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TV Quickfire: Taskmaster creator Alex Horne on filming socially distanced 11th series of Channel 4 hit

Hit Channel 4 comedy show Taskmaster is back for its 11th series. We found out more from comedian and Taskmaster creator Alex Horne...

Comedian and Taskmaster creator Alex Horne
Danielle de Wolfe

FILMING SERIES 11 MUST HAVE BEEN A GREAT EXCUSE TO LEAVE THE HOUSE DURING LOCKDOWN?

It was also our social life really, because we weren't allowed to meet anyone. Getting together in the studio was the one chance to chat. So, it was a really fun atmosphere and if you've got someone like Lee Mack in there, it's always going to be funny, I suppose. He's so quick-witted. And it makes everyone raise their game a bit.

DO YOU FEEL THE PRESSURE WHEN IT COMES TO SELECTING THE LINE-UP OF COMEDIANS?

I always feel slightly anxious when you say goodbye to the last set of contestants and everyone's got to really love them and now there's a new five that have got to impress. I think this lot settles in straight away, so I think the fact Lee's there, wearing an Evel Knievel outfit, doing a task, means you're automatically invested. And the other four, whether you know them or not, are really, really funny and competitive people. So I'm not worried about this one at all.

THERE'S AN AWFUL LOT OF FACIAL HAIR INVOLVED IN THAT LINE-UP, ISN'T THERE? ESPECIALLY MIKE WOZNIAK.

Yeah, I think Mike might be our first moustache. It's a great one. I don't want to give anything away but Mike has a hair moment late in the series that will go down in Taskmaster history – but I can't say any more than that. And you're right, Jamali Maddix's look is very strong. But then, Sarah Kendall's hair I am so jealous of, there's so much of it. It's incredible. She's got the best hair I've ever seen.

DID ANY OF THE COMEDIANS SURPRISE YOU?

Yes, Charlotte Ritchie is an idiot. I really love her, she was great, she really made me laugh a lot, but she was very bad at some of the tasks. Jamali went in there and most of the time he opened the task and did the thing – he wasn't fazed by much. Whereas Charlotte, she went into a different place in her brain and she panicked. Lee quite often over-stretched himself thinking, 'I'm a bloke, I can do this' and then couldn't. And that's always quite gratifying to see.

It's an odd situation because you're being filmed, you're under pressure, everyone's going to see it, and you're in a competition. So, I don't think it's that surprising people behave irrationally.

WAS IT STRANGE SHOOTING WITHOUT AN AUDIENCE AGAIN AFTER LAST YEAR'S SERIES?

It was nice because we knew it worked this time and we knew – I'm not saying it was more fun, but just as fun, because we didn't have to worry about the 200 people in the room, you know? We could just try and make each other laugh.

DO SOCIALLY DISTANCED TASKS BRING WITH THEM AN ADDED CHALLENGE?

We have filmed in a big open space this series, like a big airport hangar, which was great because it meant there was a bit more scale to it and a bit more epic.

WHAT KIND OF TASKS CAN WE EXPECT FROM SERIES 11?

I think it's a good mix. You've got simple ones like there's a big rat and you've got to catch it in the best way, that's a nice simple one. Then you've got some really complicated ones where you've got to do something with one hand while the other hand is under the table – something like that. It's a good mix, I think.

:: Taskmaster returns to Channel 4 at 9pm on Thursday March 18.

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