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Dead Famous

3.59 of 5 stars 3.59  ·  rating details  ·  5,577 ratings  ·  266 reviews
One house, ten contestants, thirty cameras, forty microphones, one murder ... and no evidence.

Dead Famous is a killer read from Ben Elton – Reality TV as you've never seen it before.
Paperback, 382 pages
Published 2002 by Black Swan (first published 2001)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Cass
I am laying in bed, wedged firmly in between my two sleeping daughters (and one husband) desperately wishing I owned this book in ebook form.

Alas, I bought the hard copy and it is sitting in the lounge room where it will have to remain, unfinished, until tomorrow.

Can you tell I have enjoyed the book.

I have heard it said that Ben Elton becomes repetitive in his books. I have to agree, but I enjoy it, I love it. He has a way of mocking types of people by caricaturing them in his writing. He mak
...more
Karschtl
The cover says: "One house. Ten contestants. Thirty cameras. Forty microphones. One survivor."
You think: Big Brother? You're right. Here it's called "House Arrest", produced by "Peeping Tom Productions".

You know from the beginning that one of the inmates will be killed on day 27. But you have to wait until page 200 to find out who will it be and how. Normally you would think that a murder in a house full of cameras is easy to solve - cause the whole thing must be on video. But it is possible,
...more
Olga Godim
I seldom like books written by male writers. They are usually emotionally distant, and this book was no exception. Just the opposite, it’s so distant that there was no protagonist. I didn’t care for anyone in this book. It’s supposed to be a murder mystery, but by page 69, when I stopped reading, I still didn’t know who was murdered. Why should I care?
The story follows two plotlines. The first plotline is a filming of an imaginary reality TV show House Arrest. Ten people are trapped in one small
...more
Hannah
Ben Elton successfully combines his talents in writing comedy and detective fiction in Dead Famous. As a person who watches very little TV, I hadn't the faintest clue what Big Brother was when I read this book years ago, so I just found myself amused by the idea that so many obnoxious people could have been packed into the same house. How little I knew!

I found the interactions between the contestants extremely interesting, particularly the hatred that they managed to mask for the people they had
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Marina Finlayson
A highly entertaining comment on society's current infatuation with reality TV, this novel features a "Big Brother"-type show with the addition of a real on-screen murder. At least half the housemates have a motive, so the curmudgeonly old detective assigned to the case has a tough job ahead of him. It's a clever whodunnit, and the final scene where the detective reveals the murderer with some prime-time television theatrics of his own is great fun.
Oddmonster

Chloe met Layla at the door of the limo. She looked rock-chick stunning in black leather trousers and a black-leather bra, while Layla looked hippie-chick stunning in a tie-dye silk sarong and cropped silk singlet. The women hugged and kissed as if they were long-lost sisters instead of complete strangers, one of whom was paid to talk to the other one.


Synopsis: How could it be possible to get away with murder in an entirely sealed environment, every inch of which was covered in television camer
...more
Alex
Dec 10, 2012 Alex rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: crime
Ben Elton's ear for satire is frequently made of tin. Maybe people in the UK speak as his designated vapid characters do, but they all speak exactly the same as each other, and most of what they say is foreign to Australian ears.

But Dead Famous comes before the excesses of the likes of Chart Throb or Blind Faith, and is therefore only marginally unbelievable. It's not too hard to suspend disbelief, except in frequent jarring moments like one character calling semen "bollock champagne".

Dead Famo
...more
Annika Astradsson
This is a book about people in a reality show. 10 people (airheads) are locked into a house filled with cameras and one of them is murdered there, and still no one sees the identity of the killer. I'll admit it's a good plot. I'll admit I really like everything negative this gives Ben Elton an opportunity to say about reality shows. I'll even admit I like his way of writing. And though I do enjoy ironic books and films where silly, egotistical people are knocked out of their inflated opinion of ...more
Maria M. Elmvang
Jul 03, 2009 Maria M. Elmvang rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Maria M. by: Carina
I was completely fascinated by this book from the very first page. A murder committed in a "Big Brother"-type environment would have seemed impossible to achieve - and certainly very easy to solve - so how could it make for an interesting book? Yet Ben Elton manages to pull it off. I had great difficulties putting it down, and was completely taken aback by the ending... which, granted, wasn't all that likely, even if it was plausible.

