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Chart Throb

3.53  ·  Rating details ·  4,152 ratings  ·  246 reviews
Ben Elton is about to put the “real” back into Reality TV in his biting satire of one of today’s most popular cultural phenomena — the TV talent show.

95,000 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 judgment on the mingers, clingers and
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published January 9th 2007 by Bantam Press (first published 2006)
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Average rating 3.53  · 
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Nov 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: comedy
Chart Throb, a stand alone by Ben Elton published 2006.

This is Ben Elton at his best here.
At its heart this story is a hilarious finger pointing exposé of what is known as reality TV talent quests.
When Calvin Simms, the brain behind and executive producer of the mega hit TV series ‘Chart Throbs’, wife of two weeks tells him that she is going to divorce him and take half of his considerable wealth, Calvin just smiles and says “you think”. “I’ll tell what I’ll do” he says “I’ll bet you that I
After reading "Chart Throb", by Ben Elton, I don't think I will ever be able to watch a reality tv series again. I feel kind of dirty and want to cry. It rings so true that it is almost upsetting.

The story revolves around the producer of a hit reality television show similiar to Idol or X Factor. The book focuses on the manipulation used to make the show such a success, the scripting of events, the frankensteining of interviews, the general lack of conscience exhibited by the staff of the show
Oct 21, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: social-criticism
In this parody of popular talent shows, Ben Elton's writing has become way too formulaic. Like most Elton novels, this one starts with a dramatic flash forward, in this case the tear on the cheek of one of the contestants in the final. Then, like in all other Elton novels, we travel back in time and lots of characters are introduced. Many of those are the contestants in the show and a lot of attention also goes to the jury, all three of which are absolute assholes. You can imagine all those ...more
Aug 22, 2012 rated it liked it
This book is essential reading for everyone in the world who has ever watched and enjoyed a reality television ‘talent’ show.

Seriously. If you love them, it will open your eyes to how foolish you have been in trusting them, and if you are already a sceptic, you will enjoy the fantastically witty way in which Elton rips into them.

Chart Throb is name of the most popular reality TV talent contest on the air in the UK as our novel opens. The mastermind behind it, Calvin Simms, is Simon Cowell, but
Apr 25, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This started off quite promising, but got so bogged down in so many different stories and so much detail. Some of it I just skipped over because it was so boring, despite the fact that the subject matter interested me. I would've enjoyed this more about 5 years ago I think.

I did give this 2 stars but then I remembered about the Prince of Wales subplot and OH GOD that was just so bad, so I'm knocking a star off. Utterly unnecessary and the whole thing was so hard to believe.
Dora Maw
Jan 30, 2008 rated it liked it
Ever seen American Idol? Well... this book surely gives you an inside on how reality tv works. Very... educational - making you wonder why you waste all that time ringing to vote for your favourite!
Well... what can I say? I'm in two minds about this book. I love Ben Elton, and his books are usually quick, fun reads. The ones I've read, at list. This one is a quick read, too, and at times it's quite fun, but somehow it lacks the sparkle of, say, Past Mortem or Dead Famous and the likeable characters and tragicomedy of The First Casualty and Inconceivable.

