Whether it’s working as a teacher in real life or playing the brilliantly dismissive headmaster of The Inbetweeners’ school, Greg Davies is well used to keeping order.
But for his returning comedy panel show Taskmaster, he takes his authoritarian skills to the next level by marshalling an anarchic and unruly mob of comedians on a weekly basis.
The imposing stand-up star and presenter is back for a new series of the hilarious format, which started as a live show at the Edinburgh fringe in 2010 before being picked up by Dave in 2015 and now Channel 4.
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Comic pal Alex Horne devised the show, all about dishing out random and quirky missions to the contestants, usually stand-up comics.
This year’s guests include Lee Mack, Charlotte Ritchie, Jamali Maddix, Mike Wozniak and Sarah Kendall – all of whom come under the gaze of Taskmaster Greg.
As Alex Horne insisted: “I would challenge you to name anyone else who could do that job. He had all the elements that role needed, as well as being very funny and good off the cuff. I’d say his physical attributes lend itself to the role, but also the headmasterly qualities.
“There’s a moment in every show where Greg does have to say, ‘That’s it, we’re moving on now’. And most comics… even Johnny Vegas in this series listened to Greg and moved on, which I’ve seen him not do on many other shows.”
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Greg added: “I’ve basically spent the majority of my adult life pretending to have authority.
“I certainly was like that in the sketch group I was in and on stage I tend to turn the volume up on everything I do.
“So, some bombastic tall shouty man setting tasks seemed like a very natural fit.”
Not Going Out and Semi-Detached star Lee Mack said he was delighted to take part in series 11 after coming under pressure on the home front.
He revealed: “It’s my children’s favourite show, it’s endlessly on our TV. I’ve been asked to do it before and haven’t been able to for a combination of reasons, but the kids begged me to do it.
“It’s a big thing in our house, we play the board game all the time and they make up their own Taskmaster games. They’re showing a level of interest in my career that they’ve never shown before.”
“They don’t want me to come last. That’s all they want. They’ll see second-to-last as a massive victory.
“So I turned up not caring about anything beyond not coming last – if the kids are happy then I’m happy. But it’s amazing how much you start to care about whether or not you’re the best at finding out how many sides a piece of jelly has with your tongue. That’s what this show does to you.”
Rising comedy star Charlotte Ritchie has been wowing audiences with her work in acclaimed sitcom Ghosts, and now she’s also taking on the Taskmaster.
She admitted: “Disappointingly there was one task where I had to make the house haunted. Considering I‘ve just filmed two series about a haunted house, I think I performed poorly.
“There was a lot of stuff that involved physically moving around and sometimes I think I look like a puppet on a string, I can’t believe how I move. Greg said I’m a human cartoon, which pretty much sums it up.”
Taskmaster season 11 is on Channel 4, Thursdays, 9pm.
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