Fans of the recently deceased reality TV star Jade Goody were left disappointed after she failed to rise from the tomb on Easter Monday. Several hundred acolytes of the media personality had held a candle lit vigil at her Essex graveside over Easter, convinced that the former Big Brother star would rise again on the Monday to guide her followers into a reality TV paradise, where they would be guaranteed ever-lasting minor celebrity status. “Of course, not everyone will be judged righteous enough to ascend to the heavenly Big Brother House,” explains twenty-eight year old Jodie Trusspottle, who spent four days a her idol’s graveside. “Those found wanting will be called to the Diary Room and subjected to a public vote, with the sinners being cast out into the world of eternal drudgery, anonymity and work.” The acolytes are firmly convinced of Goody’s divinity, citing the level of adulation she attained during her last days and the number of visions of the stricken star witnessed by fans. “When she was most needed by her fans, she would appear,” says an awestruck Trusspottle. “My mate Sadie was having a terrible time with a bad hair day – it just wouldn’t come under control and she was due out on a hot date with this bloke from the Co-Op. She was in despair and called out for someone to help her – and Jade appeared and laid her hands on Sadie’s rebellious locks. They just all settled down and she was suddenly perfectly coiffured – it was a miracle!” Similar tales of Goody’s divine interventions abound amongst the acolytes. “The day Jade died I was struggling to get into this dress – I was desperate to get into it as I knew that if Cliff from the fish counter at Sainsbury’s saw me in it down the pub, I was guaranteed a shag in the alleyway behind Primark,” twenty three year old Rochdale receptionist Sally Fronster breathlessly recalls. “Anyway, I was trying to zip it up, when, out of the corner of my eye, I glimpsed myself in the mirror – to my amazement, Jade was standing behind me, pointing at my abdomen. My stomach was gripped by a searing pain and I had to rush to the toilet, where the world fell out of my bottom! Miraculously, after taking such a huge dump, I found that the dress fitted me perfectly!” The acolytes have rejected criticisms from the Church of England that their vigil was debasing the Easter festival and was insulting to Christians. “Oh come on, it’s what Easter’s all about, isn’t it?” says an exasperated Trusspottle. “The return of a Messiah who is going to lead us all to the promised land of eternal fame! I mean, if it isn’t about Jade, why do they call the first day ‘Goody Friday’?”

Jade Goody isn’t the first celebrity to become the subject of a religious cult. Self-styled singer Peter Andre, for instance, was recently hailed as a prophet in his Australian homeland after a Melbourne Pastor claimed to have experienced religious visions after seeing Andre perform on TV. “Within seconds of hearing him start to sing, I fell to the floor of my living room in a fit,” explains Pastor Frank Thringster. “My wife tells me that I was twitching violently, my limbs flailing, and that I was speaking in what can only be described as tongues.” Having witnessed apocalyptic visions during his fit – which lasted for the duration of Andre’s performance, ending abruptly when he stopped singing – Thringster has established a doomsday cult to prepare for the End Times, with the singer as its Messiah. He and his congregation now regularly worship in front of a life-size cardboard cut-out of Andre, fitting in unison as his latest single is played. Perhaps the biggest celebrity cult surrounds Welsh crooner Tom Jones. “He truly is the God of sex,” opines the Reverend Hank Dribble, as he stands before the altar of the Las Vegas Temple of Tom. “Before Tom came into my life I was suffering terribly from erectile dysfunction – I just couldn’t get it up when I found myself in front of a naked woman! At the first sight of those bare boobies my old man would just sag! However, the first time I saw Tom perform live, not only did my old man stand to attention, but as soon as he started thrusting his pelvis, I came in my pants! It was a genuine, bona fide, miracle! Now all I have to do is think of Tom when I’m going down on a woman and I have no trouble at all in the trouser department. “ Not surprisingly, Dribble has subsequently devoted his life to spreading the word of Tom Jones. Top academic Bob Mincer isn’t surprised at the growth of celebrity cults. “Traditional religions are looking increasingly out of touch with the modern world,” says Mincer, currently Professor of Comparative Sexology at Aldershot Institute of Hand Crafts. “I mean, where do you see mention in the Bible of Jesus listening to his iPod? Does the Koran ever discuss high fashion and the latest dance moves? Is it any wonder kids today can’t relate to them? Celebrities represent the lifestyles modern people aspire to – paradise is a villa in Spain and a Mercedes.”

However, as with all nascent faiths, a schism has already opened up in the Church of Goody, with some followers insisting that Goody has already risen once. “It’s quite obvious that her ‘crucifixion’ was when she was pilloried over the Celebrity Big Brother racism row,” declares thirty year old secretary Katy Wibblethorpe, leader of the dissenting sect. “It therefore follows that her successful return to the public eye after weathering that storm constituted her metaphorical rise from the grave. The trouble is that some acolytes are just too literal in their interpretation of the Gospel According to Max Clifford.” Wibblethorpe and her faction are adamant that if Goody had arisen on Easter Monday, then it would have constituted her Second Coming, which would herald the end of the world of reality TV as we know it. “I had no doubt that it wouldn’t be this Monday,” she says. “According to all the portents she will not return until the Armageddon of Big Brother 10, when reality TV will descend upon the whole nation and the faithful will all live within the all-encompassing Kingdom of Reality TV, forever under the watchful eye of Big Brother.” The faction believes that the steady spread of surveillance cameras in the UK is a sure sign that the ‘eviction times’ – when the non-believers will be cast out of the ‘house’ – are already upon us. Trusspottle and her friends remain undeterred, firmly believing that Goody will return next Easter Monday, and are already planning another vigil, although they are prepared for a long wait. “Well, obviously she won’t reappear much before lunch time,” she reasons. “It is a Bank Holiday, after all, and everyone likes a lie-in on those, don’t they?”