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The Piccadilly Circus billboards are being switched off from Monday

Written by
Josh Mcloughlin

It's one of London's most iconic sights, but the famous Piccadilly Circus billboards, where global brands have been advertising to hundred of millions of people each year since 1908, will be switched off today until autumn 2017.

It's kind of a big deal, because the lights are rarely off. They've previously only been switched off during times of war, or to mark massive events like Winston Churchill's funeral in 1965 and Princess Diana's funeral in 1997.

But the existing screen will be replaced by Europe's largest single digital screen, which will retain the characteristic curved shape. One of the new features will allow live streams from any event across the globe, plus advertisers can include real-time social media updates.

The first illuminated advertisement at Piccadilly Circus was for Perrier in 1908. But Coca-Cola has had a sign up continuously for over 60 years, after first placing an advert in 1954.

The new Piccadilly Lights (as it's being called) will be unveiled some time in autumn 2017. Until then, expect to see a lot of confused tourists looking for the non-existent Piccadilly Circus billboards.

In other news, a Crossrail dig has uncovered 13,000 rare Victorian jam jars.

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