Paul Ritter, 'Chernobyl' and 'Friday Night Dinner' Actor, Dies at Age 54

Paul Ritter, the prolific British actor known for his roles in Chernobyl, Friday Night Dinner, and Vera, has died at the age of 54.

Ritter's agent told the BBC that the actor passed away "peacefully" at home Monday night with his wife and two sons by his side, adding that he had been "suffering with a brain tumor."

"Paul was an exceptionally talented actor playing an enormous variety of roles on stage and screen with extraordinary skills," Ritter's agent continued. "He was fiercely intelligent, kind and very funny. We will miss him greatly."

From 2011 to 2020, Ritter starred as eccentric patriarch Martin Goodman in the popular British sitcom Friday Night Dinner. The long-running series, which co-starred Tamsin Greig, revolved around a weekly catch-up between a middle-aged Jewish couple from north London and their two grown-up sons.

In 2019, Ritter earned rave reviews for his performance as Anatoly Dyatlov, the deputy chief engineer at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, in the Emmy-winning HBO/Sky miniseries Chernobyl. Last year, he appeared as the butler Turton in Julian Fellowes' historical drama series Belgravia, which also co-starred Greig.

His many other TV credits included the police procedural series No Offence, comedy-drama series Cold Feet, and crime-drama series Vera, in which he played Dr. Billy Cartwright in the first three seasons. On the big screen, he had small roles in the 2008 Bond movie Quantum of Solace and 2009's Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, in which he played Eldred Worple.

In addition, he received Olivier and Tony award nominations for his stage work. Paying tribute to Ritter on Twitter, fellow actor Russell Tovey wrote: "Paul Ritter, one of the nicest and best actors you’ll ever meet, I had the absolute pleasure of a first play at 19 with him, he called me a 'Plonker' when I left him hanging on stage once at a missed entrance cue - I’ve never forgotten it and never did it again - RIP mate x."

Catastrophe's Rob Delaney also hailed Ritter's talent in a tweet, writing: "Knocked it out of the PARK in Chernobyl. Watching it I consciously thought, 'Oh, we have a new movie star.' Between that & how funny he was in Friday Night Dinner... just unreal talent. Rest in peace, Paul Ritter."

Rest in peace, Paul Ritter, and thank you for your service.