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Friday Night Dinner's Simon Bird says on-screen dad Paul Ritter was 'best in business'

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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
 2021-04-08
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Friday Night Dinner's Simon Bird has broken his silence to pay tribute to the late Paul Ritter, who died this week after his battle with a brain tumour.

Paul had played on-screen dad Martin to Simon's Adam since 2011, and the pair were due to reunite for a 10th anniversary Friday Night Dinner documentary special later this year.

After the tragic news of Paul's death, Inbetweeners actor Simon asked his co-star Tom Rosenthal (Jonny in the show) to send a message to fans.

Sharing Simon's statement, Tom tweeted on Thursday morning: "Simon's not on Twitter but wanted to get a message out about Paul so here it is:

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Paul Ritter with Tom Rosenthal, Simon Bird and Tamsin Greig on Channel 4 comedy Friday Night Dinner (Image: This picture may be used solely for Channel 4 programme publicity purposes in connection with the current broadcast of the progr)

"Not even going to touch the acting. That goes without saying. He was the best in the business.

"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).

"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," Simon went on.

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The cast were due to reunite for a Friday Night Dinner special to celebrate the show's 10th anniversary (Image: Dave J Hogan/Getty Images)
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Paul's on-screen son Simon Bird said he was "unfailingly generous" and "hilariously indiscreet"

"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," he added.

Paul's other co-stars have been sending their tributes too, with Tamsin Greig - who played his screen wife Jackie - hailing the 55-year-old as "courageous" in the face of his cancer battle.

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Tamsin hailed Paul as "courageous" and revealed they met up just weeks before his death (Image: Channel 4)

Weeks before he died, the pair reunited to collaborate for BBC Radio 4 Meet Me at the Museum.

She wrote in The Guardian : "It took enormous courage and effort for him to record the drama remotely from his home when he was so ill, and I am honoured that he so willingly agreed to do it. It is a fine legacy and tribute to his artistry, and a gift of time and experience that I will treasure."

On a sad note, she said the world was a "less brilliant place" without her friend in it.

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Fans have been devastated by Paul's loss (Image: Channel 4)

She added: "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."

Paul died at home on Monday night surrounded by his wife Polly and sons Frank and Noah.

He had kept his health battle private, only confiding in family and close friends.

In a statement confirming the sad news, his agent said: "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."

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