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YMMV / Taskmaster

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For YMMV tropes relating to the American version of Taskmaster, click here. YMMV tropes related to the New Zealand version can be found here.

  • And You Thought It Would Fail: Multiple broadcasters were wary of Alex Horne's pitch of the show, and even when Dave picked it up it was only for a single season, and they suggested multiple tweaks to key parts of the format. Taskmaster ended up as a cult hit and Dave's most successful original program, eventually moving to Channel 4 (who had rejected Taskmaster before Dave picked it up).
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  • Awesome Ego: Greg compliments Daisy May Cooper for her supreme self-confidence, as she will routinely describe her ideas while performing recorded tasks as "brilliant", while comedians stereotypically need validation from others.
    Daisy: [After executing her marble run and applauding herself] Well done, me! [turns to Alex, who is holding up her marble run structure, as an afterthought] And you a little bit.
  • Awesome Music:
  • Base-Breaking Character:
    • Fans are divided on whether Lou Sanders' personality and antics are hilarious or irritating.
    • Daisy May Cooper's studio efforts are a bit polarising, including whether her laziness in the prize tasks was funny or annoying, and whether she was too competitive against the other contestants. Her prerecorded efforts are much more consistently praised though (including by Greg, in comparison to her prize tasks).
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    • Rhod Gilbert has caused some debate between fans who find his solutions to tasks involving Alex entertaining and those who find them excessively cruel rather than funny. Other points of contention include his behavior during team tasks, whether Greg went easy on him during judging due to their preexisting friendship, and whether the gag of him using the same photo of Greg for almost every prize tasks went on for too long.
  • Broken Base:
    • Fans disagree on Greg's arbitrary scoring method. Either it adds to the comedy for his decisions to be determined by Rule of Funny, or it detracts from the game show aspect of the series as it means genuinely skilled contestants don't always win.
    • Does it matter who wins the series? Some fans get really into the competitive aspect, and are infuriated when their favourites don't win, or are poorly judged. Others think the comedy is more important, and that it doesn't matter how well a contestant does as long as they're funny.
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    • A couple of series are somewhat divisive:
      • Series 6 is never considered one of the greats, but there is a split between those who hate it and those who think it's underrated and actually has lots of great bits.
      • Series 10 seems to be dividing some fans as well, with detractors citing the awkwardness of the COVID restrictions, the seemingly over-complicated tasks, and the lacklustre prize tasks, while proponents find these to be minor issues, and cite its fun cast and frequent hilarious moments.
  • Chaotic Evil: Greg and the other contestants react with astonishment to Rhod's sadistic approaches to some of this tasks. When Rhod defends waterboarding Alex with a mocha in an attempt to raise his heartbeat as the result of "panicking" under time pressure, Greg retorted that it looked more like systemic torture. Similar observations come up again in the task where the contestants had to tie themselves, with whoever takes the longest to be untied by Alex winning. Rhod tying Alex up to a chair first was recognised as genius. Putting a bucket and a top hat on Alex's head afterwards was seen as unnecessary. In a deleted outtake wherein Rhod is arguing with James over the fairness of some scoring, his tendency to engage in unnecessary cruelty is explicitly called out:
    Rhod: I launched a javelin straight through the door of the caravan!
    Jessica: Yes, but Rhod, we can't — you've got to stop doing this! You can't just nearly kill Alex every time you have to do a task!
  • Crazy Is Cool: Sally Phillips in Season 5 took an eccentric yet highly effective approach to tasks (particularly the creative ones), leading to bizarre results like Alex's birthing video and Sally's affair with a water cooler. These usually helped her, resulting in a high series-wide score.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Lee Mack was the big-name contestant for Series 11, but Mike Wozniak very quickly stole the show from him and the other three with his adorably dorky personality, off-beat humour and enthusiasm for the tasks. Fan sites (such as the Taskmaster subreddit) reliably gush about Mike after every episode, partly because this show may have been their first exposure to him.
    Mike: (after getting disqualified) But what you can’t take away from me is that I had a lovely day.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment:
    • During Series 5, Sally Phillips made numerous jokes about not getting enough sex, prompting You Need to Get Laid quips from Greg. As it turned out, she was going through a divorce at the time.
