Advanced Television

Viewing figures put Taskmaster in 7th Heaven

October 30, 2018

By Colin Mann

The current series of Taskmaster, Avalon’s award-winning and critically-acclaimed series on UKTV’s Dave, has eclipsed all previous series. The average Total Consumption per episode of series seven so far has reached 1.44 million, up 7 per cent on the last series, and this figure is set to rise once complete 28 day data has been calculated.

The news makes series seven of Taskmaster its most successful to date, with the BAFTA and Emmy-nominated show widening its fan base and continuing to attract new viewers. ABC1 viewers are up 13 per cent, and more 16-34s are tuning in than ever before, with an 11 per cent increase on last series. “Taskmaster has led the way in terms of entertainment,” said UKTV director of commissioning Richard Watsham, addressing a meeting of the Broadcasting Press Guild in London.

Taskmaster was created by comedian Alex Horne as a live show which ran at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2010 and 2011. Alex then worked with independent production company Avalon to turn it into a TV proposition which began airing on Dave in 2015. The show features Greg Davies as the Taskmaster who, with the help of his right-hand man, Alex, sets out to test the wiles, wit and wisdom of five hyper-competitive comedians through a series of ingenious challenges. With the chance to be crowned show champion, rivalry amongst the comedians is encouraged, dodgy tactics rewarded and bribes accepted.

“I recently watched an episode from the first series of Taskmaster and I was amazed at how fresh-faced and cheerful I looked,” admitted Alex Horne, creator and executive producer of Taskmaster. “I had no idea then that I’d still be serving such a powerful Taskmaster now or that I would have been demeaned in so many different ways in the intervening 50 episodes. I am a very lucky little man.”

“If there is one show on Dave that really sums up the heart, soul and ambition of the channel, it is Taskmaster,” declared Luke Hales, Channel Director, Dave. The show was brilliant from the off and continues to go from strength to strength – it feels as fresh, funny and distinct as it did back in 2015. It’s great to see that we can continue to grow the show even after seven series and I don’t think we have reached the ceiling yet, especially now we can more accurately measure its consumption across all platforms.”

Taskmaster has been a stand-out success for Dave, with the UKTV Original currently the highest rating show on the network this year. It was recently crowned Best Entertainment Programme at this year’s Broadcast Awards (beating Strictly Come Dancing, I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!, Love Island, The Voice UK, and All Round To Mrs. Brown’s) and, in addition to two BAFTA nominations and an International Emmy nomination, Taskmaster has also been shortlisted for RTS and Broadcasting Press Guild Awards.

The domestic success of the series has proven an international draw, with local versions of the show airing on Comedy Central in the US (starring Reggie Watts as the Taskmaster), TV 2 in Denmark, VTM in Belgium, TVE in Spain, and two series on Sweden’s SVT channel. The format has been sold into 15 territories while the finished programme has been sold to New Zealand’s TVNZ and UKTV in Australia.

To date, 35 famous contestants have taken part in the UK version of Taskmaster, competing in 288 tasks. Series seven of the hit show is currently airing on Dave and series eight is being cast and will be shown next year, with a further series (series nine) already commissioned.

The series seven finale airs on November 7th where James Acaster, Jessica Knappett, Kerry Godliman, Phil Wang and Rhod Gilbert will battle it out for the Taskmaster champion title and Greg’s golden trophy.

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