Taskmaster is not set to wear out its welcome!
Series 13 only aired in April, and there was a Champion of Champions episode in June – so the news that Taskmaster is already back for a new run may seem slightly surprising.
In fact, for most comedy series it would feel like overkill, but Taskmaster doesn’t seem to be in any danger of wearing out its welcome.
That’s partly down to the format. For newcomers, the series was the brainchild of comedian Alex Horne, and sees a group of five comedians taking on a range of deceptively silly or fiendishly inventive tasks.
While Horne may have come up with the concept, he takes a sidekick role in the series. The position of Taskmaster (which mainly involves dishing out the points) goes to Greg Davies, who draws on his natural authority as an ex-teacher.
The Man Down and Inbetweeners star believes that part of the reason the show has proved so enduring – as well as racking up 14 series in just seven years on the air, it’s also made the leap from Dave to Channel 4 – is due to the fact that each run features a new group of contestants.
He says: “When you put five people into this preposterous format that that hairy little weasel Alex dreamt up, the combinations are endless. The different ways that they respond to things are endless, and that’s the reason it’s still going, and the reason it still feels fresh, and the reason it’s still finding a new audience.”
Few fans would disagree, and the series has given us plenty of memorable contestants. For example, not to take anything away from winner Sophie Duker, but arguably the breakout star of series 13 was Judi Love. If she’d put as much effort into the actual tasks as she did into trying to convince Davies that she deserved more points, she would have been truly unstoppable.
Now though, a new batch of comedians are taking up the challenge, but which of them will win the trophy and who will walk away with the viewers’ hearts?
They are Dara Ó Briain, Fern Brady, John Kearns, Munya Chawawa and Sarah Millican, and in the opening episode their challenges involve fumbling with frozen peas and shouting at fish. As ever, Horne will be on hand to take notes and remind the contestants that all the information is in the task.
And of course, if they do perform badly, they can always appeal to Davies for extra points, but it may not get them anyway.
He says: “I genuinely try to score things fairly, but some of the things that I have to judge are subjective. There are things that I might delight in that perhaps somebody else wouldn’t. It’s not a science, appealing to my judging system, but there you go. I can hand on heart say that I try to do the right thing every time, and I weigh things up.”
He adds: “People get absolutely infuriated by that, and all power to them. We live in a country where there is free speech, and I welcome it. I’ll ignore it, but I welcome it.” Spoken like a true Taskmaster.