Surgery on a slipped disc means Doctor Who star David Tennant won’t return to his West End stage role in Hamlet until after Christmas.
The 37-year-old had an operation for a slipped disc on Thursday and said his enforced absence was ‘hugely disappointing’.
His understudy, Edward Bennett, who received standing ovations on Monday and Tuesday, will continue to stand in.
BBC Online reports that Tennant has played the role 60 times for the Royal Shakespeare Company and his season at London’s Novello Theatre is due to finish on 10 January.
David said: “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.
“My back problem has progressed to the point where it is currently impossible for me to carry on without surgery.”
Artistic Director Michael Boyd said: “We all wish David a speedy recovery and it is an indication of the RSC’s investment in understudies that Ed Bennett can take over Shakespeare’s largest role at such short notice.”