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E4 reveals plans to replace 1,000 hours of 'Friends'

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The cast of Friends

© Rex Features / NBCU Photobank

E4's Paul Mortimer has revealed how the channel plans to replace US sitcom Friends in the schedules.

E4 airs over 1,000 hours of Friends annually, but from September 30 it will lose the rights to the classic series. Comedy Central will be airing Friends after September.

Explaining how the large gap will be filled, the channel manager insisted that the show's exit is a positive move for the broadcaster.

"It is a sign of E4's maturity that we are able to be a bit more creative and competitive," he told Broadcast.

"We can play movies from 8pm to 10pm because some of our titles are 12 certificates and feel a bit young for 9pm, and we can also ramp up our US comedies.

"Broadly speaking, Friends has played in the 5pm and 8pm slots for years. All that money coming back in [from not renewing the licence] means that there is a degree of richness and a bit more ambition, and we are rapidly developing ideas."

Current E4 shows such as Made In Chelsea, Tool Academy, The Big Bang Theory, The Inbetweeners and Phoneshop are expected to fill a large number of the hours.

The channel has also recently picked up several impressive US acquisitions including Happy Endings, which will launch in September, Zooey Deschanel's New Girl, James Van Der Beek's Apartment 23 and animation series Napoleon Dynamite and Allen Gregory.

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