Taskmaster Hall of Fame: Ranking the Most Legendary Contestants!
To mark the launch of Series 15 on Channel 4, we celebrate Taskmaster's 25 most memorable and funny contestants so far
Never before in the field of entertainment was so much owed by so many to so few. The comedians who appear on Taskmaster are brave souls willing to expose the inner workings of their minds for the sake of dumb fun (and a boost in tour and book sales).
Taskmaster is a great leveller that celebrates both genius and failure. There’s nowhere to hide. You can start off in week one as a famed intellectual, by week eight you’re the man who couldn’t successfully hide an aubergine. Exude cool as a stand-up on stage in your professional career? Try to maintain that composure while competitively throwing wet teabags into a mug and let’s see who’s the cool guy now.
It’s a show that rewards originality, unique thinking and commitment to absurdity and laughs. All of the contestants below (voted for by our writers using a democratic points-based system that left basically nobody happy, so you won’t be alone if your favourites are missing) demonstrated that and more, earning them a place in our Taskmaster hall of fame.
25. Richard Osman (Series 2)
When you watch Richard Osman’s performance on Taskmaster, you understand how he’s accomplished so much in his career – the man’s mind is a hot knife through problem butter. He thinks sideways, creates solutions and if there’s a loophole to exploit, he’ll step through it. Just watch him conduct a mime-based interview with a Swedish man with no discernible loss of fluency, or quickly realise that at no point did the rules stipulate that the three exercise balls everybody else was wrestling to the top of a hill actually had to be on the top of that hill. Ingenious, unhurried, and always questioning the limits of the rules, Osman’s approach to the show set a template for others to follow.
24. Victoria Coren-Mitchell (Series 12)
If Taskmaster was about who’s cleverest, Victoria Coren-Mitchell would easily be number one. Her performance in the ‘Solve the riddle’ team task is surely a contender for some sort of Nobel prize – she set to work deciphering the code on the back of her half of the puzzle in record time without once considering that her teammate Alan Davies (who had the other half of the puzzle and solution at his location) might have something to contribute.
But it was Coren-Mitchell’s moments of vulnerability in the tasks that required more street smarts than book smarts that make her a Taskmaster great. She learned to ride a bike for the first time during a task! Perhaps best of all, when she was tasked with spreading jam in a ‘cool’ way, it brought up such unresolved childhood trauma around being judged ‘uncool’ that it ironically prompted the coolest line of the series: “I don’t fear death. In fact, the more this series goes on, the more I yearn for it.”
23. Romesh Ranganathan (Series 1)
The very first task of Taskmaster’s very first series – eat as much watermelon as possible – laid out the show’s stall magnificently. In these tasks, comedians would reveal themselves, and Romesh Ranganathan revealed himself to be… violence. He strode into the lab and smashed that melon like it had murdered his family. Then he ate so much of it he vomited, demonstrating admirable commitment to this very silly programme.
More violence followed – to eggs, to teabags, to Ranganathan’s own eyes when he went hard on the ‘fill an egg-cup with tears’ task. And then in the middle of the brutality, came Tree Wizard, a backwards film of rare beauty and wonder, with a killer theme song to boot.
22. Johnny Vegas (Series 10)
Johnny Vegas on Taskmaster was a revelation; surreal, haphazard, chaotic but my goodness was he entertaining. At every task he left a wonderful trail of destruction; he literally managed to smash the head in of Bernard the mannequin during the ‘Neatly hang all of Bernard’s clothes on that coat rail’ task (and then looked upon his ruin and cried ‘my boy, my beautiful boy!’) and got political in the ‘Make the best upside down film declaring ‘the church will never be united with the state!’ while manoeuvring a chicken.
In the funniest way possible, Vegas presented as a man having several separate breakdowns throughout his appearance and was all the more loveable for it. During the ‘Catapult this shoe into the bath using a home-made catapult contraption’ he came so close. After breaking several parts of his contraption he succeeded, and it made it all the sweeter when he did it in his own unique and completely bewildering way.
