New Years Eve on German Telly

I am away from Germany since 2007 and have no idea what’s on the telly there nowadays. But when I was young and up to when I left the country New Year’s Eve would not have been “proper” without this little play:

Dinner for One on Wikipedia

Dinner for One, also known as The 90th Birthday (GermanDer 90. Geburtstag), is a two-hander comedy sketch written by British author Lauri Wylie for the theatre. German television station Norddeutscher Rundfunk(NDR) recorded a performance of the piece in 1963, in its original English language, with a short introduction in German. It is a 18-minute single-take black-and-white recording featuring British comedians Freddie Frintonand May Warden. This comedy sketch went on to become the most frequently repeated TV programme ever.[1]

The program has become an integral component of the New Year’s Eve schedule of several German television stations. Versions of the sketch are also shown by Swedish channels at New Years Eve every year since 1976. Danish television has been broadcasting the sketch on New Year’s Eve since 1980. It is a December 23 staple on Norwegian national television, and a cult television classic in FinlandEstoniaLatviaLithuania, the Faroe Islands and Austria; on New Year’s Eve 2003 alone, the sketch was broadcast 19 times (on various channels). As of 2005, the sketch had been repeated more than 230 times. It is known in other countries as well, including SwitzerlandLuxembourg and South Africa. It has been broadcast on New Year’s Eve in Australia on the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) station nationally since 1989. Despite such widespread fame, the program remains virtually unknown in the UK.[2]

In 2003, the Danish TV producer Paul Anthony Sørensen directed and produced a documentary about the sketch that includes interviews with relatives of Freddie Frinton and May Warden. It was nominated for the Rose d’Or 2004….

The sketch has become a tradition in Germany, where up to half the population may watch it every year on New Year’s Eve, but it is almost completely unknown in the United Kingdom and has never been broadcast on television in Canada. In the United States, HBO broadcast it as a short when they first went on air in the 1970s, but it has not been shown since the 1980s. It is also shown on New Year’s Eve in many other mainland European countries, particularly Nordic countries, and has also screened on the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) station in Australia. In Norway, however, it is shown every year on the evening of 23 December. In South Africa it is also broadcast on New Year’s Eve. In Sweden, the show was put on hold for a period of six years, deemed unsuitable because of James’ heavy drinking. However, the TV network finally capitulated to popular demand and brought it back.[4] In 1985, the Danish television network, DR, decided not to broadcast the sketch.[5][6] However, the network received so many complaints that they had to show it the next New Year’s Eve. With this single exception, Dinner for One has been shown on DR every 31 December since 1980.

Although the sketch is most popular in non-English-speaking countries, it is typically shown in the original English without dubbing or subtitles. It is easy to understand with even a basic knowledge of English due to the general physical nature of the comedy.[7] The performance remains practically unknown to the English-speaking world,[8] and British people are surprised when encountering fans’ ability to quote dialogue.[9] Via Facebook‘s posted and shared links and the sketch’s availability on YouTube, the English version in black and white has become increasingly popular in the United States…..

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