I was perhaps a tad too old for Balamory when it hit British screens in 2002, but had two younger siblings at that point who couldn’t get enough of it. The concept was simple, set in a little Scottish village off the mainland, each episode we were asked What’s the Story in Balamory? at the end of yet another exciting day in the sleepy village.
Looking back, it’s amazing how many of the characters had diminuatives for names, not just the two we’re looking at specifically: Edie, Suzie and Penny. And that was out of a main cast of 8, where two were only known by their surnames – Miss Hoolie&PC Plum. The other character was a painter, named Spencer.
As for his name, Archie is relatively popular in the UK, and Danielle Lloyd named her first son Archie in 2010 (she’s currently expecting baby #2). Part of his success could be due to people looking for alternatives to Top 5 material, Alfie. Unlike Alfie’s long form of Alfred, Archibald has never really been all that popular.
Archibald himself came to England with the Normans, becoming popular in the Middle Ages. He comes from two Germanic elements:
- ercan, meaning genuine
- bald, meaning bold
There are also links with the Greek archos, meaning master.
One of the sources of Archie’s popularity is also likely to be due to Balamory, which broadcast from 2002-2005 and did have a significant effect on English pop culture, despite being aimed at the under-5s. This is partly due to comedians, such as the ones in Dead Ringers, and even Doctor Who, making mention of the little Scottish town. Plus the lively conversation over whether PC Plum, or indeed Archie, were gay.
For example, in 2009, Archie was at #20, and in 2007, he was at #33. So he’s still on the rise. The same cannot be said for Josie, however. In 2007, she shared the #249 spot with long form Josephine. 2 years later and Josephine sits at #260, and Josie sits even further down at #271.
As for Archibald’s popularity, in 2009 he sat at #505, slightly up from #509 in 2007.
But back to Josie, the short form of Josephine. In Balamory, she was a fitness instructor and lived in a yellow house.
Josephine is, of course, the feminine form of Joseph, which comes from the Hebrew name Yosef, meaning he will add. As the brilliant play by Andrew Lloyd Webber - Joseph and the amazing technicolour dreamcoat - recounts, in the Old Testament, Joseph was the eleventh son of Jacob.
Perhaps still one of the best known Josephines is Jo March, from Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, with the oh so famous opening line: Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents.
In terms of British popularity, there is also the vaguely controversial comedienne, Jo Brand, who in a previous career worked as a psychiatric nurse. She’s best known for her dry, cynical humour, which is perhaps why she’s so popular. Then there’s also Josie Lawrence, who was a regular in the British version of Whose Line is it Anyway? I do believe she was born a Wendy, and took Josie as her stage name. was one of the guests in the Comic Relief revival of the show.