I like the way Elton gives an inside view into editing and television making, but he had already done so before in 'Dead Famous', so it's
Isabel (kittiwake)
I would recommend this book to any reality television fans whose illusions won't be shattered by the amount of behind-the-scenes manipulation in this X Factor satire. If you really believe that the X Factor is a talent contest which the best singer will win, you may like to skip this book, especially if you see Sharon Osbourne as a lovely motherly person who hates to send any of the contestants home. Although Ben Elton has made the female judge on the Chart Throb panel a transsexual ex-rock star ...more
Jun 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
I read this book at recommendation from my Dad, and was surprised to find myself really enjoying it. I loved the idea of finding out what supposedly goes on behind the scenes of talent shows, and the characters were really developed and interesting. I particularly enjoyed that there wasn’t a particular hero to the story, and it explored each characters faults and good qualities. However, I found the ending very unsatisfactory, as I felt it was a frustrating way to tie up the book, and it left me ...more
Nov 09, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: comedy
Another biting satire, slash, dark comedy, looking at the world of faux reality, celebs and pop talent TV shows… very believable and biting. Ben tears apart the reality TV competition process for all to see, but inadvertently the story just looks like a personal attack on the UK TV show X-Factor and The Osbournes! As ever Elton's one dimensional characterisations pump up the satire/comedy, but overall reduce the book to a stand-up telling a load of sketches. Still gives a lot of insight into ...more
Emily Benet
Sep 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Like other people have said, and not that I watch much Reality TV, but I don't think I'll ever look at one the same! Rings so, so true. Everything is just manipulation for maximum entertainment. Hilarious and brutal.
Aug 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: corporate-satire
Ben Elton’s 2006 novel Chart Throb is certainly not a new release, but is a novel that I’ve been wanting to read for some time. Considering my own cynical view of reality TV in general, and talent-style shows in particular, I had quite anticipated Elton’s take on ‘The Ultimate Pop Quest’.

The novel follows the producer/writer/judge Calvin Simms as he ruthlessly manipulates his fellow judges, the hopeful contestants, and the British public, throughout the process of creating his X-Factor-style
Simon Taylor
Aug 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
Ben Elton’s Chart Throb is the successor to X Factor and the novel follows the lives of the judges and contestants in what can be generally described as a satire of the format.

The judges are pertinently Simon Cowell, Sharon Osborne and Louis Walsh-esque, right down to the Beryl’s The Osbornes style show. The characters in the book actually refer to Cowell and Osborne (and their superiority to them) and to X Factor, which Chart Throb has replaced.

It’s fair to say Chart Throb, as a novel, is not
Jan 01, 2010 rated it did not like it
I read up to page 117 and stopped. I actually found a review that precisely says what I think about this book so i'm going to paste it below; because honestly, it's not worth my time writing my own review.

"The point of the satire seems to be that these competitive reality shows are obviously highly engineered. The problem is, that point is so obvious that it's hard to be terribly interested in such an easy target, presented in such an easy fashion.

