Following in the footsteps of Bake-Off and MasterChef, entertainment juggernaut Taskmaster is launching a kids’ version. Junior Taskmaster will be coming to Channel 4 alongside six brand new series of the original show, due to air over the next three years. That’s what you call a good comedy harvest.
While Greg Davies and Alex Horne will remain in their golden thrones for the grown-up show, a brand new Taskmaster and assistant will be setting challenges and monitoring the child cohort. Their names will be announced in due course. Might we expect a past contestant or two to be taking the reins? James Acaster, with his history of cabbage-based vendettas against children, would be a solid fit for the big chair, while Judi Love could school the kids valuably in twisting the facts to their advantage.
Due to a distinct shortage of professional comedians aged nine to 11, the child contestants will be regular Joes instead of the usual stand-ups and actors. Taskmaster creator Alex Horne expects the young competitors to be “both more competent and just as funny” as the grown-ups, having watched “many, many comedians flounder when given simple instructions over the past few years.” Quite right. No nine-year-old could be as ineffective as a David Baddiel or a Nish Kumar, and unlike Victoria Coren-Mitchell, most of them should at least be able to ride a bike.
Greg Davies wishes Junior Taskmaster well in the official press release, despite his “long-term contempt for young people being a matter of record”. Never a truer word spoken by a former schoolteacher.
The Junior Taskmaster news does come with a series of questions to answer: will the series be filmed at the Taskmaster’s Chiswick house? For whose golden head will the kids be competing? Will they have to source the prize tasks out of their own pocket money, or will there be some kind of expense-reclamation system in place?
The tasks too, will have to be adapted for the junior intake (it wouldn’t be appropriate for kids to be asked to make a Swedish man blush), though the established record of School Taskmaster and Taskmaster Education, not to mention the successful lockdown online version for families, means there’s plenty of family-aimed material to go on there.
Head of Events for Channel 4 said, “Junior Taskmaster is set to be hugely entertaining family-friendly treat with as much madcap nonsense as the main series and, who knows, it might unearth the comedy stars of tomorrow”. Good point. Why wait for the Edinburgh Fringe when you can get an early start on the next Joe Lycett or Fern Brady?
All that, plus three more years of Taskmaster confirmed, continuing at a rate of two series a year (presumably plus New Year specials), and the brand new Series 15 on its way shortly. That will be welcoming Frankie Boyle, Jenny Eclair, Ghosts and Stath Lets Flats’ Kiell Smith-Bynoe, plus Feel Good’s Mae Martin and stand-up Ivo Graham. Our Taskmaster cup runneth over.
Taskmaster Series 1-14 are available to stream on All4. Series 15 is due to arrive on Channel 4 this spring.