The atmosphere of "Big Brother" was spot on (at least as seen
...more
Helen
Reality tv. We all know there is nothing real about it but this book lays bare the thinking behind the weekly segments of so-called real life goldfish bowl existence. The "housemates" appear to have all volunteered because they want to be famous. As appears so common these days they don't want to be famous as or for anything, just famous. The only one who didn't volunteer is Woggle the anarchist, who was persuaded to join by the series' owner and director who wanted an irritant. Woggle doesn't l ...more
paper
This book really surprised me. I started listening to it as an audiobook and at first, I hated it. After the first CD (40 pages or so), I put it away in disgust, annoyed with the writing style, the characters and the author's apparent political views. But, eventually, the time came when I was stuck in my car with nothing new to listen to. And I was curious about the premise: how could a murder mystery arise when the murder was committed under the all-seeing cameras of Big Brother Peeping Tom? So ...more
trishtrash
Satisfying, smirk-out-loud whodunnit set in the Reality-TV cradle of the ‘Peeping Tom’ house, a direct and pointed send-up of ‘Big Brother’. A contestant is murdered under the watchful eye of thirty cameras, millions of viewers, and nine of the victim’s competitors, and still escapes undetected. Enter the mildly (ranging to wildly) disgusted detective Coleridge whose weary pedantry lifts him and his investigation nicely above the ‘parody’ label, so that the reader can enjoy the mystery element a ...more
Steve Williams
If Dead Famous were a Subway sandwich, the meat would be a murder mystery, and the sauce would be the sprinklings of Elton’s renowned style of satirical wit and ironic humour. And by heck, is this a delicious sandwich. So scrumptious in fact, this being my first taste of a Ben Elton BLT, I rushed to the bookstore halfway through to get all the other flavours. Now my bookshelf is weighed down by every one of his sarcastic stories, from Stark to Meltdown.

We’re presented with a detective, Chief Ins
...more
Lachlan Smith
"One House. Ten contestants. One winner!" shouts the narrator during the opening credits of the Big Brother-like "reality" program "House Arrest". House Arrest is a program that sees ten contestants vie for the public's attention to win half a million pounds, and the show is in its third season. The critics do not think that the series will last very long, but they had no idea what was in store - because what the opening credits don't tell you is that, on day twenty-seven in the house, one of th ...more
Simon Taylor
Ben Elton turns his dark wit to Big Brother and its spawn with his dramedy Dead Famous. The premise is as you would expect – a handful of strangers being filmed in a house 24/7 with evictions occurring on a weekly basis. The twist: somebody inside this CCTV-rigged house manages to get themselves murdered.

The novel is structured in such a way that it takes advantage of the omnipotent time stamps which pervade the genre – there are no chapters, only days and times respective to how long the compet
...more
Dylan
Aug 29, 2012 Dylan rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: owned
On one level, Dead Famous is a largely forgettable attempt to capitalize on a pop cultural fad. Ben Elton's acid observations about the exploitative, cynical nature of reality television are more or less true, but reality TV is an incredibly easy target and I doubt anything Dead Famous says was a new insight even in 2001. As a social commentary, it's not wrong, but it's also not all that valuable. As a murder mystery though, it's pretty good. The writing is fast and funny, the structure of the m ...more
Quentin Feduchin
I read this book so many years ago that I couldn't remember much about it. In fact I wasn't aware I'd read it until half way! And even then I wasn't sure 'who dunnit'.

It's about a Big Brother type TV program and it's pretty excruciating. The police superintendent and his staff have to watch all the episodes, and most of the stuff wasn't even shown on TV, and it's pretty horrible.