21. Morgana Robinson (Series 12)
Glamour, weirdness, a violent desire to hit moving target Alex with a ball… Morgana Robinson had it all on Taskmaster. Despite appearing on one of the studio audience-less series filmed under Covid regulations, she still managed to bring the fun. Her self-commentary during tasks was treasure-filled, while her mutual love for teammate Guz Khan (who also deserves to be celebrated here, come to think of it) brought some real warmth to a chilly time.
Really though, Morgana’s here for one reason and one reason alone – transforming herself into a mermaid character that wouldn’t have been out of place in children’s TV show Knightmare to propose marriage to a panicked-looking Taskmaster’s assistant. How could he refuse?
20. James Acaster (Series 7)
In James Acaster’s brain, the name of the game in his time on Taskmaster was efficiency. There was no time wasting allowed; he refused to greet Alex at the start of every task and got in trouble for rushing Greg during one of the prize tasks (which gave us a lovely insight into Greg Davies as a school teacher – reasonable in a way that is slightly terrifying).
Some of Acaster’s most memorable moments included his catchy hit with Clump Stump for the ‘compose the best 30 second piece of music’ (“Over my shoulder, older and older, that’s what I told ya!”) and an excellent Grand Theft Auto in the ‘physically recreate a classic computer game’ task (which consisted mainly of stealing Alex’s bike/toy car and pretending to kick him) .
But the greatest moment for Kettering’s finest export was in the live ‘improve your hula-ing’ task where previous hula novice Acaster demonstrated his grit and determination by showing off months of hula practice and wiping the floor with Phil Wang.
19. Rosin Conaty (Series 1)
We can’t sugarcoat it: Roisin Conaty was rubbish at Taskmaster – but by golly, it made for entertaining viewing. The problem boiled down to Conaty not giving a toss what anyone thought of her, which while admirable in most aspects of life, didn’t fare well in a show in which she needed to be constantly judged.
This led to attempts at tasks – from collecting teardrops in an eggcup to eating as much watermelon as possible – that were hilariously lacklustre when viewed alongside her more eager-to-please fellow contestants (see above: Romesh Ranganathan).
Conaty’s long-time friendship with Taskmaster Greg Davies also led to some excellent contestant introductions at the start of each episode, like ‘‘I genuinely once returned to my flat to find this comedian in my bed eating biscuits and watching a documentary on Colditz.’’
18. Tim Key (Series 1)
If the task was ‘describe Tim Key’s Taskmaster performance with a c-word’, you could be fairly confident of five points for ‘committed’, ‘conniving’ or ‘cheat.’
He threw himself into every task like his life depended on it, with some impressive results including accurately throwing a tea bag into a cup from a whopping 23 metres away and finding an ingenious way to identify the most pie flavours. But his gung-ho approach to tasks went from ‘finding loopholes’ (like making a block of ice disappear by throwing it in a river) to full-on lying – even convincing a stranger to take part in the ‘high-five a 55-year-old’ task by saying it was for Comic Relief. It was like he genuinely forgot he was being filmed, which made his squirming when Alex unveiled footage of his deceptions all the funnier.
17. Hugh Dennis (Series 4)
‘Low level psychopath’ (as coined by the Taskmaster himself) Hugh Dennis had some ingenious moments during his Taskmaster tenure; from his amazing performance of getting the plastic bag into the goal task (complete with his very own cheering crowd and forward roll goal celebration), excellent hopping skills and ability to think of loopholes (getting a mirror for ‘Create the best caricature of the person on the other side of the curtain. You may not look at the person’).
It has to be noted that Hugh Dennis definitely benefitted from being in a team with our 2nd place contestant (and his Cambridge alum chum) Mel Giedroyc, who made him all the more memorable to Taskmaster fans by revealing that his student nickname was ‘Desky’ (because he was a swot). Their chalk and cheese partnership was great fun to watch.
