Paul Ritter (actor)

Paul Ritter
Actor Paul Ritter.jpg
Simon Paul Adams

(1966-12-20)20 December 1966
Gravesend, Kent, England
Died5 April 2021(2021-04-05) (aged 54)
Faversham, Kent, England
Alma materSt John's College, Cambridge
Years active1992–2021
Polly Radcliffe
(m. 1996)

Paul Ritter (born Simon Paul Adams; 20 December 1966 – 5 April 2021) was an English stage and screen actor. He had roles in films including Son of Rambow (2007), Quantum of Solace (2008), Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009), and The Eagle (2011), as well as television programmes including Friday Night Dinner (2011–2020), Vera,[1] The Hollow Crown,[2] The Last Kingdom,[3] and Chernobyl.[4]

Early life

Ritter was born Simon Paul Adams on 20 December 1966 in Gravesend, Kent.[5][6] His father Ken Adams, a toolmaker, worked at various power stations; his mother Joan (née Mooney), was a school secretary.[5] His family were Catholic and he had four older sisters.[5] Adams attended Gravesend Grammar School where he acquired an A Level in Theatre Studies.[5] He went on to study Modern Languages at St John's College, Cambridge.[5]

After graduating, he went to the Deutsches Schauspielhaus in Hamburg, Germany.[7][5] Upon returning to the UK, he took up the stage name Ritter, of German origin. He took up this name because another Simon Adams was registered with the acting trade union, Equity and he admired a German actor with the surname Ritter.[5][7]

Ritter studied alongside the actor Stephen Mangan and they later acted together in the 2009 play The Norman Conquests.[5]


Ritter's screen work included roles in Nowhere Boy, the 2007 television serial Instinct,[8] the comedy drama Pulling and the role of Pistol in Henry IV, Part II and Henry V in BBC Two's cycle of William Shakespeare's history plays, The Hollow Crown; The Daily Telegraph described Ritter as "an actor who is surely destined for greatness very soon. His Pistol conveyed perfectly the shock of a man who reluctantly had left behind the rowdy cheer of Eastcheap, and found himself in middle age contemplating the melancholy of a medieval autumn."[9] Ritter also played comic actor Eric Sykes in Tommy Cooper: Not Like That, Like This and took a lead role in BBC One's 2014 serialised Cold War spy drama, The Game.[10][11]

From 2005 to 2006, Ritter played Otis Gardiner in the original Royal National Theatre production of Helen Edmundson's Coram Boy, for which he was nominated for an Olivier Award.[12][13] He was nominated for a Tony Award in 2009 for his role in The Norman Conquests.[14] In 2012, he appeared as the protagonist's father in the stage version of Mark Haddon's novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time at the National Theatre[15] and in 2013 as John Major in the premiere of Peter Morgan's The Audience.[16]

From 2011 to 2020, Ritter starred as Martin Goodman in the Channel 4 comedy series, Friday Night Dinner.[17]

Personal life and death

In 1996, Ritter married his wife, Polly Radcliffe, a research fellow at King's College London.[5] He lived in Faversham, Kent.[18] He had two sons, Frank and Noah.[19][20]

Ritter died of a brain tumour on 5 April 2021, aged 54, in his home, surrounded by his family.[21][22][20][23] Long-time friend Stephen Mangan tweeted: "Trying to find a way to talk about Paul Ritter and struggling. My friend since we were students together. So much talent and it shone from him even as a teenager. I was so lucky to know him and lucky too to work with him many times over the years. Wonderful man."[24] Fellow actors from Friday Night Dinner also paid tribute. Writing in The Guardian, Tamsin Greig said she was "eternally grateful" to have known Ritter.[25] Simon Bird said he always aspired to be like him whilst Tom Rosenthal called him an "ultimate professional".[26][27]

A tenth anniversary retrospective of Friday Night Dinner will air later in 2021.[20]


