Former Downton Abbey star Dan Stevens looks set to be swapping one stately home for another as he is the favourite to take a coveted role in a Pride And Prejudice spin-off.

The British actor, who played Matthew Crawley in the hit TV show, is lining up new projects following his departure from the series and he has been linked to the lead role in another period drama - an adaptation of Death Comes to Pemberley by  P.D. James.

dan stevens

The book was written as a sequel to Jane Austen's classic and set six years after the end of the story, and Stevens has been tipped as the frontrunner to play Mr Darcy in a new BBC TV adaptation.

However, he is facing tough competition from Les Miserables star Eddie Redmayne, Hugh Dancy and Thor's Tom Hiddleston.

If Dancy wins the role from Stevens he could be acting opposite his real life wife as Claire Danes is said to be in the running to play Mr Darcy's partner Elizabeth Bennet.

Danes even has the backing of the project's producer David Thompson, who insists being an American won't hamper her chances, telling Britain's Sunday Times newspaper, "Yes, she's American but of course she can do British. She is also married to a Brit."

Mr Darcy has previously been played on screen by Colin Firth, Matthew Macfadyen and Laurence Olivier, while Keira Knightley has previously played Bennett on the big screen.

Filming on Death Comes to Pemberley is due to begin in Britain in the summer.

PICTURES: Stevens has been starring in The Heiress on Broadway...

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  • Jessica Chastain as Catherine Sloper in "The Heiress"

  • Jessica Chastain as Catherine Sloper in "The Heiress"

  • Pictured (l-r): Judith Ivey (Lavinia Penniman), Dan Stevens (Morris Townsend), David Strathairn (Austin Sloper), Jessica Chastain (Catherine Sloper) in "The Heiress"

  • Jessica Chastain (Catherine Sloper) and Dan Stevens (Morris Townsend) in "The Heiress"

  • David Strathairn (Austin Sloper) and Jessica Chastain (Catherine Sloper) in "The Heiress"

  • David Strathairn (Austin Sloper), Jessica Chastain (Catherine Sloper), Dan Stevens (Morris Townsend) in "The Heiress"

  • Jessica Chastain (Catherine Sloper) and Judith Ivey (Lavinia Penniman) in "The Heiress"