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Celebrity obsession is the name of the game

London, Jan. 6: The obsession with celebrity shows itself in many ways, but none more explicit than the names parents are prepared to give their children.

Thousands of babies were called Sienna, Keira and Scarlett last year as parents looked to the cinema, not the Bible, for inspiration, the Office for National Statistics said.

The cult of celebrity, which the ONS calls 'the Hollywood effect', has such a hold on some people that even Ashton, the name of the boyfriend of actor Demi Moore, has 'shot up' the list ' though whether his surname, Kutcher, will ever appear is anyone's guess.

These four names showed some of the biggest increases in popularity, according to the list of the most popular names given to babies last year in England and Wales, compiled by the ONS.

If both spellings of Keira/Kiera had been taken together, the name would have risen 30 places to number 92, a testament to the popularity of Keira Knightley, the 19-year-old star of Bend It Like Beckham and Pirates of the Caribbean.

The popularity of such names has been at the expense of more traditional ones, particularly David. For the first time since records began in 1944, the name ' Hebrew for 'beloved one' ' has disappeared out of the top 50.

For 40 years, classrooms were full of Davids, particularly in the 1950s and 1960s when it was the most popular name for boys in Britain.

Even in 1984, it was still the third most popular name.

But the 1990s arrived, and the parental love affair with the name collapsed, dropping out of the top 20 in 1994, the top 30 in 1996, the top 40 in 1999 and now out of the top 50. It ranked 56th in the latest list.

When Sex and the City actor Sarah Jessica Parker chose the name for her baby boy, celebrity magazines were united in shock that she had not chosen something more original.

As a result, if you shout 'David' in a children's playground, very few boys will turn round, but shout 'Jack' or 'Mohammed' and a crowd will come running your way.

For the first time, Mohammed has entered the top 20. It would be in the top 10 were it not for the different ways of spelling the name, such as Muhammad and Mohammad.

Jack remains the most common name in Britain, a position to which the derivative of John has clung for a decade.

The other names in the top four have been equally predictable over the last five years ' Joshua, James, Thomas and Daniel. One of the biggest 'climbers' to get into the top 50 was Henry, at 48.

Like Jack, Emily remains Britain's most popular girls' name for the second year, with Ellie, Jessica, Sophie and Chloe also in the top five. Evie is the highest new entry in the girls' top 50, up 22 places to 39.

Lower down the list, parents who thought they were being original may be irritated to see that they were not the only ones to choose names such as Noah, Madison, Connor, Amelia and Alfie.

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