TV: Taskmaster Series Nine

TV: Taskmaster Series Nine rose matafeo licks a lolly

I've got a terrible confession to make. I think I started to fall a bit out of love with Taskmaster during recent series. It seemed to be on television so often that it sort of felt less and less like essential viewing. I hate to admit it but with their endlessly silly games Greg Davies and Alex Horne had become too much of a good thing. 

So it's with great pleasure that I can say that after my trial separation I'm definitely on board for series nine. As are Rose Matafeo, Jo Brand, Katy Wix, Ed Gamble and David Baddiel, who are the latest contestants. And Greg Davies is once again joined by "Little Alex Horne". In fact it might be my imagination, but he seems even more little this time round. Have they made Greg's throne bigger or Alex's seat smaller?

As for the games there's plenty to give you a big laugh. For starters the competitors have to bring in something that stresses them out. David Baddiel, for instance, brings in an empty loo roll, explaining that who hasn't been stressed when they do a big shit and find there is no paper...

When it comes to the games the first one could be called "Hide the aubergine" as the quintet have to do exactly that and then Alex has to find the vegetable. I don't know if it's because the programme has a big following among children, but almost no mention of the phallic emoji meaning of an aubergine is made. Even when David Baddiel tries to conceal one in his trousers he cuts it up first so it can't be