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Downton Abbey baddie Nigel Harman is set to star on Strictly when it returns later this year

Downton Abbey baddie Nigel Harman is set to star on Strictly when it returns later this year

Downton Abbey actor Nigel Harman is set to star on Strictly when it returns later this year – after bosses thought he would win over the show’s middle-aged female viewers.

Mr Harman, who played valet Mr Green in the ITV period drama and was involved in a controversial storyline, has signed up to the dance show following his return to the BBC on its popular medical programme Casualty.

Chiefs at the network are ‘excited’ at his agreement to take part because he has been viewed as a heart-throb by television viewers since he appeared on EastEnders 20 years ago in the role of Dennis Rickman.

A source close to the show told The Mail on Sunday: ‘Nigel is the perfect middle-aged hunk. He is handsome but also charming. 

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‘He’s the kind of guy that those watching at home will fall in love with and you always need one of those. He is among the first to confirm and he turns 50 this summer so it is a challenge of his own, too. The line-up is going to be a great mix.’ 

He’s got the moves: Nigel Harman previously featured in I Can’t Sing! The X Factor Musical! and is now set to star in the new series of Strictly

Nigel was the centre of a controversial Downton Abbey storyline in 2013, where his character was seen hitting lady's maid Anna – played by Joanne Froggatt – in the face and raping her

Nigel was the centre of a controversial Downton Abbey storyline in 2013, where his character was seen hitting lady’s maid Anna – played by Joanne Froggatt – in the face and raping her

While he is tipped to be the pin-up of the series, the actor, who attended £24,000-a-year Dulwich College, is unlikely to fall victim of the show’s much discussed ‘Strictly curse’. 

He is happily married to actress Lucy Liemann, 49, who has starred in The Bill and Agatha Christie’s Poirot, as well as in the third Jason Bourne film, The Bourne Ultimatum.

Mr Harman was the centre of a controversial Downton Abbey storyline, in 2013, where his character was seen hitting lady’s maid Anna – played by Joanne Froggatt – in the face and dragging her into a room in a violent rape scene.

But earlier this year, Mr Harman returned to the BBC, joining the cast of Casualty, where he plays charming clinical lead doctor Max Christie.

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The actor looks set for Strictly, having shown his dancing skills in West End productions including 2014’s I Can’t Sing! The X Factor Musical, based on the now-defunct ITV show. Mr Harman played Simon

Cowell, but the show’s run only lasted six weeks due to poor ticket sales.

His role on Strictly means he is the fourth star connected to the BBC thought to appear on this year’s series, which begins in August. 

Last week, the Daily Mail revealed that Angela Scanlon, host of BBC Two’s Your Home Made Perfect, will take part.

Meanwhile, other celebrities that have been tipped to appear this year include EastEnders star Bobby Brazier – the actor son of late reality star Jade Goody – and Adam Thomas, who appears in BBC One drama Waterloo Road.

Strictly hands off: Nigel  unlikely to fall victim to the show's much discussed 'Strictly curse' as he is happily married to actress Lucy Liemann, 49, who has starred in The Bill and Poirot

Strictly hands off: Nigel  unlikely to fall victim to the show’s much discussed ‘Strictly curse’ as he is happily married to actress Lucy Liemann, 49, who has starred in The Bill and Poirot

There are also plans for the show to have its first ever contestant who uses a wheelchair, following the success of deaf competitor Rose Ayling-Ellis, who won the glitter ball in 2021, and paralympian Ellie Simmonds, who took part last year.  

A spokeswoman for the show declined to comment on Mr Harman’s signing.

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