Following media speculation, the BBC have confirmed future plans for Doctor Who in a press releasetoday.
After the fourth series airs in 2008, David Tennant will continue in the role of the Doctor for a Christmas special at the end of 2008. After that, instead of a full series beginning filming, the production team, with Tennant still in the role, will be working on three Doctor Who specials, led by Russell T Davies, to be shown on BBC1 throughout the year of 2009. A fifth full series is scheduled for 2010, though asBBC News point out, casting is unconfirmed for that far ahead.
Media speculation was sparked by reports that Tennant had been cast in the title role of Hamlet, in a production for the Royal Shakespeare Company from July to November 2008. This would have conflicted with filming a fifth series for airing in the spring of 2009. The RSC 2008 Flyer and BBC News are confirming Tennant's role in the play.
Rumors over the past several months have suggested that the show would be going on a sort of 'temporary hiatus' after the fourth series, though the BBC has emphasized the series' return for a full fifth year. It is not known whether Davies will continue in the helm of the series when it does return on a weekly basis, however.
The press release included the following quotes:
Jane Tranter, Controller, BBC Fiction, says: "Doctor Who is one of the BBC's best loved and most successful dramas. Its 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."
Menna Richards, Controller, BBC Wales, says: "The success of Doctor Who is a fantastic tribute to the dedication and expertise of the production team at BBC Wales who have worked on the project from the outset. This announcement is marvellous news for all involved, and more importantly for the programme's amazing fan base and audience. BBC Wales is looking forward to producing the fifth series."