Taskmaster Christmas Special

Taskmaster Champion of Champions press pack

Category: Press Pack


Kerry Godliman

Why did you agree to do Champion of Champions?

I’d do Taskmaster every week if they’d have me.

There's nothing else like it. It's very creative, and it doesn't feel like a competition. I just find it really silly and playful and fun.

Greg and Alex are extremely funny and I like that the tasks are so varied. This episode of Champion of Champions is a great example of that.

You’ve got an arty one, a practical one, and I like that variety compared to a lot of competitions where you’re just doing one thing.


What was the reaction like to your series?

The people that love Taskmaster, really love Taskmaster and they really liked my season. I thought season seven was a lovely, lovely one and people have a lot of affection for it.

So I've always been pleased to be part of that group.


A lot of former contestants have become good friends. Does it feel like there’s a Taskmaster family?

Sometimes it does, yeah. I’m always keen to know who's doing it next because it feels like they're joining the fleet. It does have a sort of Freemason kind of vibe with the secret handshake.


In this Champion of Champions, you revealed you keep your trophy in a garage amongst “a lot of crap” and Greg wasn’t very happy about it.

Yeah but it’s needed crap. It's valued crap. I know that might seem like an oxymoron but I keep my camping gear in there, and that's some of my most treasured possessions.

I just think the trophy is a bit creepy and I live with children so I don't know where else I would put it. I genuinely don't know where I would put it in the house.

It's huge and it's quite austere and it's mildly threatening. I’m happy with it in the garage.


Was it a different experience to do a show with other contestants who’ve all done it before?

What’s funny is that normally in a series it’s like human tapas so you’ll have a cerebral one and a surreal one and a lazy one and an efficient one and that's what's charming about each series.

But when you've got five champions, they might be more similar so I went into it thinking, “Maybe we’ll all do the same sort of thing.”

But that wasn’t true at all. We all did really different things. For my prize task, I genuinely thought everyone would do the same as me. It seemed really obvious to me. And I can’t believe nobody else did it.


How did you get on with Greg?

The beauty of watching this show is how arbitrary he is about everything, but it's maddening when you're a contestant.

But I think he was pleased with the fact we all brought our A-game. Right from the start, he was impressed with us because sometimes people just come on to the prize task with absolute rubbish and it really irritates him, but we all offered pretty great stuff and that kicked it off.

I think he was like, “Wow, these are good”. That set the tone.


Did you do anything differently this time around compared to your original series?

No, I sort of wish I had. In retrospect, I now have regrets and I have things I would say.

But no, I didn't really overthink it. If I had a strategy at all, it was not to have a strategy. I just went in and tried to be a bit instinctive, but maybe I should have thought about it more.


Greg invented a catchphrase for you during your series, “bosh”. How do you feel about that – does it follow you around?

Yeah, it does. I’ve ended up just leaning into it. I even called my last tour Bosh. It represents a side of my nature that I both celebrate and wince at in equal measure.


It does prove how astute Greg is: he nailed your personality with that catchphrase.

Yeah, he definitely has a good a good eye for my nature. It’s like cheap therapy really. Go on there and get your personality wrung out.


People seem to use Alex as a prop more and more often these days. Did you do that in Champions?

He’s kind of like a stooge in the house so you do need to make the most of his presence. He’s there for the taking.. It’s a waste not to dress him up or make him do stupid things.

There was an art task where we really got to go wild with him. Although I don’t know if I would play it differently now.

I just couldn’t resist it. I wouldn’t say it was a particularly cerebral contribution.


Any favourite moments?

I’m not going to say what it is but Liza’s outfit is going to blow people’s minds.

And Richard did a task involving his feet which was stand-out for me. He’s got Frodo-like feet. I don’t want to be mean but they were kind of repulsive.

Lou was hilarious, defending her prize. She just dug and dug and dug. You want to say, “Stop digging, leave it”, but she was just on a mission.

Ed really smashed it with one task and on another one was really flailing around and getting angry. I love him. He gets really angry but it gets him nowhere.


You brought in a former contestant for a surprise cameo, too.

I don’t know how that happened, to be honest. He just engineered his way in and I realised with retrospect I’d been completely played. But it was nice to have him there as a little talisman.


