Taskmaster (TV series)

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Taskmaster
Taskmaster logo.jpg
Genre
Created byAlex Horne
Directed by
  • Andy Devonshire
  • Peter Orton
Presented by
Theme music composerThe Horne Section
Composers
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
No. of series12 (+ 2 specials)
No. of episodes99 (inc. 3 specials)
Production
Executive producers
  • Richard Allen-Turner
  • James Taylor
  • Jon Thoday
  • Hilary Rosen
  • Rob Aslett
  • Richard Watsham
  • Andy Devonshire
  • Alex Horne
Producers
  • Andy Cartwright
  • Alex Horne
Production locationsClapham Grand (Series 1)
Fountain Studios (Series 2 & 3)
Pinewood Studios (Series 4-present)
Editors
  • Thomas Perrett
  • Mark Sangster
Running time60 minutes (inclusive)
Production companyAvalon Television
Release
Original network
Picture format16:9 (1080i HDTV)
Original release28 July 2015 (2015-07-28) –
present
Chronology
Related shows
External links
Official website

Taskmaster is a British comedy panel game show created by comedian and musician Alex Horne and presented by both Horne and Greg Davies. In the programme, a group of five celebrities – mainly comedians – attempt to complete a series of challenges, with Horne acting as umpire in each challenge, and Davies judging the work and awarding points based on contestants' performances. The concept for the programme was first created by Horne for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2010; he later secured a deal with Dave to adapt it for television, with the first episode premiering in 2015. After the ninth series in 2019, the programme was acquired by Channel 4,[1] who commissioned six new series to be broadcast over the following three years.[2]

Taskmaster proved a success on British television, spawning a tie-in board game and two books, and leading to the creation of international versions of the programme in Belgium, Sweden, Spain, Denmark, Norway, Finland, the United States, and New Zealand. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Horne hosted #HomeTasking, a series of tasks for people to film in their own homes; for each task, a montage of attempts was posted on YouTube that featured Davies awarding points to his favourite entries.

History[edit]

Taskmaster was the brainchild of comedian Alex Horne, whose idea was inspired by several factors: The Crystal Maze; his work for Big Brother;[3] and his envy of Tim Key, a close friend, for winning the Edinburgh Comedy Award in 2009.[4] The original concept of the programme took place over the course of two years. In 2009, 20 comedians, including Stuart Goldsmith, Josie Long, Mark Watson, Tim Key, Joe Wilkinson and Mike Wozniak,[5] received monthly tasks by email over the course of a year stipulating a variety of tasks.[4][6] Horne then presented their efforts as part of a two-hour show, titled "The Taskmaster",[7] at the 2010 Edinburgh Festival Fringe, focused on demonstrating the differing attempts by the contestants before revealing who won based on their performances. Mike Wozniak won the first Taskmaster competition. [4] In 2011, Horne conducted another stage show, titled "Taskmaster II", with ten contestants tackling tasks.[6][8]

Both stage shows proved a success with their audiences, leading Horne to recruit production company Avalon to help produce an adaptation of his concept for television, before pitching his idea to several different broadcasters. British television channel Dave took interest in the idea and bought the rights to it, with comedian Greg Davies recruited to help present the programme alongside Horne. However, the channel's Deputy Director of Commissioning at the time, Hilary Rosen, was concerned with the structure of the show. Horne assured Rosen that the programme was not like a traditional panel show, but "more like a sitcom", to account for the involvement of the same group of contestants who would appear across a series. Another problem with the format of Horne's concept was that shooting a traditional pilot became implausible,[6] despite studio segments having no issues being tested.[9] One plan for the programme was for Davies to use a cane with a golden "T" on the base, but this was later dropped.[10] The pilot premiered on 19 September 2014,[11] and proved a success with viewers. After the pilot was aired, a series of six episodes was commissioned, though was intended to be shown in any order. However, Rosen later determined the show should be arranged in an order, pointing out that "this was a show you record and transmit in the same order".[6] The first series proved a success that led to additional series being commissioned over the course of five years;[12][13] the involvement of comedian Frank Skinner as a contestant in the first series, at Horne's request, also helped to entice other comedians to take part in the programme.[6]

In November 2019, rumours that Taskmaster was being moved to another channel were later confirmed by Channel 4, who had secured the rights to the programme, renewing it for six series over the course of three years.[14]

Format[edit]

The Taskmaster house, where much of the series is filmed

Taskmaster is a comedic game show, in which a group of five contestants—mainly comedians, but sometimes including other well-known television personalities—compete against each other by completing tasks assigned to them. In each episode, contestants are shown tackling a series of tasks, supervised and sometimes assisted by Horne; and Davies then judges each contestant's performance in each task to determine how many points they receive (up to a maximum of five). The contestant with the highest score in each episode wins a collection of prizes submitted by the contestants themselves as one of the tasks; the one with the highest cumulative score at the end of a series wins a trophy.

Tasks given to contestants range from simple physical challenges, such as "eat as much watermelon as you can in one minute", to more complex or artistic tasks. Some tasks may be timed, consist of multiple stages, or both. In some cases, contestants conduct tasks as a team with one or two other contestants; in such cases all members of a team receive the same score. To complete tasks, contestants often have to apply a level of logic, creativity, or lateral thinking in order to achieve the end goal. Contestants can be disqualified and awarded no points for a task if they fail to achieve the task's objective, inadvertently break one of the task's rules, or are found to have intentionally cheated. Occasionally, for comedic effect, prank tasks are given to one contestant alone, who is led to believe the others are performing the same task; Davies sometimes awards bonus points for good performance on these.

