Page last updated at 17:02 GMT, Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Friends get marching orders from Channel 4

The cast of Friends
They won't be there for you any more

Repeats of the hit US comedy Friends will no longer be shown on Channel 4 and sister station E4 from autumn 2011.

The sitcom, which stars Jennifer Aniston and David Schwimmer, has been a regular fixture on the broadcaster's schedules since 1994.

Channel 4 said the move would free up funds for new shows and acquisitions.

"After 15 years, 10 hit series and 236 terrific episodes, it's time to say goodbye to old Friends and welcome new ones," said Channel 4's Gill Hay.

She added: "We are incredibly proud to have been the home of Friends for so long, but at a point when the channel is undergoing a period of creative renewal it felt like the right time to part company."

Torin Douglas
Torin Douglas, Media correspondent

Friends is one of those rare series, like The Simpsons, that has become "default" viewing for many viewers. When it moves in 18 months' time, it will leave a big hole in the schedules. It's on E4 every day, and on Channel 4's T4 slot on weekend mornings.

With the dropping of Big Brother as well, later this year, it means the channels will look very different in 2011.

It's also a boost for Comedy Central, which will add Friends to a schedule that includes South Park, Two and Half Men and the US version of The Office.

Commercial success

In a statement Channel 4 said it was hopeful the decision would "provide an opportunity to refresh the schedule" across both networks.

Last year it was announced that Big Brother - another long-serving Channel 4 programme - would come to an end in 2010.

Channel 4's deal with Warner Bros International Television will end next autumn, after which Comedy Central will broadcast episodes from the series.

The agreement was made after Channel 4 lost out in a bidding war with the cable channel, which the network's Jill Offman described as a "major coup".

Friends has been a huge commercial success in both the US and the UK.

The series was based around six 20-somethings living in New York and yet to figure out where their lives were leading.

The cast of Friends
A lot of time was spent in the show's local cafe Central Perk

As the years went on, the show charted their tangled romantic liaisons and life experiences.

The characters - Ross, Monica, Phoebe, Rachel, Joey and Chandler - spawned catchphrases, calendars, notebooks, mugs, T-shirts, video and DVD box sets and even copycat haircuts.

The last ever episode, from series 10, drew an audience of 8.6 million viewers to Channel 4 when it was screened in 2004.

Since then, the show has been on constant rotation at Channel 4 and its sister station E4, where it continues to attract an average audience of almost 400,000.

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