A member of the Royal Shakespeare Company for 20 years, David Lyon was also a familiar face on television, most notably as a post-Thatcher, Conservative prime minister in the political thriller House of Cards (1990), against whom the devious chief whip, played by Ian Richardson, is plotting.
The son of a diamond merchant, Lyon had to leave school at the age of 16 when his father was declared bankrupt and subsequently ran a guest house on the Isle of Cumbrae off the west coast of Scotland. Lyon himself initially worked for an insurance firm before becoming a salesman with a flooring company.
A long association with two noteworthy amdram companies – the Old Grammarians in Glasgow and the Crescent Theatre in Birmingham – led to him training at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London. He first worked as an actor at the Library Theatre in Manchester, and then played rep in Oxford, Cambridge, Leeds and Sheffield.
He joined the RSC in 1976 and appeared in Much Ado About Nothing, The Taming of the Shrew, Romeo and Juliet, Love’s Labour’s Lost and Troilus and Cressida.
He was also seen in several modern plays, including Piaf (1978), Pam Gems’ study of the French chanteuse Edith Piaf; The Innocent (1979), the tale of an intellectual experimenting with psychedelic drugs; and After Aida (1986), Julian Mitchell’s account of the pressure put on Verdi to come out of retirement.
Lyon spent the remaining years of his career largely in television, appearing in Lord Mountbatten – The Last Viceroy (1986); The Gemini Factor (1987), in which twins, separated at birth, have telepathic powers; the crime series Between the Lines (1992); and Midsomer Murders (2005), the detective drama centred on efforts to solve a string of murders taking place in the fictional county of Midsomer.
David Lyon, who was born on May 16, 1941, died on June 7, aged 72.