One of the key things that the Multi-Coloured Swap Shop needed from the
very beginning was a telephone number on which viewers could call the
01 288 8055
This was the number that adorned Noel's desk for the first series of the
show. Over 20,000 calls came into the number during the course of the
series - and still came in after the end of the last show! One BBC
Engineer remembered whilst setting up a phone-in switch board for the then
PM Jim Callaghan a phone rang, and when he picked it up a voice said 'Is
that the Swap Shop?'.
Between series, the Post Office engineers (pre-British Telecom at
this time) set about finding a new number that was unlike any other to
reduce confusion and wrong numbers…
01 811 8055
From the start of series 2, we were introduced to what is probably the
most famous and best remembered of all television show phone numbers - the
legendary 01 811 8055 (Pronounced: Oh-1-8-Double 1-8-Oh-5-5).
This number would go on to be used by many other BBC programmes of the
time such as Lucky Numbers (Noel again!), Nationwide, Children in Need and
Crimewatch UK to name a few. The 01 811 family was extended to include
some other numbers such as 01 811 2211 (Pronounced: Oh-1-8-Double 1-Double 2-Double 1) that was used by a Monday
night BBC1 programme called Help Line fronted by Mary Parkinson and Chris Tarrant, and
Breakfast Time's highly historical 01 811 1066 (Pronounced: Oh-1-8-Double 1-Ten-Sixty Six).
The number outlasted both Swap Shop and Saturday SuperStore before being
taken up by the third incarnation Going Live!
081 811 8181
The fourth series of Going Live! brought along a surprise when it started.
BT had introduced 'New London Codes' earlier in 1990 splitting the 01
into 071 for inner London and 081 for outer London. The much
expected 081 811 8055 was replaced by the snappy new 081 811
8181 (Pronounced: Oh-8-1-8-1-1-8-1-8-1) - for many it seemed like the passing of an old friend - Noel
brought up the subject of a lack of the '8055' when guesting on the
The new number, however, brought with it the first sung 'telephone
The number was passed on to the next Saturday morning programme, Live
& Kicking, in 1993 and also was the inspiration for the 'P.O. Box
8181' address for the show.
0181 811 8181
Towards the back end of L&K's second series, BT's 'PhONEday' initiative
to add an extra 1 to all UK numbers meant that once again a new number
came along. So 0181 811 8181 (Pronounced: Oh-1-8-1-8-1-1-8-1-8-1) it was, and an edited jingle was used
(cramming in an extra 1) until the new one arrived from the jingle studio.
See below for the audio clip of the jingle.
The number was also used by the CBBC afternoon presentation team during
its lifetime. They gave it a different twist by calling it 01-81-81-1-81-81 (Pronounced: Oh-1-Eighty One-Eighty One-One-Eighty One-Eighty One).
With the imminent arrival of BT's 'The Big Number' in 2000, and yet
another code change for London, the opportunity was taken to replace a
potentially far less catchy and clumsy 020 8811 8181 with 0845
610 1515 (Pronounced: Oh-8-4-5-6-1-Oh-1-5-1-5), providing all viewers with a local rate number to call the
programme for the first time.