Christopher Eccleston is to make his long-awaited return to the world of Doctor Who after 15 years, it has been announced.
The 56-year-old took over the role of The Doctor when the show returned to screens in 2005 but appeared for just one series before David Tennant's stint in the TARDIS began.
The Ninth Doctor is highly regarded and fondly remembered by Who fans, but Eccleston has never reprised the character following his mildly-acrimonious exit from the show.
Eccleston has now agreed to voice the Ninth Doctor for 12 new stories for Big Finish, to be released across four volumes beginning in May 2021.
"After 15 years it will be exciting to revisit the Ninth Doctor's world, bringing back to life a character I love playing," he said in a statement announcing the new adventures.
Jason Haigh-Ellery, chairman of Big Finish, said: "I first talked to Christopher about returning to the role of the Doctor at the Gallifrey One convention in February this year.
"Christopher said he was enjoying meeting the fans and was pleased that his Doctor was remembered so fondly. He indicated he would be open to discussing a project with Big Finish.
"And then the pandemic happened and time moved both quickly and very slowly. Over recent months, ideas have been exchanged and discussions had.
"I am so pleased that Christopher has decided to return to the role with us – and I'm excited to welcome him to the Big Finish family as we discover the new adventures of the Ninth Doctor."
Details of additional cast for the episodes - including confirmation of whether Billie Piper will be back as Rose Tyler - are expected to be revealed in the coming months.