Show Discussion: Taskmaster Series 4

By | April 25, 2017

Tuesday nights, 9pm,

Hurrah! Taskmaster‘s back for an extended run with five brand new comics testing their problem solving, creativity and gamesmanship talents.

This series features old Bake Off host Mel Giedroyc, new Bake Off host Noel Fielding, Lolly Adefope, Hugh Dennis and Joe Lycett.

Note the new earlier start time (brave) which almost caught me out, although the first episode has been up on UKTV Play all week anyway. However I haven’t watched it yet because I tend to prefer communal broadcast.

This shouldn’t bother you however, if you delve into the comments you should be aware that there are likely to be spoilers.

42 thoughts on “Show Discussion: Taskmaster Series 4

  1. Des Elmes

    Off-topic, but I’m sure many Bar patrons are familiar with Adam Beckwith and his blog.

    His latest post is on Winning Lines – which he says “could have easily run for more than five years”.

    Could it, though? It *was* pretty expensive to produce, especially so for the Beeb, and also the Saturday Night scene in 2004 was *very* different to what it was in 1999 (then, Blind Date and Big Break were still tootling along; now, Simon Cowell and Antan Dec were building their empires while Brucie was helping to make ballroom dancing fashionable again).

    I reckon it had probably reached its ask-by date, anyway. The Wonderwall wasn’t going to remain exciting forever, and also Lottery shows were about to move away from having draw-related thingamajigs in them (with the exception, of course, of In It to Win It).

    What do you guys think? (What a shame the great Travis P is no longer with us…)

    1. Brekkie

      Well the far inferior In it to Win It lasted years longer and with a higher prize package I think too. I do think Winning Lines got cut off certainly a year or two too early and Jetset as well.

      Also thinks it is already evident that the role the Lottery quizzes played for BBC1 should not have been underestimated, even if it was just schedule fodder. They’ve had to move the news to 9pm over the last couple of weeks so they can avoid both Doctor Who and Mrs Brown clashing with Britain’s Got Talent.

      1. John R

        I was quite sad when they got rid of 1 vs. 100, which even got a bit of a cult following at one point with a multiplayer XBox 360 Live game although was more based on the US version from what I remember…

        1. Des Elmes

          1 vs 100 here ended, of course, because of a combination of the recession and the jump in production costs following the BBC-decreed move from Maidstone to Glasgow. (And just in case that wasn’t enough justification, the Beeb showed the final series directly opposite Susan Boyle and Diversity.)

          IItWI wouldn’t have been *quite* as expensive to produce as Winning Lines or 1 vs 100, would it? True, most episodes gave away around £50,000 – but of course, it had far fewer contestants and a smaller, less glitzy set…

    2. Steve Williams

      Well, I thought Winning Lines could have continued, but only because it was replaced in the lottery rota by the vastly inferior Millionaire Manor, which I think is one of the worst lottery quizzes they’ve done. Went on for weeks and weeks as well.

      The last appearance of Winning Lines was as part of that tenth anniversary lottery special in 2004 when Dale, Pip, Eamonn and Wrighty introduced a mash-up of In It To Win It, Jet Set, Wright Around The World and Winning Lines, which was great fun. And Channel 4 thought Mash-Up Night was an original idea.

  2. John R

    Jane Torvill has confirmed that Dancing On Ice will be returning, hopefully complete with Schofield and his earpiece

  3. CeleTheRef

    funny moment on L’Eredità

    this contestant is asked a “Famous palace in Florence”

    he first goes with Scrovegni, which is a chapel in Padova, and then tries with… “turds” -_-‘

  4. Matt Clemson

    Taskmaster things I wanted to hold off on until the ‘real’ broadcast:

    * I was wondering if you could switch up the paddles for the live task; would it have been permitted to juice a lime with a pineapple? That has the advantage of probably not matching anyone else, plus the advantage of having two fruits to work with… but the disadvantage of no actual equipment. Still, you’re probably still better off than the tweezer people!

    * On the subject of the live task, there was a slight problem with the presentation, I felt – on the one hand, it would have been good to establish what options the players had available to them in advance, but on the other, it was fun to see the reveal spontaneously. Curious if there were any unpicked options there (was there a juicer that everyone avoided, for one thing?)

    * I wish someone had pointed out that Hugh’s drawing had another major flaw – she was facing the wrong way!

    * I can’t work out if Hugh is brilliant or terrifying. Quite possibly both. Given how “safe” a comedian he generally is, seeing him be utterly unhinged was incredible.

    * Noel wasn’t as off-the-wall as I was expecting, which was a surprise. Dunno if I’m disappointed by that or not – it’s nice to see a different side to him. That said, there may be more creative tasks on the way, so we’ll see what happens there.

    * Mel’s entertainingly practical… mostly. Which is one of the things that made that makeshift bolas so funny!

    * Joe and Lolly haven’t made a *huge* impact for me, yet, although Joe’s misguided attempts at ‘bowling’ the fences down were good. I hope Lolly isn’t forced into the ‘youngest one’ role, because I think she has more to offer – although at this stage that may simply have been a one-off gag.