Tasks are mostly pre-recorded before an episode's broadcast; the majority are usually conducted in or around the Taskmaster house, a former groundskeepers' cottage located on the outskirts of a golf course in Dukes Meadows, Chiswick.[15][16] Two tasks are usually conducted during studio segments: an introductory Prize task, in which each contestant supplies an object they possess that conforms to a set theme, all of which will be awarded to the winner of the episode; and a final "Live" task, which the contestants perform onstage in the studio. In the event of a tie in the top score at the end of the episode, either a pre-recorded tiebreaker task between the tied contestants is shown, or a quick live task is performed to determine the winner.

Production[edit]

Tasks are filmed with each contestant separately in a house in Chiswick, London.[17] However, Alex Horne's initial plan was to carry out the tasks in the comedians' houses, saying in an interview: "I didn't realise how impractical that would be both in terms of cost – and their lives."[6] Filming tasks takes roughly one day per contestant per episode, filming around eight tasks a day, with the days of filming spread out across several months. Before the studio filming, contestants are forbidden to discuss their tasks and are not shown any footage from the tasks, so that studio reactions are genuine.[17]

Horne designs the tasks to avoid the need for any specialist equipment, so that "people at home [are] able to do the same things".[17] Initially, they planned to have Horne show the right way to complete the task after showing the contestants' attempts, but this was abandoned as "it supposed there was a right way".[9] He also notes that some tasks in the first series involved the general public, but later series avoided this in order to prevent coming across as a "prank show". Some tasks are vetoed by producers for pragmatic reasons, such as "paint the biggest thing red".[17] Others do not turn out as expected, such as "burst all these bubbles [on a massive roll of bubble wrap] – fastest wins", which had been attempted in three different series but not shown in any of them, as "it always ends with people jumping on it for hours".[4]

When asked why he did not present the show, Horne has said that "that was never the plan [...] My role as sidekick is to be sneaky and you can run it from the sides in a really funny way."[6] Horne and Greg Davies had never worked together before Taskmaster;[9] Davies was chosen "because of his authority", Horne says in an interview. He adds that in the pilot, Davies acted as a "dictator figure cross with everyone", but his tone in the show is more relaxed, as "if someone doesn't do something well we really enjoy it so he can be himself".[18]

The series director for Taskmaster is Andy Devonshire, who was previously series director on The Apprentice and the BBC versions of The Great British Bake Off. Peter Orton was director for three episodes in 2016.[19] Production designer James Dillion is responsible for the studio and filming locations as well as the caravan featured from series four onwards,[13] having been past known for designing the original set for The Crystal Maze.[20] The show's theme music was written and performed by The Horne Section, a jazz band led by Horne.[21]

Series overview[edit]

SeriesEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast airedNetwork
1628 July 2015 (2015-07-28)1 September 2015 (2015-09-01)Dave
2521 June 2016 (2016-06-21)19 July 2016 (2016-07-19)
354 October 2016 (2016-10-04)1 November 2016 (2016-11-01)
4825 April 2017 (2017-04-25)13 June 2017 (2017-06-13)
5813 September 2017 (2017-09-13)1 November 2017 (2017-11-01)
CoC213 December 2017 (2017-12-13)20 December 2017 (2017-12-20)
6102 May 2018 (2018-05-02)4 July 2018 (2018-07-04)
7105 September 2018 (2018-09-05)7 November 2018 (2018-11-07)
8108 May 2019 (2019-05-08)10 July 2019 (2019-07-10)
9104 September 2019 (2019-09-04)6 November 2019 (2019-11-06)
101015 October 2020 (2020-10-15)17 December 2020 (2020-12-17)Channel 4
NYT11 January 2021 (2021-01-01)
111018 March 2021 (2021-03-18)20 May 2021 (2021-05-20)
121023 September 2021 (2021-09-23)25 November 2021 (2021-11-25)
CoC IITBA20212021
Series Seating
1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th
1 Frank Skinner Josh Widdicombe * Roisin Conaty Romesh Ranganathan Tim Key
2 Doc Brown Joe Wilkinson Jon Richardson Katherine Ryan * Richard Osman
3 Al Murray Dave Gorman Paul Chowdhry Rob Beckett * Sara Pascoe
4 Hugh Dennis Joe Lycett Lolly Adefope Mel Giedroyc Noel Fielding *
5 Aisling Bea Bob Mortimer * Mark Watson Nish Kumar Sally Phillips
CoC Bob Mortimer Josh Widdicombe † Katherine Ryan Noel Fielding Rob Beckett
6 Alice Levine Asim Chaudhry Liza Tarbuck * Russell Howard Tim Vine
7 James Acaster Jessica Knappett Kerry Godliman * Phil Wang Rhod Gilbert
8 Iain Stirling Joe Thomas Lou Sanders * Paul Sinha Sian Gibson
9 David Baddiel Ed Gamble * Jo Brand Katy Wix Rose Matafeo
10 Daisy May Cooper Johnny Vegas Katherine Parkinson Mawaan Rizwan Richard Herring *
NYT John Hannah Krishnan Guru-Murthy Nicola Coughlan Rylan Clark-Neal Shirley Ballas *
11 Charlotte Ritchie Jamali Maddix Lee Mack Mike Wozniak Sarah Kendall *
12 Alan Davies Desiree Burch Guz Khan Morgana Robinson Victoria Coren Mitchell
CoC II Ed Gamble Kerry Godliman Liza Tarbuck Lou Sanders Richard Herring
Indicator(s)
  •  * Champions
  •  † Champion of Champions

