Channel 4 swoops for ‘Taskmaster’

Channel 4 has swooped for Avalon format Taskmaster, as first revealed by TBI earlier this month

The broadcaster has scored a six-series deal across three years for the format with Avalon, with new episodes set to come to Channel 4 from late 2020. Repeats will be aired on E4.

As reported by TBI, the deal follows weeks of negotiations between Avalon and Channel 4, with BBC One also believed to have been in the running at one point.

Avalon’s five-year licence for the show with UKTV concludes at the end of this year. The show – which was initially pitched by Horne and Avalon shortly after its inception to Channel 4 – has aired for nine seasons on Dave, with the most recent season launching in September and concluding earlier this month. The format itself has travelled widely, being localised in Belgium, Sweden, Spain, Denmark and in the US via Comedy Central. Most recently, it sold into MTV Finland and Norway’s Discovery.

The programme’s move to Channel 4 is a major blow to UKTV and Dave. Taskmaster has put digital channel Dave on the map, allowing it to break through into the mainstream and draw young audiences. The channel reaches around 20m viewers a month and Taskmaster is its most popular show, with its eighth season drawing an average audience of 1.8m viewers.

The comedy panel game show – created by Alex Horne – debuted on Dave in 2015 and finds actor-comedian Greg Davies and Horne setting out weird and hilarious tasks to a roster of comedians that changes every season. The tasks are filmed in various locations in addition to the studio setting, where the comedians congregate with Davies and Horne.

Season nine contestants include David Baddiel, Ed Gamble, Jo Brand, Katy Wix and Rose Matafeo.

The scenario is reminiscent of Channel 4’s aggressive play for the BBC’s Great British Bake Off

Show creator Horne: “We’ve had an amazing nine series on Dave and I’d like to thank UKTV for letting us do such ridiculous things for so long. Greg and I are looking forward to getting started on a new series for Channel 4 from next year. It seems like the right time to move to a channel with a broader audience and I can reassure people who like the show that it won’t be changing one bit and I’ll still be forced to do things no one should ever have to do.”

Davies added: “For the first time in our working relationship I agree with little Alex Horne. The nine series on UKTV have been a joy and I would echo his thanks to all involved.  I do take issue with the notion that the show will remain exactly the same however as I have made it my personal mission to break his spirit. I will remain even handed with contestants of course, but it really is going to get unpleasant for him. Peace.”

Ian Katz, director of programmes for Channel 4, added: “Taskmaster is anarchic, original and a brilliant springboard for new comic talent. It’s everything we look for in a Channel 4 show and like millions of others I’m a massive fan so I’m delighted it will soon be taking its place in our unrivalled slate of scripted and studio comedy.”

Karl Warner, controller of E4, said: “Not only is Taskmaster one of the best formats on TV, it’s also one of the best launch pads for new talent. I’m thrilled we’re getting to build on its success across Channel 4 and E4 and can’t wait to start working with Alex, Greg and the team at Avalon.”

Produced by Avalon, exec producers for the series are Alex Horne, Richard Allen-Turner, Rob Aslett, James Taylor, Jon Thoday and Andy Devonshire (The Apprentice and The Great British Bake Off), who also acts as series director, while Andy Cartwright will also continue as series producer.

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