Amy and her on-screen husband Rory will meet a ‘heart-breaking end,’ executive producer and head writer Steven Moffat said at a screening last night of the show’s Christmas episode.

“The final days of the Ponds are coming. I’m not telling you when and I’m certainly not telling you how,” Moffat said. “We only have so many adventures with the lovely Amy and the lovely Rory left, so that story, next series, during the series, will be over and then the Doctor is going to meet a new friend.”

The search for a new assistant will commence, with Gillan having taken on the role previously played by Catherine Tate and Billie Piper.

Gillan’s chemistry with eleventh Doctor Matt Smith has been at the heart of the show’s continued success. 

Smith said of co-star Gillan’s departure: “We’ve had the most incredible journey together. We took over the show and really had to hold hands and help each other through, it is very disappointing.”