It is with a heavy heart that we mourn British actor Paul Ritter who passed away on 5th April 2021 aged just 54 after suffering with a brain tumour. He leaves behind a wife and two sons.
Ritter’s comedic dead-pan face and wit has not gone unnoticed in terms of his work on stage, television and film. While starting his acting career in small bit parts throughout the 90s and early 2000s across a number of dramas, it was Ritter’s love for the stage that would help gain him critical and public acclaim. It was during early National Theatre productions such as in ‘Coram Boy’, ‘The Hot-House’, ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night- time’ and ‘Really Old, Like Forty-Five’ that Ritter thrived. His work on stage even gained him an Olivier and Tony award nomination.
As a strong, applauded and well trained actor proving his worth on stage, Ritter’s work on the big and small screen took off domestically when he was cast in shows such as Waking The Dead and feature films such as British comedy Son Of Rambow and drama The Libertine. And it would be the James Bond 2008 adventure Quantum Of Solace as villain Guy Haines, and in 2009s Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince as quirky wizard-cum-writer Eldred Worple that Ritter would rise to international recognition with millions of new fans investing in his work.
Yet it would be British audiences that he would appeal to best, working on a number of domestic stage and screen works well into the next decade. The most popular and recognised of these works would be Channel 4’s comedy Friday Night Dinner, a show that has aired from 2011 to 2020 over six successful series. Ritter played the father, Martin Goodman, alongside Tamsin Greig as wife Jackie and Simon Bird and Tom Rosenthal as sons Adam and Jonny. The show focuses on this upper-class Jewish family coming together for a traditional Friday night dinner, but not without numerous semi-surreal and disruptive setbacks each time including their other family, nosy neighbour and DIY mishaps in the home.
As the head of the household, Ritter’s portrayal as Martin was the crux of the show. He was the middle man between the often childish pranks carried out by his “bambinos”, and then keeping his loving wife happy and not embarrassing her, even if that means wearing a shirt for dinner even when he complains his “nipples are roasting.” His trademark dead-pan wit and comedic timing Ritter went down a storm with audiences and critics.
Alongside Friday Night Dinner, Ritter continued to work in acclaimed shows as Chernobyl, Vera and Cold Feet, always proving his versatility and appeal as an actor across any genre.
It’s heart-breaking that in the year Friday Night Dinner celebrates a decade of success, we have lost the driving force behind the show.
Paul Ritter will be sadly missed on our screens. Our thoughts are with his friends and family at this awful time.
To sum up this sad news in the best way that Martin Goodman would…
“Shit on it!”