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TV Names: Upstairs, Downstairs & Downton

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At last, at last, the third season of Downton Abbey has finally launched, a further opportunity for those of us who love vintage British names to spend time with the Crawley clan et al.  We’re now lucky enough to have had two recent TV period imports with great examples of character names, both for the aristos upstairs and the servants below.  The time frame of both Downton Abbey and the recently updated Upstairs, Downstairs is the early decades of the twentieth century: Downton now picks up in 1920; the second series of Upstairs in 1936, six years after the initial one ended.

And if there seems to be a preponderance of girls’ names, it’s because so many of the male characters, both upstairs and down, have such common names as Thomas, Robert, Matthew, William, Joseph and John.

Here are some of the most interesting names in both series; and it’s worthy of note that the British TV names that are being revived today come equally from both social strata, as in, for example, Isobel and Ivy, Edith and Elsie.

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Babes in TV Land: Kiddie character names

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Guest blogger Abby Sandel, whose blog appellation mountain is a top nameberry fave, takes a look at the names TV characters have given their offspring–and which of them have had a lasting influence.

 From Peyton Place’s Allison to Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Xander, plenty of television characters’ names catch on after expectant parents tune in. 

Some of those characters eventually have fictional children of their own.  Mad Men couple Pete and Trudy just welcomed daughter Tammy90210’s Jen has a brand new son called Jacques.  In honor of the two new arrivals, here’s a look back at some notable small screen births.

Everyone was watching I Love Lucy when Ricky and Lucy welcomed Enrique Jr. – LilRicky – in 1953.  The show was a sensation, but Richard was already a Top Ten mainstay, and even Ricky was in the Top 100 before the baby’s arrival.

The first influential television baby probably came from 1964’s Bewitched, a sitcom with a supernatural twist.  Bewitching wife Samantha’s name caught on, as did daughter Tabitha, who arrived in the show’s second season.

There’s more than one way to add a child.  The Brady Bunch’s six kids became seven when Cousin Oliver came to stay during the show’s final season.  While his name is the height of fashion today, it didn’t catch on until decades later.  The character did lend his name to Cousin Oliver Syndrome – the phenomenon of adding a younger child to revive a fading show. 

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TV Character Names: So what’s new?

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Every new TV season or so we like to check out the recently launched shows, as well as those still running, for any interesting names that have emerged since the last time we looked. Most scripters continue to come up with the obvious and the formulaic, giving their characters names like Jessica and Jeff and Rick and Robin, Amy and Andy.

But there are some who do think out of the box—though usually for not more than one character per show.  The list below steers clear of reality shows, so no Khloes or Kourtneys, and no cartoon characters or kiddie shows.

Girls

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Sci-Fi Names: Beyond Zorg and Zalga

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Loyal nameberryite Linelei leads us into the arcane world of science fiction names.

As both a science fiction nerd and name nerd, nothing gives me greater pleasure than combining the two. Since I was a little girl, I adored not only the stories but the names within the fantastical plots, and collected them as I read. While there are many science fiction names which have a tendency to be hokey, conjuring up images of green men and relying a little too heavily on the letters Z, Q, and X, there are some fabulous gems to be found in the sci-fi realm.

For example, names like Kayen and Cade, both from the expanded Star Wars universe, would mesh nicely with a classroom full of Aidans and Cashes, while names like Serenity and River, from the sci-fi show, Firefly, resonate with current nature naming trends for girls. So here I present you with boy’s names from science fiction, old and new, well-known and obscure, that may pique your interest. After all, how much fun would it be to explain that your baby was named after a psychic alien who fought to save the galaxy from total annihilation?

Boys:
Mass Effect:
KAIDAN – human soldier, one of the good guys
GARRUS – alien who teams up with the good guys
THANE – alien assassin, but still a good guy!
Firefly:
MALCOLM (MAL) – captain of the ship.
DERRIAL – Shepherd (preacher)
Farscape:
STARK – has the power to help souls pass peacefully into death
BIALAR – turned against the bad guys
TALYN – living, sentient ship
RYGEL – deposed leader of many planets
Chronicles of Riddick:
RIDDICK – Vin Diesel. Need I say more?
The Fifth Element:
KORBENBruce Willis’ character who saves the universe
VITO CORNELIUS – priest who assists Korben
Blade Runner:
DECKARD – main character, a Blade Runner
HOLDEN – another Blade Runner
TYRELL – genius who created the Replicants

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baby name june

This being the first day of June, it’s the perfect time to take a look at her namesake. Never as high profile as other month names April or May—or, for that matter, cousins Jane, Jean or JoanJune just might be ready for a quiet comeback.

June is a name that has suffered from, more than anything else, having a goody-goody/perfect mom image.  This was formed  in midcentury America via June (born Ella) Allyson, who played a succession of sunny, saucy ingenues and adoring, long-suffering movie wives in the 1940s and 1950s, along with  ideal mom June Cleaver on the sitcom Leave It to Beaver, whose name became symbolic of the archetypal sympathetic suburban, stay-at-home mom of the 1950s, and June Lockhart, who played another quintessential midcentury parent as Timmy’s mother on the long running Lassie TV series.  June Haver was another wholesome midcentury star—so wholesome that she actually entered a convent for a while in the middle of her career.

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