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“Dinner for One” Postage Stamp

Fans of the British comedy sketch Dinner for One won’t have to wait until New Years Eve to see the characters in the classic on German television. Now they can see Miss Sophie and her butler James on a special postage stamp.

Unveiled on Thursday by the German Post Office and the north German broadcasting network NDR, some 4.7 million stamps have been produced showing British comedian Freddie Finton (James) and May Warden (Miss Sophie) toasting each other in Dinner for One.

It was 55 years ago that the short sketch, in English, was produced for German TV audiences by NDR, and it has been repeated countless times on several other regional channels in Germany ever since. Last New Year’s Eve, around 17 million TV viewers watched no fewer than 20 broadcasts of the film, an NDR spokesman said.

Starting in 2016, the Deutsche Post began issuing special stamps dedicated to “German TV Legends.” The “Dinner for One” classic is the third in the series.

Dinner for One is a unique cultural phenomenon, and Germany is obsessed with this obscure British film.  Most Germans plan their New Year’s Eve celebrations around the film and can quote it line by line, but most people outside of the country (including the UK) have never heard of it.

The 18-minute British sketch has dominated German television every New Year’s Eve since 1972, and has spawned numerous catchphrases and drinking games over the years.

Filmed in black and white, it stars Freddie Frinton as James, an elderly butler serving May Warden’s Miss Sophie on her 90th birthday.  Miss Sophie has invited her four closest friends for a celebratory dinner with just one slight problem – all these friends are all long deceased.

James is forced to take their place, stumbling around the dinner table, adopting their voices and personas and making toasts on their behalf, knocking back glasses of wine, sherry and champagne in the process.

Before each course, James asks “same procedure as last year?”, to which Miss Sophie replies “same procedure as every year”.

The sketch ends with a rather inebriated and unsteady James escorting Miss Sophie up to her bedroom, with an innuendo-laden “same procedure as last year?…Well, I’ll do my very best.”

Dinner for One same procedure

James: By the way, the same procedure as last year, Miss Sophie?
Miss Sophie (delightedly): The same procedure as every year, James!
James (slyly): Well, I’ll do my very best!

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