Coming up with names is hard.  It’s the ultimate brand – literally branded onto you by someone else who didn’t even know you at the time.  It represents you, broadcasts you, it’s your ­@lifehandle. 

When I come up with names as a scriptwriter I run them through a check in my head: are they appropriate in terms of:

  • Historical setting
  • Gender
  • Class
  • Geography
  • Ethnicity
  • Story

And by story I mean do their actions reflect the person I’ve branded with that name (or not – setting up a false lead is sometimes good).  A recent BBC article talks about “nominative determinism” – that is the meaning of our names influence our life decisions.

Interesting stuff: if you’re a KEVIN you’re more likely to be ignored on dating apps, less likely to get job interviews … your brand has set you up with more difficulties than if you were a Michael.  So that’s going to shape you – for good or for bad.

Personally, I like using names that transcend … take JACK.  I can see a “Jack” in 1797 or in 2021.  He runs a multinational company with flare, he’s a cheeky welder in a steel works, a hipster brewer, a stay-at-home dad, a pirate.  Chameleon names are rare but useful.     

And me?  I’m very happy with Claire (“with an i”).  Would I have felt as happy if I had been born a boy, in which case I would have been called Trevor?   Erm …