Channel 4 and Avalon have announced the launch of new children-focused entertainment show Junior Taskmaster following the continuing success of ratings and critical hit Taskmaster, which is also renewed for a further six series by the broadcaster.
The PG and “Bleeped” (family friendly) versions of the BAFTA and twice National Comedy Award winning show have seen continual growth in popularity with younger viewers, parents and family audiences generally, while an increasing number of schools across the UK have also been taking Taskmaster into the classroom, either informally, or now via School Tasking, the not-for-profit primary school outreach project, and Taskmaster Education, which recently partnered with children’s mental health charity Place2Be. The brand-new eight-part series, Junior Taskmaster will see young people aged 9 to 11 bring their fledgling wiles, athleticism and creativity to the game that recognises genius at any age. Hosts for the new series will be revealed soon.
Alex Horne, the show’s creator, said: “I've watched many, many comedians flounder when given simple instructions over the past few years and I fully expect the competitors in Junior Taskmaster to be both more competent and just as funny. For that series, I will be handing over my assistant's clipboard to someone equally as efficient and persistent as myself because I have a lot more admin to do with six further handfuls of supposedly talented adults. I live for bureaucracy so this is all excellent news”.
Greg Davies, the original Taskmaster, said: “My long-term contempt for young people is a matter of record but other people here at Taskmaster HQ seem convinced that they have merit. I am thrilled that two new team members are putting this questionable hypothesis to the test and will take on the challenge of corralling and assessing them on television. I will be watching closely to ensure standards are met. I am also delighted that Alex and I return to test the intelligence of comedians in the most scientific of ways. I’ll be pretty angry. It’s not even an act anymore.”
Tom Beck, Head of Events for Channel 4, said: “Taskmaster is the funniest, most creative show on TV and we’re so excited not only to have three more years of Greg and Alex on the brilliant original but also to expand Taskmaster. Junior Taskmaster is set to be hugely entertaining family-friendly treat with as much madcap nonsense as the main series and, who knows, it might unearth the comedy stars of tomorrow”.
Phil Harris, Head of Entertainment and Live Events for Channel 4 said, “We’ve seen some brilliantly memorable task-tackling talent in recent series and I’m delighted Alex and Greg are bringing our viewers even more of the award-winning Taskmaster. After the success of our Taskmaster’s New Years’ Treat specials to be able to extend the Taskmaster universe with Junior Taskmaster is incredibly exciting.”
Jon Thoday, executive producer, added: “It’s been a joy working with the team at Channel 4 - we’re delighted to be continuing the relationship and excited to be working together on Junior Taskmaster”.
Taskmaster is already watched by a broad multi-generational audience and in terms of profile was Channel 4’s youngest skewing series last year. In terms of audience share of young viewers (16-34) it is in the top three in the coveted 9pm slot, with Gogglebox and Derry Girls. Taskmaster is also hugely popular on All 4, where it is available for free and, since 2021, the average views per episode [0-7Days, O+O] have grown for the title with each series
Taskmaster is produced by Avalon and Executive Producers for the series are Alex Horne, Richard Allen-Turner, Rob Aslett, James Taylor, Jon Thoday and Andy Devonshire who also acts as Series Director, while Andy Cartwright will also continue as Series Producer. Taskmaster is commissioned for Channel 4 by Tom Beck, Head of Live Events and Commissioning Editor, Entertainment, with Phil Harris, Head of Entertainment and Events.
Notes to editors:
- Taskmaster is a BAFTA winning and International Emmy nominated comedy entertainment show originally created by Alex Horne. Greg Davies stars as the all-powerful “Taskmaster” who, with the help of his loyal assistant Horne, sets out to test the wiles, wit and wisdom of five comedians through a series of strange and surreal challenges in what is the most hard-fought and ridiculous comedy entertainment format on TV.
- 159 episodes have been produced in the UK so far, as part of the landmark six season deal with Channel 4 in 2020, following nine record-breaking series on UKTV’s Dave.
- The show enjoyed its best performance on record with its Channel 4 launch which reached 3.9 million consolidated views after the first episode, winning the majority share of young viewers 16 – 34’s and making it the best-performing new entertainment show of this year (Broadcast, 2020). Since the programme’s initial launch in 2015 on UKTV’s Dave, Taskmaster’s audience has grown by 80% from series one to series nine.
