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Catherine Tate joins Doctor Who as new companion

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LONDON - Comedienne Catherine Tate is to join 'Doctor Who' as David Tennant's companion in the fourth series, as Kylie Minogue is confirmed to make an appearance in the Christmas special.

Tate, who is best known for her BBC Two sketch series 'The Catherine Tate Show', replaces Freema Agyeman who has played Martha Jones, the Doctor's companion in series three.

Agyeman left the time travelling Tardis on Saturday, after the season three finale. However, she will not be departing the Who universe - she will join the 'Doctor Who' spin off, 'Torchwood', for its second series.

'Torchwood' stars John Barrowman as Captain Jack Harkness, who also starred in the season three finale of 'Doctor Who' alongside Agyeman, which pulled in 8m viewers and a 39% share on Saturday night.

Tate will star in the complete 13-week run of the fourth series of the BBC One hit, which has helped BBC Worldwide profits to surge by 24% to a record pounds 111.1m, thanks in part to the international appeal of the hit show.

Tate returns as the character Donna, who featured in last year's Christmas special 'The Runaway Bride'. Donna mysteriously vanished as she prepared to marry her boyfriend in a glittering ceremony on Christmas Eve. She reappeared, much to her astonishment, in the Tardis with the Doctor.

As the Tardis raced to the church, it soon became apparent that Donna was the key to an ancient alien plan to destroy the Earth. The episode ended with The Doctor inviting Donna to travel with him - an invitation which, at the time, was declined.

At the press screening of 'The Runaway Bride', Tate was asked if she would like to become the Doctor's new companion, she replied: 'I would love to, but no one has asked.'

Agyeman will return as well and make a guest appearance mid-series alongside the Doctor and Donna.

Russell T Davies, 'Doctor Who's executive producer and head writer, said: 'Catherine was an absolute star in 'The Runaway Bride' and we are delighted that one of Britain's greatest talents has agreed to join us for the fourth series. Viewers can expect more ambitious storylines and a whole host of guest stars in 2008.'

The fourth series of 'Doctor Who' goes into production this July and will hit UK screens in spring 2008.

Fans are in for a treat sooner that this, with the news that Kylie Minogue will join the 'Doctor Who' cast in a lead role in the hour-long Christmas special, to be broadcast in December 2007. She will star in the episode titled 'Voyage of the Damned', which has the Doctor's Tardis crashing into the doomed Titanic.

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