IT was on and off again more times than Ross and Rachel. After years of ‘Will they/won’t they?’, then a 12-month delay in a global pandemic, the Friends Reunion finally happened.

And in the end it was The One That Felt A Bit Sad. Not so much for the six co-stars, who seemed at ease in each others’ company considering they’d only been in the same room together once since the show ended 17 years ago.

The best bits were when they were left to look around the old sets; it was touching to see their delight at re-discovering Monica’s kitchen, Joey and Chandler’s TV recliners, and handwritten messages they all left after the final episode.

And it was nice to see other cast members, particularly the Geller parents, Elliott Gould and Christina Pickles, who rather sweetly revealed that they used to worry about the young actors as if they were their own brood.

There were some behind-the-scenes snippets and even a show-stopper reveal when it turned out the Ross and Rachel chemistry was for real, after Jennifer Aniston and David Schwimmer revealed they fancied each other in season one.

But as with all reunions, the fun of looking back was laced with melancholy. It seems the Friends were only really funny when they had a 30-strong team of razor-sharp writers putting words in their mouth. Ironically, it was Matthew Perry, who played king of the one-liners Chandler, who had least to say, while Matt LeBlanc, dim-witted Joey, turned out to be the joker.

And seeing them in middle-age, watching clips of themselves going back nearly 30 years, was a stark reminder, to those of us of the same generation, that time marches on. The show’s co-creators, Marta Kaufman and David Crane, drew inspiration from their experiences living with friends in New York. It was, they say, a love letter to that transient time when your friends are your family.

It’s a time I remember well, having shared a succession of flats and houses as a student, then throughout my twenties. Those years were probably the happiest of my life; there was a sense of freedom you only really have at that age, and it was just a laugh. I laughed a lot with those friends, and we were there for each other too. Occasionally a new job would take me to a different part of the country, where I didn’t know a soul, and the friends I made, worked and lived with became like family.

I had little money and few possessions - it occurred to me recently that my 22-year-old niece has a car, a corner sofa, a puppy and a house, while all I had at her age was a radio/cassette player - but none of my friends had anything either. There was no social media, no status anxiety, no Insta-perfect Cheshire Wives lifestyle to aspire to.

There was no chic New York loft apartment either, so it wasn’t exactly Friends. I lived in some scummy flats over the years, and for about six months I had a bedroom that was more of a corridor next to the kitchen, but it didn’t matter back then. My friends and I knew this was a time that wouldn’t last forever - eventually we would go on to buy houses and settle down, just as Monica, Chandler and the gang did in the final episode. And because of that, those fun but intense years of impromptu house parties, mid-week pub sessions, rubbish late-night telly, relationship crises, having each others’ backs and drying our collective washing on the radiators, were all the more precious.

Watching the Friends reunion made me chuckle and it made me shed a little tear. But most of all it made me want to see my friends.