An IT Crowd episode included a parody of the new directory inquiries services:

What would happen if someone (in the UK) actually called that number? I suspect they would end up calling the emergency call center in Reading (0118), so I'm not actually going to try it.

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    be a man and dial it
    – pt18cher
    Commented Nov 13, 2014 at 18:14
  • For reference, the ITU (the people who get to define phone numbers, and things like country calling codes) say phone numbers are a maximum of 15 digits (I'm not sure if this includes the country code, actually). This number is 20 digits. If it's supposed to be an in-Britain number, it's invalid (or using an absurdly long extension, which is unlikely). The United Kingdom uses 00 to get phone calls to leave the country (011 is used to leave the US and some neighboring regions, nobody uses 0118. +8 is not a valid destination country code). Commented Dec 2, 2014 at 11:58
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    In the US, any in-country number longer than 10 digits (1-xxx-xxx-xxxx), the additional digits are ignored as the system starts dialing once it hears the 10 digits.
    – Catija
    Commented Mar 28, 2016 at 15:54
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    I rolled-back a recent edit. The thing being parodied are the new directory inquiries (118 xxx) services, not the emergency services.
    – billpg
    Commented Mar 29, 2016 at 10:23
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    I cannot answer this because of the site's mad points system, but the answer is this from within the UK. 0118 is the geographical area code for Reading, Berkshire. Under Part C1 of the Ofcom National Numbering plan numbers within a geographical region beginning 999 are not individually allocated, as within a geographical area this is the emergency services access number. So 0118 999 will currently get you an invalid number tone.
    – user61694
    Commented Feb 6, 2018 at 12:28

3 Answers 3


This isn't a real number. If you ring it (just tried it to be sure), you'll simply get an invalid number noise (like this but without the speaking).

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    Technically this is actually a real number, however I guess it was likely moved to the "Never assign" list shortly after the show first aired. Commented Sep 28, 2021 at 16:49
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    @JamesGeddes A comment by user61694 under the question claims that the '999' located in that position means that it was never a number that would be assigned and would get you an invalid number tone. Commented Sep 29, 2021 at 19:47

If your phone is running stock Android (Lollipop or later), there's an easter egg if you try to dial this.



I don't know for sure, but in the US they never use real phone numbers. Well, ever since that Tommy Tutone song "867-5309". Since it's a parody, it's probably not going to ring the real Emergency Call Center. In fact, this blog post should give an indication that the number isn't real.

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    It is a fake number and the questioner knows that. He's asking what would happen if someone tried to dial the number. The first four digits are a real number, as are the next three (and I don't know enough about the UK to know if the rest are or not). That's part of the joke. If you started dialing the number in the parody, what would happen? That's the question. Commented Nov 13, 2014 at 17:13
  • Actually, they do use real phone numbers here in the States more often than not. The still in service PE6-5000, for one, in New York. Let's not forget BE4-5789, 867-5309, 6060-842, and on and on... Commented Apr 15, 2020 at 17:36

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