It may have been mere months since Taskmaster series 15 ended, but the brand-new series 16 feels like it’s arrived at just the right time, giving us a chance to escape endlessly depressing talk of the latest celebrity criminal revelations and our world leaders’ somewhat “lalala can’t hear you” approach to climate change.
There’s a lot to live up to after the excellent last series, but Taskmaster series 16 has a promising line-up that fits the show’s tried-and-tested dysfunctional family dynamic. The ‘mum and dad’ figures of Julian Clary and Sue Perkins are joined by three distinctive ‘kids’: the ditsy persona of Lucy Beaumont, the intelligent fun of Susan Wokoma… and Sam Campbell, who is completely bonkers.
Although he’s probably the least UK-famous of this batch of contestants right now, he’s got serious comedy chops, winning the top prize at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2022 and appearing in some great sitcoms. There’s a chance Sam Campbell might do a Wozniak on us, becoming an instant and undeniable fan favourite, so here’s everything you need to know about this quirky Australian comedian:
He Has Some Interesting Opinions About Music And Cryptozoology
Not only did Campbell’s recent appearance on Never Mind The Buzzcocks give us a chance to see him interacting with the Taskmaster himself, Greg Davies, we also learned that he has some notable opinions on music (“it should be banned for a year to see what life is like without it”) and heard his reasons for believing in the chupacabra – a mythical creature known for sucking the blood of livestock – because “well where’s the blood going? What do you think, they’re donating the blood?!” If Greg’s bemused reactions to his outpourings are anything to go by, we should expect some amusing sparring with the Taskmaster this series.
He was Darrell (Not Darryl) in Bloods
The critically acclaimed but sadly short lived Sky sitcom Bloods centred on a London ambulance depot, with Sam Campbell playing hapless paramedic Darrell alongside an excellent ensemble cast including Jane Horrocks (Ab Fab), Lucy Punch (Motherland) and Adrian Scarborough (Gavin & Stacey), as well as the show’s co-creator Samson Kayo (Our Flag Means Death).
The extreme and bizarre close friendship between Campbell’s character Darrell and Darryl (Kevin Garry, Ted Lasso) is so wonderfully stupid and they’re two of the show’s most lovable characters.
He’s Excellent At PowerPoint
Campbell used his appearance in Dictionary Corner on 8 Out Of 10 Cats Does Countdown to showcase his brilliantly weird, PowerPoint-based comedy, including an examination of Weetabix’s latest font change and a campaign to rename the Bratz dolls to The Dynasty of The Elegant Sisters. He also used it to create a VAR-style appraisal of his comedy at which it’s very hard not to laugh.
There are more chaotic PowerPoint presentations (this time on which of the throat sweets most closely resembles a precious jewel) in his Melbourne International Comedy Festival set:
He Was in Stath Lets Flats (And Other Quirky Sitcoms)
You might remember him from his brief stint as Nile, friend of Stath’s love interest Harriet (Charlotte Ritchie, Ghosts) in a series two episode of Stath Lets Flats. Campbell has also popped up as the voice of the strange red identity card in comedy-horror puppet show Don’t Hug Me, I’m Scared and as an unsuccessful influencer in BBC mockumentary Pls Like.
His Comedy Shorts Are Very, Very Weird (And Just As Clever)
You’ll learn a lot about Sam Campbell’s comedy style in Get Real, his entry into Channel 4’s Comedy Blaps, a fifteen-minute sketch show which series 15 contestant Kiell Smith-Bynoe also took part in. Get Real explores utterly surreal topics like a creepy dream-watching machine, a weightless boxer, and a man who replaces his son with a demented being he creates out of some rubbish he finds at the tip.
Campbell has the kind of out-there imagination most minds could only dream of having, and half of the fun is never knowing quite what to expect in the next five seconds of his work, with the surprising outcomes often being so mad you can’t help but laugh. There’s similar excellent nonsense in his E4 Remote Comedy short, a faux tutorial for some infuriating image editing software, and his entry into BBC Three’s Life Lessons YouTube series about How To Say Sorry.
All of this bodes incredibly well for Taskmaster, a show that will allow Campbell to showcase his eccentric brand of comedy without the safety net of time to plan what to say (as this Alex Horne YouTube interview task shows). Where will a mind like Sam Campbell’s go when it’s under pressure? We can’t wait to find out.
Taskmaster is airing on Channel 4 on at 9pm from Thursday 21st September