Episodes[edit]

Series 1 (2015)[edit]

The first series was aired during 2015 on Dave for six episodes, between 28 July to 1 September. The contestants for this series were Frank Skinner, Josh Widdicombe, Roisin Conaty, Romesh Ranganathan and Tim Key, with the series' overall winner being Widdicombe – both Skinner and Ranganathan tied as runner-ups, Key placed fourth, and Conaty finished in last place. During its broadcast, the series averaged over 420,000 viewers. Following his participation, Key later went on to provide assistance with production of the programme in future series.

No.
overall
No. in
series
TitleWinnerOriginal air dateUK Viewers [22]
11"Melon Buffet"Frank Skinner28 July 2015 (2015-07-28)446,000
22"The Pie Whisperer"Roisin Conaty4 August 2015 (2015-08-04)381,000
33"The Poet and the Egg"Josh Widdicombe11 August 2015 (2015-08-11)305,000
44"Down an Octave"Josh Widdicombe18 August 2015 (2015-08-18)406,000 [a]
55"Little Denim Shorts"Frank Skinner25 August 2015 (2015-08-25)495,000
66"The Last Supper"Tim Key1 September 2015 (2015-09-01)505,000

Series 2 (2016)[edit]

The second series was broadcast during 2016 for five episodes, between 21 June to 19 July. This series started the tradition of awarding a golden trophy of Greg Davies' head, unlike the previous season's prize, won by Josh Widdicombe, which had been a generic sports trophy. The contestants for this series were Doc Brown, Joe Wilkinson, Jon Richardson, Katherine Ryan and Richard Osman, with the series' overall winner being Ryan – Richardson ended as the runner-up, Osman placed 3rd, Brown placed 4th, and Wilkinson finished last. During its broadcast, the series averaged over 710,000 viewers.

Previous contestant Josh Widdicombe appeared in episode 3 to aid Osman and Richardson in a team task.

No.
overall
No. in
series
TitleWinnerOriginal air dateUK Viewers [22]
71"Fear of Failure"Richard Osman21 June 2016 (2016-06-21)652,000
82"Pork Is a Sausage"Jon Richardson28 June 2016 (2016-06-28)752,000
93"A Pistachio Éclair"Katherine Ryan5 July 2016 (2016-07-05)764,000
104"Welcome to Rico Face"Doc Brown12 July 2016 (2016-07-12)737,000
115"There's Strength in Arches"Richard Osman19 July 2016 (2016-07-19)666,000

Series 3 (2016)[edit]

The third series was broadcast during 2016 for five episodes, between 4 October to 1 November; it was initially planned for 2017, but was aired earlier due to improved viewing figures for the programme after the second series. The contestants for this series were Al Murray, Dave Gorman, Paul Chowdhry, Rob Beckett and Sara Pascoe, with the series' overall winner being Beckett – Gorman ended as the runner-up, Murray placed 3rd, Pascoe placed 4th, and Chowdhry finished last. During its broadcast, the series averaged over 930,000 viewers.

Broadcaster and writer Ben Fogle made a cameo appearance in episode 5 due to coincidentally being in the same location during filming of a task.

No.
overall
No. in
series
TitleWinnerOriginal air dateUK Viewers [22]
121"Pea in a Haystack"Al Murray4 October 2016 (2016-10-04)838,000
132"The Dong and the Gong"Rob Beckett11 October 2016 (2016-10-11)849,000
143"Little Polythene Grief Cave"Paul Chowdhry18 October 2016 (2016-10-18)949,000
154"A Very Nuanced Character"Dave Gorman25 October 2016 (2016-10-25)1,002,000
165"The F.I.P."Rob Beckett1 November 2016 (2016-11-01)1,023,000

Series 4 (2017)[edit]

The fourth series was broadcast during 2017 for eight episodes, between 25 April to 13 June. The contestants for this series were Hugh Dennis, Joe Lycett, Lolly Adefope, Mel Giedroyc and Noel Fielding, with the series' overall winner being Fielding – Lycett ended as the runner-up, Giedroyc placed 3rd, Dennis placed 4th, and Adefope finished last. During its broadcast, the series averaged over 800,000 viewers.

Former series 3 contestant Al Murray made a cameo in episode 3, and former series 1 contestant Tim Key made a cameo in episode 8.

No.
overall
No. in
series
TitleWinnerOriginal air dateUK Viewers [22]
171"A Fat Bald White Man"Noel Fielding25 April 2017 (2017-04-25)787,000
182"Look at Me"Mel Giedroyc2 May 2017 (2017-05-02)777,000
193"Hollowing Out a Baguette"Joe Lycett9 May 2017 (2017-05-09)752,000
204"Friendship Is Truth"Mel Giedroyc16 May 2017 (2017-05-16)835,000
215"Meat"Hugh Dennis23 May 2017 (2017-05-23)837,000
226"Spatchcock It"Lolly Adefope30 May 2017 (2017-05-30)860,000
237"No Stars for Naughty Boys"Joe Lycett6 June 2017 (2017-06-06)794,000
248"Tony Three Pies"Mel Giedroyc13 June 2017 (2017-06-13)759,000

Series 5 (2017)[edit]

The fifth series was broadcast during 2017 for eight episodes, between 13 September to 1 November. The contestants for this series were Aisling Bea, Bob Mortimer, Mark Watson, Nish Kumar and Sally Phillips, with the series' overall winner being Mortimer – both Watson and Phillips tied as the runner-up, Bea placed 4th, and Kumar finished last. During its broadcast, the series averaged over 700,000 viewers.

