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

Taskmaster

Dave comedy show setting comedians tasks. 74 episodes (9 series), 2015 - 2019. Stars Greg Davies, Alex Horne, Romesh Ranganathan, Frank Skinner and others.

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Taskmaster. Mel Giedroyc. Copyright: Avalon Television.

Mel Giedroyc interview

Mel Giedroyc says she really enjoyed the freedom that the Taskmaster format allows you.

What made you decide to do Taskmaster?

I love the show. I'm a total fan of it so when the call came I was just like 'absolutely, of course'. I was really chuffed to be asked actually. Because they have really good people of really amazing comedy pedigrees so I was very chuffed to be asked to do it.

But you're part of that pedigree...

Well, no, you don't feel that. Do you know what I mean? But it really appeals to my completely childish self, which is thinking in the 48-year-old body, that I'm still 13 or 14. It really appeals to that. But also, it's very clever as well.

The best comedy is very clever and very silly at the same time I think. And off the cuff too - we have no preparation. You literally roll up in your whatever you've decided to wear. You go to this funny little house in the middle of nowhere in West London, it's like a groundsman's cottage. And you literally have no idea what's going to happen from task to task. It's hilarious!

It's going back to your comedy roots - is that part of why you wanted to do it too?

Definitely yeah. And it's a chance to sort of let rip a bit. You're not hampered by anything really - they're incredibly good at just letting you do what you want to do. If there's a task and you say 'look I could really do with a Gouda cheese the size of a cottage', they'll sort it out. Somebody will have it by the afternoon. Unbelievable. Or I need to hose myself down in Horlicks while holding up an umbrella made of goose feathers; they'll go yep absolutely fine. They're amazing!

Are you generally quite a practical person and good at tasks?

I'm fiendishly, I'd say verging on OCD. I love doing things like folding up the washing, emptying the dishwasher, organising my stationary. I love all of that. Little practical tasks. I wouldn't say I'm organised but I'd say, in a shambolic way, I'm trying to carve my own way, if you know what I mean.

I sort of blow both ways; either the house is in chaos or it's totally scarily neat as a pin. But to be honest, I do love doing chores; I'm really happy if I have a day of jobs. Oh my God. Yesterday for example I knew I had to go to parcel up some stuff, address it, take it to the post office, get a certain amount of ingredients for a particular recipe I was doing, do a few emails - but that's boring - and then measure up for some shelves, which I love doing, and de-slime my youngest daughter's dressing gown because she'd made all of this slime and got it over her dressing gown. I love stuff like that - laid out in front of you, tick it off. So this really appeals to my to my completest nature.

Which were the tasks you were most frustrated by?

Oh, there was one with 12 dogs that was really hard work. I have never owned a dog in my life. I love dogs but I have no idea how to be with them and tell them what to do. So that was absolute carnage. It was in a garden and I had to - put it this way - there was a small mat and 12 dogs and I had to corral the dogs, I won't give you too much detail. That took absolutely hours and the dogs were just getting really bored. It took over half an hour. I think I did manage to do it but I'll definitely lose that one.

Taskmaster. Image shows from L to R: Mel Giedroyc, Hugh Dennis, Greg Davies, Lolly Adefope, Alex Horne, Joe Lycett, Noel Fielding. Copyright: Avalon Television.

Are you quite competitive?

Yeah! I think underneath the banter and bonhomie yes I am. But in a quite directionless way, which is not good. You need to really focus!

Which was your favourite task?

I loved the slightly show-offy ones, the theatrical ones. There was one involving majorettes which I absolutely loved.

And there was one involving creating a piece of choreography, I could have done that all day, it was so much fun. Music with Alex, performance, loved it.

And actually, it was really fun because some of the tasks you get to buddy up with somebody who's in your series, so Hugh Dennis and I had two days together, which was such a laugh. When you realise that there is somebody else doing as ridiculous things as you are then that just makes it really fun! We've met each other a few times over the years but it was really nice actually to hang out with him.

Do you think people are going to see a different side to you? It lays you bare...

It does a bit actually. It certainly does, and I think the way to go in to it and you kind of learn it as you go through the tasks, you've just got to absolutely relax and let anything happen. And some stuff takes quite a long time for it to develop and you have that awful thing of not wanting to be boring, to fill the air space all the time, but sometimes the pauses and the length of things almost makes them. That's what I'm hoping, clutching at straws!

Who do you think is your biggest competition?

You see I don't know Lolly, I haven't met her and I have a feeling that she's going to be quite good. I've got a feeling about her. Desky Dennis is so competitive it's ludicrous; I could just smell it on him. Really badly.

Noel I think will pretend to be quite laid back but I reckon underneath maybe not and I don't really know Joe that well. I can't wait for the studios; it's going to be mayhem. It's so weird because we do this show and you're in your own little bubble. So we all do the same tasks but obviously at different times so going in to the studio is going to be such a laugh because you'll see probably five totally different ways of doing the one thing each time. I'm going to be fascinated.

I think what works is a lateral brain combined with something that's a bit off beam. Off beam + lateral = success at Taskmaster.

What would it mean to you to win?

Oh man. I've never won anything. I would love to win. There's an overall winner of the series and I'm not even going to think in those terms but come on, one can dream. I'm quite pleased with one of them though. There's a task I've been set involving some intricate vegetables and some celebrity autographs and I have a very strong feeling about that! I'm really pushing the boat out for that one.

How does it compare to other panel shows you've done?

It's just like not work - you literally come home at the end of the day and go, am I going to get paid for that? It's just so much fun. Quite knackering though because you actually have to use your brain. The tasks before lunch I always wanted to get over with, because I get slightly ratty if I don't eat. I literally did it so quickly. They shouted, 'you've got 40 minutes!' 10 seconds later... done. I was dying to eat. There were a few snacks involved in some of the tasks though, which is always a joy. I like an eating task.

I like a task involving some element of showbiz too, call me an old ham but anything involving a little bit of 'perf' and I am all over it! Seriously.

I've just thought of an outdoorsy one we did too. Oh my gosh. I can't believe we did that! It was involving Hugh Dennis and a large wheelie bin. Too funny.

How do you think Sue would get on?

I was talking to her about it yesterday actually. I think she would be brilliant. She's very quick of brain; she does get bored quite easily though so the longer ones she'd have to commit. But she has a very quick brain; I think she'd do really well and really enjoy it.

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Published: Monday 24th April 2017