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Culture

Dinner for One or the 90th Birthday

A German New Year's Eve just doesn't seem right without hearing the lines: "Same procedure as last year, Madam? - Same procedure as every year, James."

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... huuuh, I'll kill that cat!

It is a British TV sketch called Dinner for One. But no-body in the English-speaking world has ever heard of it.

The dialogue is known to just about any living German although the programme is aired in the Queen’s English.

The British cabaret sketch from the 1920s has become a German New Year's tradition. Year after year German television broadcasts the classic, black-and-white English-language sketch "Dinner for One or the 90th Birthday".

And Germans know it's the beginning of a new year when they watch this annual event.

The sketch was filmed in 1963 in Hamburg. Strangely, it is unknown in the English-speaking world, including Britain, its birthplace.

The British actor Freddie Frinton played the tipsy butler James in the 1963 German TV production.

May Warden played the role of Miss Sophie, who is celebrating her 90th birthday. The only problem is... all of her party "guests" are imaginary friends who have died off. And Miss Sophie and her butler proceed to get quite sloshed.

James: Happy new year, Sophie gal ...

Miss Sophie: Mr. Winterbottom!

J ames: It's one of the nicest little women ...hick... one of the nicest little women, that's ever breathed, ever breathed... I now declare this bazaar opened! Would you like some fruit?

Miss Sophie: I think we'll have port with the fruit!

J ames: Oh, noo! S...ame procedure as last ...

Miss Sophie: Yes, same procedure as every year, James!

James: .....!!!...

Miss Sophie: Sir Toby! James: Sugar in the morning, sugar ...

Miss Sophie: Admiral von Schneider!

James: Ssskolll!

Miss Sophie: Mr. Pommeroy!

James: I'm sorry, madam, sorry.

Miss Sophie: Mr. Winterbottom!

James: ... huuuh, I'll kill that cat!

Miss Sophie: Well, James, it's been really a wonderful party!

James: Well, it's been mos... You're going to bed?

Miss Sophie: Yes.

James: Sit down, I'll give you a hand up, Madam.

Miss Sophie: As I was saying, I think, I'll retire ...

James: Ya... Ya. - By the way, the same procedure as last year, Miss Sophie?

Miss Sophie: The same procedure as every year, James!

James: Well - I'll do my very best!

So popular is the perennial "Dinner for One" that the German airline LTU shows the 15-minute sketch on all its flights between Dec. 28 and Jan. 2, just so passengers won't miss out on the annual tradition.