16. Desiree Burch (Series 12)
Desiree Burch is pure joy in human form. And, much like her infamous ‘pop this balloon’ task fail, she really threw absolutely everything at her time on Taskmaster.
But Burch also showed through her task attempts (which at times she made look almost effortless) that she’d be the coolest Taskmaster contestant to be friends with. She downed a pint with her mouth open like it was nothing, suggesting she’d be excellent fun down the pub. When she had to try and have the longest phone call without the other person realising, she simply called her best friend and they chatted fantastic nonsense for ages, no questions asked. And when she had to propose to Alex, she wrote him a brilliant song and drove a toy car over to him with a lolly ring attached to it.
A good soul, and a great Taskmaster contestant.
15. Mark Watson (Series 5)
It’s hard to think of a contestant who deserves more sympathy than Mark Watson; it’s not that he was inept, but his Taskmaster journey was laden with moments of despair and awkwardness that are hard to match. His crowning heart-break moment was when it was revealed to him that the task ‘send secret cheeky texts to the Taskmaster for five months’ was only set for him, and a task that had taken over his life for 150 days ended in no points, as he’d forgotten to send a text on two of the days.
‘Rosalind’s a Fucking Nightmare’ is hard to beat in terms of gold standard Taskmaster performances, but Watson deserves an honourable mention for his and Nish Kumar’s song for a stranger ‘I’m Always Seeing You Do Cool Stuff’. It got a standing ovation from the Taskmaster and the other team and moved Watson to tears, but unfortunately did not manage to rhyme ‘dreamier’ with ‘septicemia’ and so is forever damned to be overshadowed by its rival.
14. Daisy May Cooper (Series 10)
Daisy May Cooper (aka Achievement Woman) took us all on a rollercoaster of emotions while she was on Taskmaster, but that’s hardly surprising as she competed whilst heavily pregnant. From wrongly applying the rules of Family Fortunes to the prize task, to getting absolutely furious with Richard Herring when he couldn’t decipher her (terrible) drawing of a hippo, Cooper had a brilliant time on Taskmaster’s socially distanced series 10.
Her most wonderful performance though was in ‘silently, make the tastiest and prettiest cocktail with the coolest name. If you make any noise over 60 dB, you must pour anything you’ve prepared into the bucket, shout your given phrase at a volume of over 100 dB and start again’. Cooper’s given phrase of “I love this!” was filled with more rage and despair at every utterance and was completely hilarious.
13. Rhod Gilbert (Series 7)
No contestant has elicited as much genuine shock and concern from the Taskmaster and other comedians as Rhod Gilbert. Brilliantly, the man doesn’t know when to stop. He didn’t stop after keeping his eyes open for an excruciating SEVEN MINUTES in the ‘don’t blink’ task. He didn’t stop after piercing Alex’s caravan with a javelin. Or after removing Alex’s “panties” in the quick-change task. He certainly didn’t stop when it came to invading the privacy of his good friend Greg Davies on multiple occasions not limited to: submitting a photo of Greg’s mum wearing a fez in the bath for a task, hiding in Greg’s wardrobe and filming him while asleep, and recreating a childhood toy with which Greg once had intimate relations.
Gilbert was also such a lone wolf in team tasks that you might assume he was completing a John Kearns-style secret sabotage task but no, that’s just who he is. A gloriously unhinged madman.
12. Aisling Bea (Series 5)
Everybody on the legendary Taskmaster Series 5 deserves recognition (though in a cruel twist of points-allocation-based fate, only one contestant didn’t quite make it into this Top 25. Apologies to honorary hall of famer Nish Kumar).
Aisling Bea was an essential part of that series mix, with her tracksuit, quick wit, sardonic commentary, very funny studio performances and off-kilter takes on tasks (the Sexy Cuddlebot 5000, soon available from all good robot shops) The Rosalind song would have been nothing without her brave baritone, and nobody told off Greg Davies quite like her.
