On celebrity death rates

I posed the question last night on twitter:

Have more celebrities died in 2016 than in other years or are we just more aware because of a couple of deaths early in the year?

David Bowie and Alan Rickman being those two early ones I was thinking of.
No-one answered. Perhaps that was because no-one was sure of the answer. It’s a very difficult thing to measure. The term “celebrity” is hard enough to define, before you even start to look at clog-poppage rates.

But I wasn’t alone in asking. The BBC website featured the same question this morning. And they have come up with an answer of sorts.

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And that doesn’t take into account Victoria Wood or Prince who were April deaths. So yes, it would appear that so far, 2016 has been a bad year for celebrity deaths. Which bring us to the obvious next question: why?

The BBC’s obituary editor Nick Serpell has got that covered too:

One factor that may play into the impression that more celebrities are dying is that we have heard of more celebrities than before.


People who started becoming famous in the 1960s are now entering their 70s and are starting to die. There are also more famous people than there used to be.
In my father or grandfather’s generation, the only famous people really were from cinema – there was no television. Then, if anybody wasn’t on TV, they weren’t famous.

So, more celebrities, and more older celebrities. Add to that the social media phenomenon, meaning that no celebrities death has a chance of passing unnoticed, and you have the perfect recipe for huge awareness of vast numbers of celebrity deaths. Thus, there have been more celebrity deaths, but arguably, not a disproportionate number of celebrities dying, given that there are just so many more of them around to die.
And, if the BBC guys are right (and I have to say that their logic seems sound) then this trend of increasing celebrity death will continue.

So yes, 2016 has been an utter bastard thus far, possibly taking several (or more) of our favourite actors, singers, comedians and personalities, but sadly, it seems that it’s something we’re just going to have to get used to.

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