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Reading report. Dead famous by Ben Elton. 1 Synopsis The novel is about a murder that occurs on a reality television program called House Arrest, and the efforts of three police officers to identify the killer by watching all the video recordings of the ten housemates while the remaining housemates continue the reality television show. The novel jumps back and forth in time to show the events in the live video recordings, leading up to the night of the murder, where the remaining eight housemates at the time had to remain in an Indian sweat box- an old-style sauna with a pitch-black interior, the intention being to prompt the housemates to have sex-; the victim left the box to go to the toilet and the killer apparently left the box wrapped in a sheet to conceal their identity and stabbed the victim twice in the neck and head. Later, a note is found in an envelope that had been sealed weeks previously that says that the victim will be dead by the time the housemates read the note and that one of the three remaining housemates will be murdered. The police have to catch the killer before he or she strikes again. The killer is revealed on the final night of the show to be the show's producer, who had set up the murder to attract increased ratings for the show, faking the video footage of the killer leaving the sweat-box with the aid of her deputy producer; Detective Coleri ge, an amateur d actor, provokes a confession by creating fake video evidence of the producer's rehearsal murders. 2 Style/genre Whodunit, detective novel. 3 Meaning of the title and cover of the book Dead: because there is someone murdered Famous: everyone in the house wants to be famous, whether they say it or not. Otherwise they wouldn¶t join the programme. When they find out that Kelly is murdered, the producer of the show (Geraldine Hennessy) doesn¶t want the show to end because all she can think of is how many people watch the show. The cover of the book shows fish in a bowl. They are all staring at the outside µworld¶. It resembles the people living in the house of the House Arrest show. They are behind glass and are being watched all the time. 4 Themes and charac ers. y The housemates: Jason "Jazz", a t ainee hef and annabe omedian y ervla Nolan, a quiet and mysterious Irish trauma therapist Revealed to have joined the show in an attempt to ain the prize money to help her family aft er a recent disaster in her home village) arry " azzer", a stereotypical lager lout Kelly Simpson, a beautiful but unintelligent shop assistant; the murder victim avid algleish, a vain actor and secret porn star ayla, a snobbish fashion designer/shop assistant with "New Age" beliefs amish, an uninteresting doctor; operated on the principal of staying unnoticed in the house to avoid nomination while informing the public that he wanted to have sex on television to discourage them voting him out Sally opple, a bodybuilding lesbian bouncer with a dark past William "Woggle" Wooster, an antisocial and unhygienic anarchist Moon, an exhibitionistic circus performer and topless model y y y y y y y y The television crew: y y y y y eraldine ennessy, the producer of Bob ogarty, the senior series editor Pru Prudence), his assistant editor arry arlisle, a cameraman hloe, the presenter ouse Arrest The police: y hief Inspector Stanley Spencer oleridge, an old -fashioned but dedicated police officer Sergeant ooper forename unknown), a young modern police officer onstable Patricia "Trish" surname unknown), a closeted lesbian police officer y y R i R 2/6 t± l tt B t EN VS 2   6 Bac Benjamin harles "Ben" Elton born 3 May 1959) is a ondon -born comedian, author, playwright and tel evision director. e was a leading figure in the British alternative comedy movement of the 1980s, as a writer on such cult series as The Young nes and Blackadder, as well as also a successful stand -up comedian on stage and TV. e was a high-profile frontman of 1980s left -wing political satire. Since then he has published thirteen novels and more lately become known for writing the musical We Will Rock You 2002) and ove Never ies 2010), the sequel to The Phantom of the pera. Elton was born in atford, ondon, the son of an English teacher mother and physicist and educational researcher ewis Elton. e is the nephew of the historian Sir . R. Elton. Elton's father is of erman Jewish descent and his mother is of English background. e studied at Stillness Junior School and odalming rammar School in Surrey, South Warwickshire ollege now Stratford -upon-Avon ollege) and the University of Manchester. Elton is married to Sophia are an Australian saxophonist) and has three children two sons and one daughter). e lives in remantle, Western Australia and in East Sussex, England. Elton has had dual British/Australian citizenship since 2004. is uncle, Sir eoffrey Elton, claimed to be the only notable person to have complained about the fourth series of Blackadder - though he later "changed his mind" e is a abour Party supporter and was named as a financial donor to the party in 1998. 7 Book reviews Reviewed by: Alan McClymont About Alan McClymont A satirical whodunnit based on reality T.V. shows such as big Brother Ben Elton returns at the top of his game with his most recent novel ead amous. In his usual satirical style he describes one of the darling formats of modern day T.V., the reality show. If ever you have a pet hate you should pick up a book by Elton dealing with the subject. You will find that he tears it to pieces with surprising skill and finesse - but it still remains torn apart. If you are a fan of reality T.V. however, don't worry there is still plenty here for you to laugh and occasionally wince) at. Using the structure of Big Brother as a guideline Elton manages to create a murder mystery thriller with plenty of humor. The basic idea is simple enough. 