Downton Abbey's Lady Mary Crawley is to find no less than three suitors competing for her affections in the new series of the show, it has been revealed.
The new mother - played by Michelle Dockery - has been left a broken widow by the death of her husband Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens) in a car crash.
But executive producer Gareth Neame told US magazine TV Guide that attention from three handsome men will see her restored to the feisty, glamorous ice maiden she was before she married Matthew.
Lady Mary will find herself pursued by the dashing Lord Gillingham, played by Tom Cullen, suave jazz singer Jack Ross from Chicago, played by Gary Carr, and the argumentative Charles Blake, played by Julian Ovenden.
Gareth revealed: "The spine of the new season is how Mary moves from total bereavement into turning to life again.
"We do see quite a bit of the Mary she was before she met Matthew, that icy iron-maiden quality. It's going to take an awful lot to get her back to life.
"Mary is not looking for anyone to replace Matthew, but she is, of course, a beautiful, eligible young widow, so inevitably there is going to be quite a lot of male interest."
Lord Gillingham comes to a house party at Downton in the second episode and offers Mary advice on inheritance taxes.
Gareth revealed: "Gillingham is a very useful friend to Mary at a time when she's not able to make decisions."
In the third episode, Mary accompanies Branson, cousin Rose and Aunt Rosamund to London's Lotus jazz club, where she meets Ross, who "is very positive, ambitious and charming", according to Gareth.
And, in episode four, Mary's old friend Evelyn Napier returns to Downton for the first time since his Turkish friend Kemal Pamuk died in Mary's bed back in season one.
He brings his friend Blake, who Mary does not get along with at first, in the same way she clashed with husband Matthew when they first met.
Gareth explained: "There's a bit of a difference. Mary objected to the law making Matthew the heir to Downton. Blake is someone she just doesn't like. He's modern-thinking but does not share the family's sentimentality about the past."
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