Taskmaster: the best of British comedy

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Taskmaster is arguably one of the best examples of British comedy in recent years. Its format is simple but clever. The fact that famous comedians are the contestants has meant it has become one of the funniest and most recognisable shows on our screens.

As we move into the show’s thirteenth season (as I’m writing, only the first episode has been aired), I’ll look back on the good, funny and my predictions for the season. 

The funny

I could spend a significant amount of time talking about every memorable and funny moment on Taskmaster. However, to save time I’ll have to narrow it down to three top memorable moments:

1. When Josh Widdicombe got a tattoo of the Taskmaster, Greg Davies’, name. The amount of dedication to the task was amazing, but Greg’s reaction to seeing his name permanently tattooed on someone’s body was a must-see moment. 

2. Nish Kumar and Mark Watson’s song. Let’s be honest, neither Nish Kumar nor Mark Watson were amazing on Taskmaster. However, their song was worthy of a main stage performance at Glastonbury and is something I have unapologetically watched multiple times. 

3. Ed Gamble’s chickpea challenge. Just Google it. 

Predictions

Ardal O’Hanlon 

I had high hopes for Ardal O’Hanlon. After watching him play a somewhat competent detective in Death in Paradise, I thought he would do well. I was wrong. Throughout the entire first episode he gave off the same energy as a grandad who wandered into the show and was confused about what to do. I don’t suspect he’ll do very well, but he brings some old-time charm. He won’t win, but we love him for that. 

Placement prediction: fourth or last.

Chris Ramsey

I have a soft spot for Chris Ramsey. He reminds me of someone I would find in my local pub, acting like my dad would on the show. Dressed like a dad at a barbeque, he switches between brute force and actual intelligence, but this strategy seems to be serving him well. If I had to put money on a winner, it would be him. 

Placement prediction: will either win the series, or crash and burn…

Bridget Christie 

Dressed like she’s just left a stylish funeral, Bridget Christie is the mystery of the season. She’ll either do really well or really badly — there is no in-between. Despite the fact she had probably the best prize task of any candidate of the show (including Josh Widdicombe nearly selling his house), her performance in the tasks wasn’t great. She is currently the candidate I’m struggling most to place.  

Placement prediction: unknowable.

Sophie Duker 

My one prediction about Sophie Duker is she must have had an amazing time at university. Dressed like she’s going to a rave and with frequent references to her uni years (some of which would put most Durham students to shame), she’s my personal favourite. She made out with a canvas in a way that would make the average BBC Radio 4 listener shudder. She will do well, but will she beat Chris Ramsey?

Placement prediction: second or third.

Judi Love 

If Ardal O’Hanlon is confused the entire time in a defeated way, Judi Love is confused in a way that suggests she wants to destroy the entire show. In the words of the Taskmaster himself, she has an “incredible habit of normalising bad behaviour”. She won’t win but I don’t think she wants to. 

Placement prediction: last, but because she wants to be. 

The good

But what makes Taskmaster the best show on TV? It’s because unlike many other comedy-led shows on the TV circuit (and radio), the format is what makes the show funny, not necessarily the comedic talent. 

This is even before we consider its cultural impact. Alex Horne has become a household name, with Taskmaster introducing many people to comedians they may never have heard of before. Especially in newer series, I’ve been introduced to many amazing comedians who I know I’ll follow for the rest of their careers.

While some of its international counterparts have left a lot to be desired, Taskmaster is easily transferable and has created amazing spin-offs in New Zealand and Denmark. 

The good of Taskmaster cannot solely be seen in the show. It’s also seen in its international impact, the comedians it’s made household names, and the fact that I can quote moments from the show and people know who I’m on about. What will Season 13 bring? I don’t know. But what I do know is that Taskmaster is one of the best shows on TV and its impact and legacy will shape British comedy for years to come. 

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