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Channel 4 and E4 turns its back on Friends

Friends

Story by Jack Foley

CHANNEL 4 and its sister station E4 will no longer show repeats of hit US comedy series Friends from autumn 2011.

The ever-popular sitcom has been a near-constant fixture on the broadcaster’s schedules since 1994 – but after 15 years and 236 episodes, the time has come to say goodbye.

Announcing the decision, Channel 4’s Gill Hay said the move would enable Channel 4 to free up funds for new shows and acquisitions.

“It’s time to say goodbye to old Friends and welcome new ones,” she said. “We are incredibly proud to have been the home of Friends for so long, but at a point when the channel is undergoing a period of creative renewal it felt like the right time to part company.”

In a statement Channel 4 said it was hopeful that the decision would “provide an opportunity to refresh the schedule” across both networks.

All is not lost for Friends devotees keen to keep Chandler, Monica, Rachel and Ross in their lives however. Once Channel 4’s deal with Warner Bros International Television ends next autumn, Comedy Central will broadcast episodes from the series.

The agreement was made after Channel 4 lost a bidding war with the cable channel, which also shows first runs of another hit US comedy series, 30 Rock.

Channel 4 viewers loyally tuned into Friends over the years the show ran with the last ever episode, from series 10, attracting an audience of 8.6 million viewers in 2004.

Incredibly, the show continues to attract an average audience of almost 400,000 whenever it is shown across Channel 4 and E4.

Read our review of Season 10