By Mandi Bierly
July 19, 2012 at 07:24 PM EDT
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It’s a good day to be on the Downton Abbey set with the Masterpiece drama earning 16 Emmy nominations. Phoning EW from London’s Ealing Studios, Brendan Coyle, who earned his first nod for playing fan favorite Mr. Bates, says exec producer Gareth Neame announced the grand tally to the cast. “He was on the phone, and he just came up and he said, ‘Hello, Emmy-nominated Brendan Coyle,’ and I just said, ‘Ah, that’s fantastic.’ I had a real sort of lovely wave of emotion about it, which was very beautiful, and then I had to crack on and get back to work.” Can he tell us anything about the scene he was filming? “Oooh, I really can’t,” he says, with a laugh. (We had to try.) “What I can say is that season 3 begins with Mr. Bates in prison, and we’re just shooting scenes from episode 8. If I told you the circumstance of the scene, I would give away something that I can’t. But the scenes did involve myself and Joanne Froggatt [Anna], who’s also been nominated. So I’m so, so happy for her.”

Coyle suspects he and Froggatt will each submit the Christmas special with Bates’ trial and prison scenes. “We did the verdict and the reaction in two takes, I think,” he says. “And the scenes with Joanne, she’s so great to work with, she raises my game. It was very focused, very intense, and very moving. It was great stuff.”

The duo flies to L.A. tomorrow in preparation for a weekend panel at the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour. “It’s gonna be great to just pop over and say hello and express our gratitude,” Coyle says. “It’s really gratifying to us how it’s been received in the States. We’re absolutely thrilled.” And how does he feel about Mr. Bates’ sex symbol status? “It has surprised me a bit. I think we’re over it this side of the Atlantic, anyway,” he says. “But hey, I’ll take it where I can get it.”

Read more:

Emmy Awards: Why Sherlock Holmes and various ‘girls’ make this a schizo but superb nominations list

Emmy snubs: What the Academy got right and wrong

Emmy Awards: ‘Homeland’ star Damian Lewis on his nomination, and singing with co-star Mandy Patinkin

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