No.
overall
No. in
series
TitleWinnerOriginal air dateUK Viewers [22]
251"Dignity Intact"Bob Mortimer13 September 2017 (2017-09-13)799,000
262"The Leprechaun or the Lesbian"Sally Phillips20 September 2017 (2017-09-20)746,000
273"Phoenix"Bob Mortimer27 September 2017 (2017-09-27)682,000
284"Residue Round the Hoof"Mark Watson4 October 2017 (2017-10-04)656,000
295"A Wind-Dried Puffin"Mark Watson11 October 2017 (2017-10-11)664,000
306"Spoony Neeson"Sally Phillips18 October 2017 (2017-10-18)663,000
317"Boing Boing"Bob Mortimer25 October 2017 (2017-10-25)627,000
328"Their Water's So Delicious"Sally Phillips1 November 2017 (2017-11-01)821,000

Champion of Champions (2017)[edit]

In September 2017, a two-part special titled "Champion of Champions" was announced, aimed at putting the first five winners – Bob Mortimer, Josh Widdicombe, Katherine Ryan, Noel Fielding and Rob Beckett -[23] for a series of new tasks, with the winner receiving a life-size trophy based on Davies' headless body – designed to attach the winner's trophy from their series on the neck. The special, which featured no team tasks, was aired later that year: the first part on 13 December; and the second part a week later, on 20 December.[24]

The special's overall winner was Widdicombe – Beckett ended as the runner-up, Ryan placed 3rd, Fielding placed 4th, and Mortimer finished last. During its broadcast, the special averaged over 800,000 viewers.

No.
overall
No. in
series
TitleWinnerOriginal air dateUK Viewers [22]
331"Wiley Giraffe Blower"Katherine Ryan13 December 2017 (2017-12-13)798,000
342"I've Sinned Again"Josh Widdicombe20 December 2017 (2017-12-20)807,000

Series 6 (2018)[edit]

The sixth series was broadcast during 2018 for ten episodes, between 2 May to 4 July. The contestants for this series were Alice Levine, Asim Chaudhry, Liza Tarbuck, Russell Howard and Tim Vine,[25][26] with the series' overall winner being Tarbuck – Vine ended as the runner-up, Howard placed 3rd, Chaudhry placed 4th, and Levine finished last. During its broadcast, the series averaged over 810,000 viewers.

No.
overall
No. in
series
TitleWinnerOriginal air dateUK Viewers [22]
351"The Old Soft Curved Padlock"Alice Levine2 May 2018 (2018-05-02)1,214,000
362"Tarpeters"Liza Tarbuck9 May 2018 (2018-05-09)886,000
373"One Warm Prawn"Liza Tarbuck16 May 2018 (2018-05-16)942,000
384"BMXing!"Russell Howard23 May 2018 (2018-05-23)830,000
395"H"Tim Vine30 May 2018 (2018-05-30)749,000
406"We Met at Mealtimes"Tim Vine6 June 2018 (2018-06-06)730,000
417"Roadkill Doused in Syrup"Russell Howard13 June 2018 (2018-06-13)N/A[b]
428"What Kind of Pictures?"Russell Howard20 June 2018 (2018-06-20)795,000
439"The Bubble Brothers"Alice Levine27 June 2018 (2018-06-27)875,000
4410"He Was a Different Man"Asim Chaudhry4 July 2018 (2018-07-04)1,090,000

Series 7 (2018)[edit]

The seventh series was broadcast during 2018 for ten episodes, between 5 September to 7 November. The contestants for this series were James Acaster, Jessica Knappett, Kerry Godliman, Phil Wang and Rhod Gilbert,[27][28][29] with the series' overall winner being Godliman – Knappett ended as the runner-up, Gilbert placed 3rd, Acaster placed 4th, and Wang finished last. During its broadcast, the series averaged over 1.2 million viewers.

Previous contestant Richard Osman appeared in episode 5 as part of Acaster's attempt at a task.

No.
overall
No. in
series
TitleWinnerOriginal air date[c]UK Viewers [30][d]
451"The Mean Bean"Kerry Godliman5 September 2018 (2018-09-05)1,295,000
462"My Eyes Are Circles"Kerry Godliman12 September 2018 (2018-09-12)1,404,000
473"Twelve Blush Majesty Two"James Acaster19 September 2018 (2018-09-19)1,197,000
484"OLLIE"Rhod Gilbert26 September 2018 (2018-09-26)1,007,000
495"Lotta Soup"Jessica Knappett3 October 2018 (2018-10-03)1,341,000
506"A Coquettish Fascinator"James Acaster10 October 2018 (2018-10-10)1,132,000
517"The Perfect Stuff"Rhod Gilbert17 October 2018 (2018-10-17)1,292,000
528"Mother Honks Her Horn"Rhod Gilbert24 October 2018 (2018-10-24)1,265,000
539"The Pendulum Draws The Eye"Kerry Godliman31 October 2018 (2018-10-31)839,000
5410"I Can Hear It Gooping"James Acaster7 November 2018 (2018-11-07)1,268,000

Series 8 (2019)[edit]

The eighth series was broadcast during 2019 for ten episodes, between 8 May to 10 July. The contestants for this series were Iain Stirling, Joe Thomas, Lou Sanders, Paul Sinha and Sian Gibson,[31] with the series' overall winner being Sanders – Stirling ended as the runner-up, Thomas placed 3rd, Gibson placed 4th, and Sinha finished last. During its broadcast, the series averaged over 1.36 million viewers, the highest viewed series of the programme during its time on Dave.

