Friday, 11 December 2009

“Same procedure as every year”

As it happens the rabbit has been doing an evening class in German. Last night was the last class of the term so there was a little party. Stollen was eaten, Stille Nacht was played from YouTube (if you all promise to be good, I will put up Stille Nacht at Christmas) and - here is where it starts to get weird - Dinner for One was played - also from YouTube - to general amusement.

Now Dinner for One - also known as The 90th Birthday - is pretty much unknown in the UK. I was one of only two people who had heard of it. But on continental Europe, it is massive. They think it is the funniest thing ever. Here is the backstory. Dinner for One is a 18 minute black and white 1963 TV recording featuring British the obscure British comedian Freddie Frinton and the even more obscure British comedian May Warden. The occasion is the 90th birthday of elderly upper class Englishwoman Miss Sophie, who hosts a dinner every year for her close friends Mr Pommeroy, Mr Winterbottom, Sir Toby, and Admiral von Schneider to celebrate the occasion. Of course she has outlived them all and the guest seats are empty. Her elderly manservant James makes his way round the table for each course impersonating them in turn. He also has to drink whatever is served with each course drinkwise four times - for each of the absent through being dead guests. Inevitably, he gets progressively more and more drunk. There is a running visual gag relating to the head of the tigerskin. I won't spoil it.

At every course there is the following exchange:

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

At the end of the dinner, Miss Sophie announces that she is off to bed.

James: By the way, the same procedure as last year, Miss Sophie?
Miss Sophie (delightedly): The same procedure as every year, James!
James: Well, I'll do my very best!

Best not to think about it...

So far, so what? Despite being almost unknown in the UK the sketch is absolutely massive in Germany in particular - where half the population may see the re-broadcast every year - but also in a number of mainly Nordic continental European countries. It is on every year if not more frequently , usually for the New Year but also for Christmas in some locations. “Same procedure as every year” is evidently a popular catchphrase in Germany.

How weird is that? I don't ever think I'd seen it all the way through before until last night. Yes, I'm afraid I do think it's funny. Oh dear. Here it is in Lego - as made inevitably enough by some Germans.


M said...

this clip is watched even at parties, people will interrupt their chatting and drinking and gather around the tv on new years eve. Tis tradition ;)
bit like watching the Queen's speech

same procedure as every year..

Petit fleur said...

Crazy man! That was pretty funny!

Although, you wouldn't see party-goers gathering round the telly to watch it all hushed at a party on side of the puddle. The only thing that could do that here is maybe Brittany Spears. sigh.

Good post.
xo pf

Verdant Earl said...

What an odd and wonderful backstory.

Mrs. Hall said...


i tell you this, if I make it to 90 and have a manservant, i will indeed have an imaginary dinner party and get serviced in the end ;)