Felixstowe author mourns Friday Night Dinner star Paul Ritter

Felixstowe author Iain Maitland who had been working with Paul Ritter on a new TV series prior to his death.

Felixstowe author Iain Maitland who had been working with Paul Ritter on a new TV series prior to his death. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Felixstowe author Iain Maitland is mourning the loss of friend and actor Paul Ritter who died yesterday after a long illness.

The pair were working together adapting Mr Maitland’s novel ‘Mr Todd's Reckoning’ for TV when Mr Ritter fell ill.

Mr Ritter fell in love with Iain Maitland’s atmospheric thrillers, and was working with TV production company AbbottVision, the producers of Cracker and Channel Four’s cult black comedy Shameless, to turn Iain’s Suffolk-based, mystery into a Killing Eve/Bodyguard style mini-series.

Paul Ritter, star of Friday Night Dinner and Chernobyl who died yesterday following a long illness.

Paul Ritter, star of Friday Night Dinner and Chernobyl who died yesterday following a long illness. He was working with Felixstowe author Iain Maitland on a new TV series - Credit: PA

Iain said that he was devastated by the news of his friend’s death and would miss their regular long lunches. “We’d meet at The Hospital Club in Covent Garden every month or so and work on a script – at least, we’d have lunch and then work on a script for about an hour and then spend two or three hours chatting about our lives.

“He was very much a family man and was devoted to his wife Polly and two sons Frank and Noah. He was due to come to one of my book launches but he didn’t because his youngest son had an A Level exam the next day and he wanted to be with him the night before to support him.

“He was very modest about his achievements in theatre and on TV and film although he described Mr Todd’s Reckoning as his passion project and hoped it would be a major success. I think he’d have been much happier to be remembered as a devoted family man very proud of his wife and sons.“       

Iain said that he didn’t know what would happen to the series now. “Quite frankly I wouldn’t be happy taking the series forward without Paul. His family would need to approve anything I did with it and it’s much too early to be talking about it.”

Iain said that he first made contact with Paul when he sent him a stage adaptation of his book Dear Michael. 

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“His response was ‘I’ve spent more than 20 years doing stage plays and I don’t want to learn 90 minutes of dialogue for a one-man show!’ “But,” he added. “It would make a wonderful TV drama.”

“He was incredibly kind and encouraging. At one meeting, I showed him a copy of my book, Mr Todd’s Reckoning and gave it to him to read on the train home.

“I got a text at midnight a day or two later telling me he wanted to bring it to TV with AbbottVision.” 

Iain said that he was aware that Paul had been ill for some time but everyone hoped that he would pull through. “He was such a kind, intelligent man. He was also very funny and did a mean Old Man Steptoe impression. We remember him from his roles in Chernobyl and Friday Night Dinner but for Paul, family was everything – that was all that mattered.”
 

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