Baby names: Peaky Blinders 'may have inspired' choices

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Peaky Blinders cast in Series IVImage source, Caryn Mandabach/Tiger Aspect/BBC
Image caption,
Names like Ada and Arthur have increased in popularity, possibly due to Peaky Blinders

TV drama Peaky Blinders may have inspired some of the most popular baby names in England and Wales, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has said.

Arthur entered the top 10 for boys for the first time since the 1920s, with Ada in the top 100 girls' names for the first time in a century.

The ONS said girls named Alexa also halved in a year, possibly due to potential confusion with Amazon's Echo.

Oliver and Olivia retained the number one spots.

There were 5,390 boys named Oliver born in England and Wales in 2018, down from 6,259 the year before.

George was second for boys with 4,960.

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Oliver and Olivia have retained the top spots for boys' and girls' names yet again

Olivia was the name of 4,598 baby girls, down from 5,204 but still ahead of Amelia in second, with 3,941.

Statistician Nick Stripe said: "Oliver and Olivia remained the most popular baby names in 2018, although there are the first signs that Oliver's six-year reign as the number one name for boys is under threat.

"Arthur surged into the top 10 boys' names for the first time since the 1920s, and Ada jumped into the girls' top 100 for the first time in a century too, both perhaps inspired by characters in the BBC TV drama Peaky Blinders."

Arthur and Ada are key members of the Shelby family featured in the Bafta-winning series.

Mr Stripe said the fall in babies named Alexa was possibly due to "the growth in the use of technology assistants in our homes", adding: "Communicating with young children can be hard enough at the best of times."

Image caption,
Ada Shelby, played by Sophie Rundle, may have inspired a surge in popularity for the character's name

There were 811 babies named Ada, seeing it rise 49 places from 2017 to be the 65th most popular name for girls.

Alexa fell from 301 baby girls in 2017 to 118 in 2018.

The ONS only provides figures when there were at least three babies given the same spelling of a name. It does not reveal names taken by only one or two babies to protect their privacy.

Figures for Scotland and Northern Ireland have already been published.

Olivia and Jack were the most popular names in Scotland, while in Northern Ireland the most popular boys' name was a tie between Noah and James, with Grace the most popular for girls.

The 'Markle sparkle'

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The name Meghan doubled in popularity while Harry stayed one of the most popular boys' names.

The name Meghan doubled in popularity in 2018 compared with the year before, coinciding with the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

There were 101 babies given the name compared with 49 the year before, making it the 431st most popular name for girls.

Harry stayed one of the most popular boys' names but conceded second place to George, despite Harry Kane and Harry Maguire starring in England's journey to the World Cup semi-finals.

Image source, HELEN SLOAN/HBO
Image caption,
Khaleesi was a choice for dozens of baby girls despite there being no Game of Thrones series in 2018

The name Khaleesi - a made up word for "queen" used by the character Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones - was given to 56 girls in 2018, down from 76 the year before. However, there was no series aired last year.

The ONS data showed a rise in the number of babies named Harper since 2011, the year David and Victoria Beckham's daughter was born.

The name is now the 27th most popular for girls.

In four English regions - the North West, Yorkshire and the Humber, West Midlands and London - more babies were named Muhammad than Oliver.

The ONS said many commentators had concluded if other spellings of the name, such as Mohammed, were added together it would be the most popular name for boys in England and Wales.

However Mr Stripe said the ONS did not add together names with different spellings.

"Adding up all the different ways of spelling Oliver last year, for example, including shortened versions such as Ollie, would have pipped all the Muhammads," he said.

"You can try the same with all the Harrys, Harrises and Harrisons. Some might even want to add in all the Henrys as well. Prince Harry is called Henry, after all."

He said there had been a decline in Christianity, leading to a fall in names like John, Paul, Mark and Matthew, combined with a rise in names linked to TV and film.

There was also a rise in original names, such as Nevaeh, which is "heaven" spelt backwards, along with an increase in babies born to non-UK born mothers, introducing alternative spellings of names, such as Oliwia or Zuzannah.

"Meanwhile, the number of babies named Muhammad (including variant spellings) has remained pretty consistent over the last 10 to 15 years. This is a key reason why Muhammad has climbed up the rankings in recent years," he said.

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