7 Vidas is a Spanish sitcom which aired on Telecinco from 1999 to 2006. Its title translates as "7 lives" and the symbol of the sitcom is a cat, in reference to the belief that cats have 7 lives (curiously two lives less than cats from English-speaking countries which are popularly considered to have nine lives). The series is to date 2006 the longest running show of all-time in the history of Spanish television.
It was originally inspired by the American blockbuster Friends.
At its start it wasn't a great audience success, but over time, the show continued and gained more and more popularity series after series, making it the most popular Spanish TV series of all time.
It was in 7 Vidas that the now internationally famous actress Paz Vega and other Spanish actors first became household names in Spain.
The sitcom tells the story of a group of friends in Madrid. David (Toni Cantó) was in a coma for more than 18 years and suddenly awakes and starts discovering the new world in which he lives. His neighbour, Sole (Amparo Baró) is an old woman with a penchant for slapping anyone who behaves in a way she dislikes round the back of the neck. Sole soon becomes one of the show's most popular characters. Other characters were Sole's sexually frustrated son, Paco (Javier Cámara), Carlota (Blanca Portillo) David's single sister and Laura (Laurita to her friends) (Paz Vega), their cousin from Seville (with her colourful Sevillian accent), initially Paco's principal love interest and then David's.
Characters came and went, and by the end of the sitcom the only character who had appeared in the first series and lasted until its end was Sole. Other long-standing characters, and the two most popular, in addition to Sole, were Gonzalo (Gonzalo de Castro), a waiter who later became a main character and Carlota's husband (although they were later divorced), and Diana (Anabel Alonso), a frustrated actress, and a naïve lesbian. She was the first homosexual character in Spanish television who didn't follow stereotypes.
The script of the show was well known for poking fun at current events, politicians and celebrities and often contained a lot of risqué jokes.
Often scenes of the sitcom were set in Gonzalo's café "Kasi Ke No" - just as many Friends scenes were set in the Central Perk café - Sole's house and Carlota's house, and many outside shots were also used.
By the end of its run, the show was totally different from Friends.
7 Vidas was also known for its multiple cameos of famous people, including Shakira, El Canto del Loco, politician Santiago Carrillo and footballer Samuel Eto'o. Hugh Grant was pencilled in to appear in one chapter, but the actor subsequently declined the offer.
By the time the show reached its final episode, 7 Vidas had clocked up 204 chapters, with a macro celebration featuring all of the 19 main characters who had appeared over the series' history, including a video from Paz Vega who was busy filming in the United States and was unable to appear in person. A live interpretation of the main theme was also performed by El Canto del Loco, a Spanish pop group. That chapter was recorded and transmitted live without interruptions, bar a few minutes for commercials, which were used to change clothes and represent the passing of the time.
ANT1 channel in Greece picked up the rights to 7 Vidas for a Greek remake of the show, premiering in its fall 2008 lineup and entitled "7 Zωές" (7 Lives).
The popularity of "7 vidas" led in 2005 to a spin-off, Aída, which came to an end in 2014 after 237 episodes, surpassing 7 vidas' mark as the longest-running comedy show in the history of Spanish television. It featured a later popular "7 vidas" character of the same name, known for her vulgarity and for representing a "typical" working class Spanish woman. The series was set in a new context, with entirely new characters, though some characters from "7 vidas" appeared in some episodes, and others, mentioned in "7 vidas" but never shown were introduced as regulars of the new show. In 2009, when Carmen Machi, the actress who played Aída, left the series, new characters appeared and the series continued under the same basic premise.