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Chart Throb [Hardcover]

Ben Elton
3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (103 customer reviews)

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Book Description

6 Nov 2006
"Chart Throb" is the ultimate pop quest. Ninety five thousand hopefuls. Three judges. Just one winner. And that's Colin Simms, the genius behind the show. Colin always wins because Colin writes the rules. But this year, as he sits smugly in judgement upon the mingers, clingers and blingers whom he has pre-selected in his carefully scripted 'search' for a star, he has no idea that the rules are changing. The 'real' is about to be put back into 'reality' television and Colin and his fellow judges (the nation's favourite mum and the other bloke) are about to become ex-factors themselves. Ben Elton, author of "Popcorn and Dead Famous" returns to blistering comic satire with a savagely hilarious deconstruction of the world of modern television talent shows. "Chart Throb" is about one winner and a whole bunch of losers.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam Press; 1st edition (6 Nov 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 059305749X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0593057490
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 15.8 x 4.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (103 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 599,177 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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Ok, but not great. 12 Jan 2008
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
4.0 out of 5 stars Scathing 10 Jun 2007
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
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
3.0 out of 5 stars One Angry Book 17 Dec 2007
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars love it.
its like watching the TV programme. great story line, believe able except for one character. HRH. no........
would recommend this, nice ;light reading.
Published 8 months ago by Norma Jones
1.0 out of 5 stars Not worth your time
I am a big fan of Ben Elton's and I've loved some of his previous work. Chart Throb was a disappointment; it had nothing to say; it was boring and repetitive and the surprise... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Kirsten Durward
4.0 out of 5 stars More biting satire from Ben Elton
Ben Elton is an absolute master at this kind of biting satirical look at modern society. He exposes what shows like Pop Idol, X Factor, and Britain's Got Talent, are really all... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Ray Green
3.0 out of 5 stars Fiction or Fact?
Having read this on the recommendation of another author, I have to admit that much of the content serves to enforce my own feelings about so-called "reality shows". Read more
Published 11 months ago by Andy Warn
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad, not his best
The Amazon description of this book is wrong - it is Calvin Simms not Colin Simms.

That aside I think 3 stars is a fair rating for this book. Read more
Published 12 months ago by J. Mann
5.0 out of 5 stars hilarious
surprised to see so many negative comments as I rate this work as amongst his best (Blackadder aside clearly) - it's FUNNY!!
Published 13 months ago by K. Morris
2.0 out of 5 stars Ok ish
Read this for our book club ok ish good if you like Xfactor but to be honest found it pretty boring :(
Published 15 months ago by Cahill
1.0 out of 5 stars Surprising
Ben Elton's books vary massively. I enjoyed Gridlock, I thought Dead Famous was interesting and Inconcievable thoughtful. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Henrycat
5.0 out of 5 stars Chart Throb
This is by far the funniest of Ben Elton's work. It is quite obvious that he has fully grasped the assininity of the so called "Reality shows" and exposes them for what... Read more
Published 18 months ago by David Nicholson
3.0 out of 5 stars It's ok
I struggled to maintain interest in this, but it's relevance to today's Saturday night entertainment can be denied, so I struggled on...
Published 18 months ago by A. Carter
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