Greg said recently he could never compete on Taskmaster, even for a comedy sketch, because he’d be too good. Do you agree he would be?

I don't think he would. I mean, he's brilliant at being the Taskmaster but I don't think he would be very good at doing the tasks.

It’s so fragile, that status that he's wielding, that anything could topple it. I mean, it's on ice, isn't it? It’s on a plinth of matchsticks. If there was one chink of humiliation in that persona, he'd be ruined.

So he’s right never to do it.




Ed Gamble


What was the reaction from fans to your series?

It was really good, I think the show has a really good fan base. They're lovely, but I don't think you could be angry and watch Taskmaster, to be honest. and I think that's all credit to the show.

Alex established the show with a very, very lovely atmosphere.

I mean, I don't like sports but I think this is sport for proper nerds. You can share your favourites, you can get excited when they achieve something.

I'm led to believe that in sport people don't tend to laugh when things go wrong, so in a way this is better than sport.

There's nothing more fun than really digging down into the minutiae of something ridiculous and I think that's what people enjoy doing – chatting over the scoring. The whole thing’s ridiculous but that’s fun to get serious about.


How does Greg’s head compare to an FA Cup trophy?

Greg’s head is the ultimate thing to win. I'm very, very happy to have one. Some people have said the show is not about winning but I think they’re approaching it all wrong.

You’ve got to want to win, you’ve got to throw yourself into it otherwise you’re not going to be your best self.


Where do you keep your trophy?

It sits directly in line of sight in my zoom calls, at the back of my office on a high cabinet. It’s the first thing people see when they do a zoom with me on my Taskmaster podcast.

Having said all of that about winning, I think just being on the show is such a wonderful thing. I'm very very happy and proud that I was ever asked to do it.


Talk me through your outfit for Champion of Champions?

I thought for a long time about what I was going to wear. For the full series you want to wear something comfortable but this was only one day so I thought I’d go big.

It’s a baby blue, 70s tuxedo with a ruffled shirt and bow tie. I wanted to go for the kind of Dumb and Dumber look or just like a proper horrible prom suit with the massive wide lapels and the silk stripe down the trousers.

I just thought that if any of the tasks went terribly, it would be hilarious for them to go wrong wearing that suit.


Did you do anything differently in Champion of Champions compared to the full series?

I really came out swinging, I argued every single tiny point. There were moments in the series where I thought, “I can probably take a backseat, I’m not going to say anything because I've got to come back and see these people tomorrow.’

But for Champion of Champions I went into the studio like I never had to see any of them ever again.


And how did that go down with Greg?

I think you can imagine how that went but it was a lot of fun to really go for it. And I think Greg respected me more for it.


There was a moment in a task to do with ducks where I think you nearly lost the plot ….

I completely lost my mind. I did what you shouldn't do on Taskmaster, which is to keep going with something even when it's clearly not working.

What I should have done was to try something new instead of pursuing the same thing for hours until its inevitable conclusion.

But once I’d lost a certain amount of time, I thought, “I’ve just got to keep going”. Alex and the entire crew were laughing at me.

It was funny to start with, then we were all looking at our watches, and then it got funny again and then everyone got angry. Madder and madder and madder.


You made as if to storm off. Did you really think about just going home?

Yeah. Every 10 minutes I thought about that. At no point did I think, “It’s alright because this will be good telly.” None of it was the for the telly. The crew could have packed up and gone home and I’d have still been doing it.


How did you get on with the other contestants?

I knew beforehand that I liked all of them so I knew it would be a fun studio record.

Kerry's an absolute pitbull, she was sat next to me so she kept me in check. She’s brilliant.

I’d never met Liza before and I was so excited to meet her. She totally lived up to my expectations.

I’m friends with Lou anyway so I knew what to expect and she was absolutely off the chain as per usual.

Richard unfortunately became the whipping boy immediately. Both me and Greg like to torment Richard quite a lot, so that was fun.


It feels to me as if people are using Alex more and more as a kind of prop these days. Would you agree?

Yeah, poor guy, we really went for it. To be fair, one of the tasks demanded it, so that’s his fault.

And with the others, if they ask you to do something “elaborately” or whatever then you very quickly realise you need Alex, who is basically just a fleshy prop. He’s asking for it, he’s so easy to use and to humiliate.

And Greg loves it so you know it’s a bit of a win if you do it.