Chart Top is bloated with a variety of other
Charmaine Elliott
Jan 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
I laughed a lot at this excellently narrated exaggerated farce. The characters were gigantic caricatures whose dialogue pushed the boundaries. I learnt new words, like 'love pump' and am still assimilating a Bizarre Beryl and her progressive gender conversion. Highly amusing, yet tragic my naive view of talent spotting shows like Idols has been blemished forever. The trouble with this book is that the manipulations and twists are simply too credible. I tired of the Rodney character and the ...more
Nick Bonich
Dec 25, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who enjoys Ben Elton or excellent satirical commentary (one of his best)
Inadvertently came across this in our bookshelf (Mary had randomly picked up in Dubai of all places). Fortuitous - as it fits perfectly with a current strain of thinking - how do we edit our lives? Chart Throb addresses this en masse - a top-rating TV reality show that brutally edits the hopes and dreams of unwitting contestants in order to produce 'good telly'. Elton at his satirical best here (up there with Popcorn - perhaps slightly less twisted) - and you get the feeling he knows what he is ...more
Apr 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Great book. Ben Elton again hits a nerve by writing a book based on another popular entertainment phenomenon. Having done a take on Friend's Reunited and Big Brother - now the Pop Idol/ X Factor genre of program gets the Elton treatment. I do wonder how much of it is how the program happens, because if you 'do the maths' then alot of it must be! Also watching Simon Cowell on Britain's got Talent last night I could just picture Calvin Simms doing the various funny faces to show his emotions - and ...more
Lisa Macon
Nov 02, 2011 rated it liked it
I downloaded this book to my Kindle on the recommendation of my sister and her husband, who are huge Ben Elton fans. I must say that I really appreciated the sarcastic humor that Elton lays on like peanut butter. It's a lot of fun. I am a little disturbed when I think that American Idol and other competition shows like that are really run similarly to the way Chart Throb, the fictional talent competition that the story surrounds. I mean, really? Wow, if that's true, I'm never watching AI or ...more
Thomas Strömquist
"Disappointing book after the very funny and clever "Inconcievable". This is unbelivable both in characters and events and even if the "revealing" story about how this kind of TV-shows are made probably is (at least partly) true, it is not very interesting. Since I do not enjoy watching "talent search shows" I certainly do not enjoy reading about them, and a considerable part of the book is just a narrative of the TV-programme. I do have plenty of Ben Elton books left to read and will definitely ...more
Mar 02, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Everyone who watches those god-awful Simon Cowell productions should be forced to read this. Or more likely listen to the audio book due to them being barely past the Janet and John stage. Elton is by far a better writer than he is comedian, and this book cuts through the bullshit surrounding such shows.
If I was to have one complaint, it would be too many characters. But that aside, it is still very funny and Ben Elton proves himself to still be at the cutting edge of British satirical writing.
Steve Horsfall
Jun 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Chart Throb is a savage commentary on the contrived world of talent shows like the X-Factor with a wonderful satirical view of the overblown egos of the Judges. At times the observations and pathos of the contestants, and how they are manipulated, make you cringe as much as the real thing. Having a famous member of the Royal Family as a contestant did seem to be a surreal step too far, until I saw Simon Cowell talking about his efforts to involve President Obama in American Idol!!
Jul 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
Totally unbelievable: They fake the show, demean the contestants, assume the viewers are total morons, and are just generally completely horrible people...but all that hard hitting truth is shot to shit at the start when the main villain gets married without a prenuptial agreement. Hahaha, yeah right.
Dale Lane
Jun 19, 2010 rated it liked it
Essentially a behind-the-scenes at X-Factor story. It's an interesting premise - that these programmes are largely fictional and manipulative. And it's quite persuasive - I'll certainly look at X Factor et al in a different light now.
Cathy Johnson
Apr 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
How Ben elton got away with this I do not know! However, it just realised all my suspicions about these shows and explains why I don't watch them!! Loved it!
Jul 08, 2009 rated it really liked it
You will never look at reality shows the same again.
Michael Heath-Caldwell
Jul 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Ben Elton's hilarious book dissecting the cynical world of reality TV shows and the intricate manipulation of the contestants and the public to increase ratings.
Alistair Edwards
Jun 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Chart Throb is a fictional television 'reality singing contest'. Elton has been clever in that he clearly references all the similar real programmes, suggesting that Chart Throb is the ultimate successor to them all. That way, and by referring to the real people in the real shows, there can be no suggestion that he's making libellous references to them: the Simon Cowell-like figure cannot be intended to be Simon Cowell, nor the Louis Walsh. The 'Sharon Osbourne' certainly cannot be intended to ...more
Jun 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a cynical and humorous look at talent shows and what goes on behind the scenes. 'Chart Throb' is the new musical talent show, having seen off X-Factor, and the genius behind it is Calvin Simms. There is obviously nothing in the coincidence that his initials are the reverse of Simon Cowell's, nor that judge Beryl Blenheim lives in America and her family features on a reality TV show! As Calvin thrives on the success of his show, he is brought down to earth when his American wife of ...more
Mar 19, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2017-books
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Geoff Battle
Jun 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Chart Throb is a must read for any fan of X-Factor, Pop Idol, etc. Elton's story follows the next evolutionary step, where the talent search genre is full of exploitation, double-crossing and wierdos. Chart Throb is an unpredictable and entertaining journey through one season of the show, where all the bets are off (except for all the rigged entrants!) and chaos reigns. It's a great read, however don't be expecting plenty of belly laughs. The humour is wry and would be entirely missed by those ...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
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