Taskmaster. Image shows from L to R: Greg Davies, Alex Horne. Copyright: Avalon Television
Taskmaster

Taskmaster

  • TV comedy
  • Channel 4 / Dave
  • 2015 - 2024
  • 160 episodes (17 series)

TV format in which Greg Davies and Alex Horne set a group of comedians various outlandish challenges. Also features Romesh Ranganathan, Frank Skinner, Roisin Conaty, Josh Widdicombe, Tim Key and more.

Taskmaster is one of the most neurodivergent friendly comedy formats

Taskmaster: The Live Experience. Image shows left to right: Greg Davies, Alex Horne

Neurodivergent representation within comedy formats can be quite hard to come by, particularly representation that is considered to be positive and beneficial to a community. The somewhat cut-throat nature of panel shows doesn't always allow for that. However, Taskmaster is an exception.

The cast of Series 14 (2022) featured the Scottish comedian Fern Brady, who is autistic. Fern was diagnosed a few years prior to being on the programme and has spoken positively about how the show allowed her to "unmask" (allow her autistic traits to be visible) in a way that other panel shows didn't allow for.

"Taskmaster is perfectly designed for an autistic person", Fern explains in an interview with Scotland's The Herald, "because you come into a quiet house every day, you do a task, you have a little break and a cup of tea, you do another one and you just know the same routine."

Taskmaster. Fern Brady

Taskmaster rewards the various ways of approaching a task. Even if your attempt ends up being objectively poor, your out-of-the-box thinking is still applauded. Neurodivergent people can often approach ideas in ways that make sense to us but not others, and we are often punished or mocked for that. On Taskmaster however, you are encouraged to be weird, and you are usually celebrated for it.

In real life, neurodivergent people can find themselves focusing extremely hard on doing things the "right way" out of fear of reprisal, but on Taskmaster everyone just has a laugh. It's more about being entertaining than performing well, and you're not expected to fit into a box.

The rules are made extremely clear, something which can be appealing to a neurodivergent brain. "All the information is on the task" has become a catchphrase, and there's no real room for ambiguity there, though it can be entertaining watching the participants try to bend the rules.

Taskmaster. Katy Wix. Copyright: Avalon Television

Fern Brady is not the only neurodivergent individual to appear on the show, though she is the first to speak about the experience from that perspective. Further examples include Rhod Gilbert (Series 7, ADHD), Aisling Bea (Series 5, ADHD), Katy Wix (Series 9, autistic) and Joe Thomas (Series 8, self-diagnosed autistic).

Taskmaster is an environment where I feel I would thrive. It would be great if every real-life social situation came with a handbook and said, "All the information is in this book", removing the need to read between the lines and potentially finding ourselves in sticky situations.

Taskmaster has become a staple of British television and I'm sure it will continue for many years to come, allowing for more comedians who wouldn't ordinarily participate in game/panel show formats to experience it and showcase themselves.

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