Dinner For One: A New Year’s Eve Tradition – Review
Throughout the world, there are many different New Year’s Eve traditions, including parties, fireworks, and singing of Auld Lang Syne. One of the more curious traditions, however, is found in Germany, Austria, and other parts of Europe where a large part of the population watches an 18-minute black-and-white television skit as part of the festivities.
Although the piece is entirely in English, this tradition started out on German television. In 1963, the skit was recorded in a single take by the Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR). However, it didn’t achieve cult-like status until it was used as a filler on New Year’s Eve, or Silvester, in 1972.
The story revolves around Miss Sophie (as portrayed by Mary Warden), an upper-class Englishwoman who is celebrating her 90th birthday. Miss Sophie hosts an anniversary celebration with the help of her butler James (actor Freddie Frinton), every year for her friends Mr. Pommeroy, Mr. Winterbottom, Sir Toby, and Admiral von Schneider. As the narrator puts it, there is one small difficulty: she has outlived her four friends, having buried the last one 25 years earlier. However, whether Miss Sophie chooses to believe this or not is, as they say, another story.
As he has done for many years, James stands in for Miss Sophie’s four departed friends, which requires him to consume four drinks for every toast throughout the evening.
Two lines of dialog are frequently repeated by James and Miss Sophie that make this humorous skit what it is today, namely James’ frequent question: “The same procedure as last year?” to which Miss Sophie answers, “The same procedure as every year, James.” People around the world have memorized these and other lines, and as New Year’s Eve comes closer, people not only recite them but host dinner parties serving the same menu that’s called in the script.
Dinner for One even holds the Guinness World Record for the most frequently repeated television program ever.
This is now the fifth year that we have written about Dinner For One, following the same procedure just as Miss Sophie and James have. From everyone here at Frequent Business Traveler and Accura Media Group, Happy New Year and Prosit Neujahr!
DINNER FOR ONE
(Photo: Accura Media Group)