Greg said recently he would never take part in Taskmaster, even for a charity sketch, because he’d be too good and he’d win everything. Do you agree that he’d be great?

I mean, I think we all know that the reason Greg won’t do it is because he knows that if there was a physical task, he’d have a heart attack and explode.


Would Alex be any good?

He writes the tasks, obviously, so they’re all in his voice and that’s his sense of humour and the way he looks at the world. So I think he'd nail it straight away.

Although quite often we’d do a task and Alex would have had no idea it could be done like that. There are so many different ways of doing them all and it’s up to people’s interpretation.

But I do feel like Alex would be would be pretty amazing.


Do you do any of the Taskmaster games at home?

No, I think if there was any more Taskmaster in my life, my wife would leave me. She has to deal with it so much.

I do the podcast, so I watch the episodes in advance all at once because I’m so excited for a new series.

Then I watch them all week by week as they go out live, and I’m always interviewing people about Taskmaster.

Then quite often if I'm flicking around the channels and there's a repeat on, I’ll watch it. There is absolutely no way she would put up with anything else Taskmaster based.


Congratulations on your wedding. There was a good Taskmaster contingent there.

It was fantastic. Thank you, we had a really good day. It was a lot of people’s first day out like that in 18 months or two years so it went off. It was great.

It was lovely to have so many Taskmaster guys there.




Lou Sanders


Why did you want to do Champion of Champions?

Oh, it was a no-brainer. It was just so nice to see everyone and I can't imagine anyone saying “no”.


Was it a different experience doing Champion of Champions compared to the full series?

Yeah, the pressure’s off. Everybody wants to win the series when they do it so they can come back for Champions, because it’s the most fun show in the world.

Whereas Champions is so nice and relaxing because you just think, “Well, nobody’s coming back, let’s just have fun.”


You did get quite argumentative with Greg though …

Yeah. It’s funny isn’t it? Me and Ed beforehand were saying, “I’m not even competitive, this doesn’t matter”, but then throughout the show we all got a bit competitive in different ways.


Where do you keep your Greg head?

On my sewing basket. Sorry, I’m just showing off that I’ve got a sewing basket. I don’t sew.


What was the reaction from fans to your series?

People are really nice about it, they just love it. They can watch it with their kids and it has a really warm place in their heart. I don't want to be too cheesy, but it's so amazing to be part of.

I rollerskate and one guy at the skate park said “Oh, I loved your Taskmaster” and then I was really embarrassed because it’s sort of embarrassing people knowing who you are when you feel a bit vulnerable at the skate park.

So I said, “Oh, thank you” and promptly fell over.


You wore your rollerskates on the show …

Yeah, I think it’s nice to really go for it with your outfit, especially as it’s a one-off.

But oh my God, Liza Tarbuck blew me away with her outfit. I don’t want to give the game away but when you see what she does with her outfit: I just couldn't believe how good it was.

I loved Ed’s outfit as well. He looked like such a beautiful wally.


Is it a different vibe, doing the show with four others who’ve all won the show before?

It’s a lot more relaxed. I was quite nervous when I did mine three years ago because it was my first big TV series.

This time it was more relaxed because we’ve done it before, we know each other, and the pressure was off. It was just a lot of fun.

Me and Kerry have just done a camping show together, The Outsiders, so we knew each other well. I already knew Ed and Richard really well.

I’d never met Liza before but I felt an affinity with her which was inflamed on the show. I always loved her, even on the Big Breakfast before I went to school.

I remember at the time I just couldn't believe how funny she was and her tone and everything.

I was just like, wow, you just don't see such strong, funny women talking in their own voice and playing by their own rules the way she did. That was really unusual.


You had quite a heated argument with Kerry over points at one point …

I love Kerry, she’s such a beautiful soul in this world. I couldn’t believe my luck, everybody in that show is an absolute diamond.

There was no serious competition, we all really like and respect each other. I have glee in my heart when I think of any one of those guys.


Did you do anything differently this time around compared to your own series?

No, but I think I was more relaxed

I did change my mind three times about the prize task round. I thought we should put a lot of effort into it.

I think the rest of the tasks were quite light and fun but also quite romantic. I thought they were quite sweet tasks.


Did you enjoy using Alex as a prop?

