Alastair's Blog

Return to:  Blog | Articles | Videos RSS feed

Names round-up

Posted on 22 February 2009 | 8:02am

Thanks to everyone (particularly Charlie, which nonetheless doesn’t qualify) for suggestions of people instantly recognisable by first name alone.

I kicked off with Delia in advance of my lunch with her at Norwich v Burnley yesterday, and yes, to those who asked on my Facebook page, there was custard with the treacle sponge.

One or two of you suggested fellow celebrity chefs like Gordon, but I think Brown might have a prior call.

Several suggested Alastair, but that is what we call cybercreeping. What about Darling (even if spelled differently) or Sim, or Stewart? A few suggested Freddie, but Freddie who? Flintoff, Mercury, Trueman? If I have immediately thought of more than one, I have not included.

I have allowed in a handful of fictional characters on a purely random, subjefctive and selfish basis.
Anyway in no particular order, here goes with your suggestions
Clint, Sven, Nancy (only if next to Sven I think,) Elvis, Jesus, Tiger, Lance, Engelbert (a bit of a cheat because not real name but ok), Elton, Ringo, (likewise, but I don’t allow Bono, The Edge or Sting – too unique! Mick nearly made it, as in Jagger, which is no mean feat for such a common name, but then I thought of dozens of others), Maggie, Che, Jade, Arianna, Hillary (definitely if 2 ls included), (someone suggested Bill but that only works with Hillary), Rudy, Ken (I’ll let it in but even as I do I’m thinking Livingstone or Clarke), Homer, Bart, (oh ok), Marilyn, Diana,Kylie, Britney, Idi, Winston (sorry to put one of the greatest after one of the worst), ‘Enery (only with dropped H), Fidel, Scarlett, Rhett, Sherlock, Hercule, Jude, Jade, Austin, Cassius, Dolly (I let this in on the grounds of Parton being a person and ‘the sheep’ being a sheep,) Dusty, Cliff, Goldie, Ziggy, Ming, Salman, Kanye, Snoop, Brad, Angelina, Keira, Audrey, Humphrey, (the last two were borderline), Glenys, Cherie, Ghengis, Smoky, Saddam, Peaches, Mo, Edwina, Adolf, Buddy, Leona, Lewis (as in Leona Lewis and Lewis Hamilton), Arnie, Kermit, Manfred, Mahatma, Whitney, Cher, Beyonce, Cesc, Seve, (get well soon), Brucie (only in the UK I think and only with the -ie),Toyah, Groucho, Woody.

A few got in as couples, a la Bill and Hillary, eg Eric and Ernie, Richard and Judy, Ronnie and Reggie.
The only child who made it into the list is Brooklyn.

But my overall winner is Napoleon. Not only has he stood the test of time, and the judgement of history, but he has done so with his first name becoming better known than the second, unusual for a political/military figure. And did you know that he (or at least one of his advisors and Napoleon gave the go-ahead) invented the baguette? I bet Delia didn’t know that … It was so his soldiers could put their bread through two holes on the side of their trousers, rather than have it get battered around their knapsacks and turn into crumbs by the time they had stopped marching.

  • Luke Smith

    I canonly assume the double appearence of the name Jade only refers to the one?

  • Steven Nash

    You see when I hear the name Clint, I automatically think of Clint Mansell from Pop Will Eat Itself đŸ˜€

  • Martin Campbell

    I think Manny, Baron Shinwell of Easington, deserves posthumous inclusion in your list of recognisable first names.

  • Theo Grzegorczyk


  • Michael

    Roger and Rafa. Especially when a couple!

  • Michael Grieve

    You forgot Cilla, Pelle and of course Maggie tho I do wish I could forget Maggie

  • Clark HT


  • Brian Moylan

    Mum đŸ˜‰

  • Joe Mckay

    What about Axl?

  • Charlie

    Very amusing exercise. Personally I agree with your choice of Napoleon Bonaparte who I guess is known 90% by his Christian name and 10% by his surname. The only other historical figure (that we were considering and who actually have more than just one name) who runs him close to being recognised just by one name is Winston Churchill, but he is nearer to 50/50.

    I should imagine that there would also be a strong case made for Jesus although, on reflection, I think he too should be bracketed (only for the purpose of this exercise – before they get even bigger headed!) with Bono and Sting and others whos one name really is unique.

    Did you have any thoughts on the “Actor born to play this Role” idea?

    btw. Engelbert Humperdink was a real person (composer 1854-1921), he just isnt the one most people FIRST think of, who ‘borrowed’ both the original’s names. Very cheeky, but probably the basis for another game……!

  • Mennard

    Cleopatra unless of course she was called Mabel(Or Phylis ) Cleopatra and Ive got it wrong !

    Have to say all I can think of when I think of Cleopatra is either carry on Cleo (infamy infamy everyone has it infamy) or Morcambe and Wise (cough -ARSENAL!) .Amused me anyway

  • Cllr Mark Bennett


    The baguette was not invented by Napoleon. It’s a myth. Napoleon’s army travelled with mobile bakery units and wore uniform trousers which would not be suitable for transporting bread! The baguette became popular after French labour laws were changed in 1920, meaning that bakers could not make bread before 4am. The baguette bakes more quickly than other loaves, which was a godsend for bakers.

    Incidentally, Napoleon’s great grandson, Juan Bonaparte, lived in my ward, Streatham South in Lambeth, at 11 Fontaine Road to be precise.