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  • A safe fictional phone number
    by themymble at 20:59 on 25 April 2008
    Hi everyone

    Does anyone know if there's a UK version of the US 555-555 phone number -- it's used in films. Being a fictional phone number, it won't result in hundreds of nuisance calls to some poor lady in Hackensack.

    I need to generate a lot of fake landline and mobile phone numbers for a story (don't ask, it's highly experimental!).

    I specifically don't want suggestions for working around giving specific phone numbers in dialogue (thanks all the same).

    A question similar to this appeared a couple of years ago, but there was no really satisfactory answer.

    Thanks in advance

  • Re: A safe fictional phone number
    by EmmaD at 21:12 on 25 April 2008
    You could ring BT and ask - you can't be the first person to have this problem. If there are exchange numbers, or mobile pre-fixes, that aren't actually used, then you could have any numbers you like for the rest of each.

  • Re: A safe fictional phone number
    by themymble at 10:54 on 01 May 2008
    I've found an answer to the question of safe fictional phone numbers... on the Wikipedia entry about 555:

    In other countries, where different numbering schemes are used, different conventions for fictional numbers are used. For example, the United Kingdom telephone regulator, the Office of Communications (Ofcom) has reserved blocks of numbers in most major areas for use in TV and radio dramas, with the generic area code 01632 available for all other areas (for detail see UK telephone numbering plan). Fictitious numbers mostly end with the digits 4960xxx. Ofcom also reserves blocks of cellphone (0770 900xxx), toll-free (08081 570xxx), and pay-per-call numbers (0909 8790xxx) for drama use.

    And here's the Ofcom page on the subject.

    Thank you Wikipedia and bless you, Ofcom
  • Re: A safe fictional phone number
    by RT104 at 08:22 on 13 June 2008
    How funny - you mean people might read a fictional phone number in a novel and then go and ring it???! There are quite a few phone numbers in my current book, which is set partly in a call centre, and is all about phone calls; I wonder if the copy editor will raise the issue. I just stuck down any old thing - and have used correct area codes for athenticity so probably they may well be 'real' numbers. How interesting - I seriously never thought about it!

  • Re: A safe fictional phone number
    by themymble at 08:32 on 13 June 2008
    Idle fingers, you know.

    And if you go to the Lost website, or the Dr Who website, there are all sorts of things to pursue -- fake company websites, hidden material, so there's no telling what people might imagine is hidden at the end of phone number.
  • Re: A safe fictional phone number
    by Account Closed at 20:42 on 13 June 2008
    I've never thought about this before in my life. How weird that phone companies would set phone numbers to one side specifically for something like this. I don't think I've ever read a novel with a full phone number in it before, but I can't say that if I did, I'd be tempted to call it.

    Except now I will be looking out for them, and I probably will be tempted...

  • Re: A safe fictional phone number
    by Sally_Nicholls at 12:49 on 14 June 2008
    In 'A Staggering Work of Heartbreaking Genius', (which is autobiographical) Dave whatsisname used the real phone numbers of his friends for authenticity. Apparently, his friends agreed to this, but got surprisingly few prank calls. Only one or two each, I think. Dave hypothosised that this was people didn't believe he would actually put their real numbers in a book.

    He took them out in later editions, after the book got big.
  • Re: A safe fictional phone number
    by Steerpike`s sister at 16:51 on 15 June 2008
    That's mad. Makes me wonder, all the times I gave out a fake phone number to pushy blokes in clubs, did some poor random person get phoned the next day by someone expecting to pull?
    I once got a call on my landline from a woman who, as soon as I answered, barked 'Where's my husband?' at me. I was like 'Um... I don't know, where did you see him last?' She wouldn't believe that I was not her husband's mistress, and was convinced that I had him sequestered somewhere in the house. 'Don't lie to me! I know he's there!' Finally she slammed the phone down. Still have no idea what that was about.

    I have a thing for getting wrong number phone calls, actually. I was home from uni once, and the landline rang. I picked it up, said hello, and some bloke said furiously 'Why aren't you in school?' I said 'Because I'm 21.' Poor bloke was covered in confusion , couldn't apologise enough.
    And then, last year, I was waiting for the tram back home from work, and my mobile rang, and someone speaking French started berating me for having stolen their husband's mobile! I pointed out that this was my phone, I'd had it for 10 years, and maybe they had the wrong number. 'No!' they knew my game, I am a despicable thief, etc. etc. Finally they rang off. I got a call from the same number a moment later. I almost didn't answer it, but then thought, what the hell, and did so. It was the same person, full of embarrassment and apology... yes, they'd dialled the wrong number.
  • Re: A safe fictional phone number
    by themymble at 08:39 on 16 June 2008
    There's a story in there somewhere...

    I got into a text message conversation with a family who thought I was their uncle. I let on in the end, and they were more amused than cross.

    Of course, I wouldn't be so mischievous now I'm older and wiser.
  • Re: A safe fictional phone number
    by RJH at 10:34 on 16 July 2008
    The next stage in fiction writing will be the ability to be able to ring the fictional phone numbers, speak to the actual fictional characters who own them and change the course of the plot by doing so...