Ritter’s prolific small screen output included key roles in 2019 HBO hit Chernobyl, ITV drama Vera and Paul Abbott’s No Offence. Among his feature credits were Quantum Of Solace and Harry Potter And The Half Blood Prince and he has a supporting role in John Madden’s upcoming WWII drama Operation Mincemeat starring Colin Firth.T
Ritter was also an admired stage actor, and was nominated for an Olivier award in 2006 for his performance in Coram Boy and for a Tony award for his 2009 starring role in the Norman Conquests. He also played John Major in Stephen Daldry’s The Audience.
But the actor was arguably best known for playing eccentric, usually shirtless Martin Goodman hosting his ‘bambinos’ for their ‘Friday Night Dinner’ in the Channel 4 sitcom of that name also starring Tamsin Greig, Simon Bird and Tom Rosenthal. He is due to appear in the show’s 10th anniversary retrospective, due to air on Channel4 later this year.
Ritter’s agent told us: “It is with great sadness we can confirm that Paul Ritter passed away last night. He died peacefully at home with his wife Polly and sons Frank and Noah by his side. He was 54 and had been suffering from a brain tumor. Paul was an exceptionally talented actor playing an enormous variety of roles on stage and screen with extraordinary skill. He was fiercely intelligent, kind and very funny. We will miss him greatly.”
A statement sent to us by Big Talk, producers of Friday Night Dinner, and Robert Popper, who wrote the series, read: “We were incredibly sad to learn that Paul Ritter passed away last night. He was a brilliant, kind and talented man much loved by everyone who was lucky enough to know and work with him, and Paul will forever be part of both the Big Talk and Friday Night Dinner families. Our thoughts are with his own family at this time and following their wishes we will be making a donation to the Old Vic Impact Fund.”
The news has been met with sadness from many in the UK industry and beyond.
Said Helen Mirren: “Paul was a deep and thoughtful actor who was truly wonderful to work with. Sensitive, intelligent and generous, he will be terribly missed by all the fraternity who make drama.”
Paul Ritter was one of the most versatile & brilliant actors that has ever drawn breath. If Paul Ritter was in something, it made it good. This is horrendous news.
— Sanjeev Kohli (@govindajeggy) April 6, 2021
A beautiful brilliant actor
— shaheen baig casting (@sbaigcasting) April 6, 2021
Oh no, what a brilliant talent he was 😔, on the count of three, a tribute to his iconic catchphrase… “SHIT ON IT!”
Friday Night Dinner star Paul Ritter dies of brain tumour at 54 https://t.co/IaNilf5iDo
— Greg Jenner (@greg_jenner) April 6, 2021
Paul Ritter was one of the finest comedy actors, but was also a terrifying force in Chernobyl (arguably one of the best TV series of all time). This news is gutting.
— Scott Bryan (@scottygb) April 6, 2021