King Charles draws laughs as he alludes to 1963 sketch Dinner for One
‘It is nice of you all not to have left me alone with a “Dinner for one!”‘ King Charles draws laughs in state visit speech as he alludes to 1963 British comedy sketch so popular in Germany they play it every New Year’s Eve
- Dinner for One was recorded for German TV after being performed in Britain
- Comedian Freddie Frinton performed it with actress May Warden at theatres
- READ MORE: Charles attends first State Banquet of his reign with Queen Consort
Since 1972, it has been a staple of New Year’s Eve viewing in Germany and is also hugely popular elsewhere on the Continent.
But in Britain, Dinner for One is virtually unheard of – despite the fact that it holds the Guinness World Record for the most repeated TV programme of all time.
Last night, King Charles delighted his esteemed audience in Germany as he referenced the sketch during a speech that kicked off his state visit to the country.
Speaking in German to guests who included the country’s president and former chancellor Angela Merkel, the King joked: ‘It is nice of you all not to have left me alone with a ‘Dinner for one!’
The show, which was originally recorded in 1963, centres on the 90th birthday of upper-class English woman Miss Sophie, portrayed by May Warden, as she is attended by her butler James.
The table is laid for four guests, but all have long since passed away, prompting James – played by comedian Freddie Frinton – to get more and more inebriated as he impersonates and drinks for them all.
The show, which is also known as The 90th Birthday (Der 90. Geburtstag in German), was originally written by British author Lauri Wylie for the theatre.
Frinton and Warden had been performing it in British seaside resorts as early as 1945.
German producer Peter Frankenfeld came across it while scouting for ideas in Blackpool.
He then invited Frinton and Warden to perform it on screen in front of a live TV audience in 1963.
In 1972 it was shown on German TV at 7.40pm on New Year’s Eve to fill a gap in scheduling. A tradition was born and it has been shown every year since then.
More adventurous viewers who watch the sketch, which is broadcast in English but has a short introduction in German, will try to keep up with James’ drinking.
Miss Sophie is alone because friends Sir Toby, Admiral von Schneider, Mr Pomeroy and Mr Winterbottom have died.
James consumes all their drinks over four courses – mulligatawny and sherry, North Sea haddock and white wine, chicken with champagne, and fruit and port – and repeatedly stumbles over a tiger head rug.
King Charles was speaking at the Schloss Bellevue former royal residence, which is now the home of president Frank-Walter Steinmeier
Since 1972, it has been a staple of New Year’s Eve viewing in Germany and is hugely popular elsewhere on the Continent. But in Britain, Dinner for One is virtually unheard of – despite the fact that it holds the Guinness World Record for the most repeated TV programme of all time
The show, which was originally recorded in 1962, centres on the 90th birthday of upper-class English woman Miss Sophie as she is attended by her butler James
The table is laid for four guests, but all have long since passed away, prompting James – played by comedian Freddie Frinton – to get more and more inebriated as he impersonates and drinks for them all
A key theme of the sketch is James’s repeated stumbling over the head of a tiger skin rug
Before each course, James asks his employer if it will be ‘the same procedure as last year, Miss Sophie?’ She then replies: ‘The same procedure as every year, James.’ They repeat the lines when he accompanies her up to bed at the end of the sketch
Before each course, James asks his employer if it will be ‘the same procedure as last year, Miss Sophie?’
CLICK TO READ MORE: King Charles and his glittering Queen consort – in the late Queen’s diamond necklace – attend first State Banquet of his reign as he celebrates Germany and UK ‘standing together’
She then replies: ‘The same procedure as every year, James.’
They repeat the lines when he accompanies her up to bed at the end of the sketch.
The allusions to sex were reflected by Frinton and Warden’s alleged real-life affair.
Dinner for One has had an impact beyond the screen too, spawning cookbooks and even a commemorative stamp.
Frinton, who died in 1968, was well known in Britain, having starred in BBC show Meet The Wife.
But he was also hugely popular with his drunk comic skit, which saw him wear a top hat and tails and carry a broken cigarette.
Warden died aged 87 in 1978.
Dinner for One aired in the UK for the first time in 2018, when it was shown on Sky Arts.
It is also shown in countries including the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway and Finland.
King Charles was speaking at the Schloss Bellevue former royal residence, which is now the home of president Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
In his speech, the monarch pledged to ‘strengthen the connections’ between the UK and Germany and paid tribute to the ‘enduring value’ of the two nations’ relationship.
In what was the first state banquet speech of his reign, Charles stressed that he was ‘utterly convinced’ the bond between Britain and one of the EU’s leading nations ‘will grow ever stronger’.
The historic day earlier saw the King and Queen Consort Camilla receive an official welcome in front of Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate, a symbol of peace and unity and the first time the location has been used to greet a foreign head of state.
Charles and the Queen Consort pose with Mr Steinmeier and his wife Elke Buedenbender at the Schloss Bellevue in Berlin
Germany’s former chancellor, Angela Merkel, laughed at King Charles’s speech. Above: The pair seated at dinner
Also among the guests at the dinner were a few celebrities, including German resident and former Strictly Come Dancing judge Motsi Mabuse, and distant German relations of the King.
Charles told those gathered: ‘The relationship between Germany and the United Kingdom matters greatly to me, too, Mr President, and I am more convinced than ever of its enduring value to us all.
‘It means so much to us that my wife and I could come to Germany for this very first overseas tour of my reign.
‘I can only assure you, that throughout the time that is granted to me as King, I will do all I can to strengthen the connections between us.’
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