Paul Ritter Biography


Birthday: December 20, 1966 (Sagittarius)

Born In: Kent, England

Paul Ritter was an English actor best known for playing the roles of the eccentric patriarch Martin Goodman in the Channel 4 comedy series Friday Night Dinner (2011-2020) and the ill-fated deputy chief engineer – Anatoly Dyatlov – of the nuclear factory in HBO-Sky historical drama miniseries Chernobyl (2019). The versatile actor is also known for playing the long-haired wizard Eldred Worple in the sixth of Harry Potter film series, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and a sly political operative Guy Haines in the James Bond movie Quantum of Solace. Ritter was also a well-known face in the British theatre and had worked in numerous productions including Troilus and Cressida, The Audience and Art. His work in Royal National Theatre’s production of Coram Boy earned him the Oliver Awards nomination while his work in the Old Vic's company’s Broadway revival of The Norman Conquests trilogy brought him a Tony Award nomination. His other significant works include television series Vera and No Offence as well as miniseries Great Expectations and The Hollow Crown.

Quick Facts

British Celebrities Born In December

Also Known As: Simon Paul Adams

Died At Age: 54


Spouse/Ex-: Polly Radcliffe

father: Ken Adams

mother: Joan (née Mooney)

children: Frank, Noah

Born Country: England

Actors British Men

Died on: April 5, 2021

place of death: Faversham, Kent, England

Cause of Death: Brain Tumor

City: Kent, England

More Facts

education: St John's College, Cambridge

awards: 2009 · The Norman Conquests: Table Manners; The Norman Conquests: Living Together; The Norman Conquests: Round and Round the Garden - Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Ensemble Performance
2009 · The Norman Conquests: Table Manners; The Norman Conquests: Living Together; The Norman Conquests: Round and Round the Garden - New York Drama Critics' Circle Special Citation
2009 · The Norman Conquests: Table Manners; The Norman Conquests: Living Together; The Norman Conquests: Round and Round the Garden - Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Ensemble Performance


Paul Ritter started his career with small roles on stage and television. Amongst his notable early-stage work was Snoo Wilson's play Darwin's Flood (1994). He soon started working with the Royal Shakespeare Company and Royal National Theatre. For the former, he worked in numerous classical plays like Troilus and Cressida and The White Devil (both 1996). For the latter, he worked in All My Sons (2000), The Coast of Utopia (2002), Coram Boy (2005-2006), The Royal Hunt of the Sun (2006) and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time (2012). For his work in Coram Boy, he won a nomination at the Olivier Award. He won a Tony award nomination for playing a laid-back real estate agent, Reg, in the Old Vic's company’s 2009 Broadway revival of Alan Ayckbourn's The Norman Conquests trilogy. In 2013, he portrayed the former UK Prime Minister, John Major in the royal drama The Audience on the West End stage. His last work on stage was the 2016 Old Vic revival of Art.

His screen career started in 1992 with television series The Bill. His first regular television role, though, came fifteen years later in 2007 with comedy series City Lights wherein he played gangster Scott Sweeny. Thereafter, he appeared in a host of other television series playing different characters. He was a farm hand in Land Girls (2011), an irreverent forensic pathologist in the crime drama Vera (2011-2013), yet again a forensic expert in the police series No Offence (2015-2018), a Swiss company’s CEO in the comedy Hang Ups (2018) and the eccentric father of a London Jewish family in the comedy family sitcom Friday Night Dinner (2011-2020). As Martin Goodman in the last series, Paul Ritter gave an impressive performance and earned a lot of fame.

His television credits also include miniseries and television movies. In 2011, he portrayed the role of legal clerk Wemmick in the miniseries Great Expectations and the following year played the role of Pistol in another miniseries The Hollow Crown. In 2014, he played a sinister intelligence officer Bobby Waterhouse in the six-part cold war spy series The Game. In 2019, he played Dublin Castle’s chief of intelligence in the Irish War of independence drama miniseries Resistance. The same year he played the ill-fated nuclear plant engineer Anatoly Dyatlov in the Golden Globe and Emmy-winning HBO-Sky history drama miniseries Chernobyl. In 2020, he appeared in another historical drama limited series Belgravia where he played Turton.

His significant work in television movies came in 2014 and 2015 when he portrayed two real life personalities in Tommy Cooper: Not Like That, Like This and We're Doomed! The Dad's Army Story. In the former, he played comic actor Eric Sykes while in the latter, he portrayed comedian/scriptwriter Jimmy Perry.

His feature film career began in 1999 with a supporting role in Greenwich Meantime. Thereafter he worked in numerous film projects, notable amongst which are the spy film Quantum of Solace (2008) and the fantasy film Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009). In the former, a James Bond movie, he essayed the role of a devious political operative Guy Haines while in the latter, he played the wizard Eldred Worple. His other notable films include Nowhere Boy (2009), Son of Rambow (2007), The Eagle (2011) and The Limehouse Golem (2016).

Ritter also appeared in other stage, television and film projects during his career. His final appearance will be in the war drama film Operation Mincemeat.

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Family & Personal Life

Paul Ritter was born on 20 December 1966 in Gravesend, Kent, England as Simon Paul Adams. He was the youngest child of his parents Kenneth and Joan Adams and has four older sisters. His father worked as fitter and turner in power stations while his mother was employed as a school secretary.

He developed an interest in acting from a very young age and obtained an A Level in Theatre Studies from Gravesend Grammar School. Thereafter, he pursued studies in Modern and Medieval Languages at St John's College, Cambridge. He next spent a year at the German National Theatre, Hamburg. Upon returning, he took up the new name – Paul Ritter.

In 1996, he wedded Polly Radcliffe, a research fellow at King's College London. The couple have two sons together – Frank and Noah.

On April 5, 2021, at the age of 54, he passed away after battling with brain tumor.

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