Born: May 16, 1941; Died: June 7, 2013.

David Lyon, who has died aged 72, was one of those familiar, reliable, talented actors who took the traditional route from repertory to a solid career in theatre and occasional guest parts on television. He was never a big star but he was a familiar face from roles in popular British dramas such as Poirot, Taggart, Dr Finlay and many others.

Of Scottish descent, he was born and brought up in his first few years in Sierra Leone. When he was seven, he was sent to the prep school Crofton House in Dumfriesshire before winning a scholarship to Merchiston Castle School in Edinburgh.

He was a promising pupil, and did particularly well on the rugby pitch, but when his father was declared bankrupt he was forced to leave school and look for work. While his father returned from Sierra Leone to run a guest house in Millport, Lyon took a job in insurance in Glasgow before moving to Birmingham to work as a flooring salesman. In both cities, Lyon pursued his interest in acting – in Glasgow, with the Old Grammarians' Amateur Dramatic Society and in Birmingham with the Crescent Theatre. By the time he was 30, he had decided he wanted to be a professional actor and landed a place at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London.

After graduating, Lyon went in to repertory around the country but truly found his home when he joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1976. He was to stay until 2001, appearing in a large number of successful productions with some of the leading actors of the day including Judi Dench, Ian Holm, Glenda Jackson and Ralph Fiennes.

Lyon also found success in television. His most prominent role was in the political drama House of Cards in 1990. Lyon played the trusting Prime Minister Henry Collingridge whose cabinet includes Francis Urquhart, the duplicitous chief whip who wants his job.

Collingridge was typical of the likeable characters Lyon played. He also appeared in Silent Witness, Poirot, The Bill, Lovejoy, Taggart and Midsomer Murders.

He is survived by his wife Sandra Clark and his stepchildren, Sula and Archie.