What made you sign up to Taskmaster?
The money, really. It’s quite good money. And I must admit, I’ve wanted to do it for ages. I’ve been around so many groups of comics and they sit and talk about their time on Taskmaster, and everyone presumed I’d done it already to be honest. But, no.
A lot of fans predicted you would be in it this year.
I saw a few people online have thought that, yes. But they’ve never asked me before. I was starting to get p***ed off. This is series 49 or something and you think, “When?” so I’m glad to have done it.
Do you know people who have done it before?
Every single person. And then when you start seeing the people who started years after you, you’re like, “Why are they on it?” because although it has a cult following with fans, it has a cult following with comedians as well. It’s like you’ve got a stripe on your name if you do it. There are certain shows that comics like, and Would I Lie To You?, Have I Got News for You and this are all up there.
Did you ask anyone for advice when you knew you were doing it?
No. When I do jobs, I tend not to prepare, watch the show or get advice. I find it’s better to go in not really knowing what you’re doing or what day it is. It’s worked so far, so I’m going to carry on like that. But I have watched Taskmaster because Jon [Richardson, Lucy’s husband] was on the second series.
What did he say to you when you told him you were going on the show?
He said, “Haven’t you already done it?” He did then try to give me advice, but I looked at him and said, “I don’t need your advice.” The advice was to really think about your prize because you open the show with it. But I decided not to do that.
Could you tell me about your best prize?
It’s an alien device from my mum. She had something in her ear for two years and six months, and they didn’t know what it was. It was driving her mad because she kept getting ear infections. She knew something was lodged in it. I took her to a Harley Street ear doctor, and he said never in his career had he seen anything like it. The obvious thing was that it must be impacted wax. And he said, “Never have I not been able to remove impacted wax. But this is so lodged, I can’t.” But we think he must have dislodged it a little bit because I was at her house a while later and she got up and it fell out. And it was metallic. The cat licked it and disappeared. She never saw the cat again. There were UFOs flying around her house that week, so that might have had something to do with it.
Has Taskmaster been any different from what you expected?
I can tell now, when I watch, which shows have got a nice atmosphere, and it’s so conducive to making a good show. On this, from day one doing the tasks, they were family. I love it when you go on a set, and there’s no hierarchy with the crew. It doesn’t matter if you make the tea or you’re the director, everyone sits together, eats together, and everyone’s treated with respect. I think that really helps to shine through, because you would think everything is like that, but it’s not. You do some jobs and you’re like… I don’t know what it is, but there’s tension, or something’s gone on, someone’s stressed and not talking to people very nicely, and stuff like that. And for comedy, you pick up on that and it can affect it.
There’s definitely a positive energy in the studio.
It’s all from Greg and Alex, it’s the synergy between them. It sounds corny, but they are really lovely guys. It’s so clever, because they set the show, and they just know what they’re doing now, keeping that energy. It’s lovely. There’s a lateral side, and there’s a surreal, subversive side, and there’s a really amazing neurodivergent community online who feel like it’s theirs, and it’s connected neurodivergent young people from around the world. It’s been really amazing to see that from the inside.
It’s a really special show. It brings the child out in you, so you get to see that in other people too. I did a play years ago called Flint Street Nativity that was a bit like that, where we all played seven-year-olds doing an activity, then in the last scene, you played their parents. It felt a bit like that. Sometimes it’s freeing to be allowed to play. I think everyone should be able to experience that. There should be a Taskmaster theme park.
Talking about the other contestants, you all seemed to get on really well. Did you know any of them beforehand?
I’d worked with Sue, and that’s it. They’re so lovely. I feel like Sam could be my brother. Sometimes we even thought the same things.
Greg said you were the two weird ones.
Two people like us must never be allowed to procreate. It would be like inbreeding, but you’d be passing on weirdness. It must be a bit like that if you do I’m A Celebrity, or something like that where you become a little family because you do so many episodes together. But it was lovely, and really nice.
What was your worst task?
The one where you had to look for stuff. I feel like I did my best at every task, but I really didn’t like that one. I spend all of my life looking for things. I can’t get out of the house for trying to look constantly for my cash card and all of that. I find it really stressful. You can tell the ones who don’t lose things because they’re like, “Yeah, let’s go and find it!” I’m like, “Please don’t make me find stuff.”
Did you enjoy the rest of the tasks?
Yes, they’ve been brilliant. I’ve really enjoyed them. It’s weird watching them back in the studio though because you do forget what you did. It turns out I was doing lunges in the kitchen.
Have you learned anything about yourself?
No. I knew I wasn’t normal. I haven’t learned anything.
There was one task where you got confused about the difference between ten minutes and ten seconds. Are you embarrassed about that?
People who know me well say, “I don’t know how you’ve survived this long.” Genuinely. I’m forty next year, and they’re like, “We just thought you were going to walk into a road one day.” I’m just lucky I’ve got better and not worse. Can you imagine? People just have to look after me. I’ve just wandered around, not knowing what I was doing. I’ve done well to make it this far, to be honest.
So you’re perfectly happy for everyone to see the real you?
I can’t mask. I’ve tried. I’ve tried to be serious. That doesn’t work. Something always happens to blow my cover.
You seemed to really enjoy yourself though.
Yes, but I forgot I was in competition with other people. Because you do the tasks alone, you do so many alone, and then when I had to meet the others for a group tasks, I was like, “Oh, I forgot there were other people involved.” Because in the solo ones Alex kept saying “against the other contestants” and I was like, “Oh, there’s other people?”
You don’t really see them at all until you’re in the studio, to be fair.
No, but we’ve got a really good team. They are really, really lovely people. You don’t realise that having three women, like on this, is really unusual. If I’d done this a few years ago people would be going, “Oh, there are three women” but now it’s like, “Yes, that’s all right. There are three women.” I’ve waited twelve years to do a show where women are in the majority. It’s like, “Look, it works! You can sometimes have fewer men!” It’s not a problem. It feels like the first time ever that no one is like, “Oh, there’s three women…” It’s like, “Finally, we’re here.”
But it’s still not normal on any other show, and that’s mental. I was doing this, and then I went to do Have I Got News for You and I was the only woman. It was like, “Oh, this is weird” because it doesn’t represent the population, does it? There are now just as many women as men doing comedy.
There are no egos and no competition on Taskmaster. There’s no macho energy or two men in competition with each other. There’s a place for that, and that’s not a criticism of shows with men because sometimes that’s funny and stuff, but this is so nice. It feels sillier, you know?
Tell me a bit about your relationship with Alex.
Alex is the nicest guy ever, but I can’t work out if I scared him. A lot of comics really should have been teachers, or they were teachers. Alex has a teacher quality: like you really want to do well for him, but you’re constantly letting him down. It feels like he wants you to find the intelligent thing, but he would never say anything when you don’t. That’s how the show feels. Like there’s always a clever way of doing it but it’s just out of reach. There might be a play on words and he would be so delighted if you got it, but you just don’t.
What about Greg?
I thought he would be grumpier, and a bit more of a Taskmaster, but he has got a softer side that I didn’t realise he had. I think he softened through the series. If I remember the early ones, I feel he was a bit more strict. But he’s too tall for me to have any sort of dynamic or relationship with. It’s like working with a pillar or a statue. He’s physically intimidating.
What do you make of Greg and Alex’s relationship?
They’re an odd couple. If you told me that they’d had sex, I would believe that. There’s like a submissive / dominant thing there. It’s fascinating because it just works.