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Paul Ritter death: Simon Bird pays tribute to his Friday Night Dinner co-star in heartbreaking post

Annabel Nugent
·2-min read
 (Channel 4)
(Channel 4)

Simon Bird has written an emotional tribute to his late Friday Night Dinner co-star Paul Ritter.

Ritter died “peacefully at home” on Friday (2 April) aged 54 after being diagnosed with a brain tumour, his agent announced on Tuesday (6 April).

Among the actor’s most notable screen credits – which include Harry Potter and HBO’s Chernobyl – is Channel 4’s Friday Night Dinner, in which he starred as the patriarch of a family portrayed by Bird, Tamsin Greig and Tom Rosenthal.

In the wake of his death, stars including Rob Delaney and Nicola Coughlan have paid tribute to Ritter.

Now Bird, who plays one of Ritter’s sons on Friday Night Dinner, has written his own tribute in a moving post shared via co-star Rosenthal.

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Explaining that the Inbetweeners star does not have social media, Rosenthal shared Bird’s tribute on his behalf, stating: “Not even going to touch the acting. That goes without saying. He was best in the business.

“What’s less 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).”

The 36-year-old 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.”

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Bird wrote that he will “always aspire to be like Paul”, adding: “I guess that’ll happen when someone pretends to be your Dad for 10 years.”

Friday Night Dinner began in 2011 and ran for six seasons.

“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.”

Throughout the sitcom, Ritter’s character referred affectionately to his sons as “bambinos”.

Meanwhile, Grieg has also written an emotional tribute for Guardian in which she calls Ritter “a brilliantly inventive chameleon of an actor, as much at home in guise of a mendacious Soviet nuclear engineer as of a comedic Jewish father to his two childish bambinos”.

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

Rosenthal – who portrayed Ritter’s other son Jonny on the series – previously shared his own tribute to the late actor, addressing Ritter’s wife and sons Frank and Noah in his Twitter post.