scene! In this story The Doctor is heard to say that he has just had a haircut and is wearing his best suit and as the towers sing The Doctor sheds a tear. He also refuses to tell her that this is their final night together before her death. River Song also mentions that The Doctor had postponed it several times, one of which was shown in the mini-episode "Last Night".

When The Doctor reminds River Song that ‘Every night is the last night for something... Every Christmas is last Christmas...’ he is echoing the words Danny Pink said to Clara, when she was dreaming, in the 2014 Christmas special "Last Christmas": ‘Every Christmas is last Christmas, and this is ours...

The Doctor originally gave River Song her diary in "Let’s Kill Hitler". As he reads her diary, Flemming relates many of her adventures with The Doctor: the opening of the Pandorica ("The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang"), the crash of the Byzantium (first mentioned in "Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead" and shown in "The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone"), a picnic in Asgard ("Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead"), an encounter with Jim the Fish ("The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon"), and her most recent trip – to a place called ‘Manhattan’ ("The Angels Take Manhattan").

River Song, when referring to her diary, is heard to say that ‘One should always have something sensational to read on a spaceship’- This is a misquote from Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest. In that play, Gwendolyn Fairfax declares ‘I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read on a train’.

Whilst thinking he was a stranger, River Song suggests that The Doctor would not approve of alcohol aboard the TARDIS, or would not approve of her taking the alcohol while she borrows the TARDIS.

River Song owns a sonic trowel - a reference to her being an archaeologist. The Doctor still enjoys mocking archaeology, referring to her sonic trowel as ‘just embarrassing’.

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 Song is now 200 years old, revealing she has an augmented lifespan. She says it's a ‘long story’ without going into further detail.

River Song reveals that she has a unique perfume spray that lets her change her clothes as she pleases.

River Song pulls a fez out of her bag, a favourite headpiece of the Eleventh Doctor.

When River Song'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 her last adventure.

River Song, as Mels in "In Let's Kill Hitler", 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. Ironically, River Song 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, except in mini-episodes, that River Song has been in a story not to feature one of The Doctor's companions alongside her and The Doctor.

Ramone shows pictures of The Doctor's original twelve faces, which River Song reveals she has so as to clarify that she knows what he looks like. In "The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone" she told The Doctor that she had pictures of all his faces. This also confirms that River Song is aware that the War Doctor exists (whom The Doctor once tried to conceal), as she has a picture of him as well.

River Song does not recognise the Twelfth Doctor because ‘he has limits’, referring to the Time Lords' twelve-regenerations limit that was first mentioned in "The Deadly Assassin".

It is revealed that River Song's diary is almost full, and she is aware The Doctor would know just how many pages she needed when he gave it to her in "Let's Kill Hitler".

River Song tries to plead The Doctor into thinking of a loophole to avoid their last outing together, but The Doctor reminds her that not everything can be avoided. There have been situations where The Doctor has been unable the change the outcome of tragic events (see "Earthshock", "The Waters of Mars" and "Vincent and The Doctor"), and he has just gone through one of these situations in "Face the Raven" and "Heaven Sent/Hell Bent"). He also reminds River Song that times end because they have to (see "The Time of The Doctor").

The roundels in the TARDIS are once again used for storage purposes (see "Castrovalva"). 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.

River Song indicates she often steals the TARDIS and returns it before The Doctor notices.

Once again a comment is made about the TARDIS being bigger on the inside. This time though it is The Doctor sarcastically to an oblivious River Song. She comments ‘It's not as... snug as it looks’ which The Doctor replies with ‘It's bigger on the inside’. He also comments that he has always wanted to hear it done right.

It is revealed that when someone is both inside and outside the TARDIS at the same time, it can't dematerialise.

At the restaurant on Darillium, a string orchestra is heard playing The First Noel and Hark! the Herald Angels Sing is played on Mendorax Dellora.

A variation of The Doctor's Theme is played when River Song and Ramone discuss the ‘Damsel in distress’.

This is the first time in a main story that Alex Kingston's name has appeared in the opening titles.

This is the second story to involve both River Song and something to do with marriage in the title. The previous story was "The Wedding of River Song".

This story starts with a shot of two full moons. This is appropriate as the 25th December 2015 (the day this story was first broadcast) is the first Christmas Day to have a full moon since 1977. The next festive full moon will be in 2034!

