Katherine Jenkins to star in Doctor Who

Singer Katherine Jenkins is to take on her first major acting role and will appear in this year's Doctor Who Christmas special.

Jenkins, whose only previous TV role was for TV soap Emmerdale, in which she played herself opening a fete, said: "I'm over the moon to be involved in the Doctor Who Christmas special. I can't quite believe it as it's a part of the family tradition at the Jenkins household. I heard the news that I got the role on my 30th birthday and it was the best birthday present ever."

Jenkins will be joined by Harry Potter actor Michael Gambon in the 60-minute special episode, which began filming this week.

The seasonal episode has been billed as a "fun-filled and heartfelt festive story" which will star Matt Smith as The Doctor and follows on from the wedding of his assistant Amy (Karen Gillan) and new husband Rory Williams (Arthur Darvill), which ended the recent series in June.

The show's lead writer and executive producer Steven Moffat said: "We're going for broke with this one. It's all your favourite Christmas movies at once, in an hour, with monsters. And the Doctor. And a honeymoon."

The last Doctor Who Christmas special, entitled The End of Time and featuring John Simm and Catherine Tate, was the festive season's third most popular TV show attracting an audience of 10 million viewers.