One of the most popular and enduring shows of all time, Friends ran for ten years from 1994 to 2004 and starred Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer as Rachel, Monica, Phoebe, Joey, Chandler and Ross.
An immediate success, Friends appeared in the UK on Channel 4 in 1995 and was repeated ad infinitum on there and its sister station E4 until 2011 when the station Comedy Central took the rights and continue broadcasting episodes to this day, virtually every day. Its likely that at any given moment of the day an episode of Friends is being broadcast somewhere in the world - so just imagine the royalties The Rembrandts must get for their theme tune!
I came very very late to Friends. In the '90s I was a bit snobby about US sitcoms that weren't Cheers, The Phil Silvers Show or The Larry Sanders Show. Friends seemed to fall into that category of lessons learned, everyone hugs that Seinfeld (a show I had yet to discover) worked so hard at eradicating. Friends just seemed too glossy, too perfect and I preferred homegrown British sitcoms and shows anyway. Friends was so big, it felt like more than a sitcom, it was an aspiration, a lifestyle choice - especially when Jennifer Aniston's hair became the most desired hairstyle amongst women. I struggled to see Aniston as anything other than a haircut at the time, preferring instead Cox and Kudrow's looks. That has come to change of course, thanks to Aniston's seemingly secret pact with Eternal Youth.
It wasn't until the year Friends came to an end (2004) that I actually started to watch it - Channel 4, on Sunday mornings, used to broadcast a strand called T4 that seemed to centre on the teen to twentysomething audience with Friends, Futurama and the Hollyoaks omnibus. It was a canny move from 4 as it was the perfect breakfast TV for anyone with a hangover who wanted to spend the morning in bed, which certainly included me and my then girlfriend in her dorm in Liverpool. I come to appreciate Friends, its humour and its brilliant characterisation through this repeats and have probably caught up with a great majority of each series in the intervening years. Now if you'll excuse me, there's an episode on Comedy Central right now that I want to watch...