In the celebrated King Lear production that starred Paul Scofield, he played Edmund when the Company took the play on tour in 1964. But, he never actually got to play Lear and we can only imagine the power, depth of feeling and physical presence he would have brought to the role.
In 1999, I was privileged to see Ian perform the one-man show, The Seven Ages of Man, which ran for just under a week at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford.
I'd missed his glorious years at the RSC and seeing him performing Shakespeare on stage, including a couple of Lear's speeches, was a joyful experience. For me, as well as gorging on the fabulous feast of Shakespeare he provided, the evening was memorable for another reason. When we popped in (I was there with Shirley Jacobs who, for many years, has had a webpage on Ian) to see him before the performance, he invited us out to the pub afterwards. Till that point I'd enjoyed visits to dressing rooms and this was the first of very many occasions on which I subsequently had the pleasure of spending time in Ian and his wife Maroussia's company outwith a theatre.
Sadly, Seven Ages was the nearest he got to playing the epic role. In later years he said that he no longer had the physical capacity to perform it.
But, and it was actually around the time he performed in Guildford, he did play a role - Lord Groan in the BBC production of Gormenghast - in which there was a scene in which he gave a very Lear-like and moving depiction of the Earl's descent into madness.