Cult comedy Dinner for One to get UK premiere after 50 years

Image source, Norddeutscher Rundfunk
Image caption,
A still from Dinner for One starring Freddie Frinton

A comedy featuring a British music hall star that enjoys cult status in Germany is to receive its UK premiere more than 50 years after it was made.

Dinner for One - staring Freddie Frinton - was filmed by a German TV company in 1963.

It has been shown every New Year's Eve on German TV since 1972, winning it a place in the Guinness Book of Records.

It will finally get its UK premiere this weekend at a comedy film festival in Campbeltown, Argyll and Bute.

Frinton originally performed the sketch on stage in Blackpool, but it was turned into an 18-minute film for German television.

He plays a loyal butler - James - who is helping his employer celebrate her 90th birthday.

Her four male admirers are long dead, so he takes on all their roles at a dinner party, becoming increasingly tipsy as the evening progresses.

Watching it has become a New Year's tradition in Germany. The Guinness Book of Records accords it the status of the most repeated programme ever.

Freddie Frinton is a household name in Germany. A stamp has just been issued, 50 years after his death, and next year a museum dedicated to him will open in the town of Bremerhaven.

Yet his most famous sketch has never been shown in a British cinema or shown in full on British television.

Mr Frinton's family have now given permission for it to be screened as part of the Scottish Comedy Film Festival's Slapstick Weekend, which takes place at Campbeltown Picture House.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
The film will be shown at the recently-restored Campbeltown Picture House

His son Mike said: "We, as family, are delighted that Campbeltown Picture House will be the first UK cinema to screen the legendary Dinner for One and that Freddie Frinton's comedy genius will be celebrated as part of the nationwide BFI season.

"Germany, and a large part of Europe, have been enjoying Dinner for One as an annual New Year treat for nearly half a century, and it makes us so proud that, finally, this perfect example of comedy timing can be appreciated over here.

"Dad would have been humbled to find himself in such illustrious comedy company."

Mike will be in Campbeltown for the screening.

Meet the Wife

Freddie Frinton was born in Grimsby and made his name as a music hall performer.

He came to broader fame as Thora Hird's co-star in the 1960s BBC comedy Meet The Wife but died in 1968 aged just 59.

The screening is a coup for Campbeltown Picture House which reopened a year ago after a £3m restoration.

The art nouveau cinema on the banks of Campbeltown Loch is one of the oldest cinema buildings in Europe.

Several other slapstick films are being shown as part of the festival. A public custard pie fight is also planned.

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