    • Paul Sinha's ineptitude at many of the tasks in Series 8 was often played for laughs in the show, as is typical, but some of these jokes became a bit less funny when Sinha announced that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. While the diagnosis came after the filming of the show, he had unknowingly been experiencing the early effects of it during filming, and some of it had likely contributed to his lack of physical ability and coordination. That said, Sinha himself also quipped that the condition is only a very small part of why he did poorly, so he at least has managed to maintain a sense of humour about it.
  • Funny Moments: A separate page with examples can be found here.
  • Growing the Beard:
    • The show takes on a more recognisable form in Series 2, as the Prize Tasks have more niche themes, and the studio elements flow more smoothly now Greg and Alex have more experience.
    • Greg and Alex's relationship doesn't settle into form until Series 3, where it takes on the familiar abusive dom-sub tone and Greg refers to Alex as "Little Alex Horne" for the first time.
    • Alex Horne says he feels that the show started coming into its own around Season 4, when the episode count was expanded and allowed for more opportunities for the contestants to settle in and get creative with the tasks.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: Apparently extremely popular among Scandinavian countries, with Series 4's Hugh Dennis remarking that people couldn't hide their stares when he went on holiday to Sweden. Local adaptations have been made in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Finland.
  • Heartwarming Moments: Examples of Heartwarming Moments can be found on its own page here.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • In Series 7 Episode 1, James Acaster asks "I know it's early days, but are we the stupidest so far?", after a few embarrassing tasks that early in the show, much to Greg and Alex's amusement. Come Series 10's first episode, there are two tasks where all five contestants are disqualified.
    • In Series 10, Mawaan Rizwan plays a bat in his upside-down short film and he is initially seen hanging upside-down. Katherine Parkinson appears to believe that he actually had been hanging upside down (he was standing right side up and had even done some swaying for effect). In the New Zealand version, Season 2 contestant David Correos actually does hang upside-down from the rafters of the Taskmaster Ranch (with the assistance of production crew, some rope, and gaffer tape) to brew and serve Paul Williams (the NZ Taskmaster's Assistant) an "extreme tea." He even is referred to as the "Tea Bat" by Jeremy Wells (the NZ Taskmasterl.
      Katherine: Wouldn't it have been easier to have him upside-down?
      Mawaan: No. We tried that, and it wasn't easy.
  • Ho Yay: Having started as a fairly standard tyrant/flunky dynamic, Greg and Alex' innuendo-filled relationship comes to be portrayed more and more flagrantly as a dysfunctional BDSM arrangement, in which Alex apparently lives in the Taskmaster's house, does exactly as he's told, and waits on him hand and foot (and other parts). In front of the cameras, Alex has compliantly confessed his naughtiness, kneeled as Greg's footstool, sat on Greg's lap and called him "daddy," and had Greg rip his shirt off. In "We Met at Mealtimes" they even kiss as the contestants and audience cheer. Greg is also flirty and/or toppy towards some of the male contestants, while some of them (notably Rhod Gilbert) delight in finding ways to complete tasks that involve unnecessarily stripping Alex bare-arsed at the least provocation. All this has drawn enthusiastic comment and inspired no small amount of Slash Fic.
    Rose Matafeo (in an outtake, as Greg and Alex discuss the current task in a prolonged and very intimate whisper): FUCKING KISS!
  • Informed Flaw:
    • Many viewers felt Hugh Dennis was unfairly judged throughout the series he appeared in, noting in particular that the often disqualified lateral thinking techniques he used would not have gotten other contestants disqualified had they used them. Others felt that his "lateral thinking" was often straying into cheating, and in extremely boring ways at that, and supported Greg's decisions.
    • The first task of Series 4 was to draw the most accurate image of a person whom the contestants could not look at. In the end, Greg seemed to judge the drawings based more on artistic talent than on the accuracy the task was supposedly based on. Though since none of them ended up being that close (even Hugh's, which was impressive considering he stretched the rules of the task by bringing in a mirror), this was arguably the only metric on which he could reasonably judge them.
