The death has been announced of the Shakespearian and character actor Ian Richardson. He was 72.

He was born in Edinburgh and was an accomplished and much respected stage actor, appearing mostly with the Royal Shakespeare Company.

He also appeared in numerous films and television programmes, such as the BBC series 'House of Cards', in which he played the Machiavellian chief whip, Francis Urquhart.

Richardson died in his sleep at his London home in the early hours of this morning. He had not been ill.

He was due to start filming his next role in the TV detective series 'Midsomer Murders' next week.