But it's sexy in parts, stupid of course, funny in a horrible filthy kind of way, ugly where the show-owner is involve
...more
Rosemary
I think you really have to have seen the early years of Big Brother (and perhaps the British version) to enjoy this. There's a lot of sex, slang and over-the-top satire of the cult of celebrity, reality shows and the TV companies that produce them. It's dated already (the word of the day is still "wicked", not "awesome" or even "cool") but it really brought back those early Big Brother series and I found it very funny in a dreadful sort of way.
Anna
Enjoyable read, I liked the irony and the stretching of the imagination in it. Found the old style detective novel ending entertaining too.
Alex Robinson
Works as both mystery and scathing critique of reality shows and the society that watches/creates them.
Petra Prpic
I found it very disturbing but I liked the mystery of the murder.
Jelle Peersman
I've been doing an IT-job(wanna-escape-from-the-economic-and-personal-slump)related training in Brussels for the past few months and it did not take me long to stumble upon a great used book store during my lunch break. Although the bulk of their stock are French books - a language that, over the years, has done enough rusting in my brain due to relative disuse, I no longer feel comfortable enough with to properly read novels in - they have a great selection of English novels and to a lesser ext ...more
Morgan Dhu
Satirical examination of reality TV and the cult of celebrity, plus an interesting (though perhaps a tad too obvious) murder mystery. Funny and sad by turns. Although, when it comes down to it, intentional satire is hardly needed, this stuff satirises itself so well, all one has to to is show what actually happens, and it's over the top enough to seem like satire. Well, maybe leaving out the murder.

A friend recommended the author and this book in particular some time ago, and nagged me til I re
...more
Çavlan Erdost
Hemen her ülkede yayınlanan, ingilizce adı Big Brother, bizdeki adı Biri Bizi Gözetliyor olan dikizleme yarışması üzerine kurulu bir polisiye Bizi Kim Gözetliyor Evi'nde Cinayet. Herkes hatırlıyordur bu programın formatını; birbirlerini tanımayan, ünsüz insanlar birkaç ay boyunca bir eve kapanır, halk da onları -duş ve tuvalet de dahil olmak üzere- evin bilumum köşelerine yerleştirilmiş kameralardan heyecanla izler. Her hafta biri elenir, sona kalan kazanır. Kim kiminle tuvalet kağıtları bittiği ...more
Matt  Schmidt
Not what I was expecting at all.

This booked felt like Ben Elton wrote a book about how much he hates reality TV shows. He seems to have created a bunch of selfish, greedy 2 dimensional characters that nobody cares about and thrown in a lame murder plot, that doesn't make sense. It would have been better if had made his feelings a little more subtle than ramming his own opinions down the readers throat on every page. I hope Ben Elton's other books are better, because this one was rubbish.
Wilton314
I really like Ben Elton's writing. He takes a worldwide topic of interest and adds his witty, biting, satirical flair to it. Whether it be the global financial crisis, Eco terrorism, social media zealots, school reunions or in this case the Big Brother 'reality' TV show, they are always enjoyable. I used to watch early days of Big Brother so I found this story taking me back to my youth such is Elton's insightful writing. Written in a series of flash backs and present time, Dead Famous is about ...more
Kirsty
I first read this book several years ago now and I gave it 4 stars back then. I recently re-read it so that I could write a review.

As you can see I have kept my rating at 4 stars. I was worried on early in the book that I had somehow outgrown the story as I wasn't enjoying it as much as I was expecting too. The story is easy to get into and still current considering Big Brother is still running regularly on television. However it took a good 100 pages or so to properly grab me in. The further I
...more
Batsap
A good bit of Ben Elton social commentary, even if reading it now it did seem a little outdated. I watched the Big Brother series when it first started though and this is a scarily accurate representation. Just like the real series, I started out not really expecting to particularly like the characters or get caught up in the action, but soon found myself liking all of them and completely hooked.

Coleridge was obviously Ben Elton's spokesperson of the novel, but I still felt that his voice came t
...more
Rowan MacBean
When I first discovered Ben Elton had written novels, I immediately went to find a list with descriptions of them. Since "reality" TV is one of my guilty pleasures -- I know exactly what exploitative, manipulating rubbish it is, but sometimes I just can't look away -- Dead Famous was the most obvious choice for my starting place.

The book was ... a whole lot like a reality show, actually. The more absurd elements were pointed out as absurd instead of being spun as normal and rational, but a good
...more
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Ben Elton was born on 3 May 1959, in Catford, South London. The youngest of four, he went to Godalming Grammar school, joined amateur dramatic societies and wrote his first play at 15. He wanted to be a stagehand at the local theatre, but instead did A-Level Theatre Studies and studied drama at Manchester University in 1977.

His career as both performer and writer encompasses some of the most memo
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