Yellow Pages delivers final copies as it goes fully digital

End of the Yellow Pages: Phone directory famous for memorable adverts delivers final copies as it goes fully digital

  • The final copies were delivered yesterday as the publisher went fully digital 
  • Were handed out by actor James Nesbitt in Brighton where it was first printed
  • He starred in several of the brand’s most memorable adverts, including in 2003

For decades it could be found on the shelves of just about every home in Britain.

But the number is finally up for Yellow Pages – once the go-to directory for everything from accountants to zoos.

The final copies were delivered yesterday as the publisher went fully digital. They were handed out by Cold Feet actor James Nesbitt, who starred in several of the brand’s most memorable adverts, in Brighton where it was first printed in 1966.

The final copies were delivered yesterday as the publisher went fully digital. They were handed out by Cold Feet actor James Nesbitt (pictured) 

Nesbitt’s adverts include a scene where he frantically searches for a hairdresser after making a horrible job of cutting his niece’s hair (pictured)

Speaking yesterday, Nesbitt said: ‘The Yellow Pages have been very good to me in my career. You wouldn’t think you’d get such recognition from doing a few silly commercials but they really stuck with people

Among those receiving a copy were two businesses that have been advertising in the telephone directory since the first issue. Since then a billion copies have been printed on a trillion pages and delivered to 27million addresses nationwide.

The first book was published by the Post Office, and today there are 104 editions for different areas.


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Nesbitt, whose adverts include a scene where he frantically searches for a hairdresser after making a horrible job of cutting his niece’s hair, said: ‘The Yellow Pages have been very good to me in my career. You wouldn’t think you’d get such recognition from doing a few silly commercials but they really stuck with people.’

His appearances were not alone in finding an audience. The mini-story featuring Norman Lumsden as a man who locates a rare copy of a book on fly fishing through Yellow Pages before revealing he’s the author, JR Hartley, was voted Britain’s fifth most popular advert in 2015. It made such a mark after its first broadcast in 1983 that an angling book subsequently written under the name became a bestseller. 

On the button: As well as its colour, Yellow Pages was known for its walking fingers slogan and logo, which was never trademarked and is used worldwide (advert released in 1970)

A fine catch: Actor Norman Lumsden uses Yellow Pages to trace a copy of a book on fly fishing – only revealing at the end that he’s the author, JR Hartley (advert released in 1983)

Close call: With his parents away, a teenager holds a party at which a treasured table is scratched. He is saved by calling a furniture restorer in the directory (advert released in 1991)

Over the years the directory became useful for more than just its phone numbers – its size lent it to many purposes. Nesbitt joked: ‘They were part of the furniture. My mother used to hit me with one. My girlfriend used to hit me with one. It was useful for all sorts of things.’

In a Christmas advert broadcast in 1992, a small boy stands on a Yellow Pages so he can reach up to kiss a girl under the mistletoe.

But that trick would make little difference to the lad’s height nowadays. The famously fat book is drastically reduced in size as more companies switch to online advertising and set up their own websites. Yellow Pages can now be found online operated by marketing company Yell.

Chief executive Richard Hanscott said yesterday: ‘It is with a hint of sadness that we hand out the last copies but we felt that this was the right time to focus ourselves on digital.’

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