No.
overall
No. in
series
TitleWinnerOriginal air dateUK Viewers [30][d]
551"Hello"Iain Stirling8 May 2019 (2019-05-08)1,249,000
562"A Novel About Russian Gulags"Lou Sanders15 May 2019 (2019-05-15)1,495,000
573"Stuck in a Mammal Groove"Lou Sanders22 May 2019 (2019-05-22)1,457,000
584"The Barrel Dad"Sian Gibson29 May 2019 (2019-05-29)1,415,000
595"Stay Humble"Iain Stirling5 June 2019 (2019-06-05)1,366,000
606"Rock 'n' Roll Umlaut"Sian Gibson12 June 2019 (2019-06-12)1,387,000
617"This Is Trevor"Joe Thomas19 June 2019 (2019-06-19)1,278,000
628"Aquatic Sewing Machine"Paul Sinha26 June 2019 (2019-06-26)1,324,000
639"I've Been a Bit Ill"Lou Sanders3 July 2019 (2019-07-03)1,298,000
6410"Clumpy Swayey Clumsy Man"Iain Stirling10 July 2019 (2019-07-10)1,309,000

Series 9 (2019)[edit]

The ninth series was broadcast during 2019 for ten episodes, between 4 September to 6 November, and was the last series to be aired on Dave, before its move to another network the following year. The contestants for this series were David Baddiel, Ed Gamble, Jo Brand, Katy Wix and Rose Matafeo;[32] due to illness, Wix was unable to attend filming of the studio segments for the fifth and sixth episodes, leading to former contestants Kerry Godliman and Katherine Ryan each standing in for these periods respectively.[33] The series' overall winner was Gamble – Matafeo ended as the runner-up, Wix placed 3rd, Brand placed 4th, and Baddiel finished last. During its broadcast, the series averaged over 1.33 million viewers.

No.
overall
No. in
series
TitleWinnerOriginal air dateUK Viewers [30][d]
651"Join Our Cult"Rose Matafeo4 September 2019 (2019-09-04)1,485,000
662"Butter in the Microwave"Ed Gamble11 September 2019 (2019-09-11)1,433,000
673"Five Miles Per Day"Katy Wix18 September 2019 (2019-09-18)1,413,000
684"Quisps"Rose Matafeo25 September 2019 (2019-09-25)1,287,000
695"Another Spoon"Jo Brand2 October 2019 (2019-10-02)1,277,000
706"Bready Bready Bready"Ed Gamble9 October 2019 (2019-10-09)1,215,000
717"A Cuddle"Katy Wix16 October 2019 (2019-10-16)1,151,000
728"Shaqinahat"Ed Gamble23 October 2019 (2019-10-23)1,343,000
739"Don't Like Them Go Bang"David Baddiel30 October 2019 (2019-10-30)1,364,000
7410"Think About the Spirit"Ed Gamble6 November 2019 (2019-11-06)1,378,000

Series 10 (2020)[edit]

The tenth series consisted of ten episodes and was the first series to be broadcast on Channel 4, broadcast between 15 October and 17 December 2020. Production on the series was impacted by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and was therefore the first to be filmed without a studio audience. The majority of the tasks had been filmed prior to UK going into lockdown, but some team tasks were modified to follow social distancing.[34] The panellists were Daisy May Cooper, Johnny Vegas, Katherine Parkinson, Mawaan Rizwan and Richard Herring.[35]

For most team tasks, the team of three was made up of Vegas, Parkinson and Rizwan and the team of two was made up of Cooper and Herring, although these teams changed at some of the live tasks.

Herring was the overall winner, with Cooper as runner-up, Rizwan in 3rd, Vegas in 4th and Parkinson finishing last.

During its broadcast, the series averaged over 2.83 million viewers, an improvement on previous figures as a result of its move to a channel with a broader audience.

No.
overall
No. in
series
TitleWinnerOriginal air dateUK Viewers [30][d]
751"God's Haemorrhoid"Richard Herring15 October 2020 (2020-10-15)3,362,000
762"A Documentary About a Despot"Katherine Parkinson22 October 2020 (2020-10-22)3,048,000
773"Point of Swivel"Daisy May Cooper29 October 2020 (2020-10-29)2,930,000
784"Toshwash"Daisy May Cooper5 November 2020 (2020-11-05)2,769,000
795"I Hate Your Trainers"Richard Herring12 November 2020 (2020-11-12)2,891,000
806"Hippopotamus"Mawaan Rizwan19 November 2020 (2020-11-19)2,602,000
817"Legit Glass"Johnny Vegas26 November 2020 (2020-11-26)2,578,000
828"Moments of Silence"Richard Herring3 December 2020 (2020-12-03)2,674,000
839"Air Horn Andy"Richard Herring10 December 2020 (2020-12-10)2,811,000
8410"Dog Meat Trifle"Richard Herring17 December 2020 (2020-12-17)2,662,000

New Year Treat (2021)[edit]

A one-off festive special of Taskmaster was announced following the tenth series, and aired on 1 January 2021 under the title Taskmaster's New Year Treat. The special consisted of one episode and there were no team tasks. The special's contestants were John Hannah, Krishnan Guru-Murthy, Nicola Coughlan, Rylan Clark-Neal and Shirley Ballas.[36]

Ballas was the overall winner, with Clark-Neal as runner-up, Guru-Murthy in 3rd, and Coughlan and Hannah tied last.