    * Promising lineup; I think, when you get down to it, there aren’t all that many panel show formats where the format matters, as such – often they’re just a framework on which to hang gags. There are a few formats, though – This, QI, WILTY spring to mind – where I feel that the format *itself* has purpose and is so strong that it inherently boosts any participant – even comedians I don’t generally like have been more appealing to me in those shows.

    * There’s an interview that gives away the breakdown for team tasks. I won’t spoil it, but it’s out there if people want it (also of note in the interview: Alex isn’t in any way bored yet, and he’s happy to let the series run and run. If it can keep up this quality, I’m delighted)

    * Since both were on close to one another, I realised shortly after the first episode that the Taskmaster Cottage is in fact really close to the finish line of the Boat Races. Now I’m wondering if there’s any convenient airborne shot at the climax there where you can spot it.

    * One of these days I’ll learn to show enough restraint to resist the early release. Two weeks! Bah.

    1. Brig Bother Post author

      Oh wow, would have never considered the idea of trying to juice the lime with the pineapple. Ingenious!

      Anyway glad this is back, it does tend to make comics I don’t ordinarily go for come across as quite likeable (Noel Fielding in this case). I wasn’t very aware of Lolly Adefope previously but I think she’s going to be good value. Joe’s and Mel’s attempts made me laugh the most. Hugh’s route one ideas are almost certainly similar to what I’d do in those situations I expect.

      I don’t think any of the tasks this week were super outstanding (although I enjoyed people’s game attempts at knocking the ducks down before just pulling the walls down) several sequences did have me howling (the reversioning of Man In The Mirror) so I guess it’s mission accomplished.

      1. Steve Williams

        One of the best bits in the duck task was the perfect example of what Brig’s mentioned before of when the contestants come up with an idea but don’t make the logical leap to see it through, which even Greg pointed out – when Lolly moved the fences nearer, but only a little bit nearer.

        Anyway, I really liked it, as ever, and I’m sure everyone will gel together as the other line-ups have done. I liked Joe mentioning Sara Pascoe helping him with the autograph task, because I like the idea of an extended Taskmaster family, like when John Widdicombe turned up in series two.

        Mel’s destruction of the cake was fantastic. And I loved Greg realising that “if Mel can juice a lime with a shoe” was a sentence that has never before been uttered in the history of humankind, and never will be again.

  5. Brig Bother Post author

    Actually I thought the most impressive thing on show last night was managing to move the fences without any of the ducks falling off, which I think would have taken some skill.

  6. Chris M. Dickson

    I am reminded of the Weaver’s Week review of the first series of the show, which near-concluded: “This could be changed with just a few tweaks to the casting: bring in a Zoe Lyons, a Pete Firman, a Joe Lycett, or promote a newcomer to television.” Tick for Joe Lycett and (at the risk of saying more about me than about her) a tick for Lolly Adefope. What d’you think now, Iain?

  7. Brig Bother Post author

    This came back to 523k last night, twice the slot average, and I think I’m right in saying largest episode one overnight. Which is nice.

    I thought going out at 9pm would be a real risk, but I suppose actually Tuesday is a weak performing night on the terrestrial channels, so why not?

    1. Brig Bother Post author

      I think the outtake is funnier the way it’s played out with the link on Twitter.

      It’s almost certainly a show where they have to cut loads from the studio to fit the runtime.

    1. David

      I don’t think it is now- they’re asking for 9-13 year olds, and Raven was more mid-to-late teens IIRC. It might be a spiritual successor, but not an official one.

      1. Brig Bother Post author

        Not sure about that, mid-late teen would be above the CBBC target range even fifteen years ago.

        It was mid-late teens for Fort Boyard, to be fair.

      2. Callum J

        I just went on Youtube to look at some episodes, there is no chance the contestants are any older than 13.

  8. Jeff H

    Buzzerblog on Twitter says that according to ABC, a ‘new, exciting’ host from Britain has been brought in to host the American revival of the Gong Show. Any guesses who could follow Chuck Barris? I’m going to guess Stephen Mulhern just because I don’t know who else fits the format well.

    1. Chris M. Dickson

      I have long thought that the spiritually closest show to the US Gong Show that the UK has had is Shooting Stars; they’re both reasonably loving parodies which thrive on their repeated absurd in-jokes and are not afraid to play with their own formats. Accordingly, although this is surely vanishingly unlikely, I’d love to see Vic Reeves, with or without Bob Mortimer, get to give it a try somewhere some day.

    2. Callum J

      I wouldn’t be suprised if it was Vernon Kay, he doesn’t have any ongoing shows here at the moment and recently left Radio X. As well as the fact that he has hosted few US shows, albeit not about 5 years now.

        1. Jeff H

          Yeah, found out that too. Going to be curious to see how this plays, the only previous such job for a host played by an actor that I can think of was when Paul Reubens was Troy Stevens on the short-lived ABC quiz show You Don’t Know Jack (which I always felt was better than the 6 episodes it got but that’s how it goes).

