FRIENDS REUNITED: WHY THE CAST NEEDS A COMEBACK
Will they or won't they? That was the question that hung over Friends right up until the last episode, screened in the US on May 6, 2004, after a staggeringly successful 10-year run. 'They' were neurotic palaeontologist Ross Geller (played by David Schwimmer) and unlucky-in-love coffee house waitress Rachel Green (Jennifer Aniston).
Will they or won't they? That was the question that hung over Friends right up until the last episode, screened in the US on May 6, 2004, after a staggeringly successful 10-year run.
'They' were neurotic palaeontologist Ross Geller (played by David Schwimmer) and unlucky-in-love coffee house waitress Rachel Green (Jennifer Aniston).
Now the question of will they or won't they is back on people's lips. This time, however, it concerns rumours that the Friends cast plan to reunite.
It was reported last week that the actors had a secret meeting with network bosses before Christmas and hammered out a lucrative deal to make four one-hour Friends specials. It was also claimed that Schwimmer, Matthew Perry and Matt Le Blanc had agreed to star in a spin-off called It's a Guy Thing. NBC chief Jeff Zucker has spent much of the past week repeatedly shooting down the rumours. Secretly, though, Zucker would probably love to have Friends back together.
It was, after all, the gold-plated cash cow that every television network dreams of owning: a phenomenon that penetrated practically every corner of the globe. Even the earliest episodes continue to earn NBC and Warner Bros, the studio that produced the show, a fortune in worldwide syndication.
So far, none of the cast has gone public on how they feel about reviving Friends. Whatever the truth though, it's likely that at least some of them would welcome the chance to revive the characters that made them household names, especially since their post-Friends careers have been so wobbly.
The ups and downs of the six stars
LISA KUDROW For a brief period in the 90s, Kudrow (the ditzy, folk-singing Phoebe) looked like she might be the 'Friends' unlikely breakout movie star. The deceptively smart 'dumb' comedy 'Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion' (1997) won critical acclaim and decent box office success.
Kudrow also made a mark in 'The Opposite of Sex' (1998) and gave an excellent performance as the wife of well-endowed porn star John Holmes (Val Kilmer) in the underrated 'Wonderland' (2003).
Mostly, though, she's been locked into mediocre supporting roles in dross like 'Analyse This' (1999) and its sequel 'Analyse That' (2002).
She returned to the small screen late last year in the HBO comedy series 'The Comeback'. It featured Kudrow as the former star of a successful sitcom who is trying to rebuild her career. A little too self-referentially knowing for its own good, it was axed before the end of its run.
MATTHEW PERRY Perry - who played the wisecracking Chandler Bing - stood out from the rest of the cast because of his natural wit and zinging, off-the-cuff one-liners.
Denied material of the quality the Friends script-writing factory turned out, Perry has stumbled from one indifferent comedy to another.
His best big-screen hit remains 'The Whole Nine Yards' (2000), in which he played a debt-ridden dentist who becomes involved with a hitman (Bruce Willis).
He and Willis reunited for a lazy re-tread, 'The Whole Ten Yards' in 2004, but lately Perry has been seen mainly in TV movies. Resurrecting Chandler might be a welcome respite.
COURTNEY COX Cox, who had a taste of pre-Friends fame as the girl Bruce Springsteen pulls onto the stage in his 'Dancing in the Dark' video, has been quieter in the last few years than she ever was as Monica, Ross's highly-strung, control-freak sister.
She caught the eye in Wes Craven's three 'Scream' movies (1997, 2000, 2001) but never appeared to have the range to become a leading actress. She appears happy these days to balance the very occasional film role and family life with her actor husband David Arquette and their young daughter.
DAVID SCHWIMMER Schwimmer is a hard worker - not that you'd know it from his stuttering film CV. Most of his films have slipped in and out of cinemas virtually unnoticed, while some - such as last year's Duane Hopkins, in which he played a loving but alcoholic family man - weren't even released in this part of the world.
The stage-trained Schwimmer has found his most rewarding work on television (he gave an impressive performance in the Steven Spielberg-Tom Hanks Second World War epic 'Band of Brothers') and on the stage. He made an acclaimed West End debut last year in Neil LaBute's 'Some Girls'.
Like Matthew Perry, Schwimmer might relish the chance to look up some old friends.
MATT LE BLANC The dim but lovable Joey Tribbiani was everybody's favourite 'Friends' character. But that affection hasn't extended to Le Blanc's spin-off sitcom 'Joey', set in Los Angeles.
Its less than impressive performance in the ratings led NBC to pull it from its primetime slot, although the network insists a second series will go ahead. Frankly, what Joey needs is best buddy Chandler to spark off.
Despite a decent enough turn in ' Lost in Space' (which wasn't half as bad as some reviewers claimed) his film career since has been a complete washout.
JENNIFER ANISTON The only cast member who can convincingly claim to have a thriving film career, albeit it in a succession of small to medium hits like 'The Good Girl' (2002), which won her huge critical acclaim, 'Derailed' (2005) and the current 'Rumour Has It', which concerns a woman who believes her family was the inspiration for the
novel and film ' The Graduate'.
Aniston has yet to enjoy a box-office blockbuster but is consistently in demand. Aniston's divorce from Brad Pitt was finalised in October, but the news that Angelina Jolie is carrying Pitt's baby has reportedly left her bruised.
She has the least to gain from 'Friends' reunited. So maybe those rumours were true.