Amy Pond and her husband Rory will be leaving Doctor Who during the next series of the sci-fi show in autumn 2012.

A new companion will be joining the Time Lord, although the role hasn’t been cast yet.

The big announcement was made by the show’s executive producer Steven Moffat last night at the launch of the Doctor Who Christmas episode, called The Doctor, The Widow and The Wardrobe.

Actors Karen Gillen and Arthur Darvill will both be leaving the show after two and a half series.

“The final days of the Ponds are coming,” said Steven Moffatt. “It’s during the next series – I’m not telling you when and I’m certainly not telling you how. But that story is going to come to a heartbreaking end.

“Then, the Doctor is going to meet a new friend and I’m not going to tell you anything about he, she or it.”

Matt Smith, who’s played the Time Lord since 2010, added that he will be sad to see Karen leave: “We’ve had the most incredible journey. We took over the show and we really had to sort of hold hands and help each other through it in many ways.

“So, yeah, it’s very disappointing. But, you know, one has to sort of remember that this show is about change and regeneration and that’s what galvanises it and pushes it forward and it’s about looking forward always.”

The Doctor, The Widow and The Wardrobe is on BBC1, Christmas Day, 7pm