I came to Dragon Con with the express purpose of seeing all the Doctor Who guests. My favorite season of Doctor Who was the 5th season of the reboot. The 11th Doctor’s first season. Dragon Con gave me the opportunity to see that my favorite Doctor, Matt Smith, along with my favorite companions: Amy Pond played by Karen Gillan and River Song played by Alex Kingston. Unfortunately I missed Arthur Darvill’s Rory Williams.
Alex Kingston has been in ER, Arrow, Shoot the Messenger, the Gilmore Girls revival and Macbeth. I saw both of her solo panels at DragonCon. In each one she played a game with audience members. In the first one, she had people brought on stage. Each person had to say “Hello Sweetie” in their best River Song impression. The best imitators received bananas. In the second panel, for those asking her questions, she asked a trivia question back. The prize once again was a banana. Fans asked about a number of topics including her Gilmore Girls role, her hair, the audiobooks, her experience on ER, etc.
Kingston talked how she got the role of River Song in Doctor Who. Initially she was asked to be in the first episode of season 4 but couldn’t because of prior commitments. Then was she was offered the role as River Song. They sent her the script and if she wanted it the role was her’s. She read it and decided she had to do it because she was so drawn into the story. In the beginning, she only knew she was in 2 episodes of season 4 – Silence in the Library and Forest of the Dead. Both episodes were written by Steven Moffat. Kingston that that there was obviously something special between River and the Doctor and we wouldn’t get to see that relationship. She cried because it seemed like such a sad ending.
After Steven Moffat replaced Russell T Davies as the showrunner of Doctor Who, he asked her to come back. The first episode she shot with Matt was his first episode as the Doctor. They knew that Matt and Karen would be under a great amount of pressure and wanted her to help them feel comfortable in discovering who his Doctor was and how being on set was.
One thing that Kingston makes clear is that the Doctor is the Doctor. The essential parts of him carry through to each incarnation. About the new female doctor, she was on the fence originally because she didn’t think the male fans could handle it. Ultimately, she thinks it’s fantastic. She loves all of the Doctors though she jokingly said she rates Matt Smith at a 0.5 on a 1-10 scale. Kingston considers the most work River has done on screen was with Peter Capaldi, the 12th Doctor. They starred together in the 2015 Christmas Special, The Husbands of River Song. To her, they felt like Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn. She felt like she got to show many sides of River. Scenes are usually filmed out of order but in this case, they left the end of the episode where the Doctor gives River her sonic screwdriver for last. Kingston said she hadn’t seen the screwdriver since she filmed with Tennant back in 2008. Seeing it again moved her. Even Capaldi began to get teary.
One fan asked which episode would she have loved to be in? Kingston loved the Van Gogh episode, Vincent and the Doctor. Though she thought the villain was ridiculous, she finds herself moved to tears each time she watches it. Of the episode she said, “to have the chance to take him in time and to get him to stand in a gallery and watch these people just in awe. I find that so moving.” She would have also liked to be in The Water of Mars although it was really scary for her. According to Kingston, Davies said that people found the villain too scary and no one has plans to bring them back.
Alex Kingston is a delight to see live. She’s funny, engaging and slightly naughty. She’s everything you would expect from River Song. Both panels gave us insight in Alex Kingston’s acting process, River Song and the Doctors. The hours I spent in line were worth it.
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Writer. Podcast contributor. Costume design enthusiast. Lover of fantasy movies from the 1980s and bizarre deep sea creatures. Can be found tweeting about comics, Yuri on Ice, Doctor Who or Star Wars at @jane_anon or on the Nerds of Prey podcast.