Hydroflax is also known as ‘The Butcher of the Bone Meadows’ In the 2010 Eleventh Doctor story "The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone", River Song is heard to ask The Doctor, ‘Have we done the Bone Meadows?’.

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First and Last

The Firsts:

 The first story, since the 2012 story "The Angels Take Manhattan" not to feature Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald.

 The first encounter between the Twelfth Doctor and River Song.

 Alex Kingston's first appearance as Professor River Song since the 2013 story "The Name of The Doctor".

 Matt Lucas' first appearance as Nardole.

 The first time in a main story that Alex Kingston's name has appeared in the opening titles.

 The first Christmas story, since the show’s revival in 2005, to have no scenes that take place on Earth.

The Lasts (Subject to Future Stories):

 The last story of Season Thirty Five (New Series 9).

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The Plot

WARNING: May Contain SpoilersHide Text
Nardole Locates The Doctor
Nardole Locates The Doctor

On Christmas Day in 5343 on the human colony of Mendorax Dellora, The Doctor is mistaken by a servant, Nardole, for a surgeon appointed by River Song to attend to her dying husband, King Hydroflax. River Song, who has not yet met The Doctor's present incarnation, fails to recognise him and increasingly frustrates him with her flirtations with Hydroflax. River Song takes The Doctor aside to discuss the operation he is supposed to be performing she 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. River Song wants 'the surgeon' to remove his entire head, considering it the quickest and easiest way to retrieve the diamond.

They are interrupted by Hydroflax who has listened to their conversation. He detaches his head from his mechanical body and orders it to kill them. While River Song defends herself The Doctor grabs Hydroflax's head and threatens to put him in the garbage disposal, creating a stalemate and allowing Ramone, River Song's actual husband, to teleport her, The Doctor and Hydroflax’s head outside of the ship. Believing Nardole to have information about River Song, Hydroflax’s mechanical body decapitates him to use his head as its own.

Although The Doctor is convinced that River Song knows who he is, she denies it. She reveals she purposely crashed Hydroflax’s ship in their location knowing The Doctor would be in the area with a TARDIS. Being unfamiliar with his new regeneration cycle, she has pictures of his first twelve incarnations. Ramone though had only been able to find the TARDIS and not its owner. River Song decides they will just have to borrow the TARDIS instead – revealing that she has done this before. However the TARDIS's safeguards prevent it from taking off when it detects that Hydroflax’s head and body are respectively inside and outside the TARDIS.

River Song
River Song

Hearing Nardole calling for help, Ramone is tricked and uploaded into Hydroflax’s body as well. Hydroflax’s head allows his body to locate the TARDIS, and using Ramone, forces its way inside. With Hydroflax’s head and body now both inside the TARDIS the time machine is able to dematerialise and travel to the starship Harmony and Redemption, where River Song requests that the Maître d’, called Flemming, deadlock seal the baggage hold in order to prevent Hydroflax’s body from pursuing them further.

River Song then reveals to The Doctor that rather than return the diamond to the Halassi she intends to sell the diamond to a buyer named Scratch, who has secretly filled the meeting point with members of his own species. After receiving payment, River Song 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 stopped from escaping by Flemming, who was tricked into entering the baggage area by the under-duress Ramone. Flemming has promised Hydroflax’s body an even greater head, the head of The Doctor, and believes that River Song will be the perfect bait to get it.

King Hydroflax
King Hydroflax

Sensing that Hydroflax's head is beyond recovery and will die imminently, Hydroflax's body destroys it, leaving only the diamond. River Song is asked for the whereabouts of The Doctor, but she explains that although she loves The Doctor they are mistaken in thinking that he loves her enough to find himself with her, as she believes The Doctor to be incapable of falling in love. Seeing the steady gaze and mild smirk on The Doctor's face, River Song now realises he has been with her all along and The Doctor confirms this by saying ‘Hello, Sweetie’.

Being a time traveller, River Song is aware that the starship is about to be crippled by a meteor strike, which she uses as their escape plan, taking the diamond in the process. The Doctor uses Scratch’s universal bank transfer device to overload Hydroflax’s body, before heading to the starship’s bridge. While the starship is crashing, River Song realises that they are heading towards the planet Darillium - home to the Singing Towers mentioned by the future River Song as the place where she spent her final night with The Doctor ("Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead"). Realising that they’re unable to save the starship, they flee back into the TARDIS, but the impact of the crash knocks River Song unconscious.

