Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Ben Elton – Chart Throb

Title: Chart Throb
Author: Ben Elton

ISBN # 059305749X

Publisher: Bantam Press

First Published: 2006

427 pages

Format: Hardback

Rating: 8/10

"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.

Elton is definitely at his comedy-best when he's having a crack at the media. He did it wonderfully well with Dead Famous (a poke in the eye of Big Brother) and does every bit as good a job with the likes of X-Factor and Pop Idol. All the crazy, weird, self-deluded ego-maniacs are well represented and the wit is laid on so thick that if it were toast, there'd be more butter than bread!

This was such fun to read! Not being a fan of reality TV shows, I can really appreciate the snide reminder that what you see on the television isn't the whole story, but is, instead, the story the viewer has been shown after the careful eye of the producer and the editor’s scissors have been at work, and in the case of shows where public voting is concerned, has been manipulated towards. That said, I think that even fans of such programmes will appreciate the humour behind the sentiment, in fact, I think it may even heighten the enjoyment of it! I especially love how Elton provides a "whatever happened to..." ending, in the way that many documentaries/reality shows do, just to let you know a little of the aftermath in the same "limit-the-story" way that has been prevalent throughout the plot. Very cleverly written, full of sparkling wit and spot-on caricatures.


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