Television Top Trumps - Elizabeth Corday vs River Song

It’s November now, which apparently means that Christmas has officially begun, and it’s time to start thinking about the second most important festive treat after mince pies – Christmas telly. Alex Kingston and her magnificent hair are coming back to Doctor Who for the Christmas special., but long before she was gallivanting around the galaxy, Alex and her hair were over in the States playing the most excellent Doctor Elizabeth Corday in ER. So who wins – the Doctor’s wife, or an actual doctor?


Corday: She’s British. She says things strangely and those Americans just don’t get her. And when she goes back to Britain she’s too American. Clearly she needs her own island somewhere in the mid-Atlantic. 6/10

River Song: For a bloody long time we have no idea who she is or what she is or where the hell she’s come from. Which was mildly infuriating, to say the least. It kept the internet very busy speculating, mind. 9/10


Corday: They’re jolly posh but jolly dysfunctional. Her mother tries to not tell her when she’s in Chicago and then proceeds to cop off with Elizabeth’s husband’s father, which technically isn’t incest but is still creepy as all hell. 8/10

River Song: Through the magic of Doctor Who and its complicated plots, it turns out that River is actually the child of companions Amy and Rory and at one point regenerates to become one of their childhood friends. Not your usual set-up, admittedly. 9/10


Corday: God, she loves doctors. All of the doctors. This could be a Freudian thing that has to do her father being a doctor, or it could just be that ER is set in a hospital and doesn’t tend to feature anyone who isn’t a medical professional. Still, she marries Mark Green, who is possibly the loveliest man ever to have lived in all the fictional lands. 10/10

River Song: River is also all about a doctor. But she’s about The Doctor, who as far as anyone knows hasn’t ever performed surgery and tends to wander around in bow ties rather than scrubs. But you never can quite tell with him, because he’s very unpredictable. Which loses River a few points because let’s face it, he’d would make a terrible boyfriend. 8/10


Corday: There’s a whole big mess of Mark’s daughter accidentally giving their baby ecstasy and them breaking up and him hiding the fact he’s dying of a brain tumour. But in the end they go off to Hawaii so he can die in very nice surroundings, and make millions of viewers bawl. 9/10

River Song: Also doesn’t have great luck with her Doctor husband, given that they seem to be travelling through time in opposite directions. Which means that his first meeting with her is her last with him. It’s jolly heartbreaking, but at least they get some fun times along the way. 7/10


Corday: Performs a transplant from an HIV-positive man to his HIV-positive friend, which was absolutely the right thing to do but also absolutely not allowed. And then loses her job, and storms out in a bit of a huff. Fair enough, really. 8/10

River Song: Seems to spend most of her time breaking out of a prison that she’s been put in for seemingly killing the Doctor. They really do have terribly lax security there. 10/10


Corday: She’s on a mission to save people one at a time. Sure, it’s not the most efficient way of doing it, and yes, she sometimes doesn’t so much save them as lose them on the operating table, but it’s a noble aim nonetheless. 7/10

River Song: Being part of The Doctor’s gang means you’re all about saving humanity, even if you have been kidnapped and brainwashed as part of a conspiracy to destroy him in the end. Which of course fails, meaning humanity is safe for another day. 10/10


Despite being truly excellent, Corday’s 48 isn’t enough to beat River Song’s monumental 53. In fairness, River did have all of time and space at her disposal, whereas Corday pretty much just had a hospital in Chicago. Given a chance, Corday could probably do some excellent surgery on aliens and that’d win her all the points.

Tags Doctor Who, ER
Category Feature

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