United Kingdom

Friends TV show producers are at the centre of a race row

Producers of the much anticipated Friends comeback show are at the centre of a race row after failing to cast any black actors.

While the one-off return of the much loved US sitcom will feature all six members of the original line-up, the list of celebrity guests stars announced by broadcaster HBO has been criticised for a lack of diversity. 

The guests for Friends: The Reunion, which airs on May 27 in the US – 17 years after the last of the original series – include Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani activist for female education; and the Korean pop band BTS – but no black stars. 

Producers of the much anticipated Friends comeback show are at the centre of a race row after failing to cast any black actors. (Above, a promo video marking their return)

While the one-off return of the much loved US sitcom will feature all six members of the original line-up - Jennifer Aniston (above), Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matthew Perry, Matt LeBlanc and David Schwimmer - the list of celebrity guests stars announced by broadcaster HBO has been criticised for a lack of diversity

The guests for Friends: The Reunion, which airs on May 27 in the US – 17 years after the last of the original series – include Malala Yousafzai (above), the Pakistani activist for female education; and the Korean pop band BTS – but no black stars

Even the original Friends' only black character – Ross's girlfriend Dr Charlie Wheeler, played by Aisha Tyler – will not feature in the reunion.

The decision sparked fury on social media, with one fan writing: 'After convincing us that NYC [New York City] has no black or brown people in it for ten seasons, they issue a reunion with 25 celebs and somehow evade finding a single black person.'

The decision sparked fury on social media, including these reactions on Twitter

The programme is directed and produced by British TV executive Ben Winston, the son of fertility expert Professor Robert Winston, and the man behind James Corden's The Late Late Show on US TV network CBS. 

Mr Corden, 42, is among the guest stars, as is David Beckham and the model Cara Delevingne.

Other celebrities joining the original main cast of Jennifer Aniston, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry, Lisa Kudrow, Courteney Cox and David Schwimmer include Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, Cindy Crawford, Reese Witherspoon and Kit Harrington.

The One with the Great Celebrity Guest Stars: Also joining the line-up are celebrities who did not feature in the original show, like Justin Bieber, Cindy Crawford and Lady Gaga 

The original series, which screened on Channel 4 in the UK, ended its ten-year run in 2004. The finale was watched by 52.5 million US viewers.

It is not the first time that the lack of diversity in Friends has attracted controversy.

Asked last year if the cast would be different if the series was made today, Ms Kudrow, who played Phoebe Buffay, told The Sunday Times: 'It would not be an all-white cast, for sure.'

In an interview last year, Mr Schwimmer proposed a more diverse remake. 'Maybe there should be an all-black Friends or an all-Asian Friends,' he said.

'But I was well aware of the lack of diversity and I campaigned for years to have Ross date women of colour.'

It is yet to be announced when Friends: The Reunion will be available to watch in the UK.

The original series, which screened on Channel 4 in the UK, ended its ten-year run in 2004. The finale was watched by 52.5 million US viewers

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