Welsh opera singer Katherine Jenkins is to star in this year’s Doctor Who Christmas special – her first major acting role.

In what’s been described as possibly “the Time Lord’s most Christmassy adventure yet”, the mezzo-soprano will be joined by acting veteran Michael Gambon in the hour-long special for BBC1.

The Christmas special will continue to follow the adventures of the Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) and newlyweds Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) and Rory Williams (Arthur Darvill).

Steven Moffat, the show’s lead writer and executive producer, said he had not known this was Katherine’s first major acting role before she was cast.

He told The Guardian: “She is brilliant – she is a great singer and a great performer.”

Katherine said: “I’m over the moon to be involved in the Doctor Who Christmas Special – I can’t quite believe it as it’s a part of the family tradition at the Jenkins household. 

“I heard the news that I got the role on my 30th birthday and it was the best birthday present ever!” 

Steven will be hoping to emulate the success of last year’s Christmas specials, which saw David Tennant bow out after four years as the Doctor.

Part one of the two-part story, called The End of Time and featuring John Simm and Catherine Tate, was watched by more than 10 million viewers.

This was marginally down on the 11.7 million who watched the 2008 Christmas special and the 12.2 million who tuned in to 2007’s Christmas special, featuring Kylie Minogue as a waitress on the Titanic.