Dinner for One/ Der neunzigste Geburtstag

(Following a reminder from Handakte WebLAWg): This is for those outside Germany who haven’t heard about ‘Dinner for One’.

Every year, on December 31st, millions of Germans, on several TV stations, watch a sketch called ‘Dinner for One’ by Freddie Frinton, who was a fairly well-known English comedian in the 1950s and 1960s and probably earlier. (May Walden is the stooge). The sketch is virtually unknown in Britain. There is a page of information with videos on the NDR site (a German TV station). The whole text in English can be found here. Here’s a Guardian article dated December, 2002.

bq. Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR), the Hamburg-based channel which first recorded and broadcast Dinner for One in 1963, will show it no less than five times during the course of the evening in various versions – in the Plattdeutsch dialect of northern German, the original black-and-white and a computer-generated colour version produced two years ago in Hollywood.

The article reports that Frinton actually had to pay for the rights to the sketch, which dates from the 1920s and whose authorship is unknown. The sketch has also been sold to other countries on the Continent, but it hasn’t been sold in the UK. I do think it’s odd to select one sketch as special. Apparently the German TV station ZDF sent someone to Blackpool in the early 1960s, and after two weeks spent watching stand-up comics, this sketch was selected as the cream of the cream. A few years later, Frinton went to Germany (not his favourite country, if I remember right) to record it in the studios.

LATER NOTE: Here’s adirect link to one of the three video versions on the NDR site (this is the full-length sketch).

8 thoughts on “Dinner for One/ Der neunzigste Geburtstag

  1. They also have it in Sweden, I am given to understand. I saw the end of it last year on one of the TV stations in a hotel in Tallinn. Very odd.

  2. Barbara: I’m sorry, I don’t know. It is available on VHS video, but that isn’t what you want (unless you have a videorecorder that can play multiple formats). I’ve also seen it on a cheap DVD, but that will also have been for Europe, not the USA. Perhaps you can find someone with a broadband connection who can show you the video(s) on the NDR site. I think you only need to see it once! (The scene of the butler going round the table is repeated many times).

  3. Margaret;

    I’m afraid your link won’t work as posted because the link is dependent on Javascript written with the NDR page you obtained it from. Try this instead.

  4. @Malcolm: I very much doubt it. All the versions are English – there may be one in Low German, but it’s unlikely you’d find that. In some of them, the sketch is introduced in German by a German, but what he says is not interesting for speakers of English.

    If you click on the ‘direct link’ above (it’s been corrected now), just wait for the German to stop speaking, or drag the button along to skip the beginning, and you will get the sketch in English.

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