I looked at several names from the world of British comedy many many moons ago, and have been wanting to return to the subject for ages. Now I have, and this time the focus is on the names of characters from some of Britain’s most loved sitcoms – since the focus was mainly on stand ups and comedy acotrs last time
To make things simple, we’re going to look at one notable name from the top eight sitcoms represented in the Top 10 of Britain’s Best Sitcom poll from 2004.
#1 Only Fools And Horses (Rodney)
Originally a surname which itself was a geographical one. In Old English, it meant Hroda’s Island, whereby Hroda was a Germanic given name meaning fame. The name really started to take off thanks to people wishing to name their sons after British admiral Lord Rodney during the 18th century.
#2 Blackadder (Edmund)
Edmund was Blackadder’s first name, who was the only character aside from Baldrick to appear in every series – all set in different time periods. This name also has origins in Old English, where it means rich protector. It was one name which remained in use in England, even after the Norman conquest, but did fall slightly out of favour in the 15th Century.
#3 The Vicar of Dibley (Geraldine)
Geraldine is the name of the female vicar, played brilliantly by Dawn French. Her friend Alice names her first daughter, born in 2000, after her (although had originally planned on naming her baby girl Vicar)
Geraldine is clearly the feminine form of Gerald, a name of Germanic origins, coming from the elements:
- ger, meaning spear
- walda, meaning rule
#4 Dad’s Army (Godfrey)
Yet another Germanic name, this time from Godafrid which meant peace of God, coming from the Germanic elements:
- god, meaning god
- frid, meaning peace
Like Gerald before him, Godfrey was also kindly brought to Britain by the Normans, enjoying popularity in the Middle Ages.
#5 Fawlty Towers (Polly)
Polly is a medieval variant of the name Molly, whilst Molly is a diminuative of Mary. The meaning of Mary is not so certain, but there are several theories including sea of bitterness, rebelliousness, and wished for child.
#6 Yes Minister (Humphrey)
Starting to see a pattern? The name Humphrey was introduced the England by the Normans, and it comes from Germanic elements:
- hun, meaning warrior
- frid, meaning peace
#=7 Porridge (Stanley)
Strictly speaking, this character is called Norman Stanley Fletcher, more often referred to as Fletch but we’re going to look at Stanley, for reasons that will become apparent soon.
This name started off as a surname, meaning stone clearing in Old English. It’s had somewhat of a revival here in Britain – he re-entered the Top 100 in 2009 and climbed in 2010. It should be interesting to see where he ranks in 2011.
#=7 Going Straight (Fletcher)
Fletch was on the receiving end of his own spin-off show. So now let’s talk about the name Fletcher which ranks at #253, and comes from the French word flèche, meaning arrow. The art of fletching is intwined with archery, since it’s to do with making the arrows aero-dynamically stable.