Catchpoll’s christian name is not known. This is not some homage to Inspector Morse. He is defined by what he is, and I think he likes it that way. The word ‘Catchpoll’ exists in Old English and Old French and was certainly applied to a sheriff’s officer in Middle English, so it was logical enough to give him that ‘job’ name. This means of course that he does, or did, have another name at birth, but my thought is that whatever it was he disliked it, and once he became the Sheriff’s Serjeant he ensured it was not used. He likes the fact that just the one word of his name makes the ne’er-do-wells of Worcester slink back into the shadows.
Unlike Bradecote, Catchpoll has a physical image that is entirely one man. I saw a black and white photograph with a newspaper interview at the time of first writing and it was instantly as if I was looking at just the character I wanted, down to the grizzled stubble and the thin lips. His manner and his mentality came from elsewhere, but I still have a copy of that photograph. I prefer to let readers conjure up their own imagined image of characters, but Catchpoll might prove the exception. Perhaps one day, and if the unsuspecting ‘original’ permitted, I might reveal how Catchpoll ‘really’ looks.