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Doctor Who’s River Song was actually named after a rude word

Ex-showrunner Steven Moffat reveals that he and Russell T Davies both tried to sneak swear words into the BBC sci-fi series – and the name of Alex Kingston’s character was all part of the game

Published: Saturday, 6th January 2018 at 10:35 am

After seven years in charge, Doctor Who head writer and showrunner Steven Moffat has handed over the reins to his successor Chris Chibnall, which means he’s free to finally reveal the secrets of the show that he’s been keeping close to his chest the whole time.


And the first of such revelations has arrived as part of a wide-ranging interview Moffat gave on the official Doctor Who Fan Show, where he disclosed that one of his most famous creations on the sci-fi series – the Doctor’s time-displaced lover River Song (Alex Kingston), who experienced their relationship in the opposite order to the series’ lead character – was actually named as part of a rude game he had with fellow former showrunner Russell T Davies.

"Russell and I went through a phase of trying to work out Doctor Who titles with rude acronyms, to wind up people on internet message boards,” Moffat told host Christel Dee in the interview.

"I thought up, 'A River Song Ending' – he said, 'What's a river song?!' and I said, 'Oh, I'll just call somebody River Song... and she'd better die. That way we've got the acronym'.

"[But] we didn't use the title. 'ARSE' – we can't do that."

OK, our minds are officially blown. One of the most significant characters in recent Doctor Who was secretly named after someone’s bum, and now we’re looking at her whole storyline – including the whole “she’s also Melody Pond” twist, which must have been thought up after the fact – in a whole new light.

Fingers crossed Moffat keeps these truth bombs coming in the months to come – we have a LOT of time to kill before the series returns, and juicy gossip like this might just keep us going.


Doctor Who returns to BBC1 this Autumn


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