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'Downton Abbey': Tom Ellis Is Strong Contender to Be Lady Mary's Love Interest

February 19, 2013 (3:07 am) GMT
The King Cenred of 'Merlin' is said to be on the shortlist for the role of Lady Mary's new love interest after impressing the producers during his audition.

"" is close to find a new love interest for the recently widowed Lady Mary (). The show's producers have been auditioning actors for the role since earlier this year and have reportedly set their eyes on .

According to U.K.'s Mirror, the "Miranda" actor impressed the producers during his audition and is shortlisted for the said part. An ITV source says, "He really showed his versatility, and he's also incredibly popular with the female viewers."

"We know that Tom's got a lot of other options at the moment but if he does get the role it will be an incredible opportunity for him," the source goes on claiming. "A lot of the current cast have become global superstars. And it is always a bit of a coup for us to attract a major BBC star to a flagship ITV show like 'Downton Abbey'. "

Lady Mary lost her husband Matthew Crawley () in a car crash in the season 3 finale. The writers killed off Stevens' character as the actor asked to be released from the show for professional reasons. Lady Mary's new romance reportedly will be a main plot in the upcoming season, which will begin filming this spring.

Ellis is known to British audience as Dr. Oliver Cousins on BBC's soap opera "EastEnders" and Gary on BBC1 comedy "Miranda". U.S. viewers, meanwhile, may know him as Squash in the 2011 movie, "Buffalo Soldiers", and as King Cenred on BBC series' "".

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