In this week’s In Appreciation Of, we look at Taskmaster, a hit with viewers since its 2015 debut.

Welcome to In Appreciation Of where we highlight actors, personalities, filmmakers, musicians and projects that have made an undeniable impact on pop culture. 

In the beginning, Taskmaster was a tough sell.

That’s hard to imagine now, right? 15 series in and some of the biggest names in British comedy taking part.

The long list includes Bob Mortimer, James Acaster, Kerry Godliman, Lee Mack, Sarah Millican, Jo Brand and Dara O Briain.

Of course, it’s understandable that there was some confusion over what the show would be.

After all, Taskmaster isn’t a traditional panel show, as the same guests return over ten weeks.

In that sense, it’s more like a sitcom, but not really. The participants appear as themselves rather than as characters.

Taskmaster S1 cast
Image courtesy of Dave/Channel 4

While the show landed on Dave in 2015, its roots actually go back further.

Creator and eventual co-host ‘Little’ Alex Horne first developed the format for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Horne held two events, with future contestants such as Mike Wozniak and Mark Watson taking part.

Cut to a few years later, bringing in former Inbetweeners actor Greg Davies as “Taskmaster” and there’s a winning formula.

As mentioned, there’s been 15 series now, with the most recent having just ended.

The original, Series 1 line-up set the foundation for what is as to come. Frank Skinner, Roisin Conaty, Josh Widdicombe, Romesh Ranganathan and Tim Key.

Signing up Skinner, the most tenured of the bunch, helped get other comedians on board for a new, untested format.

As the years have gone on, other contestants produced memorable moments for the show.

Whether it’s quiz host Richard Osman outsmarting the restrictions of a task. Or, Mark Watson discovering a task he’d done of several months bore no points. Or even Chris Ramsey’s “No, way!”

As well as many more, of course.

Looking ahead, Taskmaster seems to have a bright future.

In March 2023, the show received a further six-series pick-up. In addition, a new spin-off titled Junior Taskmaster.

Here’s hoping the show’s very best has yet to come.

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