British actor Peter Capaldi is the next star of Doctor Who.
The BBC made the announcement during a live television broadcast this morning NZ time.
The 55-year-old is best known as venom-spitting spin doctor Malcolm Tucker in political comedy The Thick of It.
He is the 12th actor to play the Doctor, a galaxy-hopping Time Lord who travels in the Tardis, a time machine shaped like an old-fashioned British police telephone booth.
Doctor Who was first broadcast in 1963 and is now one of the BBC's most popular programs, both in Britain and abroad.
Its longevity is due partly to the flexibility of the premise. The Doctor can regenerate into new bodies, and can travel to any point in space or time.
It is thought that the 55 year old actor's name began to surface after Doctor Who creator Steven Moffat said he would not rule out casting an older Doctor.
He said: "We've never not considered an older Doctor. It is completely on all the lists we make - there are absolutely older Doctors."
Current Doctor Matt Smith says Capaldi is the perfect choice to replace him.
He said: "If I had to pick someone I'd pick him. Because I think he's great. Weirdly enough after The Eleventh Hour [Matt's debut as The Doctor] he came up to me in the street and said, 'Mate well done. I watched your episode last night it was brilliant, I think you're really good.' I needed that, I needed a boost and I never forgot it.
"I've loved it, I really have, but when you've got to go, you've got to go. There was a backlash when I was cast. I was 26 and I was unknown.
"I just want to wish my successor all the best and, just say good luck and good on you for getting it. I know he's a both a huge fan of the show and a really nice guy. The casting of it made me really excited, as a fan I think it's a really canny choice, I think he'll be a hit. Good luck man it's going to be a thrill."
Meanwhile, Capaldi says he is thrilled he no longer has to keep the news a secret.
The Thick Of It actor is a lifelong fan of the show, writing a letter to Radio Times, at the age of 15, asking them to publish another special to celebrate "25 years of wandering in time with the Doctor"
He said: "It's so wonderful not to keep the secret any longer, but it has been absolutely fantastic in its own way.
"So many wonderful things have happened, for a while I couldn't tell my daughter who kept looking on the Internet and discovering that people were saying, 'so and so should be Doctor Who. She was getting rather upset that it never mentioned me. I said to her, 'Just rise above it darling.' "
Capaldi starred in a 2008 episode of Doctor Who, playing Caecilius in Fires of Pompeii opposite Tenth Doctor David Tennant.
Capaldi's road to Dr Who:
Peter Capaldi is an actor, film maker and lifelong Doctor Who fan.
He first appeared in Doctor Who in 2008, playing Caecilius in the episode The Fires of Pompeii.
His role as Government spin doctor Malcolm Tucker in the BBC comedy series, The Thick of It is Capaldi's defining role to date.
A film spinoff, titled In the Loop, was released in 2009.
He is also an award-winning film maker, taking out an Oscar for Best Short Film (Live Action) for Franz Kafka's It's a Wonderful Life. .
This year, Capaldi appeared in recent blockbuster World War Z and in BBC Two drama series The Hour, for which he was BAFTA nominated.
He is currently filming new BBC One drama series The Musketeers, in which he plays Cardinal Richelieu which will launch in early 2014.
- AAP and Bang! Showbiz