‘Dinner for One’ revisited

I mentioned ‘Dinner for One’ on New Year’s Day.

Now I have come across an article in the Spiegel Online of December 31st.

It reports that two Germans see the film as ‘banned’ in Britain.

One of them is ‘der Bremer Kulturwissenschaftler Rainer Stollmann’ – a person involved in studies of culture. Stollmann says that the real reason for the refusal to show the sketch is because Freddie Frinton played to lower-class audiences, presumably in places like Blackpool. Anyone who knows how many TV comedians come from that field must realize this is wrong. And if the BBC had anything against the sketch forty years ago, what about ITV?

The other self-appointed expert is Stefan Mayr of the Süddeutsche Zeitung, who has published a book called ‘Dinner for One von A – Z’ in the Eichborn Verlag. Mayr opines that the ‘stiff British’ don’t want to see aristocrats like Sir Toby portrayed as drunkards. In addition, Mayr thinks that Miss Sophie, who is inappropriately familiar to her servants, is similar to Queen Elizabeth II. He describes the piece as ‘ein knallhartes Antimonarchie-Stück’ (a hardcore anti-monarchy sketch).
Only a private TV station has shown ‘Dinner for One’, as part of a programme on ‘New Year customs in Europe’. But secretly, the ‘banned sketch’ is reaching British living rooms. Some copies have even been sent to BBC employees – but there has been no reply!

Really, I have often thought how good Spiegel Online is – so this must just be another case of international misunderstanding!

One thought on “‘Dinner for One’ revisited

  1. Margaret,
    I, too, saw this article. Bavarian radio also broadcast a piece about it on New Years’ Eve, I believe.
    I was unsure whether the Spiegel Online piece was a clumsy attempt at irony or indeed serious.
    The real reason for the failure of British television to take any notice of “Dinner for One” is that, to a native speaker audience, it is not all that funny. What is more, British humour has always been different (to be nice about it) from German humour. Modern British humour runs more to the mordant, black, and absurd than to slapstick. Compare “Ab Fab” to standard German sitcoms – quod erat demonstrantum.
    Anyway – the notion that the British are too “stiff” for humour at the expense of the royal family or the upper classes is too funny for words. Let me rubbish Mayr’s thesis with just a few titles:

    Spitting Image
    Harry Enfield
    The Royle Family
    To the Manor Born
    Double Take

    Please add any more you can think of…

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