November 1, 2015
Is Stephen Merchant Mayim Bialik's Perfect Match On 'The Big Bang Theory'?

It seems the Big Bang Theory crew doesn't have to worry about Amy Farrah Fowler. The now ex-girlfriend of Sheldon Cooper didn't, as it turns out, need her friends' assistance to find a new love. That became clear during last week's episode when a mystery man named "Dave" texted Amy -- just as her friends were playing a drinking game of finding her a date using an online app. Since Amy's phone was hooked up to the television, there was no hiding the fact that she'd moved on from Sheldon, and her relationship with Dave was indeed "like that."

But it will be a little bit before Big Bang Theory fans get a glimpse of the mysterious Dave, as the actor tapped to play him, Stephen Merchant, isn't set to grace the screen until later this month. The Hollywood Reporter revealed in late October that Merchant and Analeigh Tipton would appear in season 9, and savvy fans pieced together that they must play the potential new love interests for Sheldon and Amy. Executive producter Steven Molaro told THR that there was no hurry to get Sheldon and Amy back together, leaving the door wide open for new characters to enter the mix.

"Right now, the dynamic has been fascinating and interesting. We're seeing all new colors for both of them as well as the way it impacts the group. There's not a set plan — we're feeling this out along in same way Amy is."
Analeigh Tipton guests on 'The Big Bang Theory'
Analeigh Tipton appeared as herself in an early episode of 'The Big Bang Theory.' She appears in season 9 in the same episode as British actor Stephen Merchant. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images Entertainment)

Merchant's IMDB profile reveals he's set to act in the same episode as Tipton, "The Mystery Date Observation," which is set to air on November 12. The episode description reveals Sheldon goes to an unlikely source to find a new companion, and also implies Amy isn't opening up to her girlfriends too much about how things are going with Dave -- as they are forced to spy on her date.

"Sheldon recruits Howard and Raj in order to find him a new girlfriend, while Bernadette, Penny and Leonard spy on Amy's mystery date."
Merchant is not a new face in the entertainment industry, although many Big Bang Theory viewers in the U.S. might not know him. Merchant co-created The Office along with its star, Ricky Gervais. The comedic hit was eventually adapted by Steve Carell in America. More recently he's been the executive producer of The Ricky Gervais Show and Lip Sync Battle.

Stephen Merchant Amy love interest 'The Big Bang Theory'
Stephen Merchant attended the 2015 Emmy awards. He captioned this photo "Trying to have some 'me' time with a beer and a hotdog outside the men's bathroom at the Emmys and Jimmy Kimmel ruins things." (Courtesy Stephen Merchant/Instagram)

The Big Bang Theory won't be Merchant's first acting gig on American television. He starred in one episode of Modern Family in 2014.

Big Bang Theory producers have not revealed the length of Merchant's contract. Glamour blogger Jessica Radloff pointed out the ambiguity by cleverly writing that Merchant will be in an upcoming episode.

"...(or is it episodes?). Producers haven't said more than that, but now it's quite obvious that Merchant is being brought on board as a potential love interest for Amy (rather genius, isn't it?)"
Throughout its more than eight-season history, other characters have engaged in lengthy story arcs that revolved around a romantic relationship. Leonard was involved with Raj's sister Priya for a long time and Raj has had an ongoing relationship with Emily.

Mayim Bialik had previously said there were interesting storylines on tap this season for Amy, after she ended her five-year union with Sheldon. Bialik also revealed over the summer that she is under contract with the show through the end of season 10. That means there's plenty of time for Sheldon and Amy to reconcile, or for Amy and Dave to engage in a long and meaningful relationship.

The Big Bang Theory returns to Thursday nights as of November 5. The show airs on CBS.

[Main image: left photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images Entertainment; right photo by Lily Lawrence/Getty Images Entertainment]