FAME GAME

Country music fans all know what happened to the boy named Sue.But what happens if you work for the NHS and your name is Paul Daniels?

Mark Gould wanted to know The fame. The adulation. The riches. The lack of privacy.

The constant fear of tabloid kiss 'n' tell. But being a household name even causes problems for those unfortunate souls who simply share the name of someone famous. So how do NHS workers cope with the celebrity mark of Cain?

Take David Mellor.No - not the former Tory health minister, toesucking romper and football pundit. We are talking about David Mellor, the very agreeable GP facilitator from Lincolnshire health authority.Having the same name saw him become the butt of obvious saucy jokes. But it also nearly got him branded an illegal immigrant.

'We were going through passport control on our holidays in Sweden at the height of his tabloid fame, ' Mr Mellor recalls. 'The passport officer took a look at my name and then looked at me and said ''I trust you are expecting to go back to the UK'.'

And it caused a stir among NHS colleagues. 'I was waiting to see a consultant at the Pilgrim Hospital in Boston and I could hear some conversation outside the cubicle between a nurse and the consultant. She was saying ''No, it can't be that David Mellor - he wouldn't come and see you;

he would go private'.'

The Lincolnshire Mr Mellor says he is nothing like the Radio Five Live footie pundit, and says his own involvement in the NHS never reached the 'dizzy heights' of his political counterpart.

'I am a little bit slimmer but a bit older than him and I support Manchester City, not Chelsea.My son will not let us listen to his Five Live programme. He says that Mellor is not a man of the terraces - he's more at home in the director's box.'

Jack Straw complained to HSJ that he was 'always overshadowed by other more powerful people' - just like the foreign secretary. Mr Straw, the executive director of resource management at Bro Taf HA, said recent history had seen his image take a battering.

'In my youth, the name was associated with Wat Tyler and revolting peasantry. Then it was associated with a rebellious student leader.

That was quite nice. Now, of course, he is seen as part of the establishment.'

The NHS's Mr Straw has met the prime minister. 'I was general manager at Morriston Hospital in Swansea when Tony Blair and Alastair Campbell visited. I was introduced to them and they both started laughing.'

So does Mr Straw like the idea of sharing his name with one of the... er... less popular members of the Labour Cabinet?

'I have always worked on the idea that the embarrassment would go away quickly as politicians do not usually last that long, but it looks like this lot could be around for quite a time.'

As you would expect, the NHS is stacked with figures from the world of showbiz. There appear to be three former members of 1990s boy band Take That, and at least five members of Duran Duran working at the front line.

Could it be that HSJ has inadvertently stumbled on the actual Duran Duran heart-throb John Taylor, living a saintly NHS existence away from the showbiz mêlée that is pop?

John Taylor, who alleges he is the private patients unit manager at Guy's and St Thomas'Hospital trust, says: 'I always get mistaken for the liver surgeon called John Taylor who works here. I have never even heard of the other one.'

Mr Taylor protests a tad too vehemently.Does he know the bass guitar part of Hungry Like the Wo l f ? 'If I was him, I would be sitting on some beach somewhere surrounded by dusky maidens rather than ending up as the private patients manager at Guy's and Thomas' - do not you think?'

A-list celeb Liz Taylor is used to being surrounded by the rich and famous. 'One of my trainers was a Dr Michael Douglas and we had a patient called Kenny Everett.'

Dr Taylor, a GP trainee in the West Midlands, says her name is a bonus. 'I used to really hate my name because people were always taking the mickey. Now I think it is helpful because it breaks the ice in consultations and puts people at ease to have a laugh about it so you can move on to more serious topics feeling more relaxed.'

She has never had a stormy relationship with any Richard Burtons. 'I am not married and I do not intend having as many marriages as Liz, ' she insists.

There are a couple of Richard Burtons on the medical register so there is always a chance they could meet - perhaps at the British Medical Association annual representative meeting in Torquay or Bournemouth rather than on the set of Antony and Cleopatra.

Tales of Mafia intrigue and affairs with stars like Marilyn Monroe mean John Fitzgerald Kennedy regularly gets 'knowing glances' from patients at Leicester Royal Infirmary.

Nurse JFK was months away from birth when President JFK was shot. 'I wouldn't say it has helped my career but people remember the name. I get referral letters that say refer to JFK or Mr President. It is more of a problem in the US - you sign a hotel register and the clerk says 'yeah and I am Dwight D Eisenhower'.'

The good news is Paul Daniels is thinking of taking magic lessons.Dr Paul Daniels, a GP in Worthing, Sussex, thinks It is great having a famous name though he is quick to point out: 'I do not look anything like him'.

'It puts patients at ease, kids really love it, and of course as he is a magician I am always asked if I am going to work a little magic on patients. I have thought about learning some conjuring tricks.'