I remember in the 90s when the world was glued to the antics of Ross, Chandler, Joey, Rachel, Monica and Phoebe every Friday night. Without fail. It was the highlight of everyone’s week.
The writing was inspired and genuinely clever comedy. It managed to be both hilarious and poignant, often at the same time, with good narrative and appealing characters – a feat many other sitcoms didn't come near to. Who didn't – doesn't – relate to one of the six main characters? “I'm sooo Rachel” my girlfriend used to say to at the time. “Does that make me Ross then?” I would say. “No, you're soooo Chandler.”
Friends was a huge hit for Channel 4. After ten series, it still pulled in 8.6 million viewers for the final episode in 2004, and we were left mourning the loss an iconic sitcom.
Today the series is still as entertaining as it ever was, with E4 screening nightly episodes for the past 6 years.
Sky has, erm… how many channels with hundreds of different programmes to choose from? Yet our household always seems to opt for Friends to relax after a stressful day. There's something enticing about its format, no matter which series or episode you stumble upon, whether you've seen it before or not. We never fail to be in hysterics within seconds. It's hardly aged.
But from autumn 2011, when Channel 4 ends it distribution deal with Warner Brothers, will our household laughter end? Probably. Is it the right decision? I think it is. As long as we can trust Channel 4 when they say it will free up cash to “refresh its schedule” to make its own shows.
We have to look to the future. We have to invest in tomorrow's talent. Just as in life, sometimes we just have to make new Friends.