Quirky UK TV Actress Names
By Linda Rosenkrantz
Ever since I spotted the name Honeysuckle on the credits of the ITV series Foyle’s War, I have been riveted by the cast rolls at the end of other British shows. For if the characters on these comedies and dramas have good names, some of the actors—particularly the women—have fantastic ones, and to me at least, they seem quintessentially British. Here are some of the best I’ve spotted.
Cascade Brown is most known for her leading role in the TV show The Bill, followed by many others. This is a rarely-if-ever heard waterfall-ish word name, with a pleasant sound and connotations. Could work and play well with an Adelaide.
Clemency Burton—Virtue names are more commonly used by the Brits than us Yanks—there’s also Charity Wakefield of Wolf Hall. Clemency Burton, aka Clemmie Burton–Hill has appeared in such TV projects as Midsomer Murders—and is also a classical musician, novelist, journalist and radio personality. Clemency makes a stunning alternative to Clementine.
Doon Mackichan—Born Sarah–Doon Mackichan, this actress-comedian was one of the writers and stars of the comedy series Smack the Pony and numerous other shows. Doon, used by photographer Diane Arbus for her daughter, has a nice beachy feel.
Emerald Fennell—Lovely actress Emerald Fennell (great combo) has been seen by American audiences as Patsy Mount in Call the Midwife, and is also a published novelist. This neglected gleaming green gem name, the birthstone of May, could easily join Ruby and Pearl and all those other more popular Em-names.
Fidelis Morgan—Fidelis Morgan is primarily a theatrical actress (and also a playwright and novelist) who has been seen by US TV viewers in As Time Goes By and Jeeves and Wooster. A rare unisex Latin name, Fidelis conjures up loyalty and strength.
Holliday Grainger will be familiar to Yanks via her role as Lucrezia Borgia in the Showtime series The Borgias. Her festive, fun name is more commonly spelled with a single L, as in the daughter of Brittany and Harold Perrineau. Breakfast at Tiffany’s Holly Golightly’s full name was Holiday, though the character came close to being called Connie.
Honeysuckle Weeks is the adorable Samantha (Sam) Stewart in Foyle’s War. (A young Honeysuckle is shown)Her parents named her after the honeysuckle flowers that were in bloom when she was born, and she has a sister named Perdita. Is Honeysuckle charmingly sweet or over the top? Your call.
Prunella Scales made an indelible impression as Sybil, the bossy and demeaning wife of Basil in the iconic series Fawlty Towers—which was voted the best British television series of all time. But though the name Prune is megapopular in France, neither it nor Prunella has much of a chance with American parents.
Romola Garai –Romola Sadie Garai has starred in such BBC series as Emma and The Hour. We don’t know if her unusual and exotic name was inspired by the Florentine heroine of George Eliot’s eponymous novel, but suspect it might have been. From an R-themed family, she has sisters named Roxy and Rosie and a brother called Ralph..
Sheridan Smith—Among her many TV credits is the comedy Gavin & Stacy. Her attractive Irish surname name may well have family antecedents. It’s more frequently heard as a male name, as in author Sheridan Morley and The Man Who Came to Dinner curmudgeon character Sheridan Whiteside.
Tuppence Middleton has appeared on such TV shows as Bones and New Tricks. She was named after the childhood nickname her grandmother had given to her mother—kind of demeaning when you think of the value of a tuppence.
Verity Rushworth. Yet another virtue name, and one of the best, with its aura of truthfulness. Rushworth is best known for her work on the long-running British soap, Emmerdale.
Xanthe Elbrick—Xanthe Eleanora Marie Davina Elbrick is primarily a stage actor, but made her TV debut on the BBC show Doctors. Xanthe boasts the cool X beginning plus the jazzy Z sound. A Greek mythological name meaning yellow, it arose as a name for a blonde and though not to be found in the US Top 1000, the Berries rank it at Number 366.
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on August 20th, 2015 at 4:10 am
I love Clemency, Emerald, Holliday, Romola, Verity and Xanthe.
I cannot get on board with Tuppence, because it’s also an old nickname for a certain part of the female anatomy, and once I learned that I could’t unlearn it.
Little fact on Emerald Fennell; her dad is the (rather exclusive) jewelry designer, Theo Fennell, so Emerald’s name is very fitting. Her sister didn’t get a gem name, she’s named Coco and befittingly for her name, she’s a fashion designer!
on August 20th, 2015 at 6:20 am
I love Holiday/Holliday (and Holliday Grainger!), Honeysuckle, Clemency, Verity and Xanthe. I am rather surprised that Fifi didn’t make the list, as Fifi Hart played little Sybbie on Downton Abbey. 🙂
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on August 20th, 2015 at 7:47 am
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on August 20th, 2015 at 1:31 pm
Love Emerald ! Wish I would see it more often .
on August 20th, 2015 at 7:13 pm
Now THESE are the British kinds of names I love best.
on August 20th, 2015 at 8:16 pm
Verity is also the name of a character in Poldark.
on August 20th, 2015 at 9:45 pm
The credits for BBC shows are great! Don’t stop at the actors. The writers and producers and camera people are awesome too.
on August 20th, 2015 at 9:46 pm
The credits for BBC shows are great! Don’t stop at the actors. The writers and producers and camera people have some awesome names too.
on August 20th, 2015 at 11:37 pm
I think I have a female ancestor on my dad’s side who was a Fidelis. My dad’s side of the family is mostly from Germany, and I’m not sure how on earth the name was chosen for her. Maybe next time I see my aunts and grandma I will ask if anyone knows.
on August 21st, 2015 at 7:10 am
Honeysuckle and Cascade are two of my ultimate, ultimate guilty pleasures! Love it! And, I know a girl who has Petronella as one of her middle names–and she’s from the Netherlands.
on August 21st, 2015 at 12:50 pm
The ones I would consider usable IRL, if I really liked the names, would be Fidelis, Clemency, Verity, Romola, Petronella, Sheridan and Xanthe. Verity is one of my favorite names and Romola is similar to another of my favorites, Romilly. The others Honeysuckle and Emerald (esp. paired with Fennell as a last name!), Holliday and Tuppence, are just too much IMO. Can only be wearable on very specific people, while I can sort of justify the other category I sorted to be just enough/the maximum limit of uncommon/interesting names that can still be pulled off. Side note: I just marathoned Sense8 on Netflix and Tuppence Middleton was so great in the show! I’ll definitely be on the lookout for her other projects from now on 🙂
on August 21st, 2015 at 2:25 pm
I’m not brave enough to use these IRL, plus I kind of think those with a British accent can pull them off a little better. Petronella reminds me too much of Citronella candles!
on August 23rd, 2015 at 4:37 am
The Brits have such a quirky, adventurous taste in baby names, I love it!
on August 27th, 2015 at 1:15 am
Love Holiday, Verity, and Xanthe. What fun, beautiful names!
Not in love with the name Tuppence, but I have to agree with @headintheclouds– after watching Sense8 Tuppence Middleton is one of my new favorite actesses!
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on August 27th, 2015 at 10:51 pm
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on September 3rd, 2015 at 12:26 pm
Love Holliday, Verity, Xanthe, Honeysuckle and Clemency! I’m a little surprised that Fifi did not make the list, as the little girl who plays Sybbie on Downton Abbey is Fifi Hart. 🙂
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