          1. Callum J

            I think the most recent is Leigh Francis as Keith Lemon on Through the Keyhole.

        2. Brig Bother Post author

          I think it’s quite good, and he was certainly knocking around Britain in the eighties so would legitimately know the sort of thing UK entertainer hosts would get up to. Whether the intended audience will get the joke is another matter.

  9. Mart With A Y Not An I

    Colin Bennett hosted a childrens BBC quiz/game show in character from a previous (non-game show related) childrens programme back in the 80’s. That’s the only actor playing gameshow host in the UK I can think of.

    Can’t say I warm to this idea of Mike Myers in another wig and loud jacket for The Gong Show revival, in the same way I loved the idea of Alec Baldwin hosting The Match Game.

    As we know (and if you follow and swallow the line spun) Barris only ended up hosting the daytime version (as Gary Owen hosted the primetime version) because the original host didn’t ‘get’ the awful acts and presented the show as though you were watching the next big things in American entertainment for the first time on screen.

    Barris said to NBC that the acts knew they were bad, the audience knows the acts are crap (or if they had any talent, deliberately trashed the act to play to the crowd) so why does the host, present the show as something else without any trace of irony?

    That’s how you had a shambling, nervous, twichey, poor stage presence host in charge – which befitted the assult on the senses on screen perfectly. The guy was a producer first – his talent was behind the camera. Not in front of it – but made the show what it was.

    I guess Myers will develop a character with a similar set of traits to Barris (although far enough away to be accused of doing an impression) and hopes the audience will get the gag.

    1. Callum J

      There’s been a few actors playing game show hosts I can think of: Keith Lemon (as I mentioned), Raven, Dr. Brain on CBBC’s Ultimate Brain and Les Dennis sort of played a fictional version of himself on Fe Fi Fo Yum.

      Not to mention puppet presenters on That Puppet Game Show and Gory Games

      1. Alex McMillan

        If you wanna go real deep, Chris Jarvis was definitely playing the role of “slightly unhinged Jungle survivor” during his stint on Jungle Run (i.e. the golden era)

      1. Chris M. Dickson

        The more I think about this, the more intrigued I am, because the more challenging it becomes for this to gain any sort of traction whatsoever. The original The Gong Show wasn’t the first gong-show-formatted show ever, though I think it would have been without much precedent on television. These days, gong-show-like talent shows are quite familiar; the latest series of America’s Got Talent will have started about three weeks or so before The Gong Show premieres, so people will be quite familiar with acts being stopped midway by judges.

        The Tommy Maitland character becomes much more interesting when you know it’s a Mike Myers spoof. I suspect lots of people won’t be in on the joke and, unless the first minute or two are really engaging, will imagine Maitland’s for real and may not be particularly charming. The show will have to get off to a really hot start in order not to be, practically, an instant turn-off. I look forward to seeing how it starts, and (if we could get them) a five-minute-by-five-minute audience figure breakdown to see whether the audience holds.

        1. Mart With A Y Not An I

          However Chris, I’d like to hear what accent Myers gives Tommy Maitland.

          Because, if he has a Liverpudlian tone, and looking at the photo of Tommy Maitland provided by the Hollywood Reporter – then I’d say Mike has aimed the cues for this at Jimmy Tarbuck.

          Fatter face, swept back hair, gapped front teeth.
          Co-incidence? Proabably not..

          1. Chris M. Dickson

            We have a little evidence courtesy of a cameo appearance on a talk show, guest-hosted by the Gong Show’s executive producer. The accent is… at least chipped glass, if not quite cut glass, but somewhat impressively convincing.

  10. watcherontheweb

    Noel Fielding cheated on the live task (used both hands) and went on to win the episode! Standards are slipping in season 4

  11. Brig Bother Post author

    I’m enjoying this series although it’s missing people who will argue the toss a bit more – there’s not really a great deal of contestant interaction at the moment. It comes to something when the closest they have to an alpha personality is Joe Lycett.

  12. Chris M. Dickson

    Seven episodes in, one to go. This series has been easily good enough, though probably not quite as good as earlier ones. I can’t point to any particular tasks that dragged, but I do have a suspicion that the killer:filler ratio is not quite there and that the series hasn’t really gained from having had more episodes.

    It’s interesting to note that there was the big promo at the start of the series about voting for which player made the best Taskmaster ad hoarding, and that hasn’t come into practice yet. It’s quite possible that it never will, and it’ll be just a bit of standalone fun. However, wouldn’t it be fun if the series ended up tied between two contestants and the ad hoarding were used to split the tie?

    Hugh Dennis has offered more than his fair share of the high and low points of the series for me. If he’d properly engaged with every single task instead of using an occasional aloof shtick, he’d probably have romped the whole thing.

  13. Arun

    Ooh, apparently after tonight’s show, the series 5 participants will be revealed, said Alex Horne on Twitter. Hopefully both Paul Sinha is on the show, reckon he’d be great value.


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