dinner for one

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German title The 90th birthday
Original title dinner for one
Country of production Germany
original language English
Publishing year 1963
length 18 minutes
Age rating FSK 0
Director Heinz Dunkhase
script Lauri Wylie
production Northern German Radio
camera Frank Banuscher

Dinner for One (also known under the title The 90th Birthday or the combination Dinner for One or The 90th Birthday ) is a television production by NDR from 1961 and was shown for the first time in the show Let yourself be entertained with Evelyn Künneke . In the program Guten Abend, Peter Frankenfeld ,also produced by NDR, the sketch ran on March 8, 1963. It is about an 18-minute sketch by the English comedian Freddie Frinton with his partner May Warden . Directed by Heinz Dunkhase , although Frinton was the actual creator of the production. The original author of the sketch is the Briton Lauri Wylie . Heinz Piper speaks the introduction in the German version.


At the beginning, Heinz Piper introduces the story as the conférencier : Miss Sophie (May Warden) is celebrating her 90th birthday. As every year, she invited her four closest friends to a birthday dinner: Sir Toby, Admiral von Schneider, Mr. Pommeroy and Mr. Winterbottom. However, they have all long passed away, which is why butler James (Freddie Frinton) has to take over their roles.

James must now not only his employer the menu - mulligatawny soup , haddock in the North Sea ( North Sea haddock ) , chicken ( chicken ) and fruit ( fruit ) - serve, but also the four imaginary men chosen Miss Sophie each beverage ( Sherry , white wine , champagne and port wine ), slip into their roles and serve a toast to the hostess, imitating the respective guest and drinking their glass. So he gets more and more drunk and loses his dignified demeanor - both in his facial expressions and in his movements. After all, he shows innumerable ways of pouring and accidentally drinks (after fifteen glasses of alcoholic drinks) from the flower vase, which he acknowledges with a grimace and the exclamation “Huuuhhh, I'll kill that cat!”.

There are several running gags in the piece :

  • James trips eleven times over the head of a laid tiger skin ; as an additional punch line he walks past it to his own astonishment, but then stumbles on the way back, once he steps gracefully over it and finally, already very tipsy, he jumps over in the final jump.
  • Sir Toby would like to have added a little of each drink, and James complies with the request politely at first and then increasingly sarcastically.
  • Miss Sophie expects James, as Admiral von Schneider, to shut his heels with the exclamation “Skål!” (Swedish for “Prost!”). Because he hurts his ankle painfully, he asks every time whether he really has to (James: "Do I have to say it this year, Miss Sophie?" - Miss Sophie: "For my sake, James" - James: "Only For your sake. Very well, yes, yes. Skål! ”). This gag is broken as an additional punchline when the already drunk James' feet miss each other, causing him to stumble.
  • Before each course, and increasingly babbling, James asks: “ The same procedure as last year, Miss Sophie? ”(German:“ The same process as last year, Miss Sophie? ”); she always replies: “ The same procedure as every year, James. ”(German:“ The same process as every year, James. ”) This dialogue occurs five times.

Finally, Miss Sophie ends the evening with a look and an inviting “ I think I'll retire ” (German: “I think I will retire”), what James after the obligatory “The same procedure as last year?” - “ The same procedure as every year " with a wink and a nonchalant" Well, I'll do my very best "(German:" Good , I'll do my best "), and then retreat to the upper room with her.

Special statements

  • Sir Toby replies once with "Sugar in the morning!". It is the song of the McGuire Sisters - Sugartime (1958): "Sugar in the morning, sugar in th evening, sugar in the suppertime ..."
  • Mr. Winterbottom answers when he accidentally grabs the flower vase: "Huuuhhh, I'll kill that cat!" This refers to the language of the soldiers . Bad booze was often referred to as cat pee. The expression means it tastes bad, but put it down.


The author of the sketch is Lauri Wylie , who is said to have written it in the 1920s. According to some sources, Freddie Frinton performed the Dinner for One in the English variety theater Winter Gardens as early as 1945 and paid the corresponding fees to Wylie. In 1950/1951 he bought all rights from Wylie. The play was officially premiered in 1948 at the Duke of Yorks Theater in London .

Frinton had great success with this sketch in Great Britain and toured the country with various partners. He changed punch lines and plot over the years. So built Frinton the rug later in the piece of a tiger skin with the head as a stumbling block on the path of Butlers between sideboard and festive table. Because Frinton's shoe struck the tiger's head several hundred times, the fur scraped off to the bone. Frinton made do with the fact that he had the damaged area repaired with parts of a leopard skin .

The sketch ran for the first time on German television on December 9, 1961 in the live program Let yourself be entertained, which was moderated by the singer Evelyn Künneke . There is no record of this broadcast.