    • Greg's judging of Phil Wang received a response similar to Hugh Dennis. Phil also brought it up on Twitter, commenting that he felt he'd been unfairly judged, but given the textual medium it's unclear how serious he was being. Greg later said that watching the episodes back, he did feel as though he'd been too harsh on Phil.
  • Memetic Loser: Mark Watson is often thought of with pity by the fandom, as he was his line-up's Butt-Monkey and he suffered constant mockery and harsh scoring from Greg. From a pure points viewpoint however, he was vying for the top of the leaderboard with Bob over the course of the series (leading in first place from episodes 2-6), his final series score was actually quite impressive, and he came joint second only 8 points behind Bob.
  • Memetic Psychopath: Many throughout the series, but Sally Phillips and Rhod Gilbert are generally considered the most defining examples.
  • Moment of Awesome: A separate page with examples can be found here.
  • Nightmare Fuel:
    • Jon Richardson's music video for "Three Blind Mice" in Series 2.
    • In one prize task in Series 7 the contestants must provide the creepiest thing. Given that he had used the same unflattering photo of Greg for every prize task until then Greg expected Rhod to use it here as well. Instead he provides a video of Greg sleeping, shot from within his closet. According to Greg he'd believed Rhod had left that night. He hadn't and spent hours hiding in Greg's closetnote . Unsurprisingly he won that task.
    • Rhod Gilbert in general throughout Series 7. Highlights include at least three times he completed a task by psychologically and physically torturing Alex, the aforementioned video from within Greg's closet, and the most disturbing attempt of any of the competitors to win a staring contest, which he did by taping his eyelids open for a full seven minutes.
  • The Producer Thinks of Everything: Alex Horne, the person who actually writes the tasks, is very aware of loopholes and other forms of trickery, which is why he intentionally invokes Exact Words and Loophole Abuse in task letters, in order to have a "correct" way of approaching a task, just that it's obscured. He's not omniscient, of course, and when someone in a previous episode employs Loophole Abuse, later series has him quick to counter similar tasks with stricter wording.
  • The Scrappy:
    • Alice Levine was not hugely popular with viewers who perceived her to not be putting very much effort into the tasks (Greg often noted her prize tasks in particular as being low effort), as well as not bringing as much as other contestants comedy-wise. To be fair, she isn't a comedian, but that didn't stop much more popular contestants like Richard Osman or the New Year Treat's line-up.
    • Iain Stirling's overly competitive nature, coupled with a lack of sportsmanship, is often given as one of the reasons for why Series 8 is so poor. He's far from the only contestant who's treated the show like Serious Business, but while others have generally balanced it out with good humour, self-deprecation and willingness to acknowledge that the show ultimately doesn't matter quite as much as they're making out when push comes to shove, Iain came across as a Competition Freak who often let his competitiveness take over to the point that he became actively unpleasant to watch when things weren't going his way. An often-cited example is the ball-bouncing task in "I've Been a Bit Ill", where he gets annoyed with the scoring and doesn't clap the winner until he realises the camera is on him. While he did clearly display some retrospective regret and mortification for his more unpleasant moments, it still left a rather bad taste in the mouth for many.
    • Lou Sanders is another Series 8 contestant who is particularly criticised by fans for contributing to the negative atmosphere of that season. Although as noted above, she does have some support for providing humour to a lacklustre series.
  • Seasonal Rot:
    • After a streak of strong series, Series 6 is generally considered by the fan base to be far weaker for a variety of reasons. Criticism tends to focus on the cast not gelling, weaker comedy from the contestants, and individual members often phoning in tasks and not being particularly funny about it either (one apathetic performer might have been forgivable, but multiple panellists not really interested in the show was harder to get past). This was followed by Series 7, often seen as one of, if not the, best.
    • Series 8 was another low point and is often considered by fans to be the worst season, with a cast full of clashing personalities and members who were clearly uncomfortable with the show's format. Similar to Series 6, this series was followed by Series 9, which had an uptick in quality and humor and was generally considered a high point for the Dave era to finish on.
