31 December 2009

The same procedure as last year?

Every year, Australia's SBS screens a famous 18 minute sketch called Dinner For One. In it, the late actor Freddie Frinton plays butler James who serves an elderly upper-class English woman called Miss Sophie who is celebrating her 90th birthday.

As her dinner guests are not actually there, James impersonates each one, toasting on behalf of each when it is their turn and getting more drunk with each toast.

The sketch was written in the 1920s and recorded in 1963 by a German television station NDR and has since become embedded in the New Year rituals of Germany, other European countries and Australia.

The following dialogue has also become part of the German vernacular.
James: The same procedure as last year, Miss Sophie?

Miss Sophie: The same procedure as every year, James!
- BBC (where oddly, it is not shown any more)
- The Guardian
- NDR (also with transcript of full dialogue)
- Daily Telegraph

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