Paul Ritter, famed for his character Martin Goodman on Friday Night Dinner, passed away on Monday 5th April from a brain tumour at the age of 54. Although he is best known for the Channel 4 comedy, he starred in the Sky drama Chernobyl, featured in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince as Eldred Worple, and was also a talented stage actor.

Born Simon Paul Adams on 20th December 1966 in Kent, Ritter was interested in acting from a young age, achieving an A Level in Theatre Studies. He later studied Modern and Medieval Languages at St John’s College, Cambridge, but after graduating, he followed his passion for acting at the German National Theatre in Hamburg, Germany.

As an actor, Friday Night Dinner was not the first of his successes. Ritter was nominated for an Olivier Award in 2006 for Coram Boy, and then nominated for a Tony three years later for The Norman Conquests. But it wasn’t until Friday Night Dinner that Ritter really came into his own. Surrounded by the likes of Simon Bird, Tamsin Grieg and Tom Rosenthal, Ritter stole the show even by the end of the first episode. As father Martin Goodman, he gave the audience constant entertainment with his acting, walking around topless enquiring after ‘’a lovely bit of squirrel’’.

Since then, Ritter achieved great renown in Chernobyl as Anatoly Dyatlov, the closest thing to a villain the show. For those of us accustomed to his humour, this sneering, uncooperative character was difficult to like, but nonetheless absolutely captivating. These contrasting roles speak to Ritter’s acting ability.

Ritter’s colleagues and friends have paid tribute to him since the news of his passing. Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live, Friday Night Dinner creator Robert Popper said ‘he also had the rare thing, he had the common touch, so people could just relate to him’. Popper had loosely based the character of Martin on his own father.

Stephen Mangan, who knew Ritter as a student, tweeted that he had ‘so much talent and it shone from him even as a teenager’. Ritter clearly had a lasting impact on those who he was surrounded by, made evident in an anecdote shared by Years and Years star Russell Tovey about their time on stage together.

Although Paul Ritter is no longer with us, he leaves behind a film and television legacy that will not quickly fade. With six seasons of Friday Night Dinner and a 10th anniversary retrospective due to air on Channel 4 later this year, we’ll be watching Martin Goodman wandering around, full of witty one-liners and grumbling ‘’shit on it’’, for a long time yet.