Ben Elton

Ben Elton

Ben Elton is a strange one. He started out as the very antithesis of the establishment when his unique firebrand of political stand up regularly blew away traditional mainstream entertainment down at the Comedy Store alongside the likes of Rik Mayall and Alexei Sayle. These days however, he is known as chummy pal of Tony Blair, and responsible for that godawful Queen musical. What happened? Well essentially the answer lies in the fact that Ben Elton - be it performer, novelist, actor, scriptwriter or playwright - is never still. Throughout his career he has tried his hand at anything and ...

Daniel Berehulak

Ben Elton News

Updated November 19, 2009
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Full Biography

Ben Elton is a strange one. He started out as the very antithesis of the establishment when his unique firebrand of political stand up regularly blew away traditional mainstream entertainment down at the Comedy Store alongside the likes of Rik Mayall and Alexei Sayle.


These days however, he is known as chummy pal of Tony Blair, and responsible for that godawful Queen musical. What happened?


Well essentially the answer lies in the fact that Ben Elton - be it performer, novelist, actor, scriptwriter or playwright - is never still. Throughout his career he has tried his hand at anything and (for the most part) been hugely successful.


He clearly has the kind of brain that likes to flit about, trying many things, as shown by his razor-sharp and rapid fire stand up material that entertained millions over the decades.


Ben was born in 1959 in the slightly gristly London area of Catford and into a bright family, being the son of an English teacher mother and the physicist and educational researcher Lewis Elton.


After studying drama as the University of Manchester he began what would be a ridiculously prolific career in comedy; In 1981, when his live stand up act took off, he was hired by The Comedy Store in London as its compere.


Taking his live act to the small screen, his first television appearance was a stand-up performance on the BBC1 youth and music programme The Oxford Roadshow, but his first TV success came at the age of 23 as co-writer of the iconic sitcom The Young Ones.


In 1983/4 he wrote and appeared in a shortlived sketch show called Alfresco, which featured a who's who of today's comedy establishment including Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie, Emma Thompson and Robbie Coltrane.


The following year Ben produced his first solo writing effort with his comedy-drama series Happy Families, starring Jennifer Saunders and Adrian Edmondson. He also reunited Rik Mayall and Ade Edmondson with their Young Ones co-star Nigel Planer for the showbiz send-up sitcom Filthy Rich and Catflap.


However 1985 was to be the year that Ben made his mark on British comedy once and for all by taking the job of co-writing with Richard Curtis the second series of a troubled historical comedy about a villainous British nobleman whose plans were always thwarted by the idiots that surrounded him. The name? Oh, come on, you know...


Blackadder (if you hadn't guessed) was a worldwide hit, winning four BAFTAs and an Emmy. It's also one of the greatest achievements in comedy, and so for that alone we can forgive Ben Elton a great deal.


And by golly we've had to. He has written twelve novels of varying quality, and of course We Will Rock You, a musical set to the music of Queen but of course, without Freddie Mercury i.e. without the only reason to like Queen in the first place.


He also collaborated in 2000 with professional creep Andrew Lloyd Webber on The Beautiful Game, a musical about football and the troubles in Northern Ireland - and the less said about that the better.


He also penned short-lived sitcoms The Thin Blue Line and Blessed with Ardal O'Hanlon. In retrospect, the former, starring Rowan Atkinson, wasn't actually that bad. The latter, however, was.


That said, when your creative output is as voluminous as Ben's you can be forgiven the odd misfire. The thing is, when Ben Elton is good, he is very, very good. His live stand up shows remain a textbook in timing and delivery - particularly when he moved away from the politics and began examining the little mundane details of life.


His TV show The Man From Auntie ran throughout the early 90s and was brilliantly conceived and expertly delivered, and you can still buy DVDs of his live tours throughout the years, each one a must see for fans of stand up.


In 2007, Ben Elton was awarded an Honorary Rose for lifetime achievement at the Rose d'Or festival, but we distinctly feel that Mr. Elton's work is far from over...