For decades it could be found on the shelves of just about every home in Britain.
But the number is finally available for the Yellow Pages – once the go-to directory for everything from accountants to zoos.
The final copies were delivered yesterday as the publisher went entirely digital. They were presented by Cold Feet actor James Nesbitt, who starred in several of the brand’s most memorable commercials, in Brighton where it was first printed in 1966.
The final copies were delivered yesterday as the publisher went entirely digital. They were presented by Cold Feet actor James Nesbitt (pictured)
Nesbitt’s commercials include a scene where he frantically searches for a barber after doing a horrible job cutting his niece’s hair (pictured)
Speaking yesterday, Nesbitt said: “The Yellow Pages have helped me a lot in my career. You wouldn’t think you would get such recognition by doing a few silly ads, but they really stuck with people.
Among those who received a copy, there were two companies that had been advertising in the phone book from the first number. Since then, one billion copies have been printed on one trillion pages and distributed to 27 million addresses nationwide.
The first book was published by La Poste, and today there are 104 editions for different fields.
Nesbitt, whose commercials include a scene where he frantically searches for a hairdresser after doing a horrible job cutting his niece’s hair, said: “The Yellow Pages have been very good for me in my career. You wouldn’t think you would get such recognition by doing a few silly ads, but they really stuck with people.
His appearances weren’t the only ones to find an audience. The mini-story starring Norman Lumsden as the man who finds a rare copy of a fly fishing book in the yellow pages before revealing he is author, JR Hartley, has been elected Britain’s fifth most popular commercial in 2015. It made such a mark after it first aired in 1983 that a fishing book subsequently written under the name became a bestseller.
On the button: In addition to its color, Pages Jaunes was known for its slogan and logo, which was never registered and is used worldwide (advertisement published in 1970)
A nice catch: Actor Norman Lumsden uses the yellow pages to trace a copy of a book on fly fishing – revealing only at the end that he is the author, JR Hartley (commercial published in 1983)
Close call: In the absence of his parents, a teenager throws a party at which a precious table is scraped. He is saved by calling a furniture restorer in the directory (advertisement published in 1991)
Over the years, the directory has become useful for more than just telephone numbers – its size has enabled it to serve many purposes. Nesbitt joked, “They were part of the furniture. My mom hit me with one. My girlfriend hit me with one. It was useful for all kinds of things.
In a Christmas advertisement that aired in 1992, a little boy stands on yellow pages so he can kiss a girl under the mistletoe.
But this trick would make little difference to a boy’s height these days. The size of the famous book is drastically reduced as more businesses switch to online advertising and build their own websites. The yellow pages can now be found online operated by the marketing company Yell.
Managing Director Richard Hanscott said yesterday: “It is with a hint of sadness that we are distributing the last copies, but we felt it was the right time to focus on digital.”