Ian Richardson was a Scottish actor best known for playing the Machiavellian politician Francis Urquhart in the House of Cards trilogy for the BBC.
Richardson was born in Edinburgh and educated at George Heriot's School in the city. He studied at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music & Drama and subsequently appeared often on the British stage, mostly with the Royal Shakespeare Company, of which he was a founder member.
He has also worked in American theatre, acting in Peter Brook's MaratSade on Broadway in 1965. He would play the part of Jean-Paul Marat again in the 1967 film version.
He played Professor Henry Higgins in the 1976 revival of My Fair Lady and received a Tony nomination. He also appeared on Broadway in 1981 in the original production of Edward Albee's play Lolita, an adaptation of Vladimir Nabokov's book.
He has made many film appearances, including Brazil (1985), Dark City (1998), Polonius in Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead (1990), Martin Landau's butler in the Halle Berry film B*A*P*S (1997) and Cruella de Vil's solicitor, Mr. Torte, in the live-action movie 102 Dalmatians (2002).
Richardson also gave memorable TV performances as Tailor in the BBC adaptation of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, Sir Godber Evans in Channel 4's adaptation of Porterhouse Blue, and as Lord Groan in the BBC production Gormenghast.
Richardson won the BAFTA Best Television Actor Award for House of Cards, and was nominated for the two sequels, To Play the King and The Final Cut, as well as for the 1992 film An Ungentlemanly Act.
More recently Richardson stared in Sky One's adaptation of the Terry Pratchett novel, Hogfather, which aired in two parts on 17 and 18 December 2006.
He voiced the main character of the novel, Death, the Grim Reaper who steps in to take over the role of the Father Christmas-like Hogfather.
Richardson died suddenly on the morning of 9 February, 2007. He was due to start filming an episode of Midsomer Murders the week after his death, and according to his agent was not ill.
He is survived by his wife, Maroussia, also an actor, and two sons.