In 1962, Dinner for One was rediscovered for television by Peter Frankenfeld and the director Heinz Dunkhase in Blackpool , England , a stronghold of vaudeville theater. On March 8, 1963, the sketch was shown in the live broadcast Guten Abend, Peter Frankenfeld , moderated by Frankenfeld, and repeated and recorded on July 8, 1963 in the Theater am Besenbinderhof in Hamburg. Freddie Frinton actually didn't want to perform in Germany. He had been a troop supervisor in World War II and did not have a high opinion of Germany, so he refused to perform the sketch in German.

The sketch wasn't originally planned as a New Year's Eve entertainment. After it had been broadcast a few times as a pause filler on ARD and NDR , the program got its permanent slot nine years after it was first broadcast. On December 31, 1972, NDR entertainment director Henri Regnier took the tape out of the archive. Since then, Dinner for One has been broadcast at the turn of the year. The saying “Happy new year, Miss Sophie” (James as Mr. Pommeroy) could have contributed to the election as New Year's Eve .

Dinner for One is sometimes referred to as one of the first magnetic recordings (MAZ) on German television. However, this option existed for ARD as early as December 1958. Dinner for One is one of the few programs that is shown unsynchronized in English on German television; However, there is a German-language version for the visually impaired. The introduction was spoken by Heinz Piper; Charmaine can be heardas the opening melody in a recording by the Victor Silvester orchestra. According to the NDR, Frinton and Warden received DM 4,150 for this performance. Frank A. Banuscher was the cameraman for NDR. Since the credits had to be kept short because of the subsequent news, his name does not appear there.


In Germany , the sketch has become an integral part of the New Year's Eve television program for all third ARD programs . The show is the most frequently repeated on German television and was listed in the Guinness Book of Records in 1988 as "the world's most frequently repeated television production". In 2003 the sketch was broadcast 19 times in Germany, from 1963 to the end of 2003 a total of 231 times. The show has cult status and is an integral part of the New Year's Eve day in many households. For example, in the record year 2004, a total of 15.6 million Germans saw the sketch. It has been broadcast on Swiss television since 1989 on the last day of the year. The Swiss version of the classic runs every hour on New Year's Eve on the local Bern broadcaster TeleBärn . The show is also relatively popular there, with a 47 percent audience share in 1997. The Austrian ORF also broadcasts the program as annual accounts.

In Norway, the sketch is broadcast on December 23rd each year. In Denmark it has been shown on television every year since 1980 on December 31st (excluding the introduction) (with the exception of 1985). In other countries such as Finland , Sweden , the Faroe Islands , South Africa , Greenland , Estonia , Australia and Luxembourg , Dinner for One is an annual cult event. In Sweden, the recording was initially not released for broadcast for six years until 1969. It was considered unsuitable because James drinks too much alcohol in the sketch .

In the country of origin, Great Britain, Dinner for One was only broadcast sporadically and is largely unknown. In 2007, journalists from the Daily Telegraph watched the sketch and recommended that it be broadcast on British television, "as the typically British humor deserves the benevolent consideration of the British". The sketch is already popular with the British as an Internet video, and in the summer of 2006 an amateur variety company staged the sketch in front of an audience in the port city of Portsmouth . The film premiered publicly on November 23, 2018 at the Scottish Comedy Film Festival in Campbeltown . It was shown for the first time on British television on Sky Arts on December 31, 2018 .


Modifications of the German version

The dialogue in Dinner for One is - with the exception of the introduction by Heinz Piper - entirely in English, but is also understandable for viewers who do not speak English .

In 1968, a color recording of the sketch was planned, which was no longer realized due to Frinton's sudden death.

The sketch was also part of the New Year's Eve program in the GDR. From 1978, however, the classic with Frinton and Warden was not broadcast there, but an early version with the actors Ernest E. Regon and June Royal under the title memorial meal , which had already been played 20 years earlier on the Munich vaudeville stage Annast . From New Year's Eve 1988, almost a year before the fall of the Berlin Wall, GDR television also showed the familiar version.

In 1999, the recording was colored by computer and broadcast for the first time at the turn of 1999/2000. It was not very popular. There were public protests in some countries. Since then, the black and white version has generally been shown again. The NDR television , this version also in his library available.

In 1998 an audio film for the blind was also broadcast.

Other language versions and modifications

Version of Swiss television

In March 1963, Swiss television shot its own version of the sketch in the Bellerive studio in Zurich , also with Freddie Frinton and May Warden. This studio recording was directed by Franco Marazzi. The film was broadcast that year. The next broadcast took place in November 1982.

