Norwegians plunked themselves down in record numbers this year to watch a TV comedy sketch that’s always shown on state broadcaster NRK on “Lille julaften” (Little Christmas Eve, December 23). Half of the country’s entire population watched the 18-minute show about an aging countess celebrating her 9oth birthday with her equally aging butler and four absent friends.
The show, called Grevinnen og hovmesteren in Norwegian and Dinner for One in English, dates from 1963 and is shown in Norway every year in its original black-and-white format. NRK includes it as part of its annual pre-Christmas entertainment, and it’s become wildly popular over the years not least because of the duchess’ admonishment to her butler that he must follow “the same procedure as every year, James.”
That means he needs to toast her before every dinner course on behalf of her four absent friends (Sir Toby, Admiral von Schneider, Mister Pomeroy and Mister Winterbottom). He becomes highly intoxicated in the process.
NRK started airing the show in 1980 and it became a major hit, with Norwegians eager to watch it year after year. They numbered 2,029,000 this year, “half of the entire Norwegian population over the age of 12,” NRK’s analysis chief Kristian Tolonen told newspaper VG.