Original scripts from two episodes of Friends have been rescued from a bin and made available to the public.
The Season Four finale drafts were recovered from a pile of rubbish at the now-defunct Fountain Studios in London, where the two episodes were filmed, in 1998.
All of the show’s cast and crew were expected to destroy the scripts to prevent the season’s ending from being leaked, but a studio worker, who preferred not to be named, salvaged a set that had been tossed in a bin.
“I found them in a bin a couple of weeks after filming had finished,” the man told UK newspaper The Telegraph.
“It was part of my job to ensure everything was tidy and no rubbish was left around. I wasn’t sure what to do with them, so I just put them in my office drawer.
“I remember wondering which member of the cast they might have belonged to.
“I left Fountain Studios in 1999 and when I came to clear my desk I just swept everything into a big cardboard box. I forgot the scripts were there. They were mixed up in a pile of paperwork.”
The scripts recount the cult sitcom’s two-part Season Four finale, titled The One With Ross’s Wedding, in which Rachel desperately tries to get to London to tell Ross she’s in love with him before he marries his fiancee, Emily.
The episodes are best known for the moment when Ross humiliates Emily at the alter, saying “I, Ross, take thee Rachel” in an unfortunate slip of the tongue, as well as stoking the first fires of Chandler and Monica’s budding romance.
Members of the cast, including Matthew Perry, Jennifer Aniston and David Schwimmer, travelled to England to film the episodes.
The scripts will go to a public auction both online and in person on Friday. A standby ticket to filming at Fountain Studios on April 2, 1998 and box sets of the fourth and fifth seasons are included in the deal, as well as a yellow cab sticker, a key ring and a Friends London hoodie that was reportedly given to the production crew during taping.
It’s not clear who had the scripts during filming but, according to Amanda Butler of Hanson Ross auctioneers, it would have been a member of the show’s cast or crew.
“There is a sticker for a chap called John Lanzer who is a set designer, so they possibly could have been his,” she said.
Ms Butler admitted to being a huge Friends fan, saying: “It’s just surreal to read it and see in writing what you’ve seen on the screen”.
“Friends fans will absolutely love these,” she added.
Ironically, the 60-year-old seller said he “wasn’t a big Friends fan” and had only recently watched the episodes produced by the scripts he’d kept hidden for nearly 26 years.
“I don’t dislike the show, but I only recently watched the episodes I have the scripts for,” he said.
“American humour is different to [British]. These scripts deserve to be owned by a big Friends fan.”
The scripts are expected to sell for between £600 and £800 (A$1140 – $1520), but Ms Butler warned dedicated fans could easily exceed that mark.
“The sky’s the limit. If people want them they will bid for them,” she said.