Entertainment Television

Tuesday 17 September 2019

Friends at 25: the 25 facts you never knew about hit sitcom

We reveal the nuggets you never knew about Phoebe, Monica, Ross, Rachel, Joey and Chandler as they celebrate birthday

Friends
Friends

Mike Parker

It's the one where they celebrate their 25th birthday!

Friends, the most popular TV sitcom in history, first hit our screens on September 22, 1994 and lasted ten memorable seasons until May 2004.

Viewers around the world fell in love from the get-go with Ross, Rachel, Phoebe, Monica, Chandler and Joey.

So much so, that a quarter of a century ago the burning issues of the day revolved around questions like: Will Ross and Rachel ever find true love? Will Phoebe give birth for a childless couple?

And, of course, will dumb-but-adorable Joey actually overdose on sandwiches, pizzas and episodes of Baywatch?

They all became our friends too, and the show ultimately became so popular the stars who played those characters became the first to command a million dollars each for every episode.

To celebrate their big birthday, here are 25 fascinating facts - one for every year - you never knew about Friends.

1. That fountain where they all get drenched in the opening credits isn't in Manhattan at all. It's actually almost 2,800 miles away on the Warner Bros studio lot in Burbank, California.2. Friends was far from first choice for the show's name. Among the titles considered by creators David Crane and Marta Kauffman were: Friends Like Us, Across the Hall, Six of One and Insomnia Café.

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Friends at the fountain. PIC: NBC

3. Jennifer Aniston was almost ditched before the show began because of a conflict with another sitcom she was shooting called Muddling Through. Network bosses at NBC were so keen for her to play Rachel Green that they killed-off the other show completely.

4. Matt LeBlanc was down to the last $11 in his bank account when he auditioned for the role of Joey Tribbiani. Today, like his five co-stars, he still banks more than $3 million a year from re-runs across the planet.

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Matt LeBlanc as Joey Tribbiani in Friends

5. The character of Joey wasn't supposed to be remotely dim-witted, but producers were blown away when Matt played him that way at audition and re-wrote all his storylines.

6. Initially, Joey and Monica were supposed to be the main couple. But when Jennifer Aniston signed on, it was decided her character Rachel and Ross would be the more popular focus.

7. Ellen DeGeneres was briefly considered for the part of Phoebe and Courteney Cox was originally cast as Rachel, before convincing producers she would make a better Monica.

8. I'll Be There For You by The Rembrandts almost didn't make it as the programme theme tune. Initial choice was REM's Shiny Happy People.

9. Hollywood action hero Bruce Willis made his special guest appearance, donating his fee to charity, after losing a bet with Matthew Perry over how successful their movie The Whole Nine Yards would be.

10. Biggest continuity cock-up? David Schwimmer's character Ross may have claimed to be a medical marvel on one famous episode but the screen character's age was quoted as 29 - for three years running.

11. Aniston's character Rachel was a fan of one of America's longest-running daytime soaps, Days of Our Lives. Her father, 86-year-old actor John Aniston, has actually starred in that show in real-life since July 1985.

12. All six co-stars actually did drink coffee - and gallons of it over the years - during scenes shot in their favourite coffee shop Central Perk.

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13. Its boss Gunther, played by actor James Michael Tyler, didn't have a character name until the middle of the second season and never actually had an official surname. Tyler was actually working as a barista when he was cast.

14. The Central Perk set is still a huge tourist attraction on the Warner Bros Studio Tour in LA.

15. That famous Friends sofa? It was found in the basement of the studio's props department and was steam cleaned and spruced up.

16. Lisa Kudrow hated having to learn to play guitar for the episode in which Phoebe debuts Smelly Cat, so the whole song had to be created around her ability to strum only a couple of chords. It became so popular that Lisa even performed it live on stage with Taylor Swift.

 

17. The word 'friends' is mentioned at least once in dialogue in every single one of the show's 236 episodes.

18. As well as Bruce Willis, superstars including Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts also performed cameos on Friends.

19. There was originally going to be an older father-figure on the show, called Pay the Cop, who was to be on hand to give the group advice on their life choices. The character was written out, however, and didn't make the pilot.

20. Marcel, Ross's famous pet monkey, was played by a female primate named Katie.

Read more: Friends creator reveals how fan reaction to this moment changed course of entire series

21. By the numbers: Friends was nominated for an astonishing 62 Primetime Emmy awards, winning only six. The show and its cast members won a further 14 major awards.

22. The sitcom had a phenomenal social impact, giving us memorable catchphrases like "How you doin'?" and "We were on a break." When Aniston changed her hairstyle, it was immediately dubbed 'The Rachel' and was copied by an estimated 11 million female viewers.

23. That hideous, hyena-like laugh of Janice, an on-off girlfriend of Chandler, was a "spur of the moment" creation by Maggie Wheeler, the actress who played her.

24. Chandler's awkwardness around women stemmed from Matthew Perry's real-life shyness and was not initially scripted as part of the character.

25. NBC originally insisted on only one storyline per episode but creators Crane and Kauffman stood their ground and insisted there be three simultaneous plotlines going on. "We didn't want it to be like every other sitcom," says Kauffman.

via Sunday World

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