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Dead Famous Paperback – 1 Jul 2002

146 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Black Swan; New Ed edition (1 July 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0552999458
  • ISBN-13: 978-0552999458
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2.6 x 20.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (146 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 72,123 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

Amazon Review

Ben Elton's Dead Famous brings together his talents in comedy and crime writing to produce a hilarious and devastating novel on the gruesome world of reality TV. Peeping Tom productions invent the perfect TV programme: House Arrest. Its slogan is: "One house. Ten contestants. Thirty cameras. Forty microphones. One survivor." This is all a clever parody of the massive TV hit Big Brother, with its vain, ambitious contestants with their:

tattoos and their nipple rings, their mutual interest in star signs, their endless hugging and touching, and above all their complete lack of genuine intellectual curiosity about one single thing on this planet that was not directly connected with themselves.
However, Elton adds a clever twist to this very funny send-up. On Day 27 of the programme, one of the housemates is killed live on TV. Everyone in the country has a theory about the killer, "indeed the only person who seemed to have absolutely no idea whatsoever of the killer's identity was Inspector Stanley Spencer Coleridge, the police officer in charge of the investigation". Coleridge is an old fogey from the 1950s, who has to learn quickly about lesbians, piercings, blow jobs and the seductions of TV fame before he can crack the case. Elton's wicked parody of the housemates is brilliant, the murder fiendish in its ingenuity, and the ending wonderfully over the top. Dead Famous is great fun, and even has some social comment thrown in for good measure. --Jerry Brotton --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"Big up to Ben Elton and respect, big time. Top, top book" (Mail on Sunday)

"Wry, fast and fiendishly clever" (The Times)

"A book with pace and wit, real tension, a dark background theme and a big on-screen climax" (Independent)

"The perfect modern-day whodunit. A cracking read full of hilarious insights into the Big Brother phenomenon" (Mirror)

"One of the best whodunits I have ever read...a funny, gripping, hugely entertaining thriller, but also a persuasive, dyspeptic account of the way we live now, with our insane, inane cult of the celebrity" (Sunday Telegraph)

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 8 July 2002
Format: Paperback
There are many cliches in fiction, but perhaps none as familiar as the murder mystery where a group of strangers is gathered together, one is murdered, and after an eventful investigation, the detective gathers them all together to explain who did it. So much of a cliche, in fact, that few mainstream writers dare produce such a hackneyed plot any more. But Elton proves that there is life in old dog yet, as he realised the obvious ... the seeds of the cliche are being played out daily on our screen in the form of Big Brother. Merge these two together, and throw in a healthy dose of Elton's cyncism for the world of popular media, and we have a heady mixture.
The plotting and timing of the tale is flawless - with multiple flashbacks and points of view never interfering with a damn good yarn in which the reader yearns not only to find out whodunnit, but also who it was done to. The characters are caricatures, but none the worse for that. They perfectly match the sort of view we are given of the Big Brother housemates, and that is one of Elton's more serious points in a page turner which is clever, thought-provoking and above all entertaining.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Victor HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 13 Oct. 2009
Format: Paperback
The last decade has seen an explosion in the faux celebrity culture, people famous and feted for being vacuous non-entities who have managed to get their faces on TV on some risible 'reality TV' show. The whole phenomenon is ripe for some decent satirisation, and here Ben Elton has taken up the gauntlet and given the whole genre the treatment it deserves.

We're all (painfully) familiar with the format of Big Brother. The set up is the same here - a house full of pointless narcissists obsessed with becoming celebrities locked in a house loaded with cameras, constantly being broadcast to the nation. Then suddenly, one of them is brutally murdered. Live on TV. But the murderer manages to remain incognito.

The book is very cleverly constructed - the time lines move around, one minute with the police investigating the crime, the next going back over earlier episodes of the series. We don't even get to find out who the victim is until half way through. The police investigation is nicely presented, as are the details of life in the house leading up to the murder. The identity of the murderer and the motives, though apparent from reasonably early on, are nicely revealed and there are no plot holes to speak of.

The real joys of the book are the characterisations and the behind the scenes look at the reality TV industry. Ben Elton manages to write all of the characters extremely well, from the vacuous inmates to the cynical and bewildered investigating officer Inspector Coleridge. Non e of them feel clichéd, and all feel like real people. And as for the descriptions of how the industry really works, it is a fascinating read!

On top of all this, the whole book is laced with Elton's bitingly satirical wit.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By MatsumotoBonBon on 23 Dec. 2002
Format: Paperback
Of the half dozen or so Ben Elton books that I have read, this is the best by quite some distance. I've always felt that reality television is creepy, and so I sympathise with the point of view that Elton conveys in the story.
The world he creates is not so far away from today's, and just a couple of steps short that of "Series 7 - The Contenders" (a film that I can't recommend highly enough). It's a story along a similar theme as Popcorn, dealing with the continuous pushing back of the boundaries of what it's acceptable for the media to broadcast. Elton's juxtaposition of stuffy, old-fashioned policeman Coleridge with the mindless, self-obsessed 20-somethings of the TV show highlights how much has changed in no more than a few decades.
It's a real page-turner. Having read the blurb before buying the book, you're obviously already going to be aware that there's a murder in a reality gameshow, but three quarters of the story lies between Elton re-stating that on page one of the story, and revealing who the victim is. I therefore spent as much time wondering about the identity of the victim as that of the murderer.
The two most important scenes of the story are handled well. The whole lead-up to the night of the murder still leaves me with a slightly uneasy feeling when I think of it - I can picture the scene in my mind so clearly. Likewise, the final act captures the drama worthy of the revealed truth. Maybe I was just being a bit thick, but I didn't work out who the murderer was until I saw it written there on the page.
Another thing I love about this book is the way he parodies the insincere, meaningless drivel of today's "yoof TV". Everyone is described as "brave" or "strong" or something equally inappropriate with such frequency that the terms become completely devalued.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Steve Sutton on 25 April 2002
Format: Paperback
One house. Ten contestants. Thirty cameras. Forty microphones. I bought this book, just to find out how the hell someone could get murdered in the "House Arrest" house, without anyone knowing about it.

When you peel away the wrappings, this book is a classic whodunnit. Ten people are in a house, and one of them is dead. One of the survivors must be the killer. But who is it, what's the motive, and why oh why wasn't it Woggle who was killed?

But whatever you do, don't simply peel away the wrappings. This is book is more than that. Ben Elton has stripped down the "Big Brother" phenomenon, and given it his treatement. The result is a satrical look at the whole state of affairs, through the eyes of those who love, hate, or take part in it.

This book is not just for "Big Brother" fans, detractors will be able to sympathise with Chief Inspector Coleridge, but it would help if you are at least familiar with it.
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