No.
overall
No. in
series
TitleWinnerOriginal air dateUK Viewers [30][d]
851"The Fastest Duck"Shirley Ballas1 January 2021 (2021-01-01)3,336,000

Series 11 (2021)[edit]

The eleventh series was broadcast during 2021 with the usual ten-episode format, from 18 March to 20 May, and the contestants for that series were Charlotte Ritchie, Jamali Maddix, Lee Mack, Mike Wozniak and Sarah Kendall.[37][38]

For team tasks in this series, the team of three was made up of Ritchie, Maddix and Kendall and the team of two was made up of Mack and Wozniak.

Kendall was the overall winner, with Wozniak as runner-up, Mack in 3rd, Maddix in 4th, and Ritchie finishing last.

As Britain was still dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and maintaining strict social distancing guidelines, filming was done in compliance with these, with virtual audiences allowed to watch complete footage and their laughter tracks recorded for the final edit of an episode before it is broadcast.

No.
overall
No. in
series
TitleWinnerOriginal air dateUK Viewers [30][d]
861"It's Not Your Fault"Sarah Kendall18 March 2021 (2021-03-18)3,438,000
872"The Lure of the Treacle Puppies"Mike Wozniak25 March 2021 (2021-03-25)2,974,000
883"Run Up a Tree to the Moon"Sarah Kendall1 April 2021 (2021-04-01)2,952,000
894"Premature Conker"Sarah Kendall8 April 2021 (2021-04-08)2,751,000
905"Slap and Tong"Charlotte Ritchie15 April 2021 (2021-04-15)2,522,000
916"Absolute Casserole"Jamali Maddix22 April 2021 (2021-04-22)2,619,000
927"You've Got No Chutzpah"Lee Mack29 April 2021 (2021-04-29)2,489,000
938"An Orderly Species"Lee Mack6 May 2021 (2021-05-06)2,335,000
949"Mr Octopus and Pottyhands"Charlotte Ritchie13 May 2021 (2021-05-13)2,542,000
9510"Activate Jamali"Lee Mack20 May 2021 (2021-05-20)2,518,000

Series 12 (2021)[edit]

The contestants for the twelfth season were announced on 20 May 2021. The line-up includes Alan Davies, Desiree Burch, Guz Khan, Morgana Robinson and Victoria Coren Mitchell.[39] It began airing from 23 September 2021.[40]

For team tasks in this series, the team of three was made up of Burch, Khan and Robinson and the team of two was made up of Davies and Coren Mitchell.

No.
overall
No. in
series
TitleWinnerOriginal air dateUK Viewers [30][d]
961"An Imbalance in the Poppability"Morgana Robinson23 September 2021 (2021-09-23)TBD
972"Oatmeal and Death"Guz Khan30 September 2021 (2021-09-30)TBD
983"The End of the Franchise"Desiree Burch7 October 2021 (2021-10-07)TBD
994"The Customised Inhaler"Alan Davies14 October 2021 (2021-10-14)TBD
1005"Croissants Is Croissants"TBA21 October 2021 (2021-10-21)TBD
1016"A Chair in a Sweet"TBA28 October 2021 (2021-10-28)TBD
1027TBATBA4 November 2021 (2021-11-04)TBD
1038TBATBA11 November 2021 (2021-11-11)TBD
1049TBATBA18 November 2021 (2021-11-18)TBD
10510TBATBA25 November 2021 (2021-11-25)TBD

Champion of Champions II (2021)[edit]

On 17 December 2020, Avalon announced that Taskmaster would have a second "Champions of Champions" special for 2021, featuring the winners from series 6–10 – Ed Gamble, Kerry Godliman, Liza Tarbuck, Lou Sanders and Richard Herring.[38]

Franchise[edit]

International versions of the programme have been made in Belgium (as Het Grootste Licht) [literally The Greatest Light, but meaning The Brightest Bulb],[41] Sweden (as Bäst i Test) [Best in Test],[42] Norway (as Kongen befaler) [The King Commands] [43][44] and Spain (as Dicho y hecho) [Said and Done].[45] In Denmark the programme is titled Stormester [Grandmaster] and premiered on 25 August 2018.[46] In April 2017, a US version with Reggie Watts as the Taskmaster and Horne as the assistant was announced, made by Avalon, the same production company for the UK version and originally aired on Comedy Central on 27 April 2018.[44] A German version featuring Atze Schröder as the Taskmaster was commissioned by RTL in 2017; two episodes were recorded but not broadcast.[47][48] In 2019 it was announced a New Zealand version would be produced, hosted by Jeremy Wells and Paul Williams. Two seasons have been broadcast, in 2020 and 2021.[49][50] Finnish network MTV3 aired a local version Suurmestari [Grandmaster] starting on 12 April 2020.[51]

