Before you ask no, I’m not milking this show dry honestly. Or no less than Channel 4 is…. Anyway, Taskmaster still continues to be a ratings juggernaut for Channel 4 even after 15 (soon to be 16) series and 2 Champions Specials. And since I’ve already ranked the best tasks and episodes, I thought I’d give you the very best series to binge after Series 16 finally drops. So without further ado, here is some history about the show.
Taskmaster first debuted as a sketch as part of the Edinburgh Fringe and made the jump to TV with Dave in 2015. It stayed on Dave for nine series and a champions special until 2019 when Channel 4 acquired the rights. The fact the show still remains as good as it is after this long is a testament to the sheer hilarity of the tasks, the strength of the cast doing them and the definitely not gay chicken act between hosts Greg Davies and Little Alex Horne. Oh, and Taskmaster has won a bunch of awards because it’s just that damn good too. Anyway, with all that said and done here is my ranking of the best Taskmaster Series.
10. Series 3 (Al Murray, Dave Gorman, Paul Chowdhry, Rob Beckett, Sara Pascoe)
Kicking off the best Taskmaster Series Rankings is Series 3 aka the one with Moneybags Murray. Now, Taskmaster was still a newish show by this point so the idea of Al Murray just paying other people to do the tasks for him was both shocking and hilarious. Also, the randomness of Ben Fogle happening to film in the same location as a team task of long distance charades is very impressive and coincidental. Other highlights include Rob and Sarah’s film about disappearing shoes, Paul’s ‘snow bunny’ and Dave Gorman thinking as few steps as possible means just doing big steps. This season shows money can’t buy happiness but it can buy you points on a silly game show.
9. Series 2 (Doc Brown, Joe Wilkinson, Jon Richardson, Katherine Ryan, Richard Osman)
Another early series which helped establish Taskmaster was Series 2 aka the one with the incredible potato golf hole throw. And yes rewatching it is equal parts hilarious and heartbreaking as Joe and the audience go through the cycle of grief. Apart from the greatest sporting heartbreak outside your favourite sports team, there’s plenty of other highlights. These include Doc Brown punching a fish, every contestant failing to notice a bridge and Katherine stroking Greg’s ego by making him a lord after buying him a piece of land. Another solid series right there…
8. Series 6 (Alice Levine, Asim Chaudhry, Liza Tarbuck, Russell Howard, Tim Vine)
Next up we’ve got Series 6 aka one of many forgotten good series. I say this because this is a very underrated cast and also because it’s got some of the show’s more interesting moments. Like as an example, Liza making Alex sit barea**e in a cake with profiteroles on top. Or Russell Howard being inexplicably good at hiding a grape in his hand or mouth.
And there’s also a top quality rap song where Greg seems genuinely touched that Asim called him the tall motherf**ker with the ivory hair. Don’t forget he also said they go together like steak and cheese. Those are just a few highlights as well as the team tasks shining like Alice and Russell realising disconnecting a shower head might help in keeping Alex as dry as possible. Or that time Alice looked like she was giving Russell a good shunting…. Overall, a solid series which really deserves more love than it sometimes gets.
7. Series 9 (David Baddiel, Ed Gamble, Jo Brand, Katy Wix, Rose Matafeo)
Ahh Series 9 aka the one with Ed Gamble having far too many breakdowns. I mean being on a team with David Baddiel will definitely do that to a man. One example of Ed Gamble losing his mind, how about when he insinuates that he had sex with hummus. Seems like the definition of insanity rather than preposterous. Anyway, there’s plenty of other highlights like Rose being unable to pronounce shed, David Baddiel admitting something interesting about his d**k. Oh and Katy looking slightly confused most of the time. A great example of Taskmaster hitting its stride.
6. Series 14 (Dara O’Brien, Fern Brady, John Kearns, Munya Chawawa, Sarah Millican)
And now we come to Series 14 aka the one where Dara dominates. Occasionally, there’s a series where one contestant runs rampant and the other contestants just sort of mess around. And boy does Series 14 fit the bill. Just take the chaos of John Kearns unintentionally being a great saboteur. Or Munya doing his best Tim Key impersonation by cheating as blatantly as possible in the airport task. That doesn’t even cover how much of a national treasure Fern is. This is seen she delights the audience with her performance and frankly magnificent outfit. Truly a worthy first proper series back in front of a live studio audience.
