9 Best Taskmaster Seasons, Ranked

With Series 17 of Taskmaster officially underway, here’s a look back at the greatest seasons of this bizarrely brilliant British panel show.

Highlights

  • Taskmaster’s energy, humor, and unique challenges keep audiences entertained season after season.
  • Some seasons, like Series 15, stand out due to memorable cast members and creative tasks.
  • Jo Brand and David Baddiel shine in Series 9, showcasing both hilarious moments and competitive spirit.

Series 17 of Taskmaster has begun! Channel 4’s bizarrely-perfect panel show has returned with a new cast of comedians and a new selection of ridiculous tasks for them to complete, all at the pleasure of Taskmaster Greg Davies, and his assistant, “Little” Alex Horne. The comedians compete for points in each task – divvied out by Davies based on nothing but his personal whims – which are tallied at the end of each episode and help determine a winner at season’s end.

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From the show’s energetic jazz theme song to the little asides between Alex and Greg that delve further into their unusual relationship, the show never fails to entertain; not even after 16 seasons. There aren’t any bad seasons, but some do stand above the rest, either due to their cast, the tasks faced, or the wild events that take place live on stage as the contestants watch their recorded embarrassments play out before them.

9
Series 15

High-Pitched Voices, Imaginary Friends, And Boats

Taskmaster Series 15

  • Cast: Frankie Boyle, Ivo Graham, Jenny Eclair, Kiell Smith-Bynoe, Mae Martin

Series 15 of Taskmaster featured a “60s” theme, which was visible in everything from the tasks to the Beatles-themed outfits the cast wore for the series finale. While Mae Martin emerged as the victor, the true highlight was Frankie Boyle, who never won an episode but managed to be memorable at every opportunity.

From writing musical compositions to ignoring Alex Horne, the tasks in this series were as creative as ever. It’s the solutions presented by the contestants that just don’t feature the same degree of creativity as seen from other casts, which holds this season back just a bit in terms of quality.

Highlights

  • Kiell not seeing the giant piece of paper beneath the standard 8×11
  • “Harry Potter and the Kung Fu Death Cult”
  • Ivo’s lecture on the year 1125
  • Frankie’s fake suicide

8
Series 3

Propelled Peas, Water Buckets, And Upside-Down Portraits

Taskmaster Series 3

  • Cast: Al Murray, Dave Gorman, Paul Chowdhry, Rob Beckett, Sara Pascoe

From Taskmaster’s newer seasons to its early days, Series 3 dates back to the era when the show still aired on Dave, and a season was only 5 episodes long. The first few seasons of Taskmaster were a mixed bag, and Series 3 is a perfect example.

The show was still finding its groove back in 2016, and some of the tasks in this season simply aren’t as memorable as others, in part because the season only featured three team tasks. That said, while it has lower lows, the highs in Series 3 are exceptional. Rob Beckett emerged as the victor, but it was a close race between him, Al, and Dave right to the end.

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Highlights

  • Rob and Sara playing charades across a river
  • Al equating sweat and urine
  • Al, Dave, and Paul’s special effects video
  • Al stuffing balloons into bags

7
Series 9

Aubergines, Throwing Things Far (But Not Too Far), And Long Body Parts

Taskmaster Series 9

  • Cast: Dave Baddiel, Ed Gamble, Jo Brand, Katy Wix, Rose Matafeo

Sometimes, one or two cast members can make an entire season of Taskmaster shine. In the case of Series 9, those cast members were Jo Brand and David Baddiel. Jo is an unassuming woman with a lovely laugh and a gloriously raunchy sense of humor that drags the rest of the cast down into the gutter with her. Juxtaposing her, David is completely unable to succeed at his tasks. He struggled for 8 straight episodes, before finally winning episode 9, but still finished in last place on the season by a healthy margin. The way his task attempts frequently blow up in his face make David one of the most hilariously inept contestants to ever grace the show.

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While Ed Gamble came away with the victory for the season, Jo stole the show. From her portrait of the Taskmaster to her egg timer, she struck a perfect balance between smart task solutions and some of the dirtiest jokes ever told on Taskmaster. Her brilliance, coupled with David’s utter incompetence, help Series 9 mark the beginning of Taskmaster’s truly great seasons.

Highlights

  • David’s brother’s wooden school project
  • Ed discovering he’s been put on a team with David
  • Jo’s 13 point streak in Horse or Laminator
  • Jo’s Disposal Bag
  • David’s makeshift lasso
  • Jo and David’s recreation of “Operation”

6
Series 14

Sorting Ducks And Socks, Paint Bullseyes, And Tying Towels

Taskmaster Series 14

  • Cast: Dara Ó Briain, Fern Brady, John Kearns, Munya Chawawa, Sarah Millican

Series 14 was themed around the circus, and as the season went on, that became true in more ways than one. This is probably one of the most unusual collections of comedic characters the show has ever managed to put together. Every single contestant’s sense of humor stands apart from the others, and it makes for some fantastic moments.

Dara came away with the win on the season – buoyed by his perfect episode – but Fern was easily the most memorable cast member, with her constantly astonishing wardrobe and bone-dry wit. Munya’s absolutely insane stories and John’s frantic and terrible task attempts contrast nicely with the wholesome Sarah and her self-surprised talent. It’s one of the most complete casts in the show’s history, and they make for a special season of Taskmaster.

Highlights

  • All Munya’s stories
  • “Me Fern Brady Me Fern Brady”
  • The Hand Room
  • Dara’s perfect episode
  • Sarah’s one-person play

5
Series 1

Identifying Pies, Making Swedish People Blush, And Eating Watermelon

Taskmaster Series 1

  • Cast: Frank Skinner, Josh Widdicome, Roisin Conaty, Romesh Ranganathan, Tim Key

The season that started it all, Series 1 established the game show’s formula as something that stood out, even in a crowded British comedy game show market. Josh Widdicome only just edged out Frank Skinner and Romesh Ranganathan for the season win, beating them both by just a single point.