Country Title Year(s) Seasons Network(s) Hosts
Belgium Het Grootste Licht 2016 1 VTM Gert Verhulst
Ruth Beeckmans
Denmark Stormester [da] 2018 ― present 5 TV 2 Lasse Rimmer
Mark Le Fêvre
Finland Suurmestari 2020 ― present 2 MTV3 Jaakko Saariluoma
Pilvi Hämäläinen
Germany Taskmaster 2017 pilot only RTL Atze Schröder
Carsten van Ryssen
New Zealand Taskmaster NZ 2020 ― present 2 TVNZ 2 Jeremy Wells
Paul Williams
Norway Kongen befaler 2019 ― present 4 TVNorge
discovery+
Atle Antonsen
Olli Wermskog
Spain Dicho y hecho [es] 2018 1 La 1 Anabel Alonso
José Corbach
Sweden Bäst i Test 2017 ― present 5 SVT Babben Larsson
David Sundin
United States Taskmaster 2018 1 Comedy Central Reggie Watts
Alex Horne
Legend:  Currently airing franchise   Franchise with an upcoming season

  Franchise no longer airing   Status unknown

Related media[edit]

Books[edit]

A tie-in book, Taskmaster — 200 Extraordinary Tasks for Ordinary People, was written by Alex Horne and published by Penguin Random House on 6 September 2018.[52]

Task 185 in the book provided the latitude and longitude of a Buckinghamshire park, with instructions to meet there at midday on 14 September 2019 for a picnic and Taskmaster tour. The event was attended by around 1800 people with Horne himself present to show attendees filming locations from the show.[53]

In September 2019, a paperback edition was published, with 20 new tasks.[54] As well as writing additional tasks, Horne removed the expiration date of 31 December 2019 where it appeared, and replaced tasks that had a set completion date.

In September 2021, a new book titled Bring Me The Head Of The Taskmaster — 101 Next-level Tasks (and Clues) that Will Lead One Ordinary Person to Some Extraordinary Taskmaster Treasure was released. It offered readers the chance to win a real-world Taskmaster prize.[55]

Board game[edit]

The board game Taskmaster was released in autumn 2019, initially selling out. It contains 200 task cards, along with secret tasks that individual players must perform, and video tasks featuring Alex Horne.[56]

#HomeTasking[edit]

From March to June 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic and a period of lockdown in the UK, Alex Horne organised a series of tasks in the style of Taskmaster for the public to perform and record in their own homes. Entries were submitted on Twitter and compilation videos, including scoring of the ten best entries by Greg Davies, were published by the Taskmaster YouTube channel. The first task was "Throw a piece of A4 paper into a bin. Most spectacular throw wins." There were 20 tasks in total.[57][58][59][60]

A new series of Hometasking, started during another lockdown in the UK, began on January 14, 2021, featuring tasks previously performed on the TV show.[61]

International broadcast[edit]

The show is also broadcast in Belgium, Iceland, Sweden, South Africa, Norway, Finland, Australia, Denmark, New Zealand and Portugal.[citation needed] On 26 April, 2021 a single episode of the spin-off Challengemaster was live streamed in Belgium.[citation needed]

In Australia, SBS Viceland started to air Taskmaster episodes on 27 July 2020.[62] The first eight seasons only are available on SBS on Demand.

In the United States, The CW acquired series 8 and 9 of Taskmaster for a late-Summer run premiering on 2 August 2020. However, the series opened to extremely low viewership (in comparison to the Canadian import, Fridge Wars, which premiered the same day), and was consequently pulled from the network's schedule on 5 August. The CW added the entirety of Series 8 to its "CW Seed" streaming library on 10 August.[63][64][65][66][67]

Podcast[edit]

On 15 October 2020, an official podcast began. It is hosted by Ed Gamble, the winner of Series 9, who comments on each featured episode with a special guest. Initially it focused on Series 10, with each podcast released immediately after each Taskmaster episode was broadcast.[68] Episode 12 of the podcast focused on the 2021 "New Year Treat", and then from episode 13 onwards it returned to the very beginning starting with Taskmaster Series 1 Episode 1, returned to "real-time" episodes during the broadcast run of series 11, then went back to the older series' after the new series concluded.

Podcast episodes:

