Nicking a little kudos

The pitfalls of sharing a name with someone famous. (no, not that one)
Click to follow
The Independent Culture
I'M GOING to try to be positive about this. After all, a woman from Hull who refers to herself as "Horny" wants to meet me, and 12-year- old Matthew from Essex is keen for us to get together to talk stick insects, and for me to give him tips about how to become a TV presenter.

OK Matthew - tip one: Find a good name. Something simple. Not too many syllables. Easy to spell. Like - well, Nick Baker. Only you can't have that, Matt, because someone else has got it.

The thing that irritates me is that he's good, my namesake. Nick Baker is straight, unaffected, not too cuddly, not too formal. And he knows what he's talking about. Crocodiles, insects, big cats, small dogs. My kids love him doing The Really Wild Show on BBC TV.

Everyone knows Nick Baker the wildlife man. Maybe my problem is that I don't specialise. I spread myself too thin. TV documentaries about telephones; radio programmes about anything from firearms to hypnotists. Magazine articles on studs in Belgium and Orson Welles in Vienna. I have written kids' books, and articles on children and the media. I run a small production company, with a bit of broadcasting and writing on the side. I'm a media minnow, maybe, but I was here first. I've got a 15- year start, at least. And now I have people saying: "I heard you talking about cockroaches the other morning on Radio 4..."

If we were actors, of course, things would be different. Equity's rules state that every member has to have a different name. Harry H Corbett, the actor who played Steptoe's son, had to add that "H" to distance himself from Sooty's partner.

The BBC can't see a problem. A senior radio executive told me that he would be referred to as "the wildlife expert Nick Baker" on the air. It isn't happening. They still tolerate two of us.

There have been others. There's a rather good cartoonist with our name. And in one year I came across memorials to two dead ones, one on a park bench in the US, the other an announcement outside the church on Eel Pie Island on the Thames. Hey - have you thought of this, Nick Baker? When I die, people will think it's you. Think of the effect among your fans. The great croc-cuddler, snatched before his time. If, that is, I insist on keeping my name.

I started by saying I'll be positive. So, Nick Baker, I hereby publicly give you my name. No strings. But if any cheques come your way meant for me, do the decent thing. In return, I'll forward all the Horny from Hull stuff. And me? From now on, I want to be known as Jenni H Murray.

Comments