After avoiding taking River Song to Darillium for as long as possible to avoid their last date together mentioned by her future self, 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 build a restaurant with a view of the Singing Towers, and gives him the diamond to fund its construction. Travelling forwards in time once again, The Doctor books the table on the balcony for Christmas Day in four years’ time. When River Song awakes she is told that The Doctor is waiting for her at their table. Hydroflax’s body, which was pulled from the wreckage and is now peacefully controlled by the heads of Ramone and Nardole, has been put to work as a waiter in the restaurant.

Losing Your Head
Losing Your Head

The Doctor gives River Song a present; the sonic screwdriver she will use in the library. As the pair admire the Singing Towers, River Song notices The Doctor is crying, something he blames on having wind in his eyes. River Song 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'. As he can't bring himself to reveal that this would indeed be their final night together before River Song travels to the Library and meets his Tenth incarnation, resulting in her death.

River Song begs The Doctor 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 Song the future. They both discuss the fleeting nature of things. Fearful that not much time is left before they part, River Song asks how long a night on Darillium is. Smiling, The Doctor informs her that one night on Darillium lasts for twenty-four years, giving them a long last date.

Overjoyed at this news, River Song once more tells The Doctor ‘I hate you’ which he 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. Then little by little, the message dissolves and gets reduced to ‘And they both lived happily’, then only ‘happily’, until all the words are swept away completely.

The Head Gets It
The Head Gets It
Nardole as King Hydroflax's Bodyguard
Nardole as King Hydroflax's Bodyguard
The Doctor and River Song
The Doctor and River Song
The Singing Towers of Darillium
The Singing Towers of Darillium
Both Lived Happily Ever After
Both Lived Happily Ever After

Quote of the Story

 'No, Doctor. You're wrong. Happy ever after doesn't mean forever. It just means time. A little time. But that's not the sort of thing you could ever understand, is it?'

River Song

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Release Information

FormatTitleRelease Date (UK)Code NumberCover ArtRemarks
The Husbands of River SongJanuary 2016BBCDVD 4085Photo-montage
The Husbands of River SongJanuary 2016BBCBD 0332Photo-montage
The Complete Ninth Series Box SetMarch 2016BBCDVD 4066Photo-montageDVD boxed set containing 8 stories plus the 2014 & 2015 Christmas Specials
The Complete Ninth Series Box SetMarch 2016BBCBD 0327Photo-montageBlu-Ray boxed set containing 8 stories plus the 2014 & 2015 Christmas Specials
The Complete Ninth Series Box Set (Limited Edition Steelbook)March 2016BBCBD 0357Photo-montageLimited Edition Blu-Ray Steelbook boxed set containing 8 stories plus the 2014 & 2015 Christmas Specials
Original Television Soundtrack - Series 9April 2018Photo-montageMusic by Murray Gold

In Print

No Book Release
Doctor Who Magazine - PreviewIssue 494 (Released: January 2016)
Doctor Who Magazine - ReviewIssue 495 (Released: February 2016)
Doctor Who Magazine - The Fact of FictionIssue 572 (Released: January 2022)

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Photo Gallery

The Doctor and Acquaintance

Peter Capaldi
The Twelfth Doctor


Alex Kingston
River Song

On Release

DVD Cover
DVD Cover

Blu-Ray Cover
Blu-Ray Cover

Complete Series DVD Box Set
Complete Series DVD Box Set

Complete Series Blu-Ray Box Set
Complete Series Blu-Ray Box Set

Complete Series Blu-Ray Limited Edition Steelbook Box Set
Complete Series Blu-Ray Limited Edition Steelbook Box Set

Original Television Soundtrack Cover
Original Television Soundtrack Cover



Doctor Who Magazine - Preview: Issue 494
Doctor Who Magazine - Preview: Issue 494

Marvel Comics
Doctor Who Magazine - Review: Issue 495
Doctor Who Magazine - Review: Issue 495

Marvel Comics
Doctor Who Magazine - The Fact of Fiction: Issue 572
Doctor Who Magazine - The Fact of Fiction: Issue 572

Marvel Comics

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