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Digital Subscriptions > Doctor Who Magazine > The Essential Doctor Who 12: Time Travel > River’s Run

River’s Run

All stories have a beginning, a middle and an end, but the saga of the time-travelling River Song unfolded in an unconventional fashion…
Professor River Song (Alex Kingston), armed and dangerous, in The Impossible Astronaut (2011).
The Time Traveler’s Wife (2003) by Audrey Niffenegger provided Steven Moffat with inspiration for The Girl in the Fireplace (2006) and featured in Dark Water (2014).

RIVER SONG’S DÉBUT SERVES AS A MISSION STATEMENT FOR STEVEN MOFFAT’S DOCTOR WHO.

On Saturday 27 October 2007, during production of the 2008 series of Doctor Who, Russell T Davies wrote an email to journalist Benjamin Cook: ‘[Steven’s] written 4.9 already, so I’ve read that. It’s called Silence in the Library, and it has a character in it who I’m just sure is the Doctor’s wife (!!!), but I don’t like to ask. I want to find out in the second episode, like a viewer.’ This email exchange was later printed in the 2008 book The Writer’s Tale, Davies and Cook’s acclaimed account of Davies’ time as Doctor Who’s lead writer and executive producer. It’s also the first reference to a character who would come to embody the series’ use of time travel to drive the narrative.

That character was River Song. When Davies read Steven Moffat’s script for River Song’s début, Moffat had just signed to become his successor as Doctor Who’s lead writer. As we’ll see, River’s story – at least for the Doctor and the audience – starts almost at the end, with her death. Moffat would only reveal her beginnings by slow degrees over the next few years.

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About Doctor Who Magazine

The Doctor has always challenged the linear conception of time. Since his television voyage began in 1963, the TARDIS has travelled backwards, forwards and even sideways through the mysterious Vortex. This lavish publication traces the development of these time-bending narratives, describing the rules that were laid down – and subsequently revised – by the series’ writers and producers. We unravel this timey-wimey journey with exclusive interviews, rare images and revealing features that explore the most intriguing corners of the Doctor Who universe.