The Diary Of River Song. A spin-off that many were not initially asking for, but now, one of the most celebrated series within all of Big Finish’s output. It’s surprising how acclaimed and loved this spin-off has become, giving the divisiveness of its main character among many areas of the fandom. But, as proven with many other divisive elements beforehand, Big Finish have been able to take the most irksome of concepts and turn them into something amazing!

Since December 2015, the escapades of River Song, her multiple husbands, and a vast range of other colourful characters have been chronicled over sixteen episodes. But for Series Five, things are about to take a more sinister approach. The Master is about to arrive in River’s life! Four of them! And some of them are not the ones you were probably expecting…

The Diary of River Song Series Five – The Bekdel Test (c) Big Finish

The Bekdel Test by Jonathan Morris.

Jonathan Morris takes on the first tale in this masterful medley and introduces Michelle Gomez to the Big Finish family. After a few days in Stormcage, Doctor Song wakes up one day to find herself in a new facility. Soon, she learns that she’s a test subject for a new innovate security system, designed to be absolutely escape proof. Which might be a bit more worrying than it initially seems. The Doctor’s wife soon learns that she’s stuck with the Doctor’s best enemy. And Missy’s a little bit miffed the Doctor’s missus killed him before she did…

Morris’ intent here is plain and simple; two characters equal but wholly opposite. Stuck together and playing off each other. Then let the chaos unfold. As a result, Kingston and Gomez as River and Missy respectively, play off each other so well that it is impossible not to smile at it all. From River toying with the artist formerly known as the Master by mistaking her for someone else, to a throwaway line designed to make Comic Relief fans chuckle, every moment these two have together is amazing. Along with a brilliant supporting cast, comprising of Laurence Kennedy, Fiona Hampton, Richenda Carey and Andrew Fettes, this is a stonking first outing not only for this set but for the psychotic Mary Poppins herself, who’ll also be getting a boxset of her own next month!

The Diary of River Song Series Five – Animal Instinct (c) Big Finish

Animal Instinct by Roy Gill.

Roy Gill’s vastly expanding repertoire is increased with this tale featuring our favourite sentient over-burnt, crispy Master. Professor River Song is holding a field trip. But rather than travelling by some sort of magic school bus, she prefers a handy Vortex Manipulator. She, and her student Luke, find themselves within an ancient temple, stolen from its original location, and now propped up as a tourist attraction. But within its depths, something is awaking, a being known only as The Master. The only problem, he was anticipating someone other than River Song…

If the last episode showed us a team up that worked despite the two wishing to kill each other, then Gill gives us the opposite but with the same level of hilarity. The two leads play off each other well, with Kingston joyfully continuing teasing her co-star. But instead of Michelle Gomez’s joyful sing-song, we are given another fantastic take of Geoffrey Beavers’ calm, but maniacal Master, ready to do anything and kill anyone to survive. The small, but stellar supporting cast of Timothy Blore, Delroy Atkinson and Emily Woodward, all add their own little touches to make up a nice team for River and potentially some good target practice for the Master…

The Diary of River Song Series Five – The Lifeboat and the Deathboat (c) Big Finish

The Lifeboat and the Deathboat by Eddie Robson.

Eddie Robson provides a tale featuring someone we never thought would return to the Whoniverse. Admiral Eno is taking on a new recruit, which is good considering her bloodlust for revenge against a vortex dwelling creature. After her ship is damaged by it, she comes across a band of misfits. A professor of time, along with a father and daughter, scraping together what they can to survive. The only thing is, someone is lying. The question now though is, are they the only one that’s lying?

As proven by his mounds of other work, Robson is something of a genius when it comes to timey-wimey works that give no flummox whatsoever about the Classic Who/Nu Who divide. This is no different, giving us a mad, but engaging tale with twists and turns galore. Kingston is brilliant again and the guest cast of Lucy Heath, Sasha Behar, Himesh Patel, Eleanor Crooks and Christopher Naylor all knock it out of the park.

But the highlight has to be the unexpected and highly welcome return of Eric Roberts as the morphant Master! The nuanced subtlety that Robson has written for Roberts’ Master is fully capitalised upon, especially given the characters plan throughout the episode. Although some theatrics still exist, Roberts delivers a perfect performance that bounces off the rest of the cast. A genuine highlight and achievement from Big Finish worth applauding.

The Diary of River Song Series Five – Concealed Weapon (c) Big Finish

Concealed Weapon by Scott Handcock.

