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Last Updated: Friday, 13 August, 2004, 10:29 GMT 11:29 UK
Five to screen Friends spin-off
Matt LeBlanc
LeBlanc will reprise his Friends role as Joey Tribbiani in the new series
Five has won the right to broadcast Friends spin-off series Joey, after Channel 4 pulled out of bidding.

It will show the series "early next year" after it is broadcast in the US in September, a spokeswoman said.

The channel would not reveal how much it paid for the rights to the 13-episode sitcom, in which Matt LeBlanc reprises his Friends role.

On Thursday Channel 4 said it would not join in the bidding war for the series, claiming the price tag was too high.

According to unconfirmed reports, bidding had been expected to start at 100,000 an episode, while Warner Bros was said to be looking for about 550,000 per show.

Sopranos star

The series follows Joey Tribbiani after he has moved to Hollywood, hoping to truly make it as an actor.

LeBlanc will star alongside Road Trip's Paulo Costanzo, Andrea Anders from The Stepford Wives and Drea de Matteo, who plays mafia moll Adriana LaCerva in TV gangster drama The Sopranos.

Five said the 13-episode run may be extended to 23 episodes at a later date.

Warner Bros also sold Five the rights to Charlie Sheen sitcom Two And A Half Men, which has become the highest-rating new scripted series of the 2003/04 season in the US.

We believe that these will become signature series for Five
Jeffrey Schlesinger, Warner Bros International Television

Five's managing editor Jeff Ford said: "I am delighted that the channel has secured the rights to Joey and Two And A Half Men.

"Five has become synonymous with quality US imports and the acquisition of these two comedy series is a great coup for the channel."

Warner Bros International Television president Jeffrey Schlesinger said the company was "pleased" that Five had acquired the UK rights to the two shows.

"We believe that these will become signature series for Five," Mr Schlesinger said.

'Exclusive negotiation'

Friends, which ran for 10 years, became one of the biggest shows in US TV history. Its finale drew an audience of 51.1 million in the US in May.

Channel 4 screened the sitcom for its entire UK run.

On Thursday its controller of acquisitions June Dromgoole said Channel 4 had "an exclusive negotiating period" with Warner Brothers.

However, the channel "could not reconcile the value which they placed on the show with our assessment of its audience potential", she said.

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