Sunday, May 3, 2009

'Pudsey Bear' refused a passport

'Pudsey Bear' in passport fight A woman who has changed her identity to that of BBC Children in Need mascot Pudsey Bear is fighting to get a passport issued under her new name. The dental receptionist, 37, from Denbighshire was told by officials her new name was "frivolous" and could also bring her problems at border controls. She said her two daughters called her "Mummy Bear" and she was Mrs Bear on her driving licence and bank cards. She has approached her MP Chris Ruane, who said he will raise the matter. (link via BBC News) For those of you don't know, Pudsey Bear (a yellow bear with a red spotted bandage) is the popular mascot and Children in Need's official logo. BBC - Children in Need is a registered charity that donates money towards projects helping disadvantaged children in the UK. When I first read this news, I thought how ridiculous for her to change her name to 'Pudsey Bear' and to expect a passport in her new name, and then to get her MP involved when I think MPs must have more important matters to contend with. However, after thinking about it more, she has legally changed her name so it should be accepted. I think she should be given a passport in her legal name (even if it does seem like a silly name). What do you think?


  1. If she was allowed to change her name legally to Pudsey Bear, then she should be allowed to have a passport in that name. What is frivolous is that she plans to change her name again in future. Perhaps, if the name changing is for a 'frivolous' reason, it should be made very expensive? (I.e. don't charge for name changes because of divorce, marriage, adoption.)

  2. I agree that if this name change is meant to be temporary then she is indeed being frivolous and I think she is mis-using her MP's time. However, because she has changed her name legally to Pudsey Bear, the passport should be in her new name.

    I think your idea is a good one - that if the name change isn't for divorce, marriage, adoption, etc. then it should be made more difficult and expensive to discourage people from changing their name over and over again.

  3. I recently reviewed the name changing procedures in the UK with a friend who is considering changing her surname and the guidelines are clear that there are certain names they won't allow, such as 'Lord', 'Sir' and things like that and names that are profane words and I think a few other categories that might include offense or name mis-use. If the name was a problem the change shouldn't have been granted in the first place.

    And where does it stop? If the Passport office's opinion is that this name is frivolous, what must they think of rock star names like Tiger Lily? It isn't up to them to grant a passport based on their opinion of the name, is it??

    In a way it seems like misuse of the MPs time but on the other hand, this is one of the jobs an MP must be prepared to carry out, defending the civil rights of their voters.

    To play devil's advocate, Im coming down on the side of principles here, even though I think it's insane to change your name to Pudsey Bear of all things, and I am certain the MP has a stack of business more relevant to the rest of their voters!

  4. Michelloui, I agree that it isn't up to the passport agency to decide if a name is acceptable or not. If the name change is legal, it's legal and that should be that. However, I do think it's wrong if it's true she never intended to keep the name.
    This is from the BBC News article:
    Mrs Bear admitted that she had originally only planned to keep her Pudsey name for a year, but she said she did not expect it would create "so much of a palaver".

    I don't think it's right for a name change to be allowed in cirucumstances such as this. Granted, she couldn't foresee the passport agency would refuse her a passport which is unfortunate because now she has got her MP involved in her case. As you point out, I'm sure the MP has a stack of business more relevant to the rest of their voters.

    I expect there will be two outcomes to come out of her decision to change her name temporarily. Firstly, that name changes will probably be enforced more stringently and secondly, that the passport agency will realize they have to accept legal names no matter how silly they may seem.

  5. What about the basic human right to some frivolity? and what about the basic human right to change your mind? originally she only wanted to keep it for a year! so what! She has the right to change her mind and keep her new name for as long or as little as she likes! Is somebody who does something a little bit different that manages to raise thousands for charity frivolous?
    Anybody who has a problem with pudsey bear should take a look in the many times have you changed your mind? done something "frivolous"? perhaps if you can only answer "no" to those two questions you should start to have some fun and dare to think outside of the box once in a while.

  6. I admire the lady for raising £4,000 through an online auction for the BBC's Children in Need charity appeal last year. And I think that because she has changed her name legally to Pudsey Bear, the passport should be in her new name.

    I'm not so sure about being able to change a name as often as a person feels like it. It seems to me that there should be some limit to how often a name is changed.

    Interestingly, I googled about changing name by deed poll and learned a few things. It's very easy to do and also very cheap. And I looked at the terms and conditions and guarantee offered by the company (UK Deed Poll Service) and noticed this exception:

    "Our guarantee does not apply in the following situations:If the UK Identity and Passport Service (IPS) deem your new name to be frivolous. There has been a recent change to IPS policy (January 2009) where IPS have refused some passport applications for people who have changed their name to what we call a fun name. The policy is being contested by those affected and we anticipate it being overturned."

    I presume the MP will use this case to contest the policy and overturn the decision by IPS.

  7. Oh now thats interesting, the Jan 09 update on name changes. It makes sense.

    I agree with 'anonymous' that humans should have a right to change their mind...but only when the impact is solely on them and not others--getting the MP involves is a little too much impact on others! But then again (devil's advocate voice again) perhaps getting the MP involved allows this to be more of a 'test case'. As you say Maureen, there will be a couple of outcomes from this.

  8. Who are we to judge what is frivolous? And the comment about the border patrols in other lands is silly. Names across the world are all very different depending on local language. It's only in the UK where the name would be "familiar" and associated with the character that anyone would notice this one! Anywhere else with English as the language it would be just an unusual name or not noticed at all where the language is different. So I'm agreed, if the name change is legal, the passport should follow. But perhaps it should not be so easy to voluntarily change a name.