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Who is River Song?

Doctor Who TV guest writer Gabriel Lucas Green takes a look at one of Doctor Who’s most intriguing characters and speculates just who she really is.

Without a doubt, the character of River Song is an important one. After all, she has featured in two series already and will appear again in the sixth. Most people speculate that she is simply the Doctor’s wife, but I think Steven Moffat just wants to make us think that. I believe it’s a lot more than that.

From what I can see, she simply has to be a Time Lord (or Time Lady). In her first appearance in Silence in the Library, she proved to the Doctor how important she is by whispering his Gallifreyan name into his ear. The Doctor’s true name can only be pronounced by other Gallifreyans. And let’s not forget in both The Time of Angels and The Pandorica Opens, River left the Doctor messages written in High Gallifreyan.

River-Song-Silence-in-the-Library

River Song in Silence in the Library

I strongly suspect River Song is, in fact, The Rani. The Rani, for those unfamiliar, was a renegade Time Lady and an evil scientific genius whose character goes way back to 1985 when she first appeared in a sixth Doctor serial called, The Mark of the Rani. In the story, the Rani was conducting experiments on humans to use on Miasimia Goria – a planet she ruled. It was also revealed that The Rani, the Master and the Doctor all went to the same school together on Gallifrey, called the Prydon Academy, where they were all part of a young, rebellious group called ‘The Deca’.

the rani

The Rani and the Master in The Mark of the Rani

In her last on-screen appearance in Time and the Rani, she attacked the TARDIS and it was forced to crash-land. The Rani planned to create a time manipulator allowing her to control time anywhere in the universe. In the end, the Doctor managed to prevent her from doing so. She escaped in her TARDIS but was later taken prisoner by an alien race called the Tetraps.

That’s the background of the character, here’s several reasons why I think River is the Rani:

  • River Song is a Professor (formerly a Doctor) and the Rani was a scientist.
  • It’s strongly hinted that River Song and The Doctor have some kind of a relationship. A relationship between the Rani and the Doctor was also hinted at, but never explored.
  • The name Rani means “she is singing; queen” (hence River Song). It also means “wife of a rajah” (which could mean The Doctor’s wife) and “a reigning queen or princess in her own right”.
  • She is almost certainly a Gallifreyan.
  • In The Time of Angels, Octavian tells the Doctor that “You think you know [River], but you don’t. You don’t understand who or what she is”.
  • She has a TARDIS shaped diary which she doesn’t let the Doctor read because it contains “spoilers” to do with The Doctor’s future life. It also contains photographs of all of The Doctor’s incarnations and future ones too.
  • River Song is a prisoner and the last we saw of the Rani was her being taken prisoner.

It is hinted heavily that River Song will kill the Doctor and is in prison for doing so, but this may be another of Steven Moffat’s red herrings. She is certainly in prison for something, and it could well be for killing a man, but somehow I don’t think it’s the Doctor. But whatever her crime, it would fit with the character of the Rani very nicely.

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