Year Title Role Notes
1992 The Bill – Overdue Tony Walgrave [28]
1995 National Achievement Day 1995 Beach [28]
1999 G:MT Greenwich Mean Time Drug Buyer [28]
2000 The Nine Lives of Tomas Katz Dave [28]
2002 Esther Kahn Alman, the photographer [29]
2004 The Libertine Chiffinch [29]
2005 On a Clear Day Mad Bob [29]
2007 Son of Rambow Geography Teacher [29]
Hannibal Rising Prisoner Louis [28]
Waking the Dead Alan Pierce TV series (Series 6, episode 7: "Mask of Sanity")[30]
2008 The Other Man Guy [29]
Quantum of Solace Guy Haines [29]
2009 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Eldred Worple [29]
Nowhere Boy Popjoy [29]
2011–2020 Friday Night Dinner Martin Goodman Series regular, all 37 episodes[29]
2011 Great Expectations John Wemmick [28]
Land Girls Frank Tucker [31]
The Eagle Galba [29]
2011–2013 Vera Dr Billy Cartwright [29]
2011 Eliminate: Archie Cookson Ennis Miller [29]
2012 Comedy Showcase Jim Costello [32]
Dirk Gently Oliver Reynolds [29]
Henry IV, Part II Ancient Pistol [33]
Henry V Ancient Pistol [33]
2014 The Bletchley Circle Professor Masters TV series (episode: "Blood on their hands – Part 2")[29]
Tommy Cooper: Not Like That, Like This Eric Sykes [29]
Chasing Shadows Leonard Vance [34]
The Game Bobby Waterhouse [28]
Mapp and Lucia Reverend Kenneth Bartlett [28]
Suite Française Monsieur Dubois [28]
Plebs Angelo TV series (Series 2, episode: "The Baby")[28]
2015–2018 No Offence Randolph Miller Series regular, all 21 episodes[29]
2015 Top Coppers Harry McCrane [28]
The Last Kingdom King Peredur Season 1, episode 6[28]
We're Doomed! The Dad's Army Story Jimmy Perry [29]
2016 Their Finest Raymond Parfitt [29]
Neil Gaiman's Likely Stories Dr. Benham/Martyn/Mr. Alman [29]
Inferno CRC Tech Arbogast [29]
2017 Urban Myths Dave episode: "Bob Dylan: Knockin' on Dave's Door"[29]
Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams Franklyn [31]
2017–2020 Cold Feet Benjamin Stevens [21]
2018 Lovesick Peter [31]
Hang Ups Werner Lienhard [29]
2019 Resistance General Ormonde Winter [31]
Chernobyl Anatoly Dyatlov [29]
The Capture Marcus Levy [35]
2019–2020 The Trial of Christine Keeler Jeremy Hutchinson Defence barrister of Christine Keeler[29]
2020 Belgravia[36] Turton TV series[37]
2021 You Look Nice: The True Story of Friday Night Dinner Himself Post-production, posthumous release[38]
TBA Operation Mincemeat Bentley Purchase Post-production, posthumous release[37]

Awards and nominations

Year Award/Event Category Work Result Ref
2006 Olivier Awards Best Performance in a Supporting Role Coram Boy Nominated [39]
2009 Tony Awards Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play The Norman Conquests Nominated [40]
2019 Online Film & Television Association Best Ensemble in a Motion Picture or Limited Series
Shared with entire cast
Chernobyl Nominated [41]


