Stephen Merchant: 'I want to do Taskmaster'

Thursday 7th March 2024, 8:07am

The Outlaws. Greg (Stephen Merchant)

Stephen Merchant has revealed that he'd "happily" do Taskmaster - and it's purely a case of finding time in his busy schedule to make it work.

The BAFTA, Emmy and Golden Globe-winning creator of The Outlaws and co-creator of The Office and Extras - speaking with the Always Be Comedy podcast - also said he's plotting a stand-up tour, to follow on from Hello, Ladies in 2011.

Of the hit Channel 4 show, he explained: "I love Taskmaster and I would happily do the show. It's just finding the time and the time commitment to do it.

"That's the only problem for me. It's not that I have anything against doing it. I think it'd be great fun. Of all those sorts of shows, that's the one that looks both fun and incredibly frustrating. I'd to think of myself as someone who can kind of think laterally, but I definitely can't.

"If you stick me in an escape room... I mean, I was in an escape room once and, if it wasn't for my friend, I'd still be in there. I could not figure any of it out. I did not know what was going on. So I don't know how I'd cope on Taskmaster, but I think I'd hopefully I'd be quite entertaining - through my idiocy.

"But yes, I would definitely like to do it and I'd love to find the time. It's just finding the time commitment - the big slot of time to give to them [for filming].

"It probably kind of straggles over a number of weeks and months here and there to try and get all that footage and all those games in place. So I just would hate to say yes and then let them down. But I hope if I had a very kind of clear idea of what my schedule would be for a year, I would like to do it."

And of a planned tour, Merchant added: "Yes - almost certainly.

"Eventually; it takes a long time for me to craft a stand-up act that I'm pleased with, partly because I've got these other things which pull me away to other projects.

"And just because I'm I want it to be as good as it can be.

"If you ask me to write a sitcom, it might not be the greatest sitcom in the world, but I know I can write; it's got a beginning, middle and end, it has a story, it has a plot, it needs to do certain things, and the characters are sort of driving you forward, and the story's driving you forward, and easy to get done.

"But with stand-up, you can literally say anything about anything, and so therefore, I just find I throw a lot of shit at the wall to see what little bits stick and therefore it takes me a long time to nail it down."

In the meantime, Merchant fans will be able to enjoy the upcoming Series 3 of The Outlaws - coming soon to BBC.

The Always Be Comedy podcast is available at

The first two series of The Outlaws are available via BBC iPlayer:

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