Review: Welcome back to the endlessly-inventive Taskmaster, the funniest show on TV

The funniest show on TV has returned in its new home and the world seems all the better for it. No, not a second series of Martin Clunes’ ‘sit’ ‘com’ Warren, but Taskmaster (Channel 4,Thursdays, 9pm).

By Phil Cunnington
Friday, 16th October 2020, 5:00 pm

As usual, five comics/comic actors are given stupid things to do by Alex Horne and Greg Davies, with the points being awarded – mainly for effort than achievement – and the one with most points at the end of the series wins.

Previously on Dave, this endlessly inventive show is now in the big time on Channel 4 and, apart from following social distancing rules, the format hasn’t changed.

What at first sight seem ludicrously simple tasks – make the biggest thing in a room disappear; get the most egg in a frying pan 10ft away without throwing – reveal themselves to have one simple solution and dozens of difficult ones.

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Greg Davies and Alex Horne keep order on the new series of Taskmaster

Needless to say, the celebs usually go for the difficult option and, even when they seem to succeed, the deadpan Horne is on hand to demonstrate that they haven’t.

These wonderful tasks – and the resulting efforts of the contestants to complete them – are a testament to the ingenuity of humans, and the never-say-die attitude of people doomed to fail at first, and then try, try, try again.

Davies – who glories in his gold-throned superiority – is withering in his put downs: “You just rammed a cow into a hedge, do you think that’s how Siegfried and Roy dominated Vegas?”

But that serves to bring the hapless five – Daisy May Cooper, Johnny Vegas, Katherine Parkinson, Mawaan Rizwan and Richard Herring – together in a mutual Taskmaster support group.

It is an original, laugh-out-loud funny delight – like Ready Brek for the soul, it leaves you with a warm glow.

The Trump Show (BBC2, Thurs, 9pm) was disturbing in many ways, not least in that it made you wonder how Trump stayed in power, such is the paranoid chaos in the White House.

Portrait Artist of the Year (Sky Arts, Weds, 8pm) returned, and was just about the most relaxing hour of TV this week – also fascinating if you’re interested in the process of making art.