5. Series 13 (Ardal O’Hanlon, Bridget Christie, Chris Ramsey, Judi Love, Sophie Duker)
If I had a nickel for everytime a geordie comedian featured on a series of Taskmaster I’d have two nickels. This isn’t a lot but it’s strange that it happened in back to back series… Anyway, besides Greg’s inability to understand the Geordie dialect what are the other major highlights? Well, mostly Judi Love’s incredible ability to bulls**t her way out of anything. That’s relatable as I’m sure we’ve all got a mate who can attempt to waffle their way out of anything. Also, Ardal constantly firing back at other people’s attempts even if he had done as well if not worse will never get old. But if you watch Series 13 for anything, watch it for Judi Love who deserves a place in an eventual Taskmaster Hall of Fame.
4. Series 12 (Alan Davies, Desiree Burch, Guz Khan, Morgana Robinson, Victoria Coren-Mitchell)
There’s a recurring theme amongst this and the next entry: the only reason they aren’t one and two is the fact they’re COVID impacted series. Other than that, both are brilliant. So, let’s discuss Series 12 aka the one with the wow monster. Not only does this series see the oft requested Alan Davies shine as the old man who’s really not sure what he’s doing. And that doesn’t even cover Victoria taking after her husband and just breaking down over the absurd nature of the taks. Except for that one which involves the riddle where she straight up girl bosses the answer by brute force. Also, Morgana failing at a bridge building task while complaining about her degree in structural engineering is genius editing from the team. A fantastic series if not for the lack of a proper audience.
3. Series 11 (Charlotte Ritchie, Jamali Maddix, Lee Mack, Mike Wozniak, Sarah Kendall)
Speaking of series which were ruined by the lack of a proper audience, Series 11 is easily the best of the COVID affected series. Why do you ask? Two words: Mike Wozniak. Simply put he came in with less fanfare than a broken air conditioning shop but left a legend. Whether he was undermining a vole, building a trap for a rat or generally being a cross between a Dickens character and a council worker, Mike often carries the series. But that definitely doesn’t take away from Charlotte Ritchie auditioning for a kid’s show in every task or Jamali’s love of big string. And who could forget Lee and Mike forgetting the point of an argument and complimenting each other d**ks? Honestly in hindsight Mike deserved a proper audience…
2. Series 5 (Aisling Bea, Bob Mortimer, Mark Watson, Nish Kumar, Sally Phillips)
There might be shock over Series 5 placing so high, however it’s always held a special place in my heart. Mostly as it’s the first series of Taskmaster I ever watched. And also because it’s a really funny series which deffo helps. Highlights include as Sally bringing in one of Bob’s s**ts, the power of editing making Nish look very silly and Aisling very much having her dignity intact at every point. Also, there’s the utter robbery that Mark got no points for his cheeky texts task as well as his inability to paint a rainbow whilst being the only person to find the light switch in the room. Overall, a very solid series…
1. Series 4 (Hugh Dennis, Joe Lycett, Lolly Adefope, Mel Giedroyc, Noel Fielding)
And at number one on the best Taskmaster series ranking is….. Series 4. And yes it’s got everything. Whether it’s Noel trying to kill his Bake Off career by putting a cake in the dishwasher or Joe doing the equivalent of a ballet dancer performing then taking a sh**t on the stage (Greg’s own words) in the same task there’s so many layers to this series. And yep I’ve risen to the challenge with that pun. Also, Mel’s sheer mum energy is off the charts. While Hugh’s repeated failures in the prize tasks as well some worrying psychopathic traits cement both as fan favourites. And who could forget Noel, Lolly and Joe throwing some very silly things off a bandstand like a table and a gas canister. No matter what you want from Taskmaster, Series 4 has everything.
So those are our favourite Taskmaster episodes but what about yours? Let me know in the comments below!