Dearest Friends...

Sitcom to return, for £10m a show

The stars of Friends have been persuaded to return for another series, under the most expensive deal in television history

America's NBC network has agreed to pay $10million an episode for a tenth season of the hit sitcom - an increase of more than 40 per cent.

But the stars will not be seeing a similar pay increase, their fee will be pegged at around $1million a show.

The sticking point had not been money, but a reluctance from the actors to commit to another full 24-episode run. Instead, they have agreed to make 18 more shows. One insider told showbiz bible Variety it was a "quality of life" issue for the stars.

Matthew Perry, Lisa Kudrow and Matt LeBlanc had previously agreed to make another series - but only if their co-stars agreed.

Jennifer Aniston, pictured, is the star most likely to be holding out. She is widely thought to have the best chance of a Hollywood career outside the show - and she has also dropped hints she could quit acting altogether to become a full-time mum.

Friends has enjoyed a revival of fortunes this season, again topping the ratings. The new deal is not technically viable financially for NBC, but it cannot afford to lose viewers at what is a tough time for all broadcasters.

It has been working on a number of possible replacements for the vital Thursday-night slot, including an American version of BBC2's Coupling, but none is the sure-fire winner that Friends is.

Until now, the most expensive TV show was ER - at its peak costing $13million an episode, but that was for an hour-long drama.

Published: 22 Dec 2002

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