Tributes paid to ‘Friday Night Dinner’ star Paul Ritter: “He was an incredible actor”

"Paul was an exceptionally talented actor playing an enormous variety of roles on stage and screen"

Friday Night Dinner actor Paul Ritter has died; he was 54.

The news was confirmed by Ritter’s agent to The Guardian, who said Ritter passed away peacefully at home with his family by his side on Monday (April 5). He’d been suffering from a brain tumour.

The statement read: “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 tumour.

“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.”

Friday Night Dinner
The cast of ‘Friday Night Dinner’, shot for NME. Credit: Jenn Five

Tributes to Ritter have been paid widely on social media.

Simon Bird paid his respects through a series of tweets posted by Tom Rosenthal on his account. Bird played Adam Goodman, Ritter’s onscreen son in Friday Night Dinner.

“Not even going to touch the acting. That goes without saying. He was the best in the business,” he began.

“What’s less well known is that he was also the Platonic ideal of a green room companion: unfailingly generous (with praise, snacks, the Guardian Sport section); unendingly thoughtful (he would set up shop on the floor if he knew there were going to be more actors than chairs in that day); and undeniably cool (calm and collected in his flat cap, but an absolute coiled spring if there was a game in the offing).”

His tribute continued: “He was such a peaceful presence but throbbing with intelligence and – let’s not beat around the bush – entirely capable of a hilariously indiscreet and filthy broadside when in the mood.

“I think I’ll always aspire to be like Paul. I guess that’ll happen when someone pretends to be your Dad for 10 years. I feel unbelievably fortunate to have spent so much time in that green room and hope his real bambinos know how much his fake bambinos loved and looked up to him.”

The creator of Friday Night Dinner, Robert Popper, said: “Devastated at this terribly sad news. Paul was a lovely, wonderful human being. Kind, funny, super caring and the greatest actor I ever worked with.”

Rosenthal, who played Ritter’s on-screen son Johnny Goodman in Friday Night Dinner said: “Anyone who’s seen Friday Night Dinner knows the amount of shit we put him through and I never once heard him complain.

“I’ll be forever thankful for working with someone who was so supportive and who taught me so much about professionalism and humility in acting. It was a total pleasure an honour.”

Rob Delaney added: “Knocked it out of the PARK in Chernobyl. Watching it I consciously thought, “Oh, we have a new movie star.” Between that & how funny he was in Friday Night Dinner… just unreal talent. Rest in peace, Paul Ritter.”

Paul Ritter
Paul Ritter – Credit: Getty

Actor Daniel Mays said: “His unique talent, presence and genius shone through. I just adored watching him work.”

Tamsin Grieg, who played Ritter’s onscreen wife Jackie in Friday Night Dinner called the actor “surprising, versatile, oddball, rooted in the clearest truth and always utterly, heart-stoppingly hilarious” in a tribute for The Guardian.

She continued: “I am eternally grateful that our paths crossed. His kindness, attention to detail and phenomenal memory, his passion for music and football, his devotion to his beautiful family, his complete inability to accept a compliment, and his quiet, loyal, compassionate friendship will stay with me for ever.

“The world is a less brilliant place without Paul in it. Go lightly, my friend. You are deeply beloved.”

You can read some of the many tributes below:

Ritter starred as dad Martin in Channel 4’s Friday Night Dinner alongside co-stars Tamsin Greig, Simon Bird and Tom Rosenthal.

He also appeared in numerous films including Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, as well as Quantum of Solace alongside Daniel Craig. He also starred in the critically-acclaimed TV series, Chernobyl.

Ritter was nominated for an Olivier award in 2006 as well as a Tony Award in 2009.

He was due to appear in Channel 4’s 10th anniversary celebrations for Friday Night Dinner later this year.

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