11. Sally Phillips (Series 5)
Where to start? The commitment. The imagination. The filth! Sally Phillips could have got into the Taskmaster hall of fame for any one of several tasks, from her special cuddle with Alex (complete with lettuce-sprinkle and armpit chocolate cake), to her erotic watercooler moment, to her recreation of the miracle of birth using Alex wearing a pair of her flesh-coloured pants. Her performances veered between the extremely competent and the surprisingly sexual, all delivered with charm and an enviable ability to have fun doing literally anything. Legend.
10. Judi Love (Series 13)
Judie Love really brought the drama to every episode of Taskmaster, and it was sublime to watch. When contestants had to get as many ducks as possible in Alex’s bike trailer while he rode it around a tree, many floundered, but Judi Love simply took the bike away from him by force. When they had to create a rousing speech for Greg out of bunting, Judi Love went the other way and chose violence, with her attempt including the line ‘Hi Taskmaster, I don’t like you looking happy’. And when asked to bring her finest family heirloom for a prize task, what did Judi bring? Her Own. Actual. Blood.
She also wasn’t scared to display her quick thinking, frequently challenging Greg Davies’ derision of her efforts with elaborate explanations that just got funnier with each attempt. What she lacked in points, she easily made up for in fun.
9. Lou Sanders (Series 8)
Taskmaster rewards originality, and Lou Sanders’ brain – like those of many others on this list – is an unpredictable joy. Her task efforts were solid, but she’s really here for her performance in the studio records, where she conjured an enjoyable frisson with the Taskmaster (offering to bear him a child for the reward of five points) and fought her corner in characteristically weird style.
It takes quite something to have fed Alex Horne categorically the worst thing he’s ever eaten on Taskmaster, but she did it (a mix of popping candy and burnt pornography). Sanders also caused Alex the most trouble in the apology task, by signing him up to a series of classes with, among others, Jazzercise Wendy. And have you seen the woman’s ability to throw a frying pan dead inside a hoop? Talent.
8. Joe Wilkinson (Series 2)
Early on in Taskmaster, Joe Wilkinson sussed that the real competition wasn’t about winning points, it was about winning laughs, and thus paved the way for every low-scoring legend to follow.
That’s not to say Wilkinson didn’t have moments of genius on the show, just that they rarely paid off when it came to the scores. His (disqualified) potato-golf performance was unforgettable, as were the 42 Calippos and 8 cans of strong lager he used to impress the Mayor of Chesham, and his structural engineering revelation that there is strength in arches. A poor contestant but a comedic powerhouse.
7. Phil Wang (Series 7)
Before we even get to the tasks, Wang easily earns a place in the top 10 for his long-running haggling joke during the prize tasks, which only got funnier each time he did it. And then there’s the iconic skin-tight yellow bodysuit he chose as his task outfit, which brought with it all manner of problems, leaving precisely nothing to the imagination.
His deadpan delivery when attempting tasks like ‘demonstrate the best quick-change outfit’ (which took almost a minute to execute) and ‘make the best picture of the Taskmaster’ (which looked more like an Angry Bird pig) often ended up making him the task’s hilarious punchline, but sadly he also became an easy target for Greg Davies’ merciless scoring. If there was ever an argument for a ‘best loser’ series of Taskmaster, Phil Wang is it.
6. Bridget Christie (Series 13)
The only comedian to have mounted the Taskmaster’s throne (causing him to call for the Fire Marshal) while coining a dance later performed spontaneously by the whole group in a rousing display of post-traumatic camaraderie, Bridget Christie is an original.
Whether aggressively buying antique kimonos for Greg Davies, circling him on stage like an exotic bird performing an elaborate mating ritual, making him cringe with childbirth stories, or telling Alex royally off, Christie was excellent value, from her The Good The Bad and The Ugly hat down to her cowboy boots.
