The sketch presents the 90th birthday of elderly upper-class Englishwoman Miss Sophie, who hosts a celebration dinner every year for her friends Mr Pommeroy, Mr Winterbottom, Sir Toby, and Admiral von Schneider. (The plot has nothing to do with New Year's Eve. There is a "Happy new year" toast, but this is purely a reference to Miss Sophie's birthday.) 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, who finds himself raising (and emptying) his glass four times per course. That takes its toll, increasingly noticeable in James's growing difficulty in pouring the drinks, telling wine glasses from vases...Written by
It was when German TV personality Peter Frankenfeld and his producer Heinz Dunkhase visited The Winter Gardens in Blackpool, England, in 1963 that they saw the sketch and persuaded Frinton and Warden to come to Germany to perform it for their television program on NDR. See more »
After James burps, Miss Sophie takes hold of her chair's armrests probably in anticipation of James almost tipping her chair backwards. See more »
By the way... Same procedure as last year, Miss Sophie?
Same procedure as every year, James.
Well, I'll do my very best!
[They rush up the stairs to the bedroom]
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Several versions of this sketch were recorded/broadcast or released on DVD/video:
the original B&W version with an audience as produced by Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR) in 1963. 18 minutes
a changed B&W version where an english spelling error in the intro narration was digitally removed. Shown on German TV since the end of the 90s.
a changed B&W version without the audience sound. Shown by Danish TV who also omit the introductory narration, bringing the sketch to a 14 minutes runtime
a computer colorized version produced by the NDR in 1999. Due to massive protest from fans this version is almost never shown
an alternative B&W version as produced by Swiss TV. This version has no intro narration and misses some gags. This version can be recognized by the much simpler set decoration (no table cloth, smaller/simpler pictures on the walls, much smaller stairs). Released on DVD in Germany. 11 minutes.
Same procedure as last year - and it couldn't get any better than this!
"Dinner for One" looks at the story of Miss Sophie (played by May Warden) who is celebrating her 90th birthday. She has invited four of her friends to her party - Sir Toby, Admiral von Schneider, Mr Pommeroy and Mr Winterbottom - all of whom have died years ago. So her butler James (played by the great late Freddie Frinton) serves Miss Sophie her dinner while serving drinks to the "guests" (and also acting as those guests), all with hilarious results.
For me, it's always "the same procedure as last year" - turn on the TV and just reel back with laughter for the next 20 minutes. Even when I told a friend about the sketch (which he'd never heard of), he was laughing hard as well!
Even 20 minutes after it's finished, my face would still be aching from all the laughter. To be honest, it's THE ultimate comedy sketch of them all.
It's so funny, I'd rather rate it 11 out of 10.
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