Dinner for One

POSTED: December 6, 2019

Monocle offers a range of free email newsletters, and I subscribe to several of them. The daily one takes about ninety seconds to read, and the weekly sometimes has interesting articles.

One of the daily newsletters this week started with an article by Christopher Cermak, which began like this:

When I moved to Germany seven years ago it didn’t take long for someone to mention the TV comedy Dinner for One. “You must watch it,” they would say. “But be sure to wait until New Year’s Eve.” I naturally assumed it was a German-language programme and enquired as much. “No, it’s in English,” came the response. “Don’t they watch it in the US or the UK?”

I became intrigued, and then when I read on, I decided that I definitely wanted to know more.

Now here’s the strange part: this sketch originally played in UK seaside-town theatres but only became beloved in Germany after a producer invited the two British actors to record it for a TV show in 1963. It has since become a new-year tradition. Meanwhile, most people in the UK (where it was aired on TV for the first time in 2018) have still never heard of it.

I looked it up in Wikipedia and learned that it “is a two-hander comedy sketch written by British author Lauri Wylie for the theatre… It is an 18-minute single-take black-and-white videotape recording, performed by British comedians Freddie Frinton and May Warden. It has become a tradition in Germany, and is the most frequently repeated television programme ever”.

Will it make me laugh, you might wonder. You can decide for yourself.

For the record, I have a fondness for much British music hall so, yes, it did make me laugh.

Several times.