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While the Taskmaster finales have never been this tense since, it was a fine demonstration of the potential of the series beyond just its comedy chops. Series 1 proved that there existed a true competitive element in Taskmaster that wasn’t as prominent in other comedy game shows like Would I Lie to You?, 8 out of 10 Cats, and QI, an element which brought something new to the table.

Highlights

  • Josh’s tattoo
  • Tim picking blue Smarties up off the floor with his mouth to get his first episode win
  • Romesh and Tim smashing and then devouring a watermelon
  • Roisin making Alex eat toothpaste pie
  • The entire finale

4
Series 2

Making A Mess, Impressing Mayors, And Rescuing Cats

Taskmaster Series 2

  • Cast: Doc Brown, Joe Wilkinson, Jon Richardson, Katherine Ryan, Richard Osman

In the same way as Series 9 was a showcase for Jo Brand’s talents, Series 2 was even more so for Katherine Ryan. If the previous season established the show as not only a worthy comedy show but a competitive game show as well, Series 2 showed the competitive value of cleverness and outside-the-box thinking, largely due to Katherine’s stellar performance.

Katherine surged into the lead in episode 3 with an impressive showing of putting rabbits in a hat. Just one example of her lateral thinking style, once she’d gotten all of her own rabbits in, she started stealing rabbits from other contestants, effectively doubling her total score for the episode, propelling her into the season lead, and keeping her there until the end. This, as well as many other tasks, pioneered a style of gameplay in Taskmaster that many contestants have tried to emulate since, to mixed results.

Highlights

  • John impressing the mayor
  • Joe’s dirty book
  • Doc and Katherine’s music videos
  • Katherine making Greg a lord
  • Katherine calling her Danish friend to translate Swedish

3
Series 4

Camouflage, Putting Things In A Bathtub, And Hide And Seek

Taskmaster Series 4

  • Cast: Hugh Dennis, Joe Lycett, Lolly Adefope, Mel Geidroyc, Noel Fielding

While Series 4 is very much Noel Fielding’s season, the whole cast brings something special to the table here. Widely considered to be the season where Taskmaster really hit its stride, there is a lot to love in the 8 episodes with these contestants, and it features some of the best tasks in the series.

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From Hugh knocking over rubber ducks and Joe blowing up a cake, to Mel’s late-season point surge and Lolly’s three straight prize task victories (and four out of the final five), there’s a lot of creativity on display in this season. None stands out more than Noel Fielding’s effort, coming away from Series 4 with the trophy. Camouflaging himself as a tiny banana is iconic, but turning Alex into an exotic sandwich is another one of his many standout moments from this season.

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Highlights

  • Mel fitting a stuffed camel through a Baby Gap store
  • Lolly bringing in £2000 cash
  • Lolly dominating at Hide and Seek
  • Joe’s “Greg Davies’ Head” chair
  • Hugh’s pommel horse routine
  • Noel’s tiny banana disguise

2
Series 7

Flicking Switches, Blinking, And Baked Bean Measurements

Taskmaster Series 7

  • Cast: James Acaster, Jessica Knappett, Kerry Godliman, Phil Wang, Rhod Gilbert

If Series 4 was where Taskmaster hit its stride, Series 7 propelled it into the mainstream. This is in no small part due to the presence of James Acaster, who seems to thrive on panel shows like this. He’s had several moments from his time on the series Would I Lie to You? go viral internationally, and he brings that same anarchic energy to his stint on Taskmaster.

The whole season has a chaotic thrum to it. Something about these five contestants coming together really made the show fly off the rails, but it was always for the better. Kerry’s season victory, while impressive, was almost secondary to the competitive madness that occurred on stage. The chemistry between the cast members leaves no doubt that everything is happening in good fun, but when the wheels come off, it’s some of the best content Taskmaster has ever produced.

Highlights

  • A picture of Greg looking fat
  • “Are you counting the juice on the end as the length of a bean?”
  • Phil’s tricky little box
  • The Task Delivery task
  • Rhod force-feeding Alex coffee
  • James drawing a circle
  • Find a satsuma

1
Series 5

Cuddling Alex, Sneezing, And Fish Puns

Taskmaster Series 5

  • Cast: Aisling Bea, Bob Mortimer, Mark Watson, Nish Kumar, Sally Phillips

If there is a legendary contestant in the British game show scene, it’s probably Bob Mortimer. Like James Acaster, Bob has had several viral moments on Would I Lie to You? It only added to his legacy when he arrived on the Taskmaster set and won Series 5. That’s not to suggest that his path was easy; this was one of the most competitive seasons of Taskmaster ever, with very few failed tasks from any of the cast. Where Series 7 is comedic madness, Series 5 is like a refined sketch show. It may have a bit less energy, but the improvisational humor these five an think up is unbelievable.

Bob and Sally traded episode victories throughout the entire season, broken up only by a pair of wins by Mark Watson, but the final scores hide the fantastic performances put in by Nish Kumar and Aisling Bea, who more than hold their own. Aisling only lost episode 4 due to a tie-breaker with Mark, and Nish was a single point from victory in episode 2. To maintain such a high competitive and comedic level is Taskmaster is at its absolute best, and it’s never again come together quite as perfectly as it did in Series 5.

Highlights

  • Nish and Mark’s song about a Japanese translator
  • Sally’s special cuddle
  • Bob’s special cuddle
  • The birth of Alex Horne
  • Bob only poops sitting backwards
  • Aisling and Mark’s tie-breaker
  • Bob’s urine graph

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