Actor Ian Richardson, best remembered as the Machiavellian chief whip Francis Urquhart in landmark BBC drama House Of Cards, has died. He was 72.
Richardson died in his sleep at his London home in the early hours of Friday morning.
His death came as a shock as he had not been ill and was due to begin filming his next role in TV show Midsomer Murders next week, his agent said.
Michael Dobbs, author of House of Cards, said: "I am desperately sad. He is a man I admired immensely. He changed my life. He made a dream of mine a reality. And he did it in a way which transfixed millions of viewers.
"House of Cards was Ian Richardson. He made the character and brought the whole series to life.
"Even John Major’s leadership campaign in 1990 came to a halt at 9pm on a Sunday night so that the whole campaign team could sit down and see what was happening.
"Urquhart was a wicked character but Richardson portrayed him in such a way that everybody loved it. In anybody else’s hands, that role could have fallen flat on his face.
"I owe him a huge debt."