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Wednesday, 19 June, 2002, 13:09 GMT 14:09 UK
British sitcom set to follow Friends
Coupling stars
Coupling follows the lives and loves of six friends
BBC sitcom Coupling has been bought by US television network NBC as a possible replacement for Friends.

The team behind Coupling said NBC saw the show "as Friends with sex" and were enthusiastic about its potential to replace the top-rated US comedy, which is coming to an end after nine seasons.

Hartswood Films, which makes the British show, said the mother, daughter and son-in-law trio behind it will also be responsible for the US version and will not water-down its risqué story lines.

It follows the lives of six thirty-something friends "making their way across the minefield of love and relationships" and was criticised after its launch for imitating Friends too closely.

'Honest and edgy'

It is thought the US version of Coupling will be filmed in Los Angeles using American actors.

Friends stars
Friends is due to end after its ninth series

A Hartswood Films spokeswoman told BBC News Online a pilot episode will be completed in October, with a decision on whether to go ahead with a full series to follow soon afterwards.

Ben Silverman, the producer overseeing the project for NBC, said: "We think Coupling would be a perfect show for the fans of Friends.

"It's kind of a next-generation sitcom. It is really honest and edgy."

British writer Steven Moffat based the show on his relationship with his wife, Coupling producer Sue Vertue, and their friends.

Socks

Together with Sue's mother, executive producer Beryl Vertue, they were invited to the US to make a pilot programme after NBC entertainment president Jeff Zucker fell for the British version.

Beryl Vertue was also part of the team behind Men Behaving Badly, which was a huge hit for the BBC in the mid-1990s after being axed by ITV in 1992.

But a US re-make of the series fared less well and was cancelled after two years.

Coupling stars Jack Davenport, Sarah Alexander, Richard Coyle, Kate Isitt, Ben Miles and Gina Bellman.

The storylines which won it fans include a look at what happens to missing socks. Another focused on how one partner could hide porn films from the other.

To prove a successor equal to Friends, Coupling will have to do extremely well.

At its peak Friends attracted 24 million viewers an episode in the US, making multi-millionaires of its creators and stars.

See also:

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