Freddie Frinton

Last updated

Freddie Frinton
Freddie Frinton.jpg
Frederick Bittiner Coo

(1909-01-17)17 January 1909
Died16 October 1968(1968-10-16) (aged 59)
London, England
OccupationComedian, music hall artist, television actor

Freddie Frinton (born Frederick Bittiner Coo; [1] [2] 17 January 1909 – 16 October 1968) [3] was an English comedian, and music hall and television actor. He is primarily remembered today as a household name in several Northwestern European countries for his 1963 television comedic sketch entitled Dinner for One , a perennial national television broadcast New Year's Eve favourite there, whilst being largely forgotten in his home country.


Early life

Frinton was born in Hainton Avenue, Grimsby, Lincolnshire, the child of a seamstress, Florence Elisabeth Coo (born 1892), and was brought up by foster parents. He started working in a Grimsby fish processing plant, where he is said to have entertained his colleagues with parodies and jokes, but was eventually sacked. He moved into music hall, where he enjoyed modest success and renamed himself Freddie Frinton.


During the Second World War he made a moderate breakthrough as a comedian. In 1945, Frinton first performed the sketch Dinner for One in Blackpool. As he had to pay a royalty every time he performed the sketch, he bought the rights to Dinner for One in the 1950s, which turned out to be a fateful decision.

In 1964, at the age of 55, Frinton became a belated success as the plumber husband in the popular television sitcom Meet the Wife , which ran for 40 episodes (the wife was played by Thora Hird). The series is mentioned in the Beatles song "Good Morning Good Morning" with the line "It's time for tea and Meet the Wife".

Dinner for One

In 1963, Frinton's Dinner for One was recorded by the Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR) German television station. The role of Miss Sophie was played by May Warden. Watching the (unsubtitled) English language sketch on television has subsequently become a German, Austrian, and Swiss New Year's Eve tradition, with multiple repeats of the comedy short being shown every year from 1972 onwards. [4] [5]

Dinner for One also found fame in Scandinavia where it has been a hugely popular institution on Norwegian, Danish, Finnish, Estonian and Swedish television on New Year's Eve for many years, as well as in Belgium in the original version. It has become so popular that several versions in various German dialects have been produced and a version was made for Dutch viewers, with the Dutch actor Joop Doderer playing Frinton's role. It is shown every 23 December on Norwegian television (NRK since 1980), and has been shown on the Australian SBS television network on New Year's Eve for at least the last fifteen years. It also became a family tradition in South Africa when the SABC aired it every New Year's Eve during the 1980s and 1990s. The TV short and its main actor Frinton are far less renowned in Britain than in any of these countries.

Although Frinton originated from Lincolnshire, England, his most famous comedy short has never been shown in full on British television. It received its first UK screening on 23 November 2018 (more than 50 years after it was made) at the Picture House in Campbeltown, Argyll and Bute, as part of a comedy film festival. [6] [7] The skit was broadcast to a British audience for the first time on 31 December 2018 on the Sky Arts channel. [8] [9]

Personal life

Although he was an actor whose roles often comprised playing being inebriated, Frinton was teetotal in real life, having seen in others the damage that alcohol could do. [10]

Frinton was married twice and had five children. His first marriage was to Maisie Basil in 1931; they had one son together. His second wife was Nora Gratton, whom he married in 1945. They had four children: two daughters and two sons.


On 16 October 1968, Frinton died suddenly from a heart attack in London at the age of 59. His body was buried in the City of Westminster Cemetery, in London.

Partial filmography

1948 Trouble in the Air Fred Somers
1951 Penny Points to Paradise Drunkard
1953 Forces' Sweetheart Aloysius Dimwitty
1956 Stars in Your Eyes Publican
1960 Make Mine Mink Drunkard
1961 What a Whopper Gilbert Pinner

Related Research Articles

Freddie Prinze American actor and comedian

Freddie James Prinze was an American stand-up comedian and actor. Prinze was the star of NBC-TV sitcom Chico and the Man from 1974 until his suicide in 1977. Prinze is the father of actor Freddie Prinze Jr.

<i>Meet the Wife</i> (TV series)

Meet the Wife is a 1960s BBC situation comedy written by Ronald Chesney and Ronald Wolfe, which featured Freddie Frinton as Freddie Blacklock with Thora Hird as his tyrannical wife, Thora. It ran for five series.

<i>Dinner for One</i> 1963 sketch comedy by Heinz Dunkhase

Dinner for One, also known as The 90th Birthday, is a two-hander comedy sketch, written by British author Lauri Wylie for the theatre. After featuring on the stage, the German TV broadcaster, Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR) recorded the sketch in 1962 as an 18-minute black-and-white videotape recording, performed by British comedians Freddie Frinton and May Warden.

New Years Eve Celebration on last day of old year

In the Gregorian calendar, New Year's Eve, also known as Old Year's Day or Saint Sylvester's Day in many countries, the evening or the entire day of the last day of the year, is on 31 December. The last day of the year is commonly referred to as “New Year’s Eve”. In many countries, New Year's Eve is celebrated in the West with dancing, eating, drinking, and watching or lighting fireworks are common. Some Christians attend a watchnight service. The celebrations generally go on past midnight into New Year's Day, 1 January.

