Doctor Who star David Tennant has withdrawn from all performances of Hamlet until next year (09) after scheduling surgery for a slipped disc.
The actor was said to be devastated after pulling out of live performances of the Shakespeare play at London's Novello Theatre on Monday and Tuesday (08-9Dec08) because of the ongoing injury.
Tennant is now due to undergo surgery on his back on Thursday (11Dec08) - and will not return to the stage show before Christmas, the Royal Shakespeare Company has confirmed.
And although he has branded his enforced absence "hugely disappointing", Tennant has lavished praise on his understudy Edward Bennett, who won standing ovations on Monday and Tuesday.
Tennant says, "My back problem has progressed to the point where it is currently impossible for me to carry on without surgery.
"I want to get back onstage as quickly as possible and I am very grateful to Ed who has courageously got to grips with the role but in a much shorter time. It's a fantastic achievement."
Tennant's run in the play is due to finish on 10 January (09).