The pacey and at times melodramatic plot is engaging but it is Ian Richardson's BAFTA-winning central performance which makes House of Cards so compelling. His depiction defines menace and cold cunning but his ultimate success lies in his ability to make Urquhart simultaneously loathsome and likeable. The audience may be repelled by his ruthlessness, but his wit, coolness, preening intelligence and conspiratorial asides to camera combine to make this minister a strangely charismatic monster. Richardson based his character on Richard III, and the serial offers other Shakespearian touches. Urquhart's wife is clearly a modern version of Lady Macbeth..."Richardson inhabited the role so fully that he was utterly convincing and Francis Urquhart gained a lease of life in the real world. His motto - "You might think that, I couldn't possibly comment" - entered the political phrasebook and was quoted in the House of Commons."
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