"Merkozy" play leads in beloved German New Year skit

BERLIN (Reuters) - A skit of “Dinner for One,” the British vaudeville comedy sketch so loved in Germany it holds cult status and is screened every New Year’s Eve, with Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy as “Miss Sophie” and her bumbling butler, has become an Internet smash.

In the black and white original, filmed in 1963, Miss Sophie celebrates her 90th birthday with four imaginary guests as butler James darts around the table, pretending to be each of them and downing their drinks, becoming increasingly inebriated in the process.

The skit, here, made for German broadcaster ARD and titled "The 90th euro rescue summit or euros for no one," has the heads of the German chancellor and French president superimposed over the original actors.

This time the imaginary dinner companions include former Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and British Prime Minister David Cameron.

Sarkozy pretends to be Cameron, as Merkel toasts him and tells him: “Don’t forget we speak German in Europe.”

“You are looking younger than ever,” “Cameron” starts in English, then switches to German and says: “You are looking richer than ever.”

As Sarkozy continues to scurry around the elegantly set table, the narrators sighs, explaining: “This is what happens every euro rescue summit, whether or not anyone else is there, it is just these two doing everything themselves.”

The original will be shown seven times by different German television stations on New Year’s Eve. Its popularity in Germany and Scandinavia has made it one of the world’s most repeated television shows, but it is hardly known in Britain.

Its euphemistic closing line - when James asks whether it will be “the same procedure as last year,” as he escorts Miss Sophie upstairs to bed, then promises to do “his very best” - has become a catchphrase in Germany.

At that point in the skit, which has had almost 200,000 views on the Internet, Sarkozy, whose country’s top sovereign credit rating is at risk, tells Merkel he will give her his “triple A.”

Reporting by Alexandra Hudson; Editing by Alison Williams