He loves it. He loves being humiliated.

Didn’t he look lovely in my task? I can’t give too much away but I was doing that boy a favour and he should never forget it.


Was Greg on good form?

He was on great form. He’s never looked better, for a start.

I think it’s nice for Greg and Alex having us back because they know our vibes and that makes it easy for them. They don’t need to help everyone feel relaxed because everybody is already.


Greg recently said he could never do a task, even for a charity sketch, because he’d be too good. Do you think that’s true?

That's the kind of thing a child would say. “No, I’d be too good.” Come on, Greg. The real reason he won’t do it is because he doesn't want his authority to be stripped.

I think he’d be totally cack-handed which would be quite good to watch.

I think Alex would be brilliant, and Greg would be crap, which is why he’d never do it.



Richard Herring


Why did you want to do Champion of Champions?

It was just so nice to do. There was a little bit of pressure off in terms of doing the tasks because it overwhelms you when you're doing it for the series and you're so nervous about messing up.

To come back and do an extra one-off episode, I just felt a lot more relaxed about the whole thing.

That’s the lovely thing about winning the series, is you get to have another go.

I know that’s how Johnny Vegas felt about this series, he told me it doesn’t matter who wins but the nice thing is you get to come back if you do win. It feels like a special little reward.

And, you know, it's the nicest job you’ll ever have. It's fun to be set tasks by Alex and do a challenge and then realise, “Oh I’m being paid for this – technically it’s an actual job.”

Don’t tell them this but I would do it for free, five days a week.


What was the atmosphere like?

Brilliant. When I did the series we had no audience and we were socially distant so it was a very different thing this time around.

It was a very nice atmosphere and it felt like a celebration of the show.

We’d all won a series already and it was just an extra bit of fun, so it didn’t feel particularly competitive. Everyone got their moment to shine.


Was it really not competitive?

Well, no, but we did all try very hard. I think it's important to do your best and try to win.

If you're not at least slightly competitive with it – well, Jo Brand wasn’t and she was glorious – but if you’re just trying to be funny and not actively try hard then generally it doesn’t work as well.


How did you get on with Greg?

I think he was a bit thrown by the fact I’ve lost some weight and I was dressed slightly less scruffy than usual so he left me alone a bit and I also got some praise from him for the first time ever.

But he was rude to me as well and I do love it when he’s rude. It’s part of the fun.

I can’t imagine anybody else doing that role. He’s so brilliant.

He’s got to be tough and commanding but then he's also got to be funny and that's a very difficult line to tread.

Even when you’re the victim, he’s got such a good eye and a good use of language and he’s so good at honing in on our weaknesses, you just have to admire it.


Did you do anything differently compared to in your own series?

I did try very hard in my series and I think sometimes that came across as a bit “route one”.

So this time I wanted to think a bit more about finding interesting ways to do things, because that’s something I hadn’t really excelled in doing previously.

But you know, you can’t really win or lose, it’s just lovely to take part.

When I won my series I said to Daisy [May Cooper], “All this means is that I was better than you at threading some polos onto dried spaghetti while wearing some mittens, it’s not really a skill for life.”


Is she still bitter about the drawing task that you lost together?

She was super competitive and I love her for it. She has so much more confidence and self-belief than I do, and she was very confident that the animal she’d drawn was definitely a hippo and that I’d know that.

She was quite heavily pregnant and she was absolutely incredible so even I feel a bit sad that she didn’t win the series. She really wanted it.


What’s the feedback been like from fans about your series?

People really get behind who they like and so some people were furious that I beat Daisy and couldn't understand that!

But what I like about the show is that you end up liking everyone even if you don’t know who they are or you’re not sure about them at first.

Everyone on it is an exceptional talent and the nice thing about Champions is that everyone got their moment to shine and everyone was very funny.

People love the show and are very supportive and I think certainly people who were listening to my podcast were trying to get me on it for so long, and they were just so happy that I was on it.

I've had a lot of lovely support, especially from my own friends. It was an overwhelmingly positive experience: even when Greg lays in to me I just find it so funny.


What do you think is the secret to its popularity?

There's so much love in it, and the team behind it are the greatest team I've ever worked with on any TV show in terms of their commitment to the ideas.

When you have to make a little film or something, the work they put into that and what they add and the effort that goes into making your work look the best it can be, are just phenomenal. They understand what works.

