The Doctor Who Christmas Special Gets a Name—And a New Sonic Screwdriver!

This year, Doctor Who fans will have the shortest ever wait between the end of a season and the show’s now-traditional Christmas special—which is bringing Alex Kingston’s adventurer River Song back as a wildly divisive present under the tree. But she’s not the only thing making a return: The Doctor’s favorite toy is back too!

The special, written by Steven Moffat, has been titled “The Husbands of River Song,” and sees a lonely Doctor travel to meet his wife (and by the looks of it a giant, vaguely threatening robot) for the holiday—only to find he’s travelled to a point in time where River hasn’t met him yet. The “him” in this case being The Doctor’s current incarnation. According to Moffat, the special takes place immediately after the events of the 2012 story “The Angels Take Manhattan” for River.


Hijinks and romps ensue, snow falls because it’s Christmas regardless of wherever you are in time and space, and presumably things will be nice and pleasant for you to breeze through for an hour or so after you’ve devoured oodles of turkey and opened all of your presents. Here’s the full synopsis for the special, courtesy of the BBC:

It’s Christmas Day on a remote human colony and the Doctor is hiding from Christmas Carols and Comedy Antlers. But when a crashed spaceship calls upon the Doctor for help, he finds himself recruited into River Song’s squad and hurled into a fast and frantic chase across the galaxy. King Hydroflax (Greg Davies) is furious, and his giant Robot bodyguard is out-of-control and coming for them all! Will Nardole (Matt Lucas) survive? And when will River Song work out who the Doctor is?

All will be revealed on a starliner full of galactic super-villains and a destination the Doctor has been avoiding for a very long time.

But yes, aside from River’s controversial return, “The Husbands of River Song” will also be re-introducing The Doctor’s technological catch-all device, the sonic screwdriver.

The nifty piece of kit, which often comes under fire for its ability to seemingly do anything the show needs it to, has largely been absent from the most recent season. It was destroyed in the opening episode, “The Magician’s Apprentice,” and ever since Peter Capaldi has ran around with a pair of sonic sunglasses, to some people’s chagrin (it even inspired an angry petition, because what doesn’t these days?).


Now the screwdriver is back though, and with a brand-new design—the first redesign for the device in five years, as incumbent Time Lord Capaldi shared a design with his predecessor, Matt Smith. You can check it out below:


It’s very blue, and a bit pared down from the look of the previous screwdriver. Also, I kind of love that River Song just has like, a space trowel? She was an archaeologist, after all. She needs to dig for things! I wonder if it’s suitably sonic, too.

Doctor Who returns with “The Husbands of River Song” on BBC One and BBC America on Christmas Day.


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