Last week marked the 50th anniversary of ‘Doctor Who‘, the highly anticipated special anniversary episode watched by avid fans (or Whovians) worldwide. The show captivated audiences from the start with its’ creativity and imaginative story lines that attracted viewers. The last of his race, the Doctor travels through time and space in his blue police box spaceship the TARDIS , regenerating each time he dies.
He travels with many different companions, many of whom are beloved by fans and have received their own spin-off shows, but the true heart of the show is the Doctor. With each regeneration the Doctor has the same memories but a distinct and different personality, meaning that each actor can put their unique stamp on the role, and all have become household names. If you’re a fan, perhaps you may like to honor your child with the name of your favorite Doctor.
William Hartnell (1963-1966)
His Doctor was an “amiable-yet-tetchy patriarch”. William is an enduring classic – and very popular, currently #5 in the U.S. Meaning ‘resolute protection’, there are plenty of Williams (and Wills) to inspire parents. Hartnell however has never charted so would be very distinctive, and comes with great short form Hart.
Patrick Troughton (1966-1969)
Thanks to St Patrick‘s day, Patrick has a rather Irish feel. It has never fallen out of the top 200 in the U.S and has the benefit of feeling equal parts friendly and warm and preppy and noble. Patrick Troughton’s portrayal of the Doctor was as an endearing “cosmic hobo” type.
Jon Pertwee (1970-1974)
During Jons’ stint as Doctor the character was exiled to Earth. His scientifically minded Doctor has been described as “an active crusader with a penchant for action and fancy clothes”. The name Jon is much less popular than Jonathan or the traditional spelling John, but feels like a sleeker and more modern choice.
Tom Baker is one of the more beloved actors to play the Doctor – his trademark long striped scarf is iconic among Whovians. He was often brooding and aloof but had an eccentric style and whimsical charm. Tom is a short, friendly feeling name which consistently ranked in the top 200 in the U.S until 1969, when it began to fall rapidly. Longer form Thomas has never been out of the top 100 though. Surname/occupational name Baker feels more current, but is much less popular.
Peter Davison embodied a more vulnerable, reserved Doctor. The name Peter means ‘rock’ and is currently at its lowest ebb in the U.S, ranked at #205 in 2012. Peter is nonetheless an enduring classic and will likely remain in popular use for years to come. While Peter has been in regular use for centuries, surname Davison (meaning David‘s son) first appeared on the SSA charts in 1980 and is rarely used.
No relation to Tom, this Baker‘s Doctor was flamboyant, brash and overbearing. Colin is a short form of Nicholas and an Irish name meaning ‘pup’, and has a steady history of use, slowly climbing for a number of years. Irish actor Colin Farrell has likely been the biggest positive influence in recent years.
Sylvester McCoy was initially comedic, but became one of the darkest and most manipulative of the Doctors. The name Sylvester tends to bring to mind whiskers and tweety birds or the muscled action hero, both at odds with a name meaning ‘wood or forest’. It has been falling in popularity, eclipsed by the fast rising McCoy in 2010. This Irish name meaning ‘fire’ is currently benefiting from a love of all names Mc, and the positive association with the phrase “the real McCoy”.
Paul McGann (1996)
Another Mc name, although lacking the panache that McCoy has. While McGann is not a likely name choice, Paul has been in use since ancient times. It means ‘small’ but the number of influential Pauls to look up to is anything but. While Paul has never been in the top ten on the boys SSA list, it has also never been out of the top 200 – yet. This Doctor was debonair, with an enthusiasm that hid an old soul.
Christopher Eccleston (2005)
Christopher Eccleston was chosen to bring the Doctor back to television screens in 2005. He embodied an intense yet enigmatic leather-jacket-wearing Doctor. The name Christopher is another well loved classic. In the U.S, he was a top ten name for four decades. The variety of possible nicknames help to keep Christopher feeling current – Chris being a classic choice, Topher a modern one and Kit and Kip funky ones.
David Tennant (2005-2010)
David Tennant tops the polls as viewers favorite Doctor, his charismatic, witty and light-hearted portrayal causing his Doctor to be voted the “coolest character on UK television”. Tennant has the makings of a good modern hero name, but as a word name it’s meaning will probably mean it’s most often used in the middle position. David however suffers no such problem. A Hebrew name meaning ‘beloved’, David has long been a popular choice.
On this list of popular, classic boys names, Matthew (or Matt) can certainly hold his own. Almost everyone knows a Matt – he’s familiar and likable, like an old friend. Smith has a different feel, a little more mature, preppy and serious. Actor Matt Smith has brought a youthful exuberance to the role – and made bow ties cool.
Peter Capaldi (2014)
We’re yet to see what fresh spin this Peter will bring to the role. Maybe in the next few years we’ll start to see the name Capaldi in birth announcements if he does the role justice.
Who is your favorite Doctor, and would you honor him in your child’s name?
Brooke Cussans – better known on the Nameberry forums as bluejuniper – is based in Melbourne, Australia and is the author of name blog Baby Name Pondering. She especially loves rare and unusual names.