12 people volunteer to spend some time shut up in a house together whilst being filmed around the clock by a T.V. crew. Every week viewers vote out one of the contestants and at the end the remaining p articipant wins a large cash prize and, invariably, instant media status. Unlike the traditional format, however, as things are looking a bit slow and boring Elton Reading Report ± 3/6 harlotte Bockaert EN VS 2 ¥¤ ¢ 5 S r movements round about the author £ ¡ throws in a murder and all hell breaks loose. The remaining contestants agree to continue with the game knowing that the murderer must still be in the house with them. At the same time a cynical out of touch detective is given the case and proceeds to bounce from dead end to dead end. The contestants are desperately trying to find out who did i t but at the same time are still trying to win the contest. It gives the writer a good chance at having a go at their stupidity and vanity and he doesn't miss out. In taking the traditional murder mystery novel into the technical age Elton manages to ref resh the genre and bring in some new and unexpected twist. I never felt that I knew who did it until it was over and I had to keep turning the pages to find out at as quickly as I could. Even without the wonderful humor and great cynical observations which are made this book would still be worth the read. With them, however, it would be sacrilegious not to read it. Review by Nadine Rating 7/10 It seemed appropriate to read this book while the latest series of 'Big Brother' was on. So I bought it on a whim and read it on holiday. The plot concerns a fictional, exaggerated version of 'Big Brother', in which the seemingly impossible happens: A housemate is murdered on camera, and the killer manages to escape identification. The police are left trawling throu gh archived footage, which is all they have to go on. It's all a bit ridiculous, of course. The very idea that the programme would continue after the murder is preposterous, and the tasks that the housemates are required to perform push the limits of believability somewhat. But if you can ignore these aspects, it is actually a very good story. We begin with an Agatha Christie style introduction to the characters, their backgrounds and their relationships. radually it becomes apparent who the victim is go ing to be, but any number of characters could be the villain. Towards the end it turns from Agatha Christie to Jonathan Creek, with a wildly improbable but very clever solution. Just like most good murder mysteries, it left me kicking myself for not working it out. n the downside, it wasn't as funny as I would have expected from Ben Elton. The digs at the mindless and exploitative nature of 'Big Brother' are quite amusing, but the narrative is sadly short of the quality quips and jokes that you'd expect from the quick-fire comedian. I did smile in places, but laugh -out-loud moments were few and far between. In some parts it was even quite serious. So, to sum up... As a mystery, it is excellent. As a 'Big Brother' parody, it is outstanding. But if you're after belly-laughs you might be disappointed. Dead Famous review Reading Report ± Charlotte Bockaert EN VS 2 4/6 The Observer, The Guardian Ben Elton Bantam £16.99, pp339 Taking his lead from the Pope, Ben Elton proclaims Big Brother a jolly undignified affair. Elton may look like arry Potter, but he is becoming decidedly Pooterish in his prime. Politics and the state of the planet have been put aside for the more serious issue of reality television. is latest novel, an unremitting rant against the young ones today, is a satire on the Big Brother phenomenon and the dumbed -down, hyped-up, celebrity yoof culture that created it. ead amous takes the 'game' to its most sini ster conclusion. ouse Arrest puts 10 mad -forit twentysomethings through the now familiar ordeal of public self -promotion, flirtation and backbiting. White -van man, snooty blonde, black heartthrob, token lesbian and ugly stripper all the usual suspects are here. This is the third series and eraldine the aoler, mastermind of Peeping Tom Productions, worries that the staple sunbathing and hot -tub high jinks might not keep ratings and pulses rocketing. appily, however, one of the girls is shortly stabbed to death on air in America, a contestant tried to pull a similar stunt). eraldine has fulfilled her moral obligation to make great television. We watch the evidence unfold with Chief Inspector Stanley Spencer Coleridge think Morse) on a clapped-out police V S, a far cry from Peeping Tom's cutting -edge technology. In a dark parody of the Big Brother evictions which inspired more votes than the present government), the identity of the victim remains a mystery to the reader until the murder scene is broadcast to the nation. Each of the survivors is then furnished with a motive, however flimsy, as reality television gives way to the age -old conventions of the country -house whodunit. Coleridge's curmudgeonly commentary is set against hip Big Brother speak - a breathless combination of therapy jargon, New Age nonsense and camp dramatics, which Elton replicates perfectly: 'It's brilliant, wicked, outrageous... just totally bigged up and out there.' Irritating mouthy showoffs in sparkly outfits who make pots of money from the telly sounds familiar?) deserve all they get, but surely it's not difficult to make such airheads sound silly. Elton sets his sights on rather soft targets, not least the pneumatic figure of the ladette presenter. The ouse Arrest format se es him on home territory with some routine gags - an entire bathroom repertoire including, shamefully, soap and pubic hair. Without the novel's strict observance of crime genre formalities, it could have been as tiresome as the real thing. Tradition and in novation come together in a spectacular murder mystery showdown, reminiscent of the finale to Popcorn, as Elton's reactionary Radio 4 buff sleuth, Coleridge, reveals all to the world. uzzling furiously away at the contemporary junk culture that he so depl ores, Elton seems unaware that he might easily be thrown out with the rubbish. Reading Report ± Charlotte Bockaert EN VS 2 5/6 Already many of the jokes seem strangely dated. ead amous is as spirited and entertaining a performance as ever from Elton, but the novel is shadowed by an uncomfortable and u nintentional irony - reality television has suddenly become all too real. 8 Personal opinion about the book. «I loved it. It is well written, you have two separate storylines: the police that are watching the tapes and the contestants who are still in the h ouse. But the author made it all very clear by mentioning the days every time. I was exited the whole time to find out who had done it and most importantly why he or she had done it. I suspected multiple men and women in the show« And I found it interestin g that in the end, the old police man wanted some fame for himself as well« nature of the creature perhaps? Reading Report ± Charlotte Bockaert EN VS 2 6/6