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Chart Throb Hardcover – 6 Nov 2006

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam Press; First Edition edition (6 Nov. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 059305749X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0593057490
  • Product Dimensions: 16 x 4.1 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (110 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 689,566 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ben Elton is one of Britain's most provocative and entertaining writers. From celebrity to climate change, from the First World War to the end of the world, his books give his unique perspective on some of the most controversial topics of our time.

He has written twelve major bestsellers, including Stark, Popcorn, Inconceivable (filmed as Maybe Baby, which he also directed), Dead Famous, High Society (WH Smith People's Choice Award 2003) and The First Casualty.

He has also written some of television's most popular and incisive comedy, including The Young Ones, Blackadder and The Man From Auntie. His stage work includes three West End plays and the hit musicals The Beautiful Game and We Will Rock You.

He is married with three children.

Product Description


"An absolute coup of black comedy."-"Daily Telegraph" on Popcorn."From the Trade Paperback edition."

Book Description

A biting social satire of one of the world's most popular cultural phenomena from the bestselling author of The First Casualty. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Dr. J. D. Mitchell on 12 Jan. 2008
Format: Paperback
No-one would disagree that Ben Elton is a masterful observer of contemporary society. Once again here, he taps into the frustration with the X factor/Pop idol culture that seems to have dominated our "empty lives" in the last few years.

His observations are shrewd, funny and probably altogether true. You'll certainly never take another episode of these dire programmes seriously!!

The problem is that, once the jokes have been told, there is very little else here and the book drags on and on. The plot is flimsy, unfulfilling and ultimately fairly silly (without being clever) and you warm to none of the characters leaving you caring nothing about what happens to any of them.

Sometimes I think that the Ben Elton book machine latches onto the subject du jour much as a stand up comic plan his latest routine. Unfortunately, the book has to be readable and gripping as well and here, with Chart Throb, Mr Elton fails.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Mr. S. J. Downing on 10 Jun. 2007
Format: Hardcover
Chart Throb is Ben Elton in full satire mode. This time, the likes of reality TV shows like Pop Idol, The X Factor and The Osbournes deservedly come under fire. Simon Cowell, Louis Walsh and Sharon Osbourne are the stars of the show, although they're given new names and Mrs. Osbourne has been made a transsexual for the benefits of the story. It's stated unambiguously - and rather clumsily - early in the story that the book's characters have nothing to do with their real life counterparts, but Mr. Elton is fooling nobody. Calvin 'Cowell' Simms is a cynical media genius, Rodney 'Walsh' Root is a desperately status-sensitive failure, and Beryl 'Osbourne' Blenheim is an equally cynical fraud who plays the nuturing mother only when the cameras are rolling on her and/or her family.

It's hard to say where Chart Throb exposes the truth about exploitative shows like The X Factor and where the book's eponymous TV program is a far more exaggerated, cruelly cynical form of the shows it righteously pardoies. Mr. Elton is more privy to life behind the cameras than you or I; a short note at the end of the book letting us know from where he drew his inspirations might have made even more interesting reading.

As some of the other reviewers have pointed Mr. Elton does overplay certain jokes in Chart Throb. The vacuous, "keep dreaming the dream, babes" reality TV soundbites are funny the first few times they are repeated to show them in their full, trite witlessness. However, these same catchphrases are used whenever a camera is turned onto any one of the Chart Throb culprits/victims, which is to say almost constantly. The satire becomes as overused as the subject matter.

In spite of this book's flaws, I thoroughly enjoyed it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Victor HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 2 Oct. 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A huge fan of Ben Elton's writings (Dead Famous, Popcorn and First Casualty in particular), I had rather looked forward to reading this, especially as it returns to the world of reality TV so brilliantly exposed in Dead Famous.

Unfortunately, this just doesn't quite pack the punch that I was expecting. That's not to say it's a bad read, in places it manages to scale the heights, it's just not that consistent and has a few low points. By another authors standards this would be acceptable, but judged against the incredibly high standards of Ben's other books it doesn't compare well.

There are two main problems: Firstly, the nature of the target being shot down. X-Factor and its imitators might seem like and easy target, but in fact they are so ridiculous in real life that it is hard to satirise them. Ben does his best, but this is a task just beyond even his great skill. Secondly, the characterisations. In real life Cowell and his cronies are almost caricatures, to try and satirise them Ben has had to create a series of characters that take their characteristics and makes them even more ridiculous. This is a serious problem, part of the beauty of Ben's other works is that he creates characters that are believable, and you can relate to. Here the characters are totally unbelievable, and you thus stop believing in the world he has created.

There are high points, the book provides a valuable insight to how reality shows work and are created. The general plot and expose of the cynical machinations are interesting and well put together. The language and structure are up to Ben's usual high standards, which lifts the whole thing.

All in all a good try, and perfectly readable, but not Ben's best. For a better attempt at reality TV read Dead Famous.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Sam Tyler on 17 Dec. 2007
Format: Paperback
If there is anything that deserves to be criticised on TV its `The X Factor', and Ben Elton does this in a Scathing fashion in `Chart Throb'. Calvin is a Simon Cowell homage who is the creator of a TV show that sees the public sing in front of three judges in the hope of realising their dreams. In the book we discover the truth behind these `reality' TV shows as Calvin and company manipulate the edit to make their favourites win. However, with the recent 3rd series Calvin has more than usual at stake. His new wife wants a divorce and to stop her taking half his fortune he must win a bet they have just made. Can Calvin really manipulate the public to vote for anyone he chooses? Even the Prince of Wales?

`Chart Throb' is a book that holds nothing back. It is one of the most scathing books that I have ever read and reveals shows like `The X Factor' to be the scams that they are. Although it is based on a fictional TV show called Chart Throb, the similarities between the characters and the judges on `X Factor' are clear. I have mixed reservations about this book as I enjoyed the attacks that Elton portrayed but I felt this meant that there were no likable characters in the book. By the end it just felt too cynical to me and the light relief was not enough. Added to this is an issue with the pacing, too much time is spent on the initial set up of characters just for their conclusions to be batted away. Overall, I did find this an enjoyable, if angry, book. I would recommend it to anyone who is fed up with the current crop of rubbish TV and are looking to read someone venting their spleen about it.
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