In a shock announcement from the Doctor Who prduction office, it has been revealed that Billie Piper is to return to the programme AS THE DOCTOR!
David Tennant, currently playing the tenth incarnation of the Time Lord, is to quit the show at the end of the fourth series in 2008. At the end of his final story the Doctor will be infected with a virus that means he has to regenerate, only this time the change will be more fundamental and he will become she in the form of Billie Piper.
The idea of the doctor being played by a woman has been mooted quite a few times over the years with names like Beryl Reid, Joanna Lumley and even Floella Benjamin having been put forward. This is the first time, however, that the suggestion has been anything more than a pipe dream.
Head honcho at the Doctor Who prduction team, Russell T. Davies said:
" When we made the current series we all really missed having Billie around. Freema [Agyeman, who plays new companion Martha Jones] is fantastic but it just wasn't the same without Billie. When David said he would be leaving after the next series we all started thinking of his replacement, after only one day we came together with our ideas and we had all put Billie at the top of our list. Having a female Doctor will be a bold new move for the show and we're all really excited about it. We know Billie will be wonderful in the role."
Although a woman playing the Doctor will be new, using an actor who has already appeared in the show is not. In the late '70's the role of Time Lady Romana was taken over from Mary Tamm by Lalla Ward, who had been a central figure in the previous season's final story. In the '80s the Doctor got in on the act when Collin Baker, who'd had a minor role in a previous story, took over from Peter Davison.
Billie's first story as the Doctor will be the 2008 Christmas special to be followed by a full series in 2009.
It is certain that the casting of Miss Piper will upset many Doctor Who purists.