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Friends director remembers Helen Baxendale as 'nice but not funny'

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Friends director James Burrows has called English actress Helen Baxendale “not particularly funny” and that David Schwimmer had no one to bounce off in their scenes.

Burrows is a highly regarded small screen director, with credits for TV’s most famous shows including Cheers, Frasier and Will & Grace.

He shot a total of 15 Friends episodes, including The One With All the Rugby in season four. In it, Schwimmer’s character Ross attempts to learn how to play rugby to impress his girlfriend Emily, played by Baxendale.

Writing in his new memoir, Directed by James Burrows, co-written with Eddy Friedfeld, Burrows remembered: “She (Baxendale) was nice but not particularly funny. Schwimmer had no one to bounce off. It was like clapping with one hand.”

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Despite Burrows' experience, the Ross and Emily storyline remains one of the most famous in the iconic show’s 10-year run.

In another excerpt, obtained by the Daily Mail, the 82-year-old director explained how tight shooting schedules dictate certain casting decisions.

“In sitcoms and any type of romantic comedy, the funny is just as important as the chemistry. We discovered that any new girlfriend for Ross needed to be as funny as Rachel (Jennifer Aniston),” he detailed. “Often, you can't recast, because of tight shooting deadlines or other logistical considerations. You don't cast anyone to be a straw man, unless it's for one episode.

“You need someone who gets laughs. Sometimes you start an arc and it ain't working out, so you have to get rid of that person. If it's a day player, it's a quick goodbye.

“The reverse is also true. If there's chemistry, the writers go to work to figure out some way of keeping the actor.”