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Doctor Who producers have confirmed that Alex Kingston will play a central role as The Doctor’s wife, River Song, in the Doctor Who Christmas special.

River Song made her first Doctor Who appearance in 2008 and has appeared in 15 episodes to date.

Alex said: “To be honest, I did not know whether River would ever return to the show, but here she is, back with the Doctor for the Christmas special. Steven Moffat is on glittering form, giving us an episode filled with humour and surprise guest castings. I met Peter for the first time at Monday’s read-through, we had a laugh, and I am now excited and ready to start filming with him and the Doctor Who team. Christmas in September?, why not!”

Steven Moffat, Doctor Who’s lead writer and executive producer, added: “Another Christmas, another special for Doctor Who – and what could be more special than the return of Alex Kingston as Professor River Song. The last time the Doctor saw her she was a ghost. The first time he met her, she died. So how can he be seeing her again? As ever, with the most complicated relationship in the universe, it’s a matter of time…”

The Christmas special will be set, appropriately, on a Christmas Day in the future and the TARDIS is parked on a snowy village street, covered in icicles, awaiting its next adventure. Time traveller River Song meets her husband’s new incarnation, in the form of Peter Capaldi, for the first time. What happens next is, as ever, shrouded in secrecy.

Filming on the 11th Doctor Who Christmas special starts this week and, while the new 12-episode series will begin on BBC One on Saturday, September 19.