Freddie Prinze Jr. American actor

Frederick James Prinze Jr. is an American actor, writer, and producer. He has starred in films such as I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997) and its sequel I Still Know What You Did Last Summer (1998), She's All That (1999), Summer Catch (2001), Scooby-Doo (2002), and its sequel Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed (2004). Prinze has also had recurring and starring roles in television shows, including Friends (2002), Boston Legal (2004), Freddie (2005–06) and 24 (2010), and voiced Kanan Jarrus in the Disney XD series Star Wars Rebels. He is the only child of comedian and actor Freddie Prinze.

Big Train is a British television sketch show created by Arthur Mathews and Graham Linehan. The first series was broadcast on BBC Two in 1998, while the second, in which Linehan was not involved, aired in 2002.

Frinton-on-Sea Human settlement in England

Frinton-on-Sea is a seaside town and a former civil parish, now in the parish of Frinton and Walton, in the Tendring district of Essex, England. In 2018 it had an estimated population of 4,837. In 1931 the parish had a population of 2196.

John Thomson (comedian) English comedian, narrator and actor

John Patrick Thomson is an English comedian, narrator and actor. Best known for his roles in The Fast Show, Men Behaving Badly, Cold Feet, 24 Hour Party People, The Brothers Grimsby and Coronation Street.

David Haig Collum Ward is an English actor and playwright. He has appeared in West End productions and numerous television and film roles over a career spanning four decades.

Paddy McGuinness English actor, comedian and television presenter

Patrick Joseph McGuinness is an English actor, comedian and television presenter. He rose to fame with the help of Peter Kay, who invited him to appear in his programmes That Peter Kay Thing, Phoenix Nights and Max and Paddy's Road to Nowhere. He is best known for his roles within Channel 4, ITV and the BBC presenting game shows such as Take Me Out as well as, since 2019, being one of the three hosts of BBC's Top Gear. In 2021, he became the new host of Question of Sport.

May Warden was an English actress and comedian.

David Koechner American actor and comedian

David Michael Koechner is an American actor and comedian. He is best known for playing roles such as Champ Kind in the Anchorman films and Todd Packer on NBC's The Office.

"Charmaine" is a popular song written by Ernö Rapée and Lew Pollack. The song was written in 1926 and published in 1927. However, Desmond Carrington on his BBC Radio 2 programme marked the song's writing as being in 1913.

Edward Ian MacNaughton was a Scottish actor-turned-television producer and director, best known for his work with the Monty Python team. MacNaughton was director and producer for all but four of the forty five episodes of Monty Python's Flying Circus from 1969 to 1974, director of the group's first feature film And Now for Something Completely Different in 1971 and director of their two German episodes, Monty Python's Fliegender Zirkus in 1971 and 1972. In 1973 the production team shared the BAFTA Award for Best Light Entertainment Programme for Monty Python's Flying Circus.

Germany has a long tradition of television comedy stretching as far back as the 1950s, and with its origins in cabaret and radio.

From All of Us to All of You is an animated television Christmas special, produced by Walt Disney Productions and first presented on December 19, 1958 on ABC as part of the Walt Disney Presents anthology series. Hosted by Jiminy Cricket along with Mickey Mouse and Tinker Bell, the special combines newly produced animation with clips from vintage animated Disney shorts and feature films, presented to the viewer as "Christmas cards" from the various characters starring in each one.

Simon Bird English actor and comedian

Simon Antony Bird is an English actor, comedian and director. He is best known for playing Will McKenzie in the E4 comedy series The Inbetweeners (2008–2010), as well as its two films, and Adam Goodman in the Channel 4 comedy series Friday Night Dinner (2011–2020).

Lauri Wylie, originally Maurice Laurence Samuelson Metzenberg, was a British actor and author. He is primarily remembered as the author of the play "Dinner for One", the 1963 screen adaptation of which went on to become the most frequently repeated television programme ever, according to the Guinness Book of Records, due in large part to its place as a New Year's viewing tradition in Germany.

<i>Vicious</i> (TV series)

Vicious is a British television sitcom shown on ITV. The series stars Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi as Freddie and Stuart, an elderly couple who have been together for 50 years but endure a love/hate relationship. The series premiered on 29 April 2013 with 5.78 million viewers.

Dustin Demri-Burns is a British actor, comedian and writer. He is best known for his work in Cardinal Burns.


  1. According to the NDR, and the General Record Office (Births, Marriages, Deaths) Frinton's birth name was Coo.
  2. General Register Office: Register of Births – Mar 1909 7a [5_]77 Grimsby – Frederick Bittiner Coo
  3. General Register Office: Register of Deaths – Dec 1968 5a 202 Brent, Frederick Frinton aged 54 (59?)
  4. Hooper, John (31 December 2002). "British comedy lives on in German television". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 January 2011.
  5. Stewart, Jude (30 December 2005). "The Mystery of Dinner for One". Slate. Retrieved 4 January 2011.
  6. "Cult comedy Dinner for One to get UK premiere after 50 years". BBC News. 23 November 2018.
  7. Singh, Anita (23 November 2018). "Dinner for One: British comedy beloved by Germans finally gets a home premiere". The Telegraph .
  8. Robertson, Joanna (29 December 2018). "Dinner for One: English comedy spices up German New Year". BBC News.
  9. "Dinner For One: Sky Arts comedy special". British Comedy Guide . Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  10. Simkins, Michael (12 November 2010). "Acting drunk can be staggeringly difficult". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 January 2011.