If you’re a Friends fan you probably fall into one of two categories. Either you regard the nineties/early noughties sitcom as sacred, too precious to be touched by studio bosses keen to make a quick buck from a reunion. Or you’ve watched all 236 episodes, like, 19 times and are desperate for more.
If you’re the latter, there’s good news and bad news. According to James Michael Tyler – who played Central Perk owner Gunther for all ten series of the beloved comedy – new episodes couldn’t BE any less likely. “The executive producers have said there’s not a chance for a reunion,” he told RadioTimes.com. “They wouldn’t do it and I think it makes sense. When you think about it logically, they wrapped everything up tightly in a nice little bow and said ‘here you go.'”
Although, anyone who’s watched Sex and the City, Entourage or The Inbetweeners will know that hasn’t stopped eager executives in the past. “It hasn’t, but I don’t think Friends would really be suitable to follow through on it, especially if they were the way they were then and now they’re in their forties and they’re still having the same problems and issues.”
But while Jennifer Aniston, Matt LeBlanc, Courteney Cox, Matthew Perry, Lisa Kudrow and David Schwimmer are unlikely to return to their Central Perk couch, Tyler does have a rather marvellous idea for a different sort of reunion:
“How about this? And this is not going to happen – it’s all speculative, I shouldn’t even say anything about it… It’s just, if I was going to do something like that, how about the children of Friends? What happened to Ben and Emma and people like that? That might be an idea.”
It’s not a bad premise. Along with Ross’s son and his daughter with Rachel, the new format has scope to include Monica and Chandler’s twins Jack and Erica, as well as the “Von Trapp family” Phoebe and Mike plan to have in the series finale. (NB. The idea of Joey with children makes us feel too old to contemplate.)
Would Gunther still be serving them coffee? With such an idea up his sleeve, it only makes sense for Tyler to manoeuvre himself into the script. “That would be an interesting thing,” he says, before putting on a croaky voice: “Would you like another coffee? Get off my couch!”
As for Gunther, Tyler reckons he’s finally moved on from long-term crush Rachel Green. “I think they resolved things in that final episode – I think Gunther actually accepted that she appreciated him as a friend – and his hair is brighter than the sun.” Does he think the barista has gone on to find love? “I hope so. I really hope so because ten years is way too long. I hope he’s happy.”
Tyler was in town to promote Comedy Central’s FriendsFest – a four-day London event that recreates some of the sitcom’s famous sets, as well as displaying a number of exciting original props. Tickets sold out within minutes when they went on sale over the summer – so why does Friends remain so popular?
“I think it’s because there’s a new generation of fans,” says Tyler. “Friends was a nineties show – it was shot in the nineties – but these things happen all the time. They were happening in the forties, the fifties, the sixties, the noughties, and they’re happening now and we all know characters like that. Everybody has one of these characters in their real life and everybody has a little Phoebe in them, everyone’s a little like Ross sometimes or Joey or Chandler so I think people can identify with them.”
FriendsFest runs from 16th-20th September at The Boiler Room on Brick Lane in London (baby!). You can watch Friends exclusively on Comedy Central