I take a look most days at the list of birthdays published in the Daily Telegraph, noting the names of the good and the great listed there. Often they are neither very good, nor especially great — a parade of boring business types, royal retainers, dim Oxbridge heads of houses and the like.

But last Wednesday there was a bumper crop of birthday boys and girls who could be considered genuinely famous — by which I mean most of us would have heard of them. Mind you, they were all so different in terms of character (to be guessed at) and achievement (proven) as to make nonsense of the claims of astrology.

In descending order of age they included pop singer Phil Everly, actor Michael Crawford, novelist Julian Barnes, country star Dolly Parton (pictured), conductor Sir Simon Rattle, House of Commons Speaker John Bercow, jockey Richard Dunwoody, tennis ace Stefan Edberg and 2009 Formula One champion Jenson Button (pictured).

Throw in the marginally (OK, considerably) less well known film director Dick Lester, novelist (and Potter’s Bar train crash victim) Nina Bawden and former World Snooker Champion Dennis Taylor, and I think you will agree this is an impressive list.

I noticed, too, that January 19 saw the birthday of two dukes, Atholl (82) and St Albans (72). With a total of only 24 dukes in the whole of the UK, this ‘coincidence’ is surprising but in line with what mathematicians tell us about the laws of chance.

Though I cannot follow the complex maths involved in explaining what is called the ‘birthday paradox’, I do know that there is a 50 per cent probability of a shared birthday among a group of just 23 people. Fifty-seven people present a 99 per cent probability. These conclusions are based on the assumption that each day of the year (except February 29) is equally probable for a birthday.