It finally happened – after 15 years of rumours and an extra year of delays, the cast of Friends reunited on screen one last time.
The special is available to watch now and sees the six main cast members – Matt LeBlanc (Joey), Matthew Perry (Chandler), David Schwimmer (Ross), Courteney Cox (Monica), Jennifer Aniston (Rachel) and Lisa Kudrow (Phoebe) – look back on the phenomenally successful ’90s sitcom that made them stars.
Crucially the reunion was not a new episode, but rather an emotional and nostalgic retrospective with the cast appearing as themselves.
However, we found the special mostly as irresistible as the show itself (read our Friends reunion review for more details), with the stars returning to Monica’s famously spacious apartment as well as the iconic fountain from the opening credits.
If that wasn’t enough nostalgia, there were also a few surprise visitors – including notable guest stars such as Tom Selleck (Monica’s boyfriend Richard), Maggie Wheeler (Chandler’s girlfriend Janice), James Michael Tyler (Gunther) and even Joey’s hand twin played by Thomas Lennon.
There were even some cameos from some famous fans, including the likes of David Beckham, Reese Witherspoon, and a very special duet featuring Lady Gaga.
Our recent poll may have revealed that one Friends character in particular is the fans’ favourite – but nothing will beat the magic of having all six together once more.
The one where they get back together is one to remember. Read on for everything you need to know about HBO’s Friends reunion, including how to watch it in the UK.
How to watch the Friends reunion in the UK
The Friends reunion aired at 8pm on Thursday 27th May on Sky One. However, the special is also on streaming service NOW and is available to stream right now.
- Read more: 15 of the funniest Friends episodes ranked
How to watch the Friends reunion without Sky
If you don’t have Sky, then have no fear – there’s no need to sign a contract just to watch the Friends reunion.
Sky’s streaming service NOW will be there for you, with the special available to watch as part of the Entertainment Pass.
When is the Friends reunion’s release date?
The Friends cast are back together one last time in the set that housed the sitcom for its decade-long run.
The reunion, which crucially is an unscripted documentary rather than another episode of the sitcom, was released on Thursday 27th May on HBO Max / Sky One / NOW.
The reunion was originally scheduled to land on HBO Max back in May 2020, but HBO was forced to delay filming on the unscripted Friends special due to the global coronavirus outbreak.
WarnerMedia Entertainment head Bob Greenblatt told Variety that he wanted the event to be watched by a live audience and not filmed via webcam.
“We do think there’s a value to having a big, raucous live audience to experience these six great friends coming back together,” he said. “We didn’t want to just suddenly do it on a web call with six squares and people shooting from their kitchens and bedrooms.”
It looks like he got half his wish. In June 2020, co-creator Marta Kauffman told The Wrap the show could film in the iconic studio lot in August, assuming that there hadn’t been a second spike by then.
David Schwimmer (Ross) then told Jimmy Fallon’s The Tonight Show that filming was due to happen in August, saying: “It’s supposed to happen maybe in August, the middle of August.” However, he added: “Honestly we’re going to wait and see another week or two if we all determine it’s really safe enough to do. And if not, then we’ll wait until it’s safe.”
A date of 17th August had been reported. However, in early August, it was announced that filming had again been postponed.
Jennifer Aniston told Deadline: “Unfortunately it’s very sad that we had to move it again,” adding: “This is not a safe time. Period. That’s the bottom line. It’s not a safe time to do it.”
But, on a more positive note, she added: “It’s going to be super. You know what? This has also given us more time to make it even more exciting and more fun than it would have been. So I choose to see it as the glass is half-full that it got postponed. Look, we’re not going anywhere. You’re never going to get rid of Friends, sorry. You’re stuck with us for life guys.”
Then, in April of this year, it finally happened! Nearly a year after originally planned, the cast of Friends reunited and filming was completed after a three-day shoot.
Hopes were raised after David Schwimmer said the special was due to shoot “next week” while appearing on The Graham Norton Show in early April 2021.
This was backed up by Matthew Perry later posting and quickly deleting a picture of him on a makeup chair on Instagram, with a caption that hinted he was preparing to film the reunion.
The picture’s caption said: “Seconds before eating a makeup brush. Not to mention reuniting with my Friends.”
Is the Friends reunion a new episode?
Technically not. While you may wish to count the special as an unofficial 237th episode, the Friends reunion is an unscripted retrospective with the cast appearing as themselves.
Sadly this isn’t a warm-up for a new scripted episode or movie either – during the reunion the cast ruled out a revival.
However, it has since been revealed that the six friends briefly reprised their roles for a table read during the special.
Which cast members returned for the Friends reunion?
Back in February, HBO Max confirmed that the ‘friends’ – Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer – would all reunite for the documentary special.
LOTS of celebrities also popped in to celebrate the reunion including David Beckham, Mindy Kaling, James Corden, BTS, Justin Bieber, Kit Harington, Cindy Crawford, Tom Selleck (who played Monica’s pre-Chandler love interest Richard) and Reese Witherspoon (who played Rachel’s sister, Jill Green).
However, there is one notable omission – many fans were disappointed that Paul Rudd, who played Phoebe’s love interest Mike Hannigan, does not appear in the special.
Is there a trailer for the Friends reunion?
Yes, you can watch the Friends reunion trailer below.
This teaser was also previously released, and while very short and does not even show the faces of the cast, it got us excited for the special all the same.
How much were the Friends cast paid for reunion?
It was previously reported that the six stars will each pocket a hefty sum of over $3 million for the appearance, according to Deadline.
Speaking on Friday 21st February 2020, HBO Max boss Kevin Reilly said: “Guess you could call this the one where they all got back together – we are reuniting with David, Jennifer, Courteney, Matt, Lisa, and Matthew for an HBO Max special that will be programmed alongside the entire Friends library [for US viewers].
“I became aware of Friends when it was in the very early stages of development and then had the opportunity to work on the series many years later and have delighted in seeing it catch on with viewers generation after generation.
“It taps into an era when friends – and audiences – gathered together in real time and we think this reunion special will capture that spirit, uniting original and new fans.”
What is the Friends reunion about?
The special is an unscripted reunion featuring all six ‘friends’, with the show’s original creators Marta Kauffman and David Crane also being involved.
Being a documentary special, we don’t see the cast reprise their beloved roles, but instead chat about stories from behind the scenes. Topics include how creators Martha Kaufmann and David Crane had to “beg” David Schwimmer to play Ross, while Matt Le Blanc revealed the embarrassing reason why he nearly missed out on the part of Joey.
However, while appearing on The Graham Norton Show David Schwimmer said: “We are all ourselves, although there is one section of it that I don’t want to give away, but we all read something.” Interesting.
It isn’t just be the stars that Friends fans will find familiar. Monica’s iconic apartment is recreated on the same Warner Bros. Studios stage used during filming of the original series, while the famous Warner Bros. Ranch water fountain seen in the opening credits also features during the reunion.
The show’s original production designer Greg Grande teased the return of Monica’s famously spacious home on Instagram, saying: “Sssh. somethings happening deja vu…coming alive once again #friends #monicasapt #friendsreunion.”
Friends: The Reunion will air on Sky One and NOW in the UK and on HBO Max in the US. Every episode of Friends is currently available on Netflix. To find out what else is on telly, check out our TV Guide.