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08th Apr 2021

Friday Night Dinner’s Simon Bird pays emotional tribute to ‘fake dad’ Paul Ritter

Danny Jones

We were hit with the news that everyone’s favourite ‘fake dad’, Paul Ritter, passed away yesterday. Now, Simon Bird, has paid a touching tribute as his fake son

Friday Night Dinner simply wouldn’t have been anywhere near the phenomenon it was without Paul Ritter as Martin Goodman. While it was an ensemble cast of equals – perhaps leaning towards the two sons in terms of air time – if there was ever a ‘main character’ who embodied the very heart of the show, it was him.

After both Robert Popper (the show’s creator) and Tom Rosenthal, who played the Jonny, paid their respects on social media yesterday, the latter has now shared a statement on behalf of Simon Bird – Ritter’s other on-screen son, Adam:

As Rosenthal explains, Bird – who most of you will know as Will from The Inbetweeners – doesn’t have Twitter but, understandably, wanted to pay his respects and share his memories of his 54-year-old “fake dad”. As you can see, whilst testimonies to his acting prowess have poured in over the last 24 hours, Bird quickly goes on to focus on the man himself.

What seems to be a throughline in all of the tributes paid by those that knew him well, is that he was immeasurable kind, humble and loving. As Tamsin Greig (who played his wife, Jackie) wrote in her Guardian tribute, “his quiet, loyal, compassionate friendship will stay with me forever” – it seems he left that impact on everyone.

As Bird goes on to confirm, his capacity for comedy, intelligence and compassion were all in equal measure, it would seem. It’s also reassuring to know that there was definitely some of the real Ritter in the character of Martin, as he describes him as “entirely capable of a hilariously indiscreet and filthy broadside when in the mood”.

He goes on to round out his fitting testament by saying that he “hope[s] his real bambinos know how much his fake bambinos loved and looked up to him”. Oof. Well said, ‘Puss-Face’.