The Brilliance of Paul Ritter as Martin Goodman

Following the recent news of the death of Paul Ritter I felt compelled to put something down as it has saddened me and my family. This is by no means an obituary and will not do his acting career justice – but here are some words.

Of course we never knew him in person – but his portrayal of Martin Goodman in Friday Night Dinner made it feel like we did and we were just an extension of the Goodman family. Friday Night Dinner is one of our family ‘go to’ programmes when we are all together. If ever lost for something to put on when we have some increasingly rare evenings together, then this is the show. Settling down to watch the Goodmans never fails to summon a feeling of togetherness.

From the offset I fell in love with the characters and family dynamics, namely the relationship between Mum, Jackie and Dad, Martin – brilliantly played by Tamsin Greig and Paul Ritter. Very soon Martin became a family favourite character guaranteed to create the biggest laughs. His random and, at times, tactless comments, facial expressions and seemingly existence in his own world meld into creating one of the best characters in a sit-com/comedy ever, in my opinion. Every episode contains a Martin quip or two, mostly featuring mild swearing. I am sure that some of his trademark exclamations have become the norm in other families. Not that he has to say anything, just looking at him makes me laugh. A personal favourite of mine is the episode of Grandma’s wedding where all dressed up in his suit he mimics being a pimp and his hilarious quote “shitting arthropods!” will never leave me. 

More recently the brilliance of Paul’s acting ability has been evident to me when I watched the series Chernobyl. It was difficult to recognise him as the character (and content) couldn’t have been further from Martin G.

But Martin gave our little family unit so much – the warmth, humour and that almost cheeky sparkle in his eye. I think it surprised us how sad we could feel about the death of someone that we didn’t personally know – although it seemed like we did as the strength of the show itself makes you feel you have shared personal family time with them.

If you’ve never watched Friday Night Dinner, please do – if only to crack up or cringe by the comments or actions of Martin, so brilliantly played by Paul.

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