The master of the immortal hedonist and manipulator of the Time War stories concludes this set, giving us a face-off between River and the War Master we have all yearned for. River Song has decided to join a deep space exploration mission. For adventure, for discovery, and above all, for fun. But when the crew is woken up earlier than expected, the crew starts to die one by one. Soon, River discovers something valuable is on their ship. Something that the deadliest Master of all wants more than anyone else. River now knows the lengths he’ll go to, to get it…

Given Handcock’s experience with the War Master in both writing and directorial duties, it’s no surprise that he is afforded the responsibility of scripting this final instalment. Using an Alien-esque setting of a spaceship with the crew getting picked off one by one by a ruthless, emotionless, killing machine, Handcock gives us his own spin on it, by replacing the large, savage Xenomorph, with a suave, but chilling Time Lord. Although this is Kingston’s series, and shows us her at her very best, it truly is Sir Derek Jacobi that steals the show here. Just as with every prior appearance, Jacobi is revels in his role, having so much fun being so evil. The remaining guest cast of familiar voices, like Beth Chalmers, Jacqueline King and Tom Price, alongside Vineeta Rishi, Orion Ben and Fiona Hampton, are all amazing and help Handcock’s script evoke its chilling Alien-esque aura…

The Diary of River Song Series Five – Derek Jacobi and Alex Kingston (c) Big Finish


Overseen by the directing skills of Ken Bentley, and with sound design and music by the formidable Howard Carter, this series of The Diary Of River Song has now proven that River truly does not require The Doctor to help prop her or her series up. But help from a familiar Time Lord, be them friend or foe, is no bad thing. With the news that the series has been renewed for two more volumes, with the next being escapades into classic stories, and Kingston herself leading the cast of the upcoming Big Finish original Transcendence, plus a return to the Eighth Doctor’s era in Ravenous 3, it seems that River Song, and indeed Alex Kingston, won’t be leaving Big Finish anytime soon. And that can only be a good thing!

The Diary of River Song: Series Five (c) Big Finish


This title was released in January 2019. It will be exclusively available to buy from the Big Finish website until March 31st 2019, and on general sale after this date.

The Doctor isn’t the only Time Lord River runs into on her travels up and down the timeline.

The Master, in all of his – or her – guises, also has a chequered history with Professor Song. And whenever they meet, it’s a close call as to who comes out on top…

It’s something River must get used to: there are three people in her marriage – at the very least!

The Bekdel Test by Jonathan Morris.

Back at the start of her imprisonment, Doctor Song becomes a guinea pig for an innovative new security system.

But it’s her fellow prisoners she needs to be most wary of.

Because it’s early days for Missy, too. The Doctor is dead, and she is outraged that somebody else killed him first…

Animal Instinct by Roy Gill.

On a world where vicious beasts stalk ancient ruins, Professor Song teaches a student the finer points of archaeology.

But then she meets an incarnation of the Master who is desperate to survive.

And if they are going to escape this place alive, they all must work together.

The Lifeboat and the Deathboat by Eddie Robson.

Stranded in the Vortex, a father and daughter do their best to survive, living on salvage in a ramshackle vessel.

Elsewhere, an obsessive ship’s captain hunts down a vengeful monster, whatever the cost.

And River is caught between them, uncovering an old enemy in the most unexpected new guise.

Concealed Weapon by Scott Handcock.

A deep space exploration mission nears its end – when suddenly, the crew start to die.

River must try to protect her colleagues and work out what else is on board their ship.

Something is stalking them, and the deadliest Master of all has his own plans for River Song…

Written By: Jonathan Morris, Roy Gill, Eddie Robson and Scott Handcock.
Directed By: Ken Bentley.


Alex Kingston (River Song), Geoffrey Beevers (The Master), Eric Roberts (The Master), Derek Jacobi (The Master), Michelle Gomez (Missy), Laurence Kennedy (Director), Fiona Hampton (Zerelda / Charlotte Henries), Richenda Carey (Darial / Admiral), Andrew Fettes (Hewel / Prison Guard), Timothy Blore (Luke Sulieman), Delroy Atkinson (Dav Christos / Therian Leader), Emily Woodward (Adella Franz Therian), Lucy Heath (Alison), Sasha Behar (Admiral Eno), Himesh Patel (Ayrton Valencia / Engineer), Eleanor Crooks (Kaliopi Mileska / Robot), Christopher Naylor (Number Two / Computer / James), Vineeta Rishi (Amita Burman), Orion Ben (Nina Purkis), Tom Price (Hugo), Jacqueline King (Michelle Lambon). Other parts played by members of the cast.

Producer: David Richardson.
Script Editor: Matt Fitton.
Executive Producers: Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs.

The Diary of River Song: Series Five is available now from the Big Finish website. The title is priced £23 on CD and £20 to download. The Big Finish App, available on Apple and Android devices, also makes listening even easier. It is also a free app to download, just search in your app store.


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