When Taskmaster premiered back in 2015, it’s unlikely that Greg Davies or Alex Horne could have predicted just how gargantuan and global the show’s fan base would become. 15 series, 13 international spinoffs, two podcasts and a BAFTA later, this quirky comedian game show is still going strong, with a Junior version in the works and six new series confirmed over the next three years.
If you’ve ever found yourself wondering how Taskmaster is filmed then read on:
Filming Tasks Takes Place Over About a Week – Not Always Consecutively
Naturally, co-ordinating the schedules of five popular comedians is quite the challenge, so their tasks aren’t all filmed in one go. Depending on their schedules, some contestants do a solid block of filming while others visit the Taskmaster house more sporadically over the course of a few months to attempt their tasks.
Series 11 contestant and Ghosts star Charlotte Ritchie explained: “You have like four or five days of solid filming. And they do like four or five tasks every day that you’re there. Not all the days are consecutive, but you go in and do them.”
There’s a separate day of filming per team for all the team tasks (as Ed Gamble and James Acaster confirmed on the Taskmaster podcast), meaning that in series 5 Mark Watson and Nish Kumar teamed up to “make the biggest splat” and “do something remarkable synchronised” on the same day they wrote and performed their legendary Song For a Stranger:
Gamble also confirmed there’s one day of filming per contestant for off-site tasks in special locations, such as the airfield featured in series 11, or the narrow boat canal used in series 15.
The Taskmaster House
Originally, Alex Horne wanted to film all the tasks at the contestants’ homes, but after realising what a logistical nightmare that would be they settled on the now-famous detached bungalow on Great Chertsey Road in Chiswick. It’s even listed on Google Maps.
The house is in the grounds of the Old Meadonians Football Playing Fields by the Thames, and was originally a groundskeepers cottage. It’s owned by the neighbouring Dukes Meadow Golf Club, whose golf course has featured in several tasks – for instance, Charlotte Ritchie gleefully scampers about on it blindfolded during this memorable series 11 moment:
Live Studio Filming Takes Place Over Five Days
More recent Taskmaster series have 10 episodes, and the studio segments (including one live task) are filmed two–a-day over five days, usually months after the contestants have filmed their task attempts.
Although it looks like a theatre, the Taskmaster studio is purpose-built:
Contestants always sit in alphabetical order from left to right, in case you were wondering.
The New Year Treat Episode Tasks Are Filmed in One Day
Unsurprisingly, these festive one-off episodes are much easier to film, only requiring one day per contestant for the tasks, with a separate day for filming the studio portion of the episode.
The Prize Tasks Categories Are All Sent In Advance
In Joe Thomas’ episode of the Taskmaster podcast, he told Ed Gamble he didn’t realise how important the Prize Task was, meaning he essentially viewed it as homework he was trying to get out of: “I treated it like ‘Just get a solid answer and move on’.”
Ed Gamble then pointed out that “If you think [in] week one or week two that your prize tasks aren’t what you thought they were gonna be, you can change them”, suggesting that contestants submit all their entries before filming the studio portions of the episodes, but can amend them.
That’s exactly what Ivo Graham did in episode five of the latest series, deciding that because the previous week Frankie Boyle got five points for “putting a load of random guff on a graduation hat” he would do the same thing.
Frankie’s entry has been a hat adorned with a Sylvanian Families recreation of the childcatcher scene in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang as the “most fun thing to wear on your head that you aren’t meant to wear on your head”, whereas for the “luckiest thing” prize task, Ivo decorated his hat with items including a maneki neko Japanese bobtail cat and a silver spoon. Sadly, Ivo only got three points for this effort.
Not all of the contestants’ first choices for prize task entries however, make the cut. Series 14’s Fern Brady confirmed that her selections fell foul of the legal requirements, including an article from The Sun (which they couldn’t get permission to use) and a knife sharpener, which was deemed too dangerous for younger viewers.
Taskmaster airs on Thursdays on Channel 4 and is available to stream afterwards on Channel 4 online.