Doctor Who star David Tennant WILL play Hamlet, the Royal Shakespeare Company has finally confirmed.

The news comes after months of speculation that the fifth outing of the time travel adventure series will be postponed until 2010 to enable David to fulfil his commitments to the RSC.

And on Tuesday it was announced that Hollywood heart-throb Jude Law* will tackle the same role in London’s Donmar Warehouse, in a production dircted by Kenneth Branagh.

The RSC production, directed by chief associate Gregory Doran, will open on August 5, 2008 in Stratford-upon-Avon’s Courtyard Theatre, where it will stay until November 15 when it will immediately move to London’s West End.

Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, Gregory said that had admired David after seeing him in Steven Pimlott’s 1996 production of As You Like It, when he recognised him as ‘a brilliant wordsmith and a brilliant young classical actor’.

Gregory was inspired to approach David after watching him unwittingly pick up a skull during the family heritage programme Who Do You Think You Are?

Early in his career, David spent two seasons with the RSC where his other roles included Romeo in Romeo & Juliet.

RSC artistic director Michael Boyd said it was ‘a very natural thing for [David] to come back and graduate to that toughest of roles’.

It means the fifth series of Doctor Who won’t screen until 2008.

* Vote for the star you’d prefer to watch playing Hamlet on whatsontv.co.uk’s home page.