BBC1's Doctor Who is to take a year's hiatus to allow its star David Tennant to play Hamlet on stage, it has been confirmed.

Tennant, 36, is set to tread the boards at Stratford-upon-Avon next year, delaying the transmission of the fifth series of the award-winning sci-fi drama until 2010.

A statement from the BBC said that the fourth series of the Doctor's escapades, currently still in production, would debut on screens in spring next year, while it is hoped three special episodes set to be shown in 2009 will tide fans of the Time Lord over.

"Doctor Who is one of the BBC's best loved and most successful dramas," commented Jane Canter, the controller of BBC Fiction.

"It's journey over the past three series has been one of the most ambitious and exciting that we have had, and I'm delighted to be able to confirm not only three exciting specials for 2009, but a fifth series in 2010."

Since replacing Christopher Eccleston as the eponymous Doctor in the revitalised franchise two years ago to critical and popular acclaim, Tennant's career has gone from strength to strength.

When he takes to the stage in Hamlet next year he will star alongside former Star Trek and X-Men actor Patrick Stewart.

Doctor Who Fans are currently looking forward to this year's Christmas special, featuring Kylie Minogue.

The guest star of last year's December one-off, Catherine Tate, has already been confirmed as the Doctor's full-time assistant for next year's series four.

03/09/2007 16:23:23