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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Scathing
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 -...
Published on 10 Jun 2007 by Mr. S. J. Downing

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Ok, but not great.
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...
Published on 12 Jan 2008 by Dr. J. D. Mitchell


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Ok, but not great., 12 Jan 2008
By 
Dr. J. D. Mitchell "Jon Mitchell" (Plymouth, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Chart Throb (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
4.0 out of 5 stars Scathing, 10 Jun 2007
By 
Mr. S. J. Downing "Stevie D" (Devon, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Chart Throb (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. Ben Elton's observations of human nature at its most vulnerable, venal, exploitative, ambitious, desperate and vengeful are never so good as when they're in print and it's this hallmark that gives Chart Throb its strength. I kept my eye out for Mr. Elton's other trademark - the (often multiple) twist at the end of the tale. However, even forwarned, I wouldn't have seen the book's conclusion coming in a month of Sundays. Although in my defence, it was a little far-fetched.

So, buy the book? Go on, you might as well. At the time of writing, my local newsagents is running a two-for-one on paperback bestsellers, so I got this for a relative bargain. I'd say I'd got more than my money's worth.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Chart throb, Ben Elton - Unexpectedly doesn't quite deliver, 2 Oct 2009
By 
Victor (Hull, England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
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This review is from: Chart Throb (Paperback)
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
By 
This review is from: Chart Throb (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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant but repetitive., 30 Oct 2007
This review is from: Chart Throb (Paperback)
If you have ever been a fan of any reality TV show, escpecially X-Factor, then you'll find that this book a brilliant read. I can't watch X-Factor anymore beacuse Elton completly shatters all the illusions that Simon Cowell and his producation company try to create. The actual fakeness behind 'reality' TV is uncovered throughout this satirical novel. Sharon Osbourne is shown to be a completely psychotic, egotistical, surgery obsessed, cow. Louis Walsh is made out to have no backbone- only ever doing and saying whatever Simon Cowell tells him. Simon Cowell himself is a pompous idiot who thinks the public are a bunch of morons because he can make them believe anything. Once you've read this- you realise its all true! X-Factor (or 'Chart Throb') is shown to be completely scripted, and the winners are shown to be pre-picked. The contestants are picked because of their desperation or lack of mental normality, rather than their musical talent. Elton goes through the whole X-Factor experience and picks it apart piece by piece.
The only criticsm about this novel is that once Elton has told you it is all fake and that the contestants are all picked for their moronic value, he then goes on to tell you this over and over again. Many paragraphs and pages are a waste of time because he has said them many times before. With the repetition cut out of the novel it would be half as long and would become more concise and to the point rather than just going over the same point over and over again. Still a very funny and quite eye-opening read though!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing and very lazy, 31 Jan 2007
By 
Janie U (Kings Cliffe, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Chart Throb (Hardcover)
I was looking forward to reading this book, having read most of Ben Elton's early books and enjoyed his satirical look at sections of modern life (although seem to have missed the last few books).

I don't avidly watch the Pop Idol/X Factor shows but I keep up to date with how they work and who is in them, so thought that Ben Elton's view on this would be intersting.

I found that he approached the target in a way that I thought was very lazy. The characters were just exaggerated versions of the real shows rather than taking the TV talent show idea and looking at it as a whole, which could have had more potential. Almost every character and comment was critical of the whole idea without taking into consideration that this type of show provides entertainment for millions of people - don't think I'm standing up for talent shows but they do influence the remote controls on Saturday nights!!

The 3 judges were offensive characters and, if I was Simon Cowell, Sharon Osborne or Louis Walsh, I would be insulted.

There was a bit of a plot through the book but really wasn't worth even thinking about.

Don't waste your time reading.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Massively Disappointing, 8 Mar 2007
This review is from: Chart Throb (Hardcover)
Elton has provided the reader with an experience even more tedious than the very thing he wants to parody. From an author who has (up until this point) always written top notch satire, Chart Throb lumbers along like a valium fed elephant through a molasses lake.

The repetition, once the point has been made, is simply annoying, most of the characters so cartoonish as to be literally two dimensional, and the balance of the book so hopelessly off kilter (I thought the audtition day would never end) that the reader's eyes beg to skip forward whole paragraphs at a time. But worst of all, a "twist" ending that buggers all logic, feels horribly contrived and tacked on, cheats the reader, and - for want of a better word - stinks.

I own all of Ben Elton's books and cherish them all. Except this one.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars good but not his best, 17 Dec 2010
This review is from: Chart Throb (Paperback)
a send up of simon cowell AKA Calvin Simms and his lackeys.a deeply cynical and possibly true look at Talent shows and how they are manipulated, the nice girl and love interest is very contrasting to the rest of the motley crew,

the Prince of Wales wanting to join in was not that plausible, but then I thankfully don't work in entertainment like Mr Elton so he may know something we don't!

a very fast easy read that kept me interested unlike the show its taken fom my daughter inflicts on me, hugely funny in places over the top in others
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars opening your eyes, 4 Dec 2010
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This review is from: Chart Throb (Hardcover)
This book really opene3d up my eyes to what actually goes on in programmes like the x factor.I probably already knew some of it but this book confirmed this and more.It was a good story as I thought it would be being written by Ben Elton.Well worth a read for all xfactor fans!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Funny Stuff!, 16 Dec 2009
By 
J.Flood (Dublin,Ireland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Chart Throb (Paperback)
Chart Throb is set around a fictional(ish!) 'reality' TV programme, in which contestants sing in front of three vain judges, in order to win the big prize of a recording contract. Sound familiar?

I thought this book was a very funny and entertaining read! The problem (if that is the right word to use) was, even though it was completely over the top in places, it was still hard to tell where the fact ended, and the fiction began!!

I'm nearly looking forward to watching the X-Factor again, just to have a good laugh!!
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