Dinner for One, also known as The 90th Birthday, or by its corresponding German title, Der 90. Geburtstag, is a comedy sketch written by British author Lauri Wylie for the theatre in the 1920s. German television station Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR) recorded a performance of the piece in 1963, in its original English language. This short comical play subsequently went on to become the most frequently repeated TV programme ever (according to the Guinness Book of Records, 1988-1995 eds.; later editions no longer have the category).
The 11 minute black-and-white 1963 TV recording featuring British comedians Freddie Frinton and May Warden has become an integral component of the New Year's Eve schedule of several German television stations and an absolute cult television classic in Germany, Norway, Sweden, and Austria: On New Year's Eve 2003 alone, the sketch was broadcast 19 times (on various channels). As of 2005, the sketch has been repeated more than 230 times. It is famous in other countries as well — including Denmark, Finland, German-speaking Switzerland and South Africa.
It is a curiosity that this sketch has become a tradition in Germany, where up to half the population may see it every year, but it is almost totally unknown in Britain. It is also shown on New Year's Eve in many other mainland European countries, particularly Scandinavia and also by Australia's SBS channel. In Norway, however, it is shown every year on the eve of December 23. It is known as far away as South Africa. In Sweden, the show was put on hold for a period for six years, deemed "unsuitable" because of butler James' heavy drinking.
Although the sketch is most popular in non-English speaking countries, it is typically shown in the original English without dubbing or subtitles. Curiously, the film remains practically unknown to the English speaking world (except for Australia). It has never been broadcast on TV in Britain..
The line "Same procedure as last year" has become a very popular catchphrase in Germany, according to Tim Gruhl, the programme editor at the Hamburg-based television Channel NDR. The phrase "has made its way into everyday vocabulary, and even crops up in newspaper headlines and advertisements.
Happy New Year!!