Saturday 16 April 2016

Why our celebs are dropping like flies

This week's More or Less on Radio 4 had me interested from the start because it discussed a question that's been bothering my colleagues at work, on and off, for weeks.

In fact it's been an out-and-out 'hot topic' there: Why is it that so many celebrities are dying this year? 

Of course, More or Less wanted to know if there was any statistical basis for this popular intuition that our beloved celebs are dropping like flies at the moment...and counting the number of full-length obituaries posted on the BBC News website, the programme revealed that there does seem to be something going on here. 

The number of obituaries (covering the same January-to-now period for each year) rose from roughly a handful around 2011, leapt dramatically in 2014 to around the mid teens (and rose a little bit more in 2015), and then leapt again into the high 20s in 2016. 

So, yes, it does seem to be true that our favourite celebrities are starting to drop like flies at the moment.

And the reason, according to More or Less

Well, it's all because the pop charts and popular TV grew up in the 1950s. Before then 'the famous' largely amounted to famous movie actors and actresses, and they were small in number. From the 1950s though, a huge number of the pop stars and TV personalties began to appear...

...and, alas, given their dates of birth and life expectancy, a lot of those people (and those who achieved fame in the 1960s) are now reaching the point of no return (even some of the ones in their late 60s). 

From this I drew the conclusion that our celebs are going to keep on dropping like flies from now on and we'd better get used to it. 

I won't name names for the next candidates though as that would be in very bad taste (not that I didn't join in the predictions at work. One name kept cropping up. And, no, it wasn't Elton John or David Furnish.)


  1. Sort of thing Newsnight might devote 15 minutes to (sorry if that sounds rude)! Kirsty (serious yet light tone): " And now - more and more celebs are dying every year. Some commentators are so concerned they believe the supply of celebs could run out by 2050. The government insist there is no problem. But tonight in a special report by Chris Sixthformer Newsnight can reveal that an unnamed government minister has told the Treasury that unless the government supports the manufacture of new celebs to the tune of £7billion per annum, the UK can expect to see the final obituary for a celeb within the next two decades..."

    1. "Chris Sixthformer". Whoever do you mean? I hope you're not referring to Chris Cook. He's actually an undergraduate at Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge (according to Jeremy Paxman, allegedly).

    2. Well why not, in our transgendering world? :) But yes 'twas he I was referencing. I always feel he has that sort of excited sixthformer in the English class thing about him - the eager-to-please one who's just discovered the meaning of a joke about STDs in a Shakespeare play and is explaining it to everyone else.

    3. Don't give him ideas! He'll start explaining those very jokes on the 23rd April edition of 'Newsnight'.

  2. He'll get a clap if he does...boom-boom.


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