Episode Topic Guest Guest's series Released
1 Series 10, episode 1 Alex Horne Taskmaster's Assistant 15 October 2020
2 Series 10, episode 2 Nish Kumar Series 5 22 October 2020
3 Series 10, episode 3 Jo Brand Series 9 29 October 2020
4 Series 10, episode 4 Paul Chowdhry Series 3 5 November 2020
5 Series 10, episode 5 James Acaster Series 7 12 November 2020
6 Series 10, episode 6 Jessica Knappett Series 7 19 November 2020
7 Series 10, episode 7 Rose Matafeo Series 9 26 November 2020
8 Series 10, episode 8 Richard Osman Series 2 3 December 2020
9 Series 10, episode 9 Katy Wix Series 9 10 December 2020
10 Series 10, episode 10 Richard Herring Series 10 Winner 17 December 2020
11 Series 10 Greg Davies The Taskmaster 24 December 2020
12 New Year Treat Scroobius Pip Not a former contestant 1 January 2021
13 Series 1, episode 1 Alex Horne Taskmaster's Assistant 7 January 2021
14 Series 1, episode 2 Tim Key Series 1 14 January 2021
15 Series 1, episode 3 Josh Widdicombe Series 1 Winner 21 January 2021
16 Series 1, episode 4 Nicola Coughlan New Year Treat 28 January 2021
17 Series 1, episode 5 Jayde Adams Not a former contestant 4 February 2021
18 Series 1, episode 6 Romesh Ranganathan Series 1 11 February 2021
19 Series 2, episode 1 Joe Wilkinson Series 2 18 February 2021
20 Series 2, episode 2 Sian Gibson Series 8 25 February 2021
21 Series 2, episode 3 Doc Brown Series 2 4 March 2021
22 Series 2, episode 4 Kerry Godliman Series 7 Winner 11 March 2021
23 Series 2, episode 5 Richard Osman Series 2 11 March 2021
24 Series 11, episode 1 Richard Herring Series 10 Winner 18 March 2021
25 Series 11, episode 2 Jamali Maddix Series 11 25 March 2021
26 Series 11, episode 3 Katherine Parkinson Series 10 1 April 2021
27 Series 11, episode 4 Rick Edwards Not a former contestant 8 April 2021
28 Series 11, episode 5 Sarah Kendall Series 11 15 April 2021
29 Series 11, episode 6 Mike Wozniak Series 11 22 April 2021
30 Series 11, episode 7 Charlotte Ritchie Series 11 29 April 2021
31 Series 11, episode 8 Lee Mack Series 11 6 May 2021
32 Series 11, episode 9 Margaret Cabourn-Smith Not a former contestant 13 May 2021
33 Series 11, episode 10 Alex Horne Taskmaster's Assistant 20 May 2021
Sarah Kendall Series 11 Winner
34 Series 3, episode 1 Al Murray Series 3 27 May 2021
35 Series 3, episode 2 Dave Gorman Series 3 3 June 2021
36 Series 3, episode 3 Katy Wix Series 9 10 June 2021
37 Series 3, episode 4 Paul Chowdhry Series 3 17 June 2021
38 Series 3, episode 5 Maisie Adam Not a former contestant 24 June 2021
39 Series 4, episode 1 Mark Watson Series 5 1 July 2021
40 Series 4, episode 2 Jack Bernhardt Not a former contestant 8 July 2021
41 Series 4, episode 3 Hugh Dennis Series 4 15 July 2021
42 Series 4, episode 4 Mel Giedroyc Series 4 22 July 2021
43 Series 4, episode 5 Iain Stirling Series 8 29 July 2021
44 Series 4, episode 6 Phil Wang Series 7 5 August 2021
45 Series 4, episode 7 Margaret Cabourn-Smith Not a former contestant 12 August 2021
46 Series 4, episode 8 Jack Bernhardt Not a former contestant 19 August 2021
47 Series 12, episode 1 Mike Wozniak Series 11 23 September 2021
48 Series 12, episode 2 Paul Williams Taskmaster's Assistant (NZ Version) 30 September 2021
49 Series 12, episode 3 Desiree Burch Series 12 7 October 2021
50 Series 12, episode 4 Victoria Coren Mitchell Series 12 14 October 2021
51 Series 12, episode 5 David Correos Series 2 (NZ Version) 21 October 2021

Reception[edit]

Critical reception[edit]

Andrew Billen of The Times gave a five star review of the show's first episode, "Melon Buffet", calling it "funny, revealing, and glorious" and comparing it to The Generation Game.[69] In another review of the first episode, Filipa Jodelka of The Guardian describes Taskmaster as a panel show with an "edgy parlour-game twist". Jodelka praises the "molten-hot banter" between contestants and Davies, and compares the arbitrary awarding of points to QI and Numberwang.[70] Also reviewing "Melon Buffet", Ellen Jones of The Independent praised the show as entertaining despite its "informal and cheap-looking" style.[71]

Wesley Mead of Den of Geek wrote a positive review in 2016, praising the show as the "crowning jewel" of original programming on Dave, and approving of the design of the tasks and the range of approaches that contestants demonstrate. Mead believed that the second series was an improvement on the first, but criticised that the first three series had only one female contestant apiece.[72]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Awards and nominations received by Taskmaster
Year Award Category Recipients Result Ref
2016 British Comedy Guide Awards Best TV Entertainment Show N/A Won [73]
2017 British Academy Television Awards Best Comedy and Comedy Entertainment Programme Alex Horne, Andy Cartwright, Andy Devonshire Nominated [74]
International Emmy Award Non-Scripted Entertainment Avalon Television, Dave Nominated [75]
RTS Programme Awards Best Entertainment Programme Avalon Television Nominated [76]
British Comedy Guide Awards Best TV Entertainment Show N/A Won [77]
2018 British Academy Television Awards Best Comedy and Comedy Entertainment Programme Alex Horne, Andy Cartwright, Andy Devonshire Nominated [78]
2020 British Academy Television Awards Best Comedy and Comedy Entertainment Programme Alex Horne, Andy Cartwright, Andy Devonshire, James Taylor Won [79]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ 7-day data, as 28-day data is not available.
  2. ^ BARB's website does not report Dave's viewing figures for this week.
  3. ^ Each episode aired one week earlier on the online service UKTV, with the exception of the finale.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Viewers across the first 28 days of broadcast on TV, PC/laptop, tablet or smartphone are counted. Pre-transmission figures are included.

References[edit]

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External links[edit]