Ben Elton has without doubt established himself as the leading figure in the generation of British comedy stars which emerged in the 1980s. At the age of 23 he co-wrote the groundbreaking smash hit BBC situation comedy The Young Ones. This multi-award-winning show became a worldwide cult. Ben went on to write for all the principal comedians of his generation with hit series such as Happy Families, Filthy Rich and Catflap and The Thin Blue Line which won the 1995 British Comedy Award and both the public and professional Jury Awards at Reims.
Ben is also a hugely successful and influential stand-up comedian. He is one of Britain’s biggest-selling live acts and his television shows Saturday Live, The Man From Auntie and The Ben Elton Show have provided huge ratings hits for Channel Four and the BBC. In 1991 Ben won the Royal Television Society Writers’ Award.
In 1985 Ben began his phenomenally successful writing partnership with Richard Curtis. Together they wrote Blackadder 2, Blackadder the Third and Blackadder Goes Forth. Blackadder was a worldwide hit, winning four BAFTAs and an EMMY. Ben and Richard also wrote Rowan’s 1986 hit stage show The New Revue and Mr Bean’s famous exam episode.
Ben published his first novel, Stark in 1988. Set in Australia, Stark became an instant number one best-seller and has gone on to sell well over a million copies. He has written seven novels since then: Gridlock (1991) UK No 1; This Other Eden (1993) UK No 1; Popcorn (1996) UK No 1 and Crime Writers’ Association of Great Britain Gold Dagger Award for Fiction; Blast From the Past (1998) UK top 5; Inconceivable (1999) UK top 5; Dead Famous (2001) UK No 1; and High Society (2002) UK No 1 and WH Smiths People’s Choice Fiction Award. Ben’s novels have all been hugely successful in Australia and around the world.
Ben’s ambitions were originally theatrical and he studied drama at Manchester University. He has written three hit West End plays: Gasping (1990), Silly Cow (1991) and Popcorn (1996). Popcorn won the TMA Barclays Theatre Award for Best New Play and the Olivier Award for Best Comedy. The Paris production of Popcorn ran for a year and was nominated for seven Moliere Awards. In 1998 Ben’s play Blast From the Past was presented for a record-breaking extended season at the West Yorkshire Playhouse. All Ben’s plays are performed regularly around the world.
In 1992 Ben began his acting career, starring in his own adaptation of his novel, Stark. This ABC co-production was directed by Nadia Tass and filmed entirely in Australia. That year Ben also appeared alongside Michael Keaton as Verges in Kenneth Branagh’s acclaimed feature film Much Ado About Nothing.
In 2000 Ben wrote and directed his first movie, the romantic comedy Maybe Baby, a UK hit which went on to receive worldwide distribution.
In 2000 Ben collaborated with Andrew Lloyd Webber, writing the book and lyrics for The Beautiful Game which won the London Critics’ Circle Award for Best New Musical. His second musical is We Will Rock You which has proved a colossal hit in London and won the 2003 Theatregoers’ Choice Award for Best New Musical. It has also since opened in Madrid, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane, Las Vegas, Sydney and Moscow. Ben’s latest musical Tonight’s the Night, featuring the songs of Rod Stewart, opened in London in November 2003