'Who' fans face two-year series hiatus

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LONDON -- "Doctor Who" fans will be forced to go for almost two years without a series fix from the Tardis-travelling Timelord due to actor David Tennant taking time off to do stagework, the BBC said Monday.

The fourth series of the cult sci-fi action drama will go on-air in the spring of 2008, but series five will be delayed until 2010, BBC director of fiction Jane Tranter said Monday.

The show is one of the pubcaster's biggest success stories in recent years and has proved an international hit.

The BBC will air three one-off specials during 2009 and a Christmas special in 2008.

Tennant will work with the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford Upon Avon on projects thought to include a long-run of "Hamlet."

The BBC attempted to put a brave face on the announcement, which will leave them without one of their most popular shows among adults and children alike. But the move will prove a blow and will likely impact its success in the Saturday 7 p.m. slot that flagship channel BBC1 has built up through the "Doctor Who" franchise.

"Doctor Who is one of the BBC's best loved and most successful dramas," said Tranter. "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."
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