Ramsay is roasted by 'Friends' in ratings war

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The Independent Online

Gordon Ramsay proved to be no match for Friends as the sitcom bowed out on Friday, drawing twice as many viewers as the foul-mouthed chef's ITV1 reality series.

Friends pulled in its biggest ever audience for the hour-long finale with 8.6 million people tuning in to Channel 4 to see them handing in their keys before meeting for a final coffee at Central Perk.

After a troubled week which saw two "chefs" quitting in days and Roger Cook retiring injured with a bad knee, Ramsay's series Hell's Kitchen pulled in just 4.1 million viewers.

It was a ratings bonanza for Channel 4 which also launched the fifth series of Big Brother on Friday with an oddball cast of characters.

The opening show, which followed Friends, was viewed by an average of 6.7 million people and the two shows became the station's biggest audience winners of the year. The Big Brother launch drew the same number of viewers as its opener in 2003.

A Channel 4 spokeswoman said: "We're thrilled so many fans tuned in to say goodbye to Friends and that Big Brother has kicked off so strongly."

Friends was two million up on its previous highest audience two years earlier.