Taskmaster

Taskmaster stars Greg Davies and Alex Horne dish on the beautiful chaos of Series 9

Taskmaster is the most insane show ever to have aired on television. Now it’s getting the platform it deserves with Taskmaster Supermax+, its own dedicated streaming service, and the arrival of Series 9 on that platform. For those who don’t remember, Series 9 was the season in which women won half the episodes and Ed Gamble spent all his time getting justifiably angry at David Baddiel.

To look back at Series 9 and also celebrate the expanding reach of Taskmaster, I recently spoke with the dynamic duo of Alex Horne and Greg Davies. Here’s everything they had to say about the new streaming service, how the two of them work so well together, and how Ed and David’s predicament compared to another classic double act in the show’s history. Long live the brilliance of Taskmaster.

“I think it’s cool,” Alex said of launching Taskmaster Supermax+, while Greg deadpanned, “We’re as big as Apple now, right?”

Taskmaster Supermax+ is adding new content periodically, and the latest to arrive is the entirety of Series 9, which aired in the fall of 2019. The most memorable part of the season was the battle of wills that erupted between Ed Gamble and David Baddiel, which infused their every interaction with dramatic tension. It was one of the show’s best rivalries, and as viewers can imagine, it was interesting for Alex and Greg to watch David and Ed struggle with each other.

“I think they were a match made in heaven in many ways,” Greg enthused. “The thing that I loved about their dynamic is the anger was only one way. That makes for a more interesting clash for me. Because if it’s just two people bickering, it becomes tiresome, but it was David making catastrophic mistakes and Ed being extremely angry with him. And I could watch that all day.”

“I could empathize with both of them,” Alex continued. “David was useless, but it’s not easy because you forget, these people don’t know what’s coming. He’s doing his best. He’s just not very good at anything. I can empathize with him, but Ed wanted to win and he was being held back by this mad old man.”

“When David made a mistake, I would look forward to seeing Ed’s reaction,” Greg added. “I know Ed very well because we’ve been on tour together. And I would see his little nostrils start to flare with anger and it’s just a delight to me.”

Some of the most explosive Taskmaster moments are captured in this compilation. (Video Credit: Courtesy of Taskmaster on YouTube.)

Ed and David’s contretemps is reminiscent of the spat between James Acaster and Rhod Gamble in Series 7, which is also available on Taskmaster Supermax+. So which duo was more destructive? “There was probably more genuine anger with Rhod and James,” Greg recalled. “I think James was genuinely furious. I think Ed was at least pretending sometimes.”

“James was angry and Phil Wang was caught in the middle of that extension-building task,” Alex added, naming one of Taskmaster‘s best moments, “and James was angry with him as well.”

“But I have to say I don’t actually blame James for being angry in that extension task,” Greg said. “I was furious just watching Rhod.”

“I’d also say every single competitor is angry at least once. I honestly think even Mel Giedroyc was angry at one point,” Alex suggested. “She was angry because she had an enormous inflatable ball that she had to push over a wall…She lost it at one moment, which is great.”

Mel Giedroyc and other Taskmaster contestants battle balls. (Video Credit: Courtesy of Taskmaster on YouTube.)

With the advent of Taskmaster Supermax+, fans can not only watch the episodes as much as they want, but they can also re-examine every little detail of the challenges. I asked Greg and Alex if they ever watch the show, and if they’ve ever second-guessed anything they’ve done when they see the episodes themselves.

“I certainly enjoy watching episodes back,” Greg told me. “And I never, ever regret anything I’ve done or said. I’d very much like to get that out there because there’s a lot of talk—talk is cheap on Twitter—about my authority and my lack of consistency. I regret nothing. I stand by everything.”

“Whereas I regret almost everything and would exchange pretty much everything I’ve ever said or done,” Alex replied. “I don’t watch anything back because I can’t bear it…But I agree Greg has nothing to regret.”

As great as the contestants are, it’s the relationship that Alex and Greg have built that’s the foundation of Taskmaster. Their personas—Greg as the domineering leader and Alex as his loyal assistant—have a great back-and-forth that’s something like The Mandalorian and Grogu. They’re completely different, but they work so well together and have a certain affection for each other that comes across even in the most pointed of interactions. What is it that has allowed them to gel together for almost seven years?

“Maybe it’s an opposites attract thing,” Alex said. “At the beginning where I say something I think is funny and then Greg says, ‘I don’t understand why you think that’s funny,’ that’s all genuine. I guess we compliment each other by not being very similar.”

“There’s some genuine irritation there, which accounts for a lot of the dynamic, I think. There’s a genuine animosity there,” Greg said. “But because of the longevity, the amount of time we’ve spent together, there’s this begrudging affection developed. We’ve even been camping together. Neither of us remember it because we got so drunk,” he quipped, “but we were there.”

That exchange sums up what makes Taskmaster so great—no one’s exactly sure how things got there, or if they want to be with the people they’re with, but something memorable always emerges. The show is a masterpiece of comedy, a case study in sociology, and a triumph of human ingenuity. Oh, and it happens to be the best panel show anyone could ask for. If you haven’t seen it yet, now is the time to become a Taskmaster fan.

Fans can sign up for Taskmaster Supermax+ by going to the website. The service currently hosts Series 1-9, with more series (and more content) to be added in future.

Article content is (c)2020-2022 Brittany Frederick and may not be excerpted or reproduced without express written permission by the author. Follow me on Twitter at @BFTVTwtr, on Instagram at @BFTVGram.

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