During The Stolen Earth, the twelfth and penultimate episode of series four of the revived Doctor Who, first broadcast on the 28th June 2008, there was a sequence where former companions Sarah Jane Smith and Martha Jones, together with the entire Torchwood team, and Harriet Jones ('Former Prime Minister'), were all trying to contact the good Doctor in order to save the Earth (and as it turned out the whole of reality) from destruction at the hands of the Daleks. It was during this sequence that Doctor Who's telephone number 07700 900461 was clearly displayed on screen on more than one occasion.

Now whereas Doctor Who might well be fiction, this was obviously not going to stop one or two people, or at least two thousand or so as it turned out, from actually dialling that very number. Those that did so were however disappointed, as whilst they appear to have expected that they would be rewarded by some kind of message from the good Doctor, all they actually heard was either a dead dial tone or a network message informing them that the number was unavailable.

As it turns out the makers of television and radio shows have already considered the potential problems that might arise from the inclusion of telephone numbers within any dramatic presentation, since of course the last thing they want to do is to broadcast someone's actual phone number and find themselves in receipt of a lawsuit from the disgruntled citizen in question who has been subjected to a plague of nuisance calls. It is in response to such concerns that the Office of Communication, otherwise known as Ofcom, publishes an official list of Telephone Numbers for drama purposes, which details a whole list of telephone numbers that "will not be allocated to Communications Providers in the foreseeable future" and therefore do not exist.

There are ranges of telephone numbers in respect of most of the major cities of the United Kingdom, together with similar dummy numbers for Mobile, Freephone, and Premium Rate Services, thereby satisfying most if not all dramatic requirements.


SOURCES

  • Aislinn Simpson, Doctor Who phone number has fans in frenzy, Daily Telegraph, 07/07/2008
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/celebritynews/2261219/Doctor-Who-phone-number-has-fans-in-frenzy.html
  • Telephone Numbers for drama purposes (TV, Radio etc)
    http://www.ofcom.org.uk/telecoms/ioi/numbers/num_drama

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