Ritter, who also notched up credits in Vera, Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince, Wolf Hall and James Bond film Quantum Of Solace, had been suffering from a brain tumour.
Actors paid tribute to the star, best known for his role as eccentric father Martin Goodman in Channel 4’s Friday Night Dinner.
Writer Robert Popper, who created the much-loved sitcom, said he was “devastated”.
“Paul was a lovely, wonderful human being. Kind, funny, super caring and the greatest actor I ever worked with,” Popper wrote on Twitter.
Paul Ritter. What an actor. What a presence. So shocked and saddened by this awful news. RIP.
— Mark Gatiss 💙 (@Markgatiss) April 6, 2021
Vera star Brenda Blethyn wrote that Ritter was “the very finest of actors and a gentleman”.
“He will be so sorely missed and I send my heartfelt condolences to his family and friends. What very sad news,” she tweeted.
Trying to find a way to talk about Paul Ritter and struggling. My friend since we were students together. So much talent and it shone from him even as a teenager. I was so lucky to know him and lucky too to work with him many times over the years. Wonderful man. RIP.
— Stephen Mangan (@StephenMangan) April 6, 2021
Actor Stephen Mangan said he was “trying to find a way to talk about Paul Ritter and struggling.
“My friend since we were students together”.
“So much talent and it shone from him even as a teenager,” Mangan tweeted.
“I was so lucky to know him and lucky too to work with him many times over the years. Wonderful man. RIP.”
Actor Rob Delaney wrote of Ritter’s performance as Anatoly Dyatlov.
“Knocked it out of the PARK in Chernobyl,” he tweeted.
“Watching it I consciously thought, ‘Oh, we have a new movie star.’
“Between that & how funny he was in Friday Night Dinner… just unreal talent.”
Knocked it out of the PARK in Chernobyl. Watching it I consciously thought, “Oh, we have a new movie star.” Between that & how funny he was in Friday Night Dinner… just unreal talent. Rest in peace, Paul Ritter. pic.twitter.com/nw8HnRZxRd
— Rob Delaney (@robdelaney) April 6, 2021
Mark Gatiss wrote of Ritter: “What an actor. What a presence. So shocked and saddened by this awful news.”
Fellow actor Russell Tovey said Ritter was “one of the nicest and best actors you’ll ever meet.
“I had the absolute pleasure of a first play at 19 with him, he called me a ‘Plonker’ when I left him hanging on stage once at a missed entrance cue – I’ve never forgotten it and never did it again – RIP mate x”
Paul Ritter, one of the nicest and best actors you’ll ever meet, I had the absolute pleasure of a first play at 19 with him, he called me a “Plonker” when I left him hanging on stage once at a missed entrance cue – I’ve never forgotten it and never did it again – RIP mate x
— Russell Tovey (@russelltovey) April 6, 2021
“Just out of drama school I saw a production of 3 Sisters. A young actor playing Tuzenbach, did the monologue before the duel. I’d heard it every week at DS (drama school).
“But when he did it, I forgot I’d heard it before. He went on to be one of our greatest actors.”
Bridgerton actress Nicola Coughlan wrote: “So, so sad to hear this. I was such a fan of Paul Ritter he was absolutely magic.”
We are so saddened to hear of the loss of one of our favourite actors Paul Ritter. Our thoughts are with his family, friends and colleagues. pic.twitter.com/M2c3imSdRf
— Channel 4 (@Channel4) April 6, 2021
A statement from Ritter’s agent said the actor died peacefully at home with his wife Polly and sons Frank and Noah by his side.
“Paul was an exceptionally talented actor playing an enormous variety of roles on stage and screen with extraordinary skill,” the statement said.
“He was fiercely intelligent, kind and very funny. We will miss him greatly.”