Downton Abbey Heartthrob Spoiler Alert – for Next Season

Monday February 18, 2013 01:20 PM EST

No moss grows under Lady Mary, that's for sure. The Merry Widow may already have a new suitor.

British TV heartthrob Tom Ellis reportedly had an impressive audition for the producers of Downton Abbey, to become what is being described as season 4's love interest for Lady Mary, played by Michelle Dockery.

According to the U.K. Mirror, an ITV source said of the 33-year-old, married father of three: "He really showed his versatility, and he's also incredibly popular with the female viewers."

Born in Wales, Ellis, whose wife is former EastEnders star Tamzin Outhwaite, appears in the comedy series Miranda. Neither show has been widely shown in the U.S.

Sunday night during Downton's season 3 finale, America learned that Mary's husband Matthew Crawley, as played by Dan Stevens – who asked to be released from the series for professional reasons – came to a bloody end by crashing his sports car only minutes after meeting his newborn son and heir.

Apparently, the new mother and widow will not be lonely for long. Series' writer-creator Julian Fellowes drops a strong hint to that effect in Monday's New York Times, telling its TV writer Dave Itzkoff: "We begin Series 4 six months later. We don't have to do funerals and all that stuff. That's all in the past by then."

And since this is a series with a strongly devoted following that does not care for spoilers – which immediately started crossing the Atlantic once episodes started airing in its native country last fall, ahead of America's January 2013 season premiere on PBS – Fellows acknowledges, "I would vastly prefer that we all saw it together. The world is much more global. And so I look forward to the day when it changes, as I'm sure it will."

Good show.