Doctor Who fans have shared their delight after the Time Lord regenerated into a woman for the first time ever - with actress Jodie Whittaker keeping her Yorkshire accent for the role.

The Christmas special Twice Upon A Time marked the exit of both leading star Peter Capaldi and showrunner Steven Moffat. But the hour-long episode, which aired in New Zealand last night, also heralded a new beginning for the long-running BBC sci-fi series as it welcomed the first ever female Doctor.

Whittaker regenerated as the Time Lord in the final moments of the episode, uttering only the words "Oh brilliant" in her native accent.

The brief glimpse was enough to send viewers wild - with fans praising her performance on Twitter.

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Fans had feared that she might adopt a more generic English dialect - like Scottish former Doctor David Tennant - and had called for her to keep her northern tones.

George Aylett wrote: "We'll miss you, Peter Capaldi. But looking really forward to seeing Jodie Whittaker take on the role - what an entrance!"

NicoleGlasses posted on the social network: "Well. I cried a lot. Excited to see what Jodie brings to the show but I'm very sad to see Peter go."

Benjamin-Huish posted: "So bye bye Peter Capaldi and hello Jodie Whitaker! #DoctorWho And bye bye to Steven Moffat who is without question the best writer to have ever graced Doctor Who and is leaving it extremely ripe for the future."

Capaldi's last words as the Time Lord included the line: "Never be cruel, never be cowardly ... Remember hate is always foolish, and love is always wise."

In another surprise for fans, actress Jenna Coleman made a surprise cameo as Clara, appearing as part of a vision in what Moffat revealed was the final shot he directed in his Doctor Who career.

The emotional instalment also featured David Bradley as the first ever Doctor, and the Christmas truce of WWI.