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Benjamin Charles Elton (born 3 May1959) is an English comedian and writer. Born in Catford, London (he is the son of the educational researcher Lewis Elton and the nephew of the historian G R Elton), he studied at Godalming Grammar School and the University of Manchester. He became a stand-up comedian and comedy writer shortly after leaving university in 1980, and was a central figure in the alternative comedy scene in the 1980s. More recently he has achieved success writing musicals.
Elton has been an Australian citizen since 2004. He resides in London and Fremantle, Western Australia.
In 1981, when his live act took off, he was hired by The Comedy Store in London as its comp√®re. Around this time there was a much-publicised falling out between Elton and fellow Comedy Store compere Alexei Sayle. TV work followed as a result. His first television appearance was a stand up performance on the BBC2 youth and music programme The Oxford Roadshow. His first TV success though was at the age of 23 as co-writer of the television sitcom The Young Ones. Elton occasionally appeared in the show in bit parts.
In 1983/84 he wrote and appeared in Granada Television's sketch show Alfresco, which was also notable for early appearances by Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie, Emma Thompson and Robbie Coltrane. In 1985, Elton produced his first solo script for the BBC with his comedy-drama series Happy Families, starring Jennifer Saunders and Adrian Edmondson. Elton appeared in the fifth episode as a liberal prison governor. Shortly afterwards, he reunited Mayall and Edmondson with their Young Ones co-star Nigel Planer for the showbiz send-up sitcom Filthy, Rich and Catflap.
In 1985 Ben began his successful writing partnership with Richard Curtis. Together they wrote Blackadder II, Blackadder the Third and Blackadder Goes Forth. Blackadder, starring Rowan Atkinson, was a world wide hit, winning four BAFTAs and an Emmy. Ben and Richard also wrote Rowan's 1986 hit stage show The New Review and Mr Bean's famous exam episode.
Ben is also a stand up comedian, he is one of Britain's biggest selling live acts and he had become a regular turn on Saturday Live ‚?? later moved and renamed Friday Night Live ‚?? which was seen as a UK version of Saturday Night Live. He later became the host of the programme.
In 1990 he starred in his own stand-up comedy and sketch series entitled The Man from Auntie, which had a second series in 1994. (The title plays on The Man from UNCLE; "Auntie" is a nickname for the BBC). In 1991 Ben won the Royal Television Society Writer's Award.
Ben also wrote and produced The Thin Blue Line, set in a police station and also starring Atkinson ran for two series (1995, 1996) and won the 1995 British Comedy Award and both the public and professional Jury Awards at Reims.
His 1998 program, The Ben Elton Show, followed a format similar to that of The Man from Auntie. Ronnie Corbett, a comedian of the 'old-guard' that the 'Alternative Comedians' of the 80s existed as the alternative to, appeared as a regular guest. In 2001, the ex-Daily Mirror journalist and presenter Anne Robinson metaphorically put Elton 'into Room 101' on the TV show of the same name (see criticism, below).
Elton has since directed Blessed, starring Ardal O'Hanlon, which aired on BBC1 in 2005.
Ben published his first novel, Stark in 1988. Set in Australia, Stark became a number one bestseller and has gone on to sell well over a million copies. It was made into a TV film in 1993 in which Elton starred. He has written ten novels since then; Gridlock (1991) UK No 1; This Other Eden (1993) UK No 1; Popcorn (1996) UK No 1 and Crime Writer's Association of Great Britain Gold Dagger Award for fiction; Blast from the Past (1998) UK Top 5; Inconceivable (1999) UK Top 5 (later made into a film, see below); Dead Famous (2001) UK Top 5; High Society (2002), UK No 1 and WH Smith's People Choice Fiction Award, Past Mortem UK Top 5; The First Casualty (2005), UK Top 5; and Chart Throb (2006). Elton's novels have been successful internationally. 
Ben Elton began his acting career when he starred as CD in the Australian/BBC TV film adaptation of his novel Stark, released in 1992. This ABC co-production was directed by Nadia Tass and filmed in Australia.
He played Verges to Michael Keaton's Dogberry in Kenneth Branagh's adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing. Behind the camera, Elton wrote and directed the film adaptation of his novel Inconceivable, which movie was released under the title Maybe Baby (2000) starring Hugh Laurie and Joely Richardson. It was a moderate UK hit which went on to receive worldwide distribution.  The film was also nominated for a prize at the German "Emden Film Festival" .
More recently, he has embarked on a career in musical theatre. He collaborated with Andrew Lloyd Webber on The Beautiful Game in 2000 writing the book and lyrics (Lloyd Webber wrote the music). The Beautiful Game won the London Critics Circle Award for best new musical. Elton went on to write a number of compilation shows featuring popular songs taken from the back catalogues of pop/rock artists. The first of these was the musical We Will Rock You with music by the Rock band Queen. This was successful in London and won the 2003 Theatregoer's Choice Award for Best New Musical. It has since opened in the US, Australia, Russia, Spain, South Africa, Japan and Germany. Tonight's the Night with music by Rod Stewart opened in November 2003.
Ben studied Drama at Manchester University and has written three hit West End Plays. Gasping (1990) was first performed at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, London. It starred Hugh Laurie and featured the voice of Stephen Fry. Silly Cow (1991) again performed at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, London. It was written for and starred Dawn French. Popcorn (1996) was adapted for the stage and went on a UK-wide tour. It also toured Australia in a production starring Marcus Graham and Nadine Garner in its Eastern-States seasons. 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. Blast From the Past (1998) was also adapted for the stage and was produced at the West Yorkshire Playhouse.
In 2005 Ben did his first stand-up tour since 1997, touring the UK with "Get a Grip". He toured Australia and New Zealand with the same show in 2006.
Anne Robinson put Ben Elton into Room 101 in protest at his hosting the Royal Variety Performance. She argued that he should be sent to the room "for being a total and utter hyprocrite and going back on everything he stood for in the 80s and 90s". Critics have also made reference to Elton's seemingly unfounded accusations against other "celebrities", particulary as he seems to insult others for personality traits that he also posseses.
Actions for which Ben Elton has attracted criticisms include
working with Queen, who broke the cultural embargo on South Africa during apartheid; working with Andrew Lloyd Webber; and co-writing a song that was performed at the inauguration of president George W. Bush. When questioned on this, Elton remarked that he didn't see it as a celebration of Bush, more a celebration of the President of the United States, despite the fact that George Bush and The President of the United States are obviously the same thing.
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