    • In what's apparently something of a theme, Series 10 is also considered a bit of a step down in quality after Series 9 (thought not to the extent of the lows of 6 and 8), with frequent points of criticism similarly being a cast who didn't quite gel together and some overly structured tasks that tended to set the contestants up for failure. However, given the Real Life Writes the Plot circumstances of COVID-19 on top of a move from Dave to Channel 4, only the most unforgiving critics are unwilling to cut it more slack than the previous examples due to the unprecedented and difficult circumstances it was made under. As with the previous examples, Series 11 is widely considered a marked improvement, with everyone more used to working under social-distancing conditions, simpler tasks, the cast clicking a lot better, and Mike Wozniak being around.
  • Shocking Moments:
    • The infamous potato golf disqualification in Series 2 Episode 1. Ask a fan to pick the best moment of Taskmaster, and this task will appear in their list.
    • Mike Wozniak revealing his new haircut in the Series 11 finale.
  • So Okay, It's Average: Series 3, while far from bad enough to be considered Seasonal Rot, is considered by some to have a weaker than average cast and forgettable tasks, and in general has fewer highlights than other series. Though very funny in its own right, it rarely ranks high when fans discuss their favourite series.
  • Squick:
    • One task in Series 1 asked the contestants to grow the longest nail in 10 weeks. The results were revealed in "Little Denim Shorts" during the live studio recording, and they were truly gruesome. Special mention to Romesh's big toenail, which had grown 2.2 cm. His toenail had curled over and he had decorated it with a smiley face.
    • While the collecting sweat challenge from Season 3 is already a pretty gross challenge, special mention goes to Al Murray who decided to submit his own piss instead of sweat.
    • When asked to make the biggest splash in Series 5, Aisling, Bob, and Sally somehow decided it would be a good idea to use a balloon filled with urine!
    • As if Alex sitting bare-arsed on a cake isn't bad enough, it gets worse when he stands up and the audience is treated to the sight of Alex shuffling around as bits of cake drip down from his nether regions and into his pants and trousers.
    • In Series 11, Mike Wozniak is tasked with farting on camera, which is already disgusting. But, when he finally achieves the task, the flatus, for lack of a better word, sounds "squishy," to the disgust of the panel. Mike then proceeds to gross everyone out further by explaining the sound was actually him passing a haemmorhoid and starts going into graphic detail about his current situation downstairs.
  • Took the Bad Film Seriously: Most contestants take the tasks in good fun, but there are a few exceptions:
    • Romesh Ranganathan took the competition very seriously, however, and got very angry whenever Greg Davies put him down. As Romesh's comic persona is that of the Grumpy Bear, however, it's a bit hard to tell how much of this was real versus how much of this was him putting on an act. According to this AMA, he did enjoy doing the show but got genuinely annoyed at some of the "injustices" he felt he faced.
    • Iain Stirling also tended to take the show a bit more seriously than he should have, leading to many viewers considering him The Scrappy. Unlike Romesh (who, as noted above, generally tends to adopt a rather grumpy comic persona anyway), who was at least funny about it, Iain often seemed genuinely petulant, though even he admitted on the show itself that he really hated himself.
    • James Acaster in Series 7 and Ed Gamble in Series 9 were also both clearly determined to win, though they were not uptight about it than the other two, rather showing it in the recorded challenges. Nevertheless, much to Greg's glee he found it easy to prod them into furious shouting when it looked like their tasks were going to be graded poorly.
    • While he never really explodes in the same way as the others listed here did, Lee Mack was also described by many of his fellow contestants as "surprisingly intense" about the show, and when watching it's clear that he is determined to do well in the tasks and is willing to fight his corner against Greg a lot more than the others are. Unlike the others here, however, Lee has more of a personal reason, as he freely admitted in interviews that he was doing it for his Taskmaster-obsessed children and wanted to avoid totally humiliating himself in front of them.
  • Tough Act to Follow: Series 6 and 8 are easy to criticise, but they also follow after Series 5 and 7 respectively, which are each considered to be one of the strongest series.
  • The Woobie: Several inevitably pop up, considering the tasks' natures and the diverse line-up.
