FOUR or five years from now there will be a large number of children in Bolton primary schools answering to the name of Muhammad or Amelia.

These are this year’s top boys’ and girls’ names locally. In fact, Muhammad has overtaken long-term favourite Oliver as the top name. Other popular boys’ names are Noah, George, Charlie, Harry, Leo, Arthur, Jack and Freddie.

The other top girls’ names are Olivia, Sophia, Lily, Ava, Mia, Isla, Freya and Isabella with Penny, Hannah and Emma making a comeback.

It’s a fascinating topic – especially if you’re expecting an addition to the family – as names seem to go in phases and fashions.

There have, for example, been half as many girls named Alexa in the last two years, presumably because of the famous technology aid.

Then there is the influence of pop culture. Love Island fans are using the names of former season two contestants Kady, Scott, Nathan and Cara as inspiration while Game of Thrones’ followers are opting for Maisie and Emilia.

It’s all generational, of course. When I was young, I thought names like Albert, Arthur, Gladys and Beatrice were incredibly old-fashioned and wouldn’t have dreamt of calling my children those although some of them are now very popular.

My two daughters are Charlotte and Lucy – still relatively popular names but I think that’s just luck.

I was at a Catholic convent high school where all the girls in my class apart from one had the first name Mary, or as a second name with a saint’s name first. The odd one out was Heather Elysia - which I always thought was very pretty but the nuns who taught us were definitely not happy with it.

What you name your child can, apparently, influence his or her future success in life. There is even a Swiss company that charges large amounts of cash to find the perfect name for your baby.

Their general advice is to have a name that’s easy to pronounce, something that rolls off the tongue. This is so that when people talk about your child, it sounds lovely and very natural.

Anything that is hard to pronounce may give your child a natural disadvantage in life. It’s easy to still howl at Rowan Atkinson trying to pronounce the name St John in Four Weddings and a Funeral.

How it sounds with your surname is also vital. Hunger Games’ heroine Katniss Everdeen sounds good but if she was born into a French family called Ssnsoucie, Katniss Sansoucie would simply sound like you’re spitting.

Choose a name that fits your cultural background or risk them standing out in the playground for all the wrong reasons. And it’s worth keeping your baby’s siblings in mind. If they’ve got straightforward names, Tarquin and Letitia might sound a bit odd.

Going for random names or brands can be quite cruel and remember that children won’t always be babies. Being stuck with Benjy or Beauty when you’re a trainee solicitor might bring its own problems.