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Perhaps fame is the new religion, and celebrities are our deities. When John Lennon said The Beatles were much more popular than Christ, maybe he was getting onto something. After all, throughout time and across places, people have always found idols. With all its legend, ritual and ability to immortalise, fame could well be filling a similar cultural need.

Psychological research offers some weight to this belief: Maltby and his associates have found that the more a person signs up to a formal, institutionalised faith, the less likely they will worship a celebrity. Chris Rojek, who studies sociology and culture at UK’s Nottingham Trent University and writer of Celebrity discuss the religious overtones as “pretty obvious”.

He says that when The Beatles were at the top of their popularity in UK, the front rows of their concerts were reserved for the disabled. “The idea would be that after the show, The Beatles would descend and touch these people and heal them.”

Houran even goes as far as suggesting that, “perhaps there’s a worshipping characteristic in all of us … as human beings, we’re hard-wired to worship something”.

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