Comedy Central UK is celebrating the 21st anniversary of Friends in a big way.
The VIMN backed channel has announced that to mark the 21st anniversary of the series premiere of Friends on NBC in 1994, they will air all 236 episodes of the ground-breaking sitcom in order, from the pilot all the way through to the series finale, beginning on Monday August 24th.
Friends aired ten seasons on NBC between 1994 & 2004 and followed the lives of six close friends living in Manhattan, New York. The comedy series was produced by Warner Bros Television and starred Courtney Cox, Matthew Perry, Matt LeBlanc, David Schwimmer, Lisa Kudrow and Jennifer Anniston. Some of the more memorably moments across the show’s run included Ross & Rachel’s break-up, Chandler & Monica getting together (and eventually getting married and adopting a child) and Phoebe’s numerous “unique” songs. E4 originally aired the series in the UK.
While the show eventually became a number one ratings hit (back in NBC’s so-called “golden years of comedy”), it was a big gamble for the network when it was initially picked up. Its early successes also made it a cash cow for the studio and WB was able to secure lucrative international licensing deals for Friends in 180+ markets, not to mention the staggering amount of money they’ve since earned in syndication deals. It was of course those successes which led to the Friends cast securing huge salary increases to $1 million each per episode for the final season (while that may not sound too exorbitant by Hollywood standards now, it was BIG news at the time)
After the raucous success of Friends NBC and WBTV were keen to turn Friends into a franchise and the two companies considered a number of spin-offs (including Pheoebe, which would have starred Kudrow and Paul Rudd as newly married couple Phoebe and Mike) before moving forward with the Matt LeBlanc fronted Joey. The show was never able to come close to matching the success of Friends and was cancelled after two low-rated seasons. Probably best to focus on Friends and just forget Joey, right?