EXCLUSIVE: Channel 4 has handed Taskmaster an unprecedented six-season renewal and greenlit a junior version of the comedy panel show.
Demonstrating the network’s commitment to Avalon’s long-running format, the eight-part Junior Taskmaster will be aimed at older children and young teens. Kids aged nine to 11 will be recruited to bring their athleticism and creativity to the new show, which will reveal hosts soon.
Junior Taskmaster will air before the 9 p.m. GMT (2 p.m. PT) watershed and joins a roster of Channel 4 spin-offs for younger people including Junior Bake Off and First Dates. PG and family-friendly versions of Taskmaster already air on YouTube and amass big audiences, while a Taskmaster Education project and School Tasking not-for-profit are utilized by schools across the UK.
Avalon, the producer of the main show, is behind Junior Taskmaster. The Starstruck and Catastrophe producer is also in the midst of making a six-part scripted comedy series written by and starring Taskmaster creator and presenter Alex Horne.
“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,” said Horne.
Channel 4 Head of Entertainment Phil Harris added: “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.”
Alongside Derry Girls and Gogglebox last year, the latest Taskmaster series ranked in Channel 4’s top three 9pm shows in terms of share with the coveted 16-34 year old demographic, according to Channel 4.
Six more seasons
Helmed by Horne with Inbetweeners star Greg Davies, Taskmaster involves groups of celebrities – mainly comedians – attempting to complete a series of comic challenges, most of which could be carried out at home or in the office, or involve some sort of prank. The likes of Frankie Boyle, Mae Martin, Greg James and Munya Chawawa have competed in recent seasons.
Taskmaster was described by Channel 4 Head of Events Tom Beck as “the funniest, most creative show on TV” and it is incredibly rare for the network to commit to an entertainment program for so long. Two seasons per year will roll out until 2026.
The move is a credit to Taskmaster’s success since being acquired three years ago from UKTV channel Dave, where it had run for multiple seasons between 2015 and 2019, acting as a springboard for numerous up-and-coming British comedians. It regularly attracts more than 2M consolidated viewers in its Thursday 9 p.m. GMT (2 p.m. PT) slot, according to Barb data supplied by overnights.tv, and continues to rate well with critics.
In the U.S., the show was acquired by The CW in 2020 but pulled after just one episode due to poor ratings. Full episodes regularly amass millions of YouTube views, however, and it was the subject of a recent Atlantic profile.
Taskmaster EPs are 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. Beck and Harris are commissioners.