Dinner For One – Same Procedure as Every Year

By Jeremy Del Nero on 24 December 2013
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DinnerForOne3When I first heard about Dinner For One, I immediately thought of an unfortunate dining experience, one that involves eating dinner without company.  Instead, Dinner For One is actually a comedy sketch that has gained something of a cult following in many parts of Europe, particularly Germany, Austria, and Scandinavia, despite that, except for a brief introduction, the video is entirely in English.  It is typically introduced, watched, and watched again on New Years Eve.

Recorded in a single take in 1963, the 18-minute skit was produced and aired by Norddeutscher Rundfunk, a Hamburg-based public radio and television broadcaster.  The sketch features just two actors, Freddie Frinton and May Warden, although six characters appear throughout the video.

As the story develops, Miss Sophie, an upper-class English woman, and her butler, James, invite Miss Sophie’s four closest friends for her 90th birthday dinner.  Whether or not she chooses to believe it, or is even aware of it, Miss Sophie appears to have outlived all of her friends, and, as the name of the video suggests, she dines alone.  However, rather than acknowledge this detail, James not only serves all of the food and drinks for the evening, but also fills the shoes of the four invisible guests.

As a result, James consumes no small number of drinks throughout the course of the dinner, with the all too predictable consequences.  Each course is accompanied by a toast, and each toast equates to four drinks for the hapless butler.

Among the many comical elements, the most memorable line is James’ repeated enquiry: “the same procedure as last year?” to which Miss Sophie replies, “the same procedure as every year, James.”

This being the fourth year we’ve run our Dinner For One piece, we’re staying in line with Miss Sophie and James, practicing the same procedure every year.  From everybody at Frequent Business Traveler and Accura Media Group to all corners of the globe: happy new year!

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