  1. ^ Dan French (15 October 2009). "McKee, Blethyn sign for new ITV1 thriller". Digital Spy. Retrieved 18 March 2010.
  2. ^ "Cast confirmed for BBC Two's cycle of Shakespeare films" (Press release). BBC Drama Publicity. 24 November 2011. Archived from the original on 30 December 2011. Retrieved 20 July 2012.
  3. ^ "The Last Kingdom: Episode 6, Series 1". 26 November 2015. Retrieved 7 April 2021.
  4. ^ "'Chernobyl' and 'Harry Potter' actor Paul Ritter dies at 54". Associated Press. 6 April 2021 – via Yahoo!.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Paul Ritter obituary". The Times. 7 April 2021. Archived from the original on 7 April 2021. Retrieved 7 April 2021.
  6. ^ "Paul Ritter, versatile actor best known as the eccentric dad in Friday Night Dinner – obituary". The Telegraph. 6 April 2021. Archived from the original on 7 April 2021. Retrieved 6 April 2021.
  7. ^ a b Coveney, Michael (7 April 2021). "Paul Ritter obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 April 2021.
  8. ^ Catriona Wightman. "National Theatre : Company Members : Paul Ritter". National Theatre. Archived from the original on 17 December 2014. Retrieved 18 March 2010.
  9. ^ Lawrence, Ben (22 July 2012). "The Hollow Crown: Henry V, BBC Two, review". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 14 October 2012.
  10. ^ "Tommy Cooper: Not Like That Like This". 2 March 2017. Retrieved 6 April 2021.
  11. ^ "The Game Begins November 5 at 10:00pm as part of BBC America's Dramaville". BBC Media Centre. 17 September 2014. Retrieved 20 November 2014.
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 17 December 2014. Retrieved 18 March 2010.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  13. ^ "Olivier Awards 2006 – Official London Theatre". Retrieved 19 May 2020.
  14. ^ Andrew Gans (5 May 2009). "Nominations for 2009 Tony Awards Announced; Billy Elliot Earns 15 Nominations". Playbill. Archived from the original on 4 June 2011. Retrieved 18 March 2010.
  15. ^ Geoghegan, Kev (6 August 2012). "National Theatre adapts Mark Haddon's Curious Incident". BBC News. Retrieved 14 October 2012.
  16. ^ Benedict, David (6 March 2013). "Legit Review: Mirren Commands Respect in 'The Audience'". Variety. Retrieved 6 April 2021.
  17. ^ Catriona Wightman (13 February 2010). "Greig, Bird for new Channel 4 comedy". Digital Spy. Retrieved 18 March 2010.
  18. ^ Dyson, Jack (6 April 2021). "Harry Potter actor and Friday Night Dinner star Paul Ritter dies after battle with brain tumour". Retrieved 6 April 2021.
  19. ^ Channon, Max (6 April 2021). "Friday Night Dinner and Harry Potter star has died". WalesOnline. Retrieved 6 April 2021.
  20. ^ a b c Moses, Toby (6 April 2021). "Friday Night Dinner star Paul Ritter dies of brain tumour at 54". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 April 2021.
  21. ^ a b "Paul Ritter: Friday Night Dinner star dies at 54". BBC News. 6 April 2021. Retrieved 6 April 2021.
  22. ^ Wilford, Greg (6 April 2021). "Paul Ritter, Friday Night Dinner star, dies of brain tumour aged 55". The Times. Archived from the original on 6 April 2021. Retrieved 6 April 2021.
  23. ^ O'Connor, Roisin (6 April 2021). "Paul Ritter death: Friday Night Dinner star dies of brain tumour". The Independent. Retrieved 6 April 2021.
  24. ^ Lewis, Isobel (6 April 2021). "Stephen Mangan and Nicola Coughlan lead tributes to Friday Night Dinner star Paul Ritter". The Independent. Retrieved 6 April 2021.
  25. ^ Greig, Tamsin (7 April 2021). "Tamsin Greig: 'Without Paul Ritter, the world is a less brilliant place'". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 April 2021.
  26. ^ Earp, Catherine (8 April 2021). "Friday Night Dinner star Simon Bird pays tribute to co-star Paul Ritter after sad death". Digital Spy. Archived from the original on 8 April 2021. Retrieved 8 April 2021.
  27. ^ "Paul Ritter: Tom Rosenthal pays tribute to Friday Night Dinner co-star". BBC News. 7 April 2021. Archived from the original on 8 April 2021. Retrieved 8 April 2021.
  28. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Paul Ritter". British Film Institute. Retrieved 6 April 2021.
  29. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x "Paul Ritter List of Movies and TV Shows". TV Guide. Retrieved 6 April 2021.
  30. ^ "Waking the Dead: Mask of Sanity (Part 1 of 2): Series 6, episode 7". Retrieved 7 April 2021.
  31. ^ a b c d Gans, Andrew (6 April 2021). "Tony and Olivier Nominee Paul Ritter Dies at 54". Playbill. Retrieved 6 April 2021.
  32. ^ Cole, Tom. "Inbetweener joins galaxy of stars for Channel 4's The Function Room". Radio Times. Retrieved 6 April 2021.
  33. ^ a b "Cast confirmed for BBC Two's cycle of Shakespeare films" (Press release). BBC Drama Publicity. 24 November 2011. Archived from the original on 30 December 2011. Retrieved 7 April 2021.
  34. ^ "Chasing Shadows". BritBox. Retrieved 6 April 2021.
  35. ^ Bley Griffiths, Eleanor (8 October 2019). "Meet the cast of BBC conspiracy thriller The Capture". Radio Times. Retrieved 6 April 2021.
  36. ^ Carr, Flora (15 March 2020). "Meet the cast of ITV's Belgravia". Radio Times.
  37. ^ a b Ramachandran, Naman. "Paul Ritter, 'Chernobyl' and 'Friday Night Dinner' Star, Dies at 54". Variety. Retrieved 6 April 2021.
  38. ^ Harp, Justin (14 January 2021). "Friday Night Dinner will return for 10th anniversary special, but there's a twist: No more Milson quite yet". Digital Spy.
  39. ^ "Olivier Winners 2006 – Official London Theatre". Retrieved 19 May 2020.
  40. ^ "Paul Ritter Tony Awards Info". Retrieved 25 January 2020.
  41. ^ "23rd Annual TV Awards (2018–19) – Online Film & Television Association". Retrieved 25 January 2020.

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