The Swiss edition differs in many details from the ARD version recorded a few months later:

  • It lasts 11 minutes instead of 18, also because there is no explanatory German-language introduction.
  • A camera is located on the left of the stage, so some settings offer a different perspective.
  • The white tablecloth and candlesticks are missing; the setting is less dignified overall.
  • Miss Sophie appears without James striking the gong.
  • After the first stumble over the tiger's head, the butler bends down in the German version and smooths the fur again. This crossing out is missing in the Swiss version.
  • The butler's question “Must I?” and Miss Sophie's corresponding answer is missing.
  • Some more gags and details, like "Is that a dry sherry?" , absence.
  • The obvious mishap in the German version is missing: Sir Toby's cup falls over when James pours it too hard on his last lap.

In particular, the lack of tablecloths, candlesticks and the chime of the gong is perceived by critics as loveless and lacking in style. Missing gags, on the other hand, are more to be attributed to Frinton's ingenuity, who constantly varied the sketch.

In addition to the television productions, there are also various theater variants in different dialects, including a puppet theater.


  • When recording the sketch, the speaker of the German introduction, Heinz Piper, made a grammatical error: He quoted James' question as: "same procedure than last year?" and Sophie's answer as: "same procedure than every year!" The repeated broadcast of this grammatical error repeatedly led to protests from English teachers and other language experts, so that the NDR replaced this part of the soundtrack with an excerpt from a test recording. Since 1988 the introduction has been grammatically correct: “The same procedure as last year?” - "The same procedure as every year!" . The error can still be recognized by the lip movement.
  • An instrumental version of the song Charmaine can be heard during the introduction and at the end of the sketch .
  • After every punch line, there is a resounding laugh from the off , as is common with sitcoms . Originally, the NDR planned to record the sketch without an audience. Frinton insisted, however, and so people had to be brought into the studio as an audience at short notice. So Sonja Göth, a former NDR employee and wife of the head illuminator Viktor Göth, came into the audience and was particularly noticeable because of her loud and persistent laugh.
  • Actually, the NDR had planned a polar bear skin - but Freddie Frinton insisted on the tiger he had brought with him . Today this fur is with Steven Frinton, a son of Freddie.
  • In the German television series Percy Stuart , broadcast from 1969, there are references to Dinner for One : Members of the Excentric Club bear names from the sketch, Mr. Pommeroy and Mr. Winterbottom, Admiral von Schneider became Colonel Snyder, only Sir Toby is not picked up.
  • The second starter: North Sea haddock (North Sea haddock ), should be a tribute to Freddie Frinton's native town of Grimsby on the English North Sea coast; it was still called " Home of the Haddock " when Frinton started working there in a fish factory at the age of 14.
  • In 2018, the German TV legends stamp series featured a stamp depicting a scene from the film.


  • Thomas Burmeister: Dinner for the rest of the world. In: Der Tagesspiegel. December 28, 2007.
  • Andreas M. Cramer: Dinner for One in Goth'sch. The almost true story of the dinner. KreativWerkstatt, Gotha 2011.
  • Dinner for one. Freddie Frinton, Miss Sophie and the 90th birthday . Nautilus-Nemo Press, Hamburg 1985, ISBN 3-922513-26-3 .
  • Helmut Grömmer: Miss Sophie's lover: The whole truth about Dinner for One. Eichborn, Frankfurt am Main 1993, ISBN 3-8218-3309-2 .
  • Stefan Mayr: Dinner for One from A – Z. The lexicon for cult pleasure. Eichborn, Frankfurt am Main 2002, ISBN 3-8218-3610-5 .
  • Wiard Raveling: Dinner for One. A German phenomenon. In: Courage. MUT-Verlag, Asendorf 2000, 400, ISSN  0027-5093 , pp. 84-95.
  • Gernot Schulze: Look-up at Dinner for One. In: Ulrich Loewenheim (Hrsg.): Copyright in the information age . Beck, Munich 2004, ISBN 3-406-51683-1 .