5. Fern Brady (Series 14)
Please be upstanding for the rightful queen, Taskmistress Fern Brady. Woefully undermarked by Greg Davies throughout her time on Taskmaster, comedian and writer Brady delivered more than a few moments of actual genius. The “Me, Fern Brady” song performed to the tune of Mozart’s Rondo Alla Turka? Worth 10 points, at least. The self-portrait painted on a toilet seat using a sausage? Accomplishment itself.
Brady’s discomposure doing the ‘snort, blow a raspberry, whistle’ task was a sight to see, as was her frustration at saboteur teammate John Kearns in the sand/shopping trolley task, and her utter bemusement that she’d got the airport moving walkway timing so very very wrong. In a show that rewards uniqueness of mind, Fern Brady was inspirationally herself.
4. Noel Fielding (Series 4)
Series 4 was such an exceptional cast that we’ve got two of its contestants in the top 5, and Noel Fielding really had all the ingredients to make him a Taskmaster legend. He’s smart – surprising even Greg when he successfully camouflaged himself as a banana. He’s creative, winning not one but all three of the series’ portrait-related tasks, including a gallery-worthy painting of Greg Davies.
Fielding is mischievous, using Alex Horne as the filling in his ‘make an exotic sandwich’ task, and then – when he discovers the next task is to eat said sandwich – committing fully enough to cut off and consume some of Alex’s beard hairs. And lastly, he’s got the earnest wholesomeness of a child, choosing to read out tasks after climbing up on a table or putting a silly bowl on his head, and describing the ringtone he chooses to choreograph a dance to as ‘cheeky, like baby dinosaurs’. A king among men.
3. Mike Wozniak (Series 11)
Never before or since on Taskmaster has a contestant combined such sleek athleticism with such lovely manners. Mike Wozniak was almost even too polite to pass wind despite memorably having been assigned it as a solo task (“Fart. Fartest wins”). Not one to shirk his duties however, he did eventually produce the required flatus (his word) along with a little… bonus.
Piloting a hoverboard, hopping around an airfield with his legs taped together, vaulting the garden fence to retrieve an errant balloon, or snapping a marshmallow with a pair of tongs… Mike Wozniak never failed to put on a fine display. Especially when it came to his series finale makeover surprise. And what you really can’t take away from the man is that he had an absolutely lovely day.
2. Mel Giedroyc (Series 4)
Her relentless positivity in the face of every task, every twist, every mishap makes Mel Giedroyc a true Taskmaster gem. Despite her adorable naivety getting her into hot water – like her toddler-level attempt at camouflaging herself (visibly hiding in a corner), and not realising just how awful she was at knocking ducks off a fence – she also performed surprisingly well at times. Most notably, her triumphant interpretation of ‘Get this camel through the smallest gap’ saw her, the cuddly camel and Alex with his stopwatch all racing through London in the back of a cab, reaching the smallest branch of GAP with just seconds to spare.
But for Mel, it’s clearly not the winning, but the taking part that counts – she’s equally as upbeat doing well at a task as she is failing spectacularly, like when she discovers the cruel surprise that after creating a gargantuan chocolate-filled ‘exotic’ sandwich for one task, her next task is to try and eat it. She tries, she fails, and she has tons of fun in the process. As do we.
1. Bob Mortimer (Series 5)
An unimpeachable choice for first place. Every contestant on this list conjured at least one legendary Taskmaster moment during their time on the show, but just about everything Bob Mortimer did and said on the show felt legendary: The backwards toilet innovation. The urine graph. The sausage presentation unit to encourage his children to eat some of the cheaper meats. Serenading Alex with ‘Have You Seen the Muffin Man?’ while spooning him in the boot of his Audi. Serenading Rosalind (who’s a f***ing nightmare), having first asked whether he and his teammates should strike her, and enquired after her favourite meats.
In the house, on location, in the studio and on repeat viewings, Bob Mortimer brings unpredictable joy.
Taskmaster Series 15 starts at 9pm on Thursday the 30th of March on Channel 4.