TikTok trainspotter Francis Bourgeois explains why he doesn’t use his real name

Francis Bourgeois in a TikTokTikTok: francis.bourgeois

Viral trainspotter Francis Bourgeois has explained why he chose to go by a pseudonym on TikTok, and how he chose the name.

Francis Bourgeois is a 22-year-old English trainspotter, who first went viral on TikTok in 2021 after uploading videos of his reaction to trains, with a GoPro mounted to his head.

His infectious enthusiasm garnered him a huge following on the app, with over 2.5 million followers at the time of writing.

What is Francis Bourgeois’ real name?

The TikToker’s real name is actually Luke Nicolson, and in an interview with the Guardian, he explained why he chose to go by the pseudonym Francis Bourgeois on social media.

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“I was applying for my fourth-year work placement,” he said, “and the university staff told me potential employers might search my name. I didn’t want to have to worry about that, I’d been to a Hauser & Wirth exhibition in Somerset and saw some work by Louise Bourgeois.”

This then led to him taking on his now iconic pseudonym. Francis went on to say: “I didn’t think it would get to a point where anyone would know me by it. It’s not a character. But I quite like it now – when someone shouts Francis it’s not so overwhelming – I know what to expect.”

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Despite the overwhelming amount of support he receives online, since going viral on TikTok, some viewers have accused Francis of being a “fake,” or playing a character.

Discussing these claims, he said: “I don’t mind too much when people question me, it doesn’t make sense: young train-spotter puts camera on head and laughs at trains. Maybe it’s absurd. But I struggle when people say I’m a fake or a fraud. I’m literally just going out and having a good time. Possibly it’s hard to comprehend how good I feel about trains; how I can feel this good full stop. But it’s just who I am.”

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Francis is set to release his book ‘The Trainspotter’s Notebook’ on October 27, and even now has a web series all about trains.