Individual evidence

  1. Release certificate for Dinner for One . Voluntary self-regulation of the film industry (PDF). Template: FSK / maintenance / type set and Par. 1 longer than 4 characters
  2. ndr.de: The text for the sketch
  3. Peter Bekes: "Dinner for One" - a New Year's Eve ritual under the microscope ( Memento from October 1, 2008 in the Internet Archive ), media special in: Deutschunterricht , 6/2005, pp. 44–47 (PDF)
  4. Lauri Wylie. Internet Movie Database , accessed June 10, 2015 .
  5. a b John Hooper: British comedy lives on in German television, Millions will be tuning in tonight to watch a vintage sketch that is unknown in the country of its origin , In: The Guardian . December 31, 2002
  6. a b c quotenmeter.de "Dinner for One": The Same Procedure As Every Year , accessed on February 14, 2017.
  7. Julia Lührs and Elif Senel in curiosity is enough , WDR-5 radio broadcast from December 31, 2013.
  8. Gunda Bartels in the Tagesspiegel of December 29, 2012, "Dinner for Millions". P. 8.
  9. “Laughing until childbirth” on sueddeutsche.de, May 11, 2010.
  10. Beatrix Novy: “Same procedure as every year” , the sketch “Dinner for One” was shown for the first time 50 years ago on German television, contribution from March 8, 2013 in the series calendar sheet of Deutschlandfunk
  11. a b c “A piece of television history” ( Memento from January 5, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) on ndr.de
  12. a b Hamburger Abendblatt TV classic: Frank Banuscher was behind the camera at “Dinner for One” - Miss Sophie, James and the cameraman
  13. hr-online: History - When television still broadcasts black and white ... ( Memento from July 26, 2012 in the Internet Archive )
  14. a b spiegel.de of December 31, 2003: TV Classic - Why the BBC disdains “Dinner for One”
  15. www.the-main-event.de: Charmaine
  16. ^ "Cameraman of a cult piece" on welt.de
  17. ^ NDR.de: A piece of living television history , accessed on February 14, 2017.
  18. Fans from Norway to Australia report on the NDR website
  19. a b c 'Dinner for One' - A Sketch Well-known to all but the British , article from March 30, 2004 on bbc.co.uk (English)
  20. telegraph.co.uk
  21. Article on orf.at ( Memento from January 3, 2008 in the Internet Archive )
  22. SCOFF Slapstick Weekend - 23rd / 24th / 25th November. Festival program on Campbeltown Cinema website, October 7, 2018, accessed December 15, 2018
  23. Cult comedy Dinner for One to get UK premiere after 50 years. BBC , November 23, 2018, accessed December 15, 2018
  24. Beloved Freddie Frinton skit to air on UK TV for first time. The Guardian , December 15, 2018, accessed the same day. (English)
  25. einestag.spiegel.de: Dinner for Every-One
  26. einestages.spiegel.de
  27. ^ "Dinner for One" in color at spiegel.de, accessed on December 31, 2014.
  28. NDR: Dinner for One - The color version. Retrieved December 27, 2019 .
  29. Homepage Bodo Maria: Biography . Last accessed on August 24, 2018.
  30. Ash Wednesday for one ( Memento from January 11, 2010 in the Internet Archive )
  31. IMDb: 80 års fødselsdagen (“The eightieth birthday”) from Internet Movie Database , accessed on February 16, 2014.
  32. Stefan Mayr: Dinner for One from A to Z . Eichborn Verlag, Stuttgart 2013, ISBN 978-3-8479-0549-3 .
  33. ^ Döner for one .
  34. Dinner for Bread at programm.ard.de.
  35. hr-online.de: cult in Hessian "Dinner for One" with the Volkstheater Frankfurt ( memento from July 24, 2012 in the Internet Archive ).
  36. hr-online.de Dinner for One in North Hessian ( Memento from January 5, 2011 in the Internet Archive ).
  37. ^ "Dinner for One" now also as a Ruhr area version
  38. Dinner for one - up Platt
  39. bild.de Our greatest comedian plays Germany's favorite sketch Dinner for Otto  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. at bild.de, accessed on February 16, 2014.@1@ 2Template: Dead Link / www.bild.de  
  40. The same procedure, but different. Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger, December 31, 2013, accessed on December 31, 2013 .
  41. Stunksitzung: Döner for one , in: WDR program preview of December 31, 2017, accessed on December 31, 2017.
  42. Netflix invites you to "Dinner for One" , in: Spiegel Online from December 29, 2016, accessed on December 29, 2016.
  43. Dinner for Cohn on YouTube (unfortunately no longer available in the ZDF media library)
  44. schnittberichte.com : The 90th birthday or Dinner for One .
  45. ^ Every year again , Swiss family, December 2019.
  46. ^ Theater Linde ( Memento from January 18, 2008 in the Internet Archive ).
  47. weinhaus-voelker.de: Dinner For One - more than a visit to the theater ( Memento from January 17, 2010 in the Internet Archive ).
  48. kluengelbag.de The 2000th birthday - or: Last Supper for one .
  49. ^ Andreas M. Cramer: Dinner for One in Goth'sch. Gotha 2011, pp. 74f.
  50. Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung: Every New Year's Eve «the same procedure ...»
  51. Dinner for One: “Today I am rather embarrassed about my laugh” . In: FAZ.NET . ISSN  0174-4909 ( faz.net [accessed July 23, 2020]).
  52. ^ Postage stamp: Deutsche Post immortalizes "Dinner for One"

Web links