    • Joe Wilkinson definitely counts. Over the series, he more often than not came last in the challenges, never won an individual episode, and was ranked in last place overall. In "Fear of Failure", he was the only contestant who managed to throw the potato into the hole on the very first attempt ... and was then disqualified because he had stepped on the red green, which meant he broke a key rule of the task.
    • Katherine Parkinson was consistently hopeless throughout the tasks, and seemed to have had her view of herself completely challenged by her time in the show. When she wasn't crying with laughter at her own attempts, she seemed to consider them mildly upsetting.
  • WTH, Costuming Department?: While in-studio the contestants tend to wear fairly conventional clothing, they appear to have much more freedom to choose the costume that they wear for pre-recorded tasks (with the seeming caveat that they keep it more or less consistent for continuity's sake). While most still tend to wear fairly standard smart-casual stuff, at least one contestant per season tends to interpret this in a rather eccentric manner:
    • Series 1: Tim Key stood out from the others wearing a red track suit with a shirt and tie underneath. Though compared to some of those who followed him this seems fairly low-key in hindsight.
    • Series 4: Noel Fielding wore a banana-yellow boiler suit with silver cowboy boots. In fairness, Noel might have worn that anyway, given his natural flamboyance.
    • Series 5: Aisling Bea wore a bright-green tuxedo track-suit.
    • Champion of Champions: Seemingly invoked. The contestants appear to have been given the instruction or advice of attending the recorded tasks while wearing something championship-themed. So Josh Widdicombe shows up in a replica of Bobby Moore's iconic uniform from the 1966 World Cup final, Noel Fielding in a red jumpsuit with his name emblazoned on the back, Rob Beckett with a large sticker boldly proclaiming "Champ 2016", and Katherine Ryan in a top proudly proclaiming that she's "DTF"note . In fact, the one who looks most out of place this time is Bob Mortimer, who is dressed simply in a khaki jacket and jeans, prompting Greg to acerbically note that he looks like he's just come from doing a spot of gardening.
    • Series 6: Tim Vine went full colonial explorer with a khaki suit, shorts and pith helmet.
    • Series 7:
      • Jessica Knappett wore a red tracksuit and headband (occasionally accompanied by a shiny silver jacket), which probably would have been this season's main example had it not been for...
      • Phil Wang choosing to grace the audience with a homage to Bruce Lee's iconic costume from Game of Death. Unfortunately his version left far less to the imagination on the subject of his crotch as Greg and the other contestants repeatedly note throughout the season. In his defence, Phil apparently didn't realise just how prominent the area in question was being displayed until it was pointed out to him during the team tasks (specifically, by his teammates incredulously taunting him about it), by which point it was too late to change it.
        Greg: I could not take my eyes off it.
        Kerry: You didn't have a choice!
        Greg: It doesn't matter sometimes how ornate the grandfather clock is, the pendulum draws the eye.
    • Series 8:
      • Lou Sanders Tempting Fate in a bright pink tracksuit with "Taskmaster Series 8 Champion" emblazoned on the back in huge white letters.
      • Paul Sinha did all the tasks in his dressing gown and pyjamas, in an homage to Arthur Dent, which certainly helped with the rather bumbling impression he put on throughout the series.
    • Series 9: While comparatively normal compared to some of the previous examples, Katy Wix wore a neon yellow high-vis jacket and hard-hat throughout her tasks.
    • Series 10: Mawaan Rizwan wore a bright-orange onesie made up to look like a spacesuit while Daisy May Cooper dressed up as "Achievement Woman", with a gold crown, cape, and skirt festooned with certificates of her achievements. To a lesser degree, Johnny Vegas wears a somewhat old-fashioned suit that appears to have taken some inspiration from Peaky Blinders.
    • New Year Treat: Rylan Clark-Neal's outfit was bizarre, making him look like he was riding on the Taskmaster's shoulders, complete with fake legs and a cutout of Greg's head.
    • Series 11: Overall the costuming returns to the more down-to-earth smart-casual styles of the early seasons. However, Lee Mack still nods to this trope by wearing a star-emblazoned white jacket and a crash helmet that homages famed stunt daredevil Evel Knievel, though he doesn't go full jumpsuit and just wears a shirt and jeans underneath it.


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