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Last Updated: Friday, 26 September, 2003, 06:01 GMT 07:01 UK
Final Friends series airs in US
The 10th series of Friends will be its last
The final series of Friends began its US run on Thursday as the American version of Coupling made its debut.

The sitcom Friends has been one of the US's biggest shows since it began in 1994, winning numerous awards including best comedy at the 2002 Emmys.

But now it is set to end after series 10, as the show's six stars move on to other projects.

Matt LeBlanc, who plays Joey, has already signed to star in a Friends spin-off, simply called Joey.

TV network NBC, which has seen its profile rise through the popularity of Friends, is now looking to find a replacement that could match the global success of the sitcom.

Thursday saw the debut of the US version of the BBC's comedy Coupling, which like Friends, centres around six mates.

UK cast of Coupling
The UK version of Coupling has become a cult hit
Producers have more-or-less stuck to the same script as the British version, although some of the more risque lines uttered by the original cast have been toned down.

The show has already attracted attention in the US for its racy content, with some channels refusing to screen it.

Local stations affiliated to NBC in Indiana and Salt Lake City have both rejected the show.

Satisfactory ending

The stations managers said they were "disappointed and uncomfortable" with the content.

NBC has admitted the show is "provocative" - but said the show was appropriate for national broadcast.

Friends has also become one of the most successful imports to the UK, where it is screened on Channel 4 and E4.

Series nine ended with a cliffhanger as the characters' relationships became even more entangled.

The challenge for writers and producers is to create a fitting ending to the series that will satisfy its legions of fans around the world.

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