It’s reality TV in a way because it's real, and the comedy is obviously improvised, and we have no idea what’s coming up, and I think that's what draws people in.

I watched it as a fan before I was on it and you watch it thinking, “It would be great to do that” and “I’d be terrible at that” or “I’d be great at that”, which is part of the fun.


Where do you keep your Greg head?

I had to hide it for a while as there’s a gap between winning and it being broadcast where you have to be secretive and put it in the attic; I was really careful.

But I’ve had it out a few times. I do a stupid ventriloquist show and I think it turned up in that as a prop.

Or occasionally someone wants to see it so I'll get it out and share it on the zoom call. But yeah, it’s just lying on the floor at the moment, I haven’t got a trophy cabinet.

Mind you, I never won anything for so long and I’ve had a sudden burst of winning House of Games and The Chase, although you don’t get a trophy for that.


Talk me through the rest of the contestants: is it a different thing, going into it with four other winners?

A bit, but it doesn’t really affect you because all you can really think about each task is how you’re going to approach it yourself. The only time you really think of them as competition is during the final task in the studio.

I did think beforehand that maybe it wouldn't work as well because everybody in it has been successful, and I wondered if everyone would be too good at doing the tasks and there wouldn’t be any funny mistakes.

But that was far from the case. There was plenty of variety in there.

Lou’s delightfully loopy and brilliant, Liza is so clever and in control, Ed’s over-keen and a massive fan of the show, and Kerry is no-nonsense and always getting her face in there.

So it was tough competition but that took the pressure off. Everybody was so good that it didn’t really matter what happened.


Does that mean it wasn’t competitive?

Well I’ve been on Ed’s podcast a few times and there’s a kind of jokey rivalry there. We’ve been on Twitter having a little banter about it.


What were the tasks like for Champions?

There were a couple of arty ones and art is my absolute worst nightmare because I’m so bad at it. Greg might as well just say, “There’s one point for you” before I even start.

I really threw myself into it and I was still terrible. I’ve done a lot of improvisation on other people’s shows and on my own show and it’s just about taking a leap of faith.

It’s the same as the way you write comedy, which is to switch off and let your subconscious take over. It might work, or it might not, but that’s the joy of it.


You did the show four weeks after having a testicle removed after being diagnosed with testicular cancer. Did you feel okay?

I was fine, really. Luckily there wasn't too much action involved in the tasks and I was just about okay to do it.

I don’t want to say it would have been the worst thing about the operation but if I’d not got to do Taskmaster, which for a while I thought might be the case, it would have been terrible.

I was meant to be doing Taskmaster a week after the operation and obviously that wouldn't have worked out so we pushed the dates back and I did it three weeks after.

Officially it should have been four weeks after the operation and I wasn’t supposed to lift anything but I wasn’t really required to lift anything hugely heavy. As long as I wasn’t going on any bicycles, I was given permission to do it.

I was a little bit unsteady on my feet still but the crew were helpful.


Did you take advantage of Alex and use him as a prop?

I don’t think I realised in the series that it’s fun to dress him up as a prop.

Also I think it's nice to get a little bit of revenge because, as charming and as innocent as he appears, he’s the guy who’s pulling all the strings.

So it did feel quite cathartic to throw paint at him and say, “That’s for all the awful things you put me through.”


Greg recently said he could never do a task, even for a charity sketch, because he’d be too good. Do you think that’s true?

That's the thing: he can never do it. I was talking to David Mitchell about that on my podcast. He was saying, “People think I'll be amazing and clever so all that can happen is that I can humiliate myself and dissuade them of that.”

I don’t think Greg could do the task because it would undermine his authority to too great an extent, unless it was the last ever episode.

I think he’d be very, very funny and he’s such an unusual shape that I think you’d get a lot of humour out of that. But I don't think he would be good at it.



Liza Tarbuck


Why did you want to do Champion of Champions?

If I want to laugh, there are two programmes that do it for me: Gogglebox and Taskmaster because, with both of those shows, you feel like part of the gang.

That’s a difficult thing to do on TV and I think everybody chases that inclusivity.

And not even Gogglebox has the level of creativity that Taskmaster has.

