Friendsfest comes to London

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East London isn't particularly 'Hollywood', but for four days, the old Boiler House on Brick Lane was under the control of Comedy Central, who had spent the last three months designing and recreating the core of the world-famous F.R.I.E.N.D.S set for an exclusive exhibition, to commemorate the show's 21st Birthday.
We popped in to take a look.

F.R.I.E.N.D.S was a worldwide phenomena. The show spanned ten series, and 236 episodes; and the series finale was watched by a staggering 52.46 million people, making it the fourth most-viewed finale in US history. At that time, each of the six main cast members were on one million bucks an episode (yes, episode), which is some rate of inflation when you consider the original $22,000 fee.

This cool exhibition successfully captures everything that F.R.I.E.N.D.S is about. The 5,000 (ish) allocated tickets took just minutes to sell out, and demand was so great that Comedy Central tell us they could have sold it out more than 20 times over. Incredible, especially considering the show hasn't aired for more than 11 years.

So what did you get for your £5 entry fee? Well, not only do visitors get to perch on that famous orange sofa and sip on an espresso in Central Perk, they can watch a couple of F.R.I.E.N.D.S episodes from the luxury of one of those famous lazy-boy recliners in Joey and Chandler's front room, spend hours scanning the original props from the show (we particularly liked Rachel's 18-page letter to Ross when they were 'on a break', and Ross's geeky 'Science Boy' magazine), or have a nose around Monica's spotless apartment - and we have to admit, that bit was particularly amazing. Not only is the shell a perfect replica of the real thing, everything is meticulously laid-out, and exactly as it was in the show, from the positioning of the kitchenware and utensils, to the inclusion of an Etch-a-Sketch and the board game, Pictionary, both of which played pivotal roles in famous F.R.I.E.N.D.S episodes. Furthermore, they've found the same French poster to sit above the TV on the far wall, parting Rachel and Monica's bedrooms; and you can even pick up a set of real binoculars and look out the window in search of ugly naked guy if that floats your boat. We couldn't spot him, sadly, but top marks for effort.

Of course, F.R.I.E.N.D.S wouldn't be F.R.I.E.N.D.S without the soundtrack. When The Rembrandts penned that song I'll Be There For You in cahoots with show producers David Crane and Marta Kauffman, they surely can't have begun to imagine how iconic it would become. Although it wasn't the original choice (R.E.M's Shiny Happy People was used on the pilot), this three-minute pop song, which was actually on the band's third album, became a globally-recognised singalong almost overnight, and shot to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 Airplay chart when it was released in 1995, remaining there for eight weeks.

Check out the full feature in the next issue, coming soon, which includes a chat with James Michael Tyler (who played Gunther in the show) about falling into F.R.I.E.N.D.S, and jamming with rock stars!