Has Victoria really fallen for Albert? Jenna Coleman is said to be dating on screen lover Tom Hughes
Their sizzling chemistry has helped ITV’s epic costume drama Victoria beat BBC rival Poldark in the Sunday night ratings.
And now The Mail on Sunday can reveal that the on-screen romance between actors Jenna Coleman and Tom Hughes is being played out in real life, too.
The couple have been secretly dating since last summer, before they began filming their roles as the young Queen Victoria and the love of her life, Prince Albert.
And in a suitably royal twist, Prince Harry played an unwitting matchmaker after making a move on Jenna at a polo match last summer that left Tom so jealous he pursued Jenna for himself.
Sources close to the couple, who are both 30, say they have deliberately kept their romance below the radar because they are ‘deeply private’ people.
‘They’ve been together for months, on and off since last summer,’ said one friend. ‘Tom dumped his long-term girlfriend to be with Jenna and she chose to be with him even though Prince Harry was very keen on her. What started as an affair became a very serious romance.’
Last week the pair were seen at The Electric, the Notting Hill branch of exclusive club Soho House, where they cosied up together in the members’ area after attending a dinner hosted by Glamour magazine.
Jenna Coleman and Tom Hughes are said to have been dating for a year after he became jealous when Prince Harry asked her out
The couple stayed until closing time and were seen wrapped up in each other’s arms as they left together in the same taxi.
A fellow guest said: ‘They were giggling together and very affectionate. One friend was joking about how they are perfect for each other as they are both short.’
Victoria has maintained an edge over Poldark in the ratings, with more than five million viewers tuning in to last week’s episode, in which the sexual tension between the pair grew during a passionate joint piano recital.
A source close to Jenna said: ‘The reason the chemistry is so tangible is because they are dating in real life. Those scenes are very real. They are completely hooked on one another.’
The actors fuelled rumours that their relationship was more than strictly professional when they were seen dining for two hours together in London a fortnight ago.
‘They wanted to keep it quiet because they didn’t want their professionalism called into question,’ said the source. ‘Also Tom was dating another actress when he met Jenna and it was all a bit messy.’
The actors first met three years ago while filming BBC2 drama Dancing On The Edge.
At the time, Jenna was dating Game Of Thrones star Richard Madden and Tom was living with actress Ophelia Lovibond in Hampstead, North London.
Sources say Tom set his sights on Jenna last year during a polo match in Ascot, when she was photographed with Prince Harry.
‘Ironically Harry is largely responsible for them getting together,’ says the friend. ‘Jenna caught Harry’s eye at the polo. They flirted and spent the evening together and Harry took her number and they saw each other a couple of times.
The pair’s chemistry has helped ITV’s drama rival Poldark on the BBC, shown in the same Sunday evening slot
‘Tom was also on the scene and made it very clear that he wasn’t happy about Harry making a move on Jenna. They got together shortly afterwards.’
Jenna, who has starred in Emmerdale and Doctor Who, has spoken fondly of working with Tom, saying: ‘It is wonderful because we are very old friends and immediately we have the same tone, the same ideas, and instantly that connection feels very strong.’
She has also revealed how they became close while filming the drama last winter, and told how Tom taught her to play the piano ahead of that steamy scene. She said: ‘I’ve wanted to learn for ages so it was the perfect opportunity. He is an amazing musician.’
The pair spent months in each other’s company filming Victoria, including learning to waltz and horse-ride together.
They first set tongues wagging in June when they were seen leaving a party in London in the same taxi.
Representatives of both stars declined to comment.