10 things you might not know about Taskmaster

10 things you might not know about Taskmaster

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Tuesday, 15th September 2020
(credit: UKTV)

Since its debut on Dave in 2015, Taskmaster has continually charmed viewers with its whimsical antics.

Each series sees host Greg Davies and sidekick Alex Horne stump five comedian contestants with their tasks.

Ahead of the show’s October 2020 return on Channel 4, we take a look at who and what makes Taskmaster tick.

Here are 10 things you probably didn’t know about Taskmaster.

1. Alex Horne created and debuted Taskmaster at the 2010 Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

In a jealous rage against his best friend and comedian Tim Key scooping the 2009 Fringe Comedy Award, Alex Horne vowed to reclaim some glory the following year.

Via email, he asked 20 comedians if they would like to take part in the completion of monthly tasks in the run-up to the festival, whereby the winner would be revealed in a two-hour drunken show called The Taskmaster.

The first task? “Put as much money into my [Horne’s] bank account – most money wins.”

2. Horne thinks up the majority of tasks on his own.

Having already generated hundreds of tasks over Taskmaster’s nine seasons to date, Horne’s capacity for dreaming up silly schemes seemingly knows no bounds.

Shunning any elaborate task-conjuring rituals you might imagine, however, Horne, like a true task-making master, only has to stare at a blank piece of paper for inspiration to strike.

3. Greg Davies was chosen as host because of his natural air of authority.

Alex Horne revealed in an interview with British Comedy Guide that Greg Davies was the ‘only choice’ for the role of the Taskmaster because of his authority.

Having taught at secondary schools for 13 years, and played the part of the Head of Year/school bully, Mr Gilbert, in The Inbetweeners, dictating and grading tasks probably came naturally to Davies.

4. The series is shot in a former groundskeepers’ cottage inside a golf course in Chiswick (West London).

Horne originally wanted the comedians to complete the tasks at their own houses but he soon realised how impractical it would be, both in terms of the cost and the home-wrecking.

5. The house is redecorated for each series with a different theme inspired by specific artists.

Production designer James Dillon, who also worked on Mighty Boosh, is tasked with turning the house into its own character.

The parody portraits of Greg Davies are tell-tale signs of the inspiration, with Andy Warhol’s The Shot Marilyns and Van Gogh’s self-portrait among the works sullied by his mug.

6. There are tasks even the producers themselves cannot crack.

The infamous bubble wrap challenge was attempted during each of the first three series but the idea has since been abandoned.

The comics were tasked with bursting an entire roll of bubble wrap as fast as possible, which sounds simple enough, but despite cars and steamrollers being driven over the pesky rolls, they’ve all survived.

7. The show’s iconic theme tune was written and performed by Horne’s own jazz band, The Horne Section.

The Horne Section regularly appears on radio and TV to perform spoof songs.

Their BBC Radio 4 series, Alex Horne presents The Horne Section, ran for three series, and now the band runs a regular podcast, The Horne Section Podcast. This year they also performed on Peter Crouch: Save Our Summer.

Enjoy this beautiful ode to the banjo player’s family pea farm on The Last Leg of the Year 2019.

8. From March to June 2020, Alex Horne organised a public Taskmaster competition during lockdown called #HomeTasking.

There were 20 tasks in total, the first being ‘throw a piece of A4 paper into a bin. Most spectacular throw wins.'

The public had to perform and record the task in their own homes before submitting their entries on Twitter.

The ten best entries were then scored by host Greg Davies before being uploaded to the Taskmaster YouTube channel.

9. Taskmaster has been exported to seven countries to date under different titles.

The US and New Zealand versions obviously retained the same English title, but other countries have come up with their own.

The Belgian version airs as The Greatest Light, the Swedish as Best in Test, the Norwegian as The King commands, and the Danish and Finnish versions as Grandmaster.

10. A tie-in book, Taskmaster — 200 Extraordinary Tasks for Ordinary People, was written by Alex Horne and published in 2018.

Task 185 in the book listed the latitude and longitude of a park in Buckinghamshire, with instructions to meet there at midday on 14 September 2019 for a Taskmaster tour and picnic.

Horne himself turned up as tour guide for the 1800 or so attendees.

A family board game was also released that allows you to 'summon your inner Taskmaster' from the comfort of your own home.

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Since its debut on Dave in 2015, Taskmaster has continually charmed viewers with its whimsical antics.