- Taskmaster was crowned Best Comedy Entertainment Show at the National Comedy Awards 2021, Best Comedy Entertainment at the BAFTAs 2020 and won Best Entertainment Programme at the Broadcast Awards 2018, having previously received two more nominations for both awards. It has also been nominated for the Bruce Forsyth Entertainment Award at the NTA’s 2021 and 2022, Studio Entertainment at Rose d'Or 2021, Best Entertainment Programme at the RTS Awards, Broadcasting Press Guild Awards, the Broadcast Digital Awards, Edinburgh TV Award, the TV Choice Awards, and Best Returning Format in the International Format Awards 2020.
- The original Taskmaster programme has been sold to 94 countries and aired on The CW in the U.S. in 2020.
- Over 350 episodes have been produced outside the UK with local versions now in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the Nordics, Croatia and Portugal where it ranked third for most watched entertainment programs on its channel RTP. While Taskmaster Australia launches on 2nd February 2023 on Channel 10, produced by Avalon Television with Kevin&Co and featuring Tom Gleeson as the Taskmaster with Tom Cashman as the Taskmaster’s Assistant, and Taskmaster New Zealand has received funding for a fourth season from New Zealand On Air to play on TVNZ and TVNZ+ in 2023. The first season of Le Maitre du Jeu for Bell Media, which aired in Canada in September 2022, increased Noovo's performance in the Thursday time slot by 50%.
- The format has seen huge success in Europe, with the Swedish version reaching ratings of over a 50% market share in a primetime weekend slot on SVT - Bast i Test season 7 will air in 2023. Norway’s original version of Taskmaster, Kongen Befaler, won the Norwegian TV Academy Award (Gullruten) for Best Entertainment Show in 2022, where a seventh season has been commissioned by Discovery. Finland's version of Taskmaster, Suurmestari, won Game Show of the Year at the Venla Gaala awards, with a fourth series being ordered by MTV, and Stormester, Denmark's Taskmaster, won Best Game Show at the 2022 Vindere Awards, with TV2 commissioning a 'Champion of Champions' series for 2023.
- The Taskmaster YouTube channel has seen huge success internationally, reaching just over 6.1 billion impressions since it first launched in October 2019, with just under half of the channel’s views and over a third of its subscribers originating from the U.S. The channel has had over 100 million hours worth of content viewed with 41% of those hours from the US (42 million hours watched). The show has grown significantly in popularity with U.S. audiences and over the last year, there have been a total of 59 million views in the last 12 months reaching a million subscribers, while 41% of the channel’s watch time comes from the U.S.
- #HomeTasking had over 100 million impressions across all content on YouTube. Viewing grew by 42%, while subscribers grew by 85% since it launched on the Taskmaster YouTube channel. It was watched in 125 countries with viewers ranging from the US to the UK and from Moldova to Mongolia.
- The Taskmaster Book 200 Extraordinary Tasks for Ordinary People has sold over 148,000 copies, while a second book ‘Bring Me The Head of the Taskmaster’ published in September 2021 and has sold almost 30,000 to date. Both books featured as Sunday Times Bestsellers at launch. The Swedish version of the book has sold 108,000 copies to date.
- A Taskmaster boardgame was released in Autumn 2019 and entirely sold out a week after it went on sale. It has sold almost 180,000 copies to date along with an expansion pack. Both are available to buy on the official Taskmaster shop, www.TaskmasterStore.com
- Taskmaster Education takes elements of the show and uses them to inspire, engage and teach children and young people. Tasks can be adapted to meet a near infinite range of teacher objectives, whether curriculum-based or more focused on social and emotional development.
- Taskmaster is working with Homeless Link; the national membership charity for frontline homelessness services, creating a virtual Taskmaster at Home event with all the money raised going to homeless charities across the UK. Having raised over £115,000, more information on the virtual event can be found here.
- The launch of series 13 also saw the unveiling of the brand new Taskmaster App; a show companion where viewers can watch the show on TV and score along at home, taking on the role of the mighty Taskmaster themselves. The app also features the Taskmaster Academy with quizzes from every series of the show, group and solo tasking games, and a Jukebox featuring all of the music from the show.