Dinner for One
Dinner for One, also known as The 90th Birthday,
or by its corresponding German alternative title, Der 90. Geburtstag,
is a two-hander comedy sketch written by British author Lauri Wylie for the theatre in the 1920s.
German television station Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR) recorded a performance of the piece in 1963,
in its original English language, with a short introduction in German.
The sketch presents the 90th birthday of elderly upper-class Englishwoman Miss Sophie,
who hosts a celebration dinner every year for her friends:
and Admiral von Schneider.
The problem is that due to Miss Sophie's considerable age,
she has outlived all of her friends,
and so her equally aged manservant James makes his way around the table,
impersonating each of the guests in turn.
Miss Sophie decides on appropriate drinks to accompany the menu:
Mulligatawny soup (Miss Sophie orders dry sherry),
North Sea haddock (with white wine), chicken (with champagne),
and fruit for dessert (with port)
served by James.
The crucial exchange during every course is:
"The same procedure as last year, Miss Sophie?"
- Miss Sophie:
"The same procedure as every year, James!"
Diner for One with Freddie Frinton and May Ward
Since the 1960's, this sketch has become a tradition in Germany,
where up to half the population may watch it every year on New Year's Eve,
but it is relatively unknown in Britain
and has never been seen on television in Canada or the United States.
It is also shown on New Year's Eve in many other mainland European countries,
particularly Nordic countries, and also screens on SBS in Australia
This comedy sketch went on to become the most frequently repeated TV programme ever
(according to the Guinness Book of Records, 1988-1995 eds.)
On New Year's Eve 2003 alone,
the sketch was broadcast 19 times (on various channels).
As of 2005, the sketch has been repeated more than 230 times.
So, as we leave this year with laughter...