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Book & Direction

Ben Elton

Ben Elton is a multi‑award‑winning novelist, playwright, television writer, screenwriter and lyricist. He is also a theatre, screen and TV director, a stand‑up comedian and a very occasional actor. He was born in Catford, south‑east London, on 3 May 1959, the youngest of four children. He read drama at Manchester University. He is married and has three children.

There follows a list of Ben Elton’s principal professional work.

Novels include: Stark (1989); Gridlock (1991); This Other Eden (1993); Popcorn (1996); Blast From the Past (1998); Inconceivable (1999); Dead Famous (2001); High Society (2002); Past Mortem (2004); The First Casualty (2005); Chart Throb (2006); Blind Faith (2007); Meltdown (2009) and Two Brothers (2012). Six of the above were UK number‑one best‑sellers. Ben Elton’s novels have also been hugely successful in Australia and are published around the world.

Television credits include: The Young Ones (1982/4; co‑writer with Rik Mayall and Lisa Meyer); Alfresco (1982/4; performer and cowriter with Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie and Emma Thompson); Happy Families (1985; writer); Blackadder II (1985; co‑writer with Richard Curtis); Filthy Rich and Catflap (1986; writer); Saturday Live (1986/7; comedian/host); Blackadder the Third (1987; co‑writer with Richard Curtis); Friday Night Live (1988; comedian/host); Blackadder Goes Forth (1989; co‑writer with Richard Curtis); Ben Elton: the Man From Auntie (1990 and 1994; writer/performer); The Thin Blue Line (1995/6; writer); The Ben Elton Show (1998; writer/performer); Blessed (2005; writer); The Wright Way (2013; writer) and Ben also wrote the Mr Bean ‘exam’ episode.

Stand‑up comedian: Ben has been one of the UK’s most successful live acts for almost 30 years. He last toured in 2005/6. In 1990, he co‑hosted the Nelson Mandela Celebration at Wembley Stadium. He hosted The BRIT Awards in 1997 and 1998, and The Royal Variety Performance in 2000. He writes all his own material. Stage writing and plays include: The New Review (1985) with Richard Curtis; Gasping (1990); Silly Cow (1991); Popcorn (1997) and Blast From the Past (1998).

Musicals include: The Beautiful Game (2000; book and lyrics; music by Andrew Lloyd Webber); We Will Rock You (2002; book; music by Queen); Tonight’s the Night (2004; book; music by Rod Stewart and others) and Love Never Dies (2010; co‑wrote book; music by Andrew Lloyd Webber).

Feature films include: Maybe Baby (2000; writer/director). Other directing work includes: Silly Cow, The Thin Blue Line (with John Birkin), Blessed, We Will Rock You, Tonight’s the Night and The Beautiful Game, reworked as The Boys in the Photograph.

Major awards include: three BAFTAs for Best Comedy Series for The Young Ones and Blackadder - series three and four; two Olivier Awards for Popcorn and We Will Rock You; the Royal Television Society Writers’ Award for Ben Elton: the Man From Auntie; the British Comedy Award for The Thin Blue Line; Public and Professional Jury Awards at Reims for The Thin Blue Line; Crime Writers Association Gold Dagger Award for Crime Fiction for Popcorn; the W H Smith People’s Choice Fiction Award for High Society; Prix Polar International Crime Writer Award for Amitiés mortelles, the French edition of Past Mortem, and the Critics’ Circle Theatre Award for Best Musical for The Beautiful Game.

In 2007, Ben Elton was awarded the Special Golden Rose d’Or at the International Television Festival in Lucerne, Switzerland, for his lifetime contribution to the television arts.

Photo of Ben Elton

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