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Rose Tyler beams back into Doctor Who

Billie confirmed for three episodes of series four

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Billie Piper will appear in three episodes of next year's series four of cult sci-fi series Doctor Who, reprising the role of Rose Tyler, the BBC has confirmed.

The surprise announcement means the good Doctor will have no fewer than three companions in 2008 - Tyler, Martha (Freema Agyeman, for the second half of the series) and "Runaway Bride" Donna, played by Catherine Tate. It will come as good news for fans of the Estuary-accented time traveller following Russell T Davies's decision to scrap a planned Rose Tyler spin-off.

The Beeb says the next series will feature Who's old foes the Sontarans, also making a comeback 35 years after originally menacing Jon Pertwee in The Time Warrior, plus a meeting between the Doc and Agatha Christie, guest starring Felicity Kendal and Sarah Lancashire.

In the meantime, Who fans have an Xmas special featuring Kylie Minogue as a Titanic waitress to look forward to, before the show takes a break until 2010. Although there will be three special editions in 2009, David Tennant is off to thesp it up with Royal Shakespeare Company next year, provoking doubts that he will return to the role.

Rhys Ifans and John Simm were recently named as possible replacements, with Lily Allen linked to the part of intergalactic companion. ®

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