Screenplay | Doctor Who – ‘The Dances of River Song’

‘The Doctor has spent over 800 years with his wife, River Song. The Time Lord is hiding a secret, a shameful act of selfishness that long ago plunged the Universe into a chaos that could see the return of an old enemy and a threat to all creation. Will he put himself first, or can he remember who he was in time to save billions? One night dancing with his wife will tell.’ 

This script is an alternative to season 6 of Doctor Who. Before the series premiered in 2011, there had been intense speculation as to who River Song was and what her relationship with the Eleventh Doctor. Series 5 had done much to flirt with the idea that she had killed ‘the best man she had ever known’ and that’s why she was in prison.

Given that in season 4’s introduction of the character was also the end of her life, it was even more strongly alluded to that she was the Doctor’s future wife. In the ‘Silence in the Library’ and ‘The Forest of the Dead,’ her knowledge of him, her interaction with him and all the teases of the character we love made their future fit for compelling guesswork. Strongly influenced by The Time Traveller’s Wife, there was always a hint of tragedy that had yet to be revealed. Her Doctor could either have been a future version of David Tennant’s Tenth of another altogether. In any event, something seminal was about to happy in the story of the series.

So, before Steven Moffat got to tell his story – I flirted with mine as way back as 2008. I wouldn’t say I was lazy, but – at the age of 20 – I didn’t have the gall to write a script. Several years of reviewing festivals and theatre informed me that scripts might be good or bad, but anyone can have a stab.

There are elements Moffat locked in quite early on that had to be included. River Song’s character and the Eleventh Doctor’s characters were already established but were still fun to play with. At this stage, there were still incarnations to play with, so please try to ignore everything that happened in the show after season 5.

The launch of Amazon Storywriter, the click and go script producer, made the idea of an entirely new education in script writing a little less daunting. I am no expert. There will be a litany of mistakes. You might not like it.

In any event, if there’s a life lesson here – ideas seldom die. They tend to stick to you, rather than you to them and no matter how long it takes, you have to express it. After Moffat finished his story in 2015 with ‘The Husbands of River Song,’ I couldn’t help feeling that there was something unsatisfactory in a mystery built up over a decade. So here it is, ‘The Dances of River Song,’ another take. A regeneration, if you will.

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Alastair Stewart 18 Articles

Alastair Stewart is a freelance writer and mentor. In 2013, Alastair founded DARROW, Scotland’s only dedicated forum for more than 200 up and coming writers. The magazine works predominantly with 16-35-year-olds to give them the tools they need to share their ideas, hone their craft and thrive as writers, journalists, and storytellers. He regularly writes about politics, history, and culture for magazines across Europe.