Viewers tuning in to the Friday Night Dinner ten-year anniversary special were left heartbroken watching as Paul Ritter made a posthumous appearance.
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Titled Friday Night Dinner: Ten Years and a Lovely Bit of Squirrel, the hour-long programme celebrated a decade of the iconic comedy and featured exclusive interviews with the cast, including Inbetweeners star Simon Bird, Tamsin Greig and, of course, the late great actor.
Many fans took to Twitter after the special aired to pay tribute to the actor.
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As one wrote: "Heartbreaking to think we'll never get to see the brilliance of Paul Ritter on our screens again. Honestly sat sobbing hearing him talking about how much he loved Friday Night Dinner."
Another echoed this, tweeting: "Paul Ritter was a master of his craft and will never be forgotten. Now don't mind me, off to cry into my pillow."
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Other viewers pointed out how unwell the actor, who is also known for his roles in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and Chernobyl, appeared in what was his last interview before his death.
"Very difficult to see Paul Ritter as he was in declining health during the #FridayNightDinner 10 year special. RIP, Paul," one said, while another noted: "He looks really unwell, but the fact that he wanted to take part in the anniversary episode just goes to show how dedicated he was to the show! #FridayNightDinner."
A third added: "Seeing Paul Ritter, and seeing what his illness did to him, is just heartbreaking."
Friday Night Dinner ran for six series between 2011 and 2020
Paul sadly passed away on 5 April 2021 at the age of 54 from a brain tumour. His agent released a statement to the press the next day that read: "It is with great sadness we can confirm that Paul Ritter passed away last night."
Paying tribute to him at the start of the episode, Tamsin, who played his on-screen wife in the long-running Channel 4 comedy, described Paul as "an incredible actor, a true friend and a lovely human being".
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She told audiences: "Sadly at the time of making the documentary, Paul was pretty unwell and to be honest – and don't tell the producers this – but I did try and persuade him not to do the interview."
"But it is testament to Paul's courage and generosity and dignity and complete lack of vanity that he wanted to participate in the documentary, to do an interview, and to really celebrate this little world that he's been a part of and that he's enjoyed so much over the years," she continued, adding: "I know that Paul would want us all to sit back and laugh and enjoy this celebration of the FND universe."
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