It’s always so surprising how differently – or how exactly the same – everybody approaches their tasks because when you do the tasks you’re obviously on your own and you've got no idea what anybody else is doing.

All the crew are really straight-faced. No hints given. So when you’re at the house you’re like a detective and you try to ask, “Has anybody else done this?” but they won’t tell you and that’s just so unique.


What sort of reaction did you have from your series; do people still talk to you about it?

You know, what I think is funny is that because of my persona people don't necessarily approach me!

But when people do, nobody has been anything other than excited by it. I talk about it, still, because it really pulls things out of you.

It's just lovely to be able to do a job where you’re genuinely free and supported in that.  A lot of programming is about sort of controlling you, which sounds negative but that's just the way it usually works.

And if you’re a person who doesn't particularly enjoy that, which I don’t, Taskmaster is a pretty unique, positive experience.

It’s not for everybody because you are putting yourself out there, you’re very vulnerable. There's no acting, there's no preparation. So it’s testimony to people that do say “yes”.


Where do you keep your Greg head?

Mine’s in bed, in the spare room, ready for the next guest. Under the duvet is a plumped up body to make it look like he’s in the bed.


How did you get on with the other contestants?

It was just such a pleasure to meet them. I’d never met Ed or Lou but I really liked both of them.

I know Kerry from bits and pieces of work but we’re none of us big pals. We just had a lot of professional respect for each other before meeting, I guess, and it was really nice to meet them all.

I loved Ed’s suit. And bloody hell, his first prize task. I just don’t even know how he did it. It was really beautiful.


It did feel like everybody made a massive effort.

I think it's respect to the programme. I wouldn’t have said “yes” if I wasn’t going to put in the effort.

It was just really nice to be back. You have no idea what’s going to happen.

Waking up and knowing you’re going into Taskmaster is the best feeling. I think I had one day during my series where I woke up slightly the wrong way and thought, “Oh, I don’t know about this”, and then I was suddenly like, “Yeah, I do”.

It’s magnificently creative. It’s the best fun.


How competitive was it?

I sat next to Ed, and watching him arguing was just marvellous. I think this show has done brilliant things for Ed Gamble. It’s his medium entirely.

And you need someone arguing. When somebody is judging my work, I go quiet. I just appreciate it. I just think, “I was only given 20 minutes to do that, that’s bloody brilliant”, or “Okay, what the hell was going on in my mind when I did that?” but I don’t argue about it. I just had a lovely time. So it’s good that Ed took on that role.

I have been competitive in my life, when I’ve played sports, but as you get older that just passes and you think, “It’s just lovely to be here”.


Did you approach anything differently for Champions compared to your series?

Well mine was a few years ago and since then and with lockdown, the programme really has got a life of its own.

You do want to contribute in the best way that you can because it’s, like I say, one of the shows that really makes me laugh.

What I learned from both doing my series and from watching subsequent series is that you never go into a room and don't check under the table.

If you're being asked something that's slightly veiled, you have to stop and think, “What does this mean? It could mean anything” and go through the possibilities.

But also, you just don't know what mood Greg's in. The thing that you can't forget is that you are ultimately looking to please him and he’s an arbitrator.

If there’s something up in one of the tasks he’s on it like a blooming rottweiler. There’s a moment in Champions that people are never going to forget, to do with Richard’s feet and Greg’s response to his task.

I think Greg takes the role very seriously. I think he understands that everyone's laid themselves out a little bit bare but he’s very quick to pick up on stuff that happens. He's really astute.


Did you use Alex a lot during the tasks?

I think it's a shame if you don't. I think it makes his day better.


What’s the secret to Taskmaster’s popularity, do you think?

When you watch the repeats, you very often see something new that you didn’t notice the first time, or you know that your favourite bit’s coming up. You can re-watch and think, “Actually, that was great”.

It’s a rare thing that you can slide through that time and time again.

And it does really capture the imagination and it encourages creativity.

During lockdown when Alex was doing weekly tasks on YouTube, that was absolute genius because they were so much fun and with everyone stuck at home, Greg was only too happy to judge them.

Alex is just brilliant at devising tasks. He knows what works.

And what I really love about it is that it’s all coming from a place of pleasantness.


Greg recently said he could never do a task, even for a charity sketch, because he’d be too good. Do you think that’s true?

Do you know what? The joy is, we will never know.