J. R. Hartley

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Not to be confused with L. P. Hartley.

J. R. Hartley is a fictional character in a popular advertisement promoting the British Yellow Pages, first shown in 1983 when British Telecom was privatised.[1]

The ad shows an elderly gentleman (acted by Norman Lumsden) asking in several second hand bookshops for "Fly Fishing by J. R. Hartley".

No bookshop has it, and he goes home dejected. His daughter, sympathising, hands him the Yellow Pages; and one of the shops he phones has a copy. He is delighted. The unheard questioner asks for his name and he responds at dictation speed: 'My name? Oh, yes, it's J. R. Hartley.'

The ad ends by promoting the Yellow Pages, the voiceover provided by actor Joss Ackland. In Britain's 2000 "Greatest TV Ads" poll, the advertisement was voted in the top 15.[2][3]


The author Michael Russell (author) wrote and published Fly Fishing, Memories of Angling Days, by J. R. Hartley in 1991.[4][5] The book was a best seller and led to two additional best sellers under the pseudonym J. R. Hartley: J.R. Hartley Casts Again-More Memories of Angling Days (1992) and Golfing by J. Hartley (1995).[2]

When Lumsden died on 28 November 2001 at the age of 95, the ad was broadcast again in his memory, nearly 20 years after its first appearance.

In February 2011, Yellow Pages re-made the advert, with fictional DJ Day V. Lately searching for a copy of his trance remix Pulse and Thunder,[6] which was released for sale at the same time.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hall, Sarah (30 November 2001). "Veteran singer-actor who found fame in TV ad dies, 95". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 13 March 2013. 
  2. ^ a b Owen, James (2012). Trout. London: Reaktion Books Ltd. p. 125. ISBN 9781861898777. 
  3. ^ "100 GREATEST TV ADS". Channel 4. Archived from the original on 3 April 2010. 
  4. ^ Hartley, J.R.; Russell, Michael. Fly Fishing, Memories of Angling Days, by J.R. Hartley. London: Stanley Paul. ISBN 9780091751920. 
  5. ^ O'Reilly, Terry; Tennant, Mike (2009). The Age of Persuasion-How Marketing Ate our Culture. Random House. p. 344. ISBN 9781582435800. 
  6. ^ "Day V Lately? That name rings a bell: Yellow Pages updates charming old JR Hartley with a trendy DJ in new TV advert", Daily Mail, 13 February 2011
  7. ^ Daily Record: Spoof dance track by DJ Day V Lately rockets up charts thanks to TV ad

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