Ian Richardson died in his sleep of a heart attack on the morning of February 9 2007, aged 72.
According to his agent, he had not been ill and had in fact been due to start filming an episode of Midsomer Murders the following week.
He is survived by his wife, the actress Maroussia Frank and two sons, one of whom, Miles, is an actor with the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Ian William Richardson was born in Edinburgh, the son of a works manager at the McVities’ biscuit factory. He read drama at Glasgow University and then went on to train at the city’s College of Dramatic Art. His first job was with the Birmingham Repertory theatre where his performance as Hamlet gained him national attention and an offer of a founding place with the newly formed Royal Shakespeare Company. With the likes of Sir John Gielgud, Dame Peggy Aschcroft and Sir Lawrence Olivier, Ian worked with the company to define the modern concept of the performance of Shakespeare, with particular successes in the roles of Coriolanus and Richard III.
Ian Richardson is sadly missed by audiences and his fellow actors. Dame Helen Mirren dedicated her 2006 Best Actress BAFTA award to him, saying in her acceptance speech that he was very supportive towards her when she started out acting - "really, without Ian, maybe I would not be here.”