High hopes for the new series of Taskmaster

Charlotte Ritchie, Jamali Maddix, Greg Davies, Mike Wozniak, Alex Horne, Sarah Kendall and Lee MackCharlotte Ritchie, Jamali Maddix, Greg Davies, Mike Wozniak, Alex Horne, Sarah Kendall and Lee Mack
Charlotte Ritchie, Jamali Maddix, Greg Davies, Mike Wozniak, Alex Horne, Sarah Kendall and Lee Mack
Thursday: Taskmaster; (Channel 4, 9pm)

Last year, Greg Davies and Alex Horne brought viewers the 10th series of Taskmaster.

It was all a new experience for the run’s celebrity contestants, who, for anyone who hasn’t seen the show, had to perform a series of tricky, strange and occasionally infuriating tasks with the aim of impressing Davies and winning points. But in theory, the hosts and the people behind the scenes should have known exactly what they were doing after so long on air.

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However, the regulars did have to deal with some fresh challenges of their own. For a start, there was the pandemic to contend with. The celebrities were noticeably a lot more spaced out during the studio segments – so no high-fiving anyone who had done particularly well – and it was relatively easy to see which team tasks had been filmed before and after social distancing rules came into play. (The sight of Richard Herring and Daisy May Cooper feeding each other watermelon might not have been quite so disgustingly memorable if they’d had to keep a two-metre distance at all times.)

There was also the fact that there’d been a change in channels. The first nine series of Taskmaster originally aired on Dave before it made the move to Channel 4 (which, as was pointed out in the trailers, was offered the series originally and turned it down).

So, fans might have been worried that some of the Taskmaster magic would be gone, but luckily, they were proved wrong. Season 10 ranked with the best, thanks in part to the line-up. As well as the aforementioned Cooper and Herring, who were especially funny whenever they were forced to work together, there was also Johnny Vegas, whose memorable moments included falling off a stepladder and building a beermat house, the crafty Mawaan Rizwan and the wonderfully impractical Katherine Parkinson, who at one point tried to carry water in a net.

As a result, hopes are high for this series, which has Ghosts star Charlotte Ritchie, and comedians Jamali Maddix, Lee Mack, Mike Wozniak and comedian Sarah Kendall battling it out.

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Wozniak co-starred in Davies’ sitcom Man Down, which may give him an advantage when it comes to working out how to appeal to the Taskmaster (as avid fans of the show will know, James Acaster certainly believed that Rhod Gilbert benefited from being old mates with Davies during the very memorable seventh series), while Would I Lie to You? suggests that Lee Mack can think very quickly and come up with a decent excuse if something goes awry. But could one of the others emerge as a dark horse? And who will emerge as this year’s ultimate winner and take home a trophy that is supposed to be Davies, but doesn’t really look that much like him? Whoever it is will have to wait a while before being compared to their predecessors – the line-up of the next Champion of Champions series has been confirmed as series 6 to 10 victors Liza Tarbuck, Kerry Godliman, Lou Sanders, Ed Gamble and Herring.

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