'Friends' reunion special to finally start filming in Los Angeles next week

The highly anticipated programme has faced delays due to the coronavirus pandemic

FRIENDS -- "The One with the Football" Episode 6 -- Pictured: (l-r) Courteney Cox Arquette as Monica Geller, David Schwimmer as Ross Geller, Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe Buffay, Jennifer Aniston as Rachel Green, Matt LeBlanc as Joey Tribbiani -- Photo by: Gary Null/NBCU Photo Bank

After years of hoping and months of anticipation, the Friends reunion special will finally start shooting in Los Angeles next week.

The one-off special, which will air on HBO Max, has faced several delays due to the coronavirus pandemic. It was initially due to start filming in February 2020, with a view of airing that May. However, the unscripted special will finally begin shooting early next week, industry publication Deadline reports.

The news comes after David Schwimmer, who played Ross Geller in the long-standing sitcom, revealed at The Graham Norton Show that he was flying out to Los Angeles to film the programme alongside his former co-stars.

Schwimmer also previously confirmed the show would begin filming in April during an interview with Andy Cohen on SiriusXM. "So, finally ... we figured out a way, I think, to film it safely and there's going to be a portion of it that we film outside because of, you know, safety protocols," he said.

The programme will be the first time that all six of the show's stars – Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and Schwimmer – have reunited in front of the cameras.

However, the actors will not be portraying their former characters. Instead, the one-off unscripted special will be in a talk show format. Kudrow, who played musician and masseuse Phoebe Buffay, previously shared more details with Rob Lowe during an episode of his podcast, Literally! With Rob Lowe.

"It is not a reboot, it is not like a scripted thing, we are not portraying our characters," she said.

When the show was first announced, sources told The Hollywood Reporter that the cast, who all negotiated together, will earn more than double their former per-episode fee for the reunion. That's between $2.5 million and $3m.

Back when the original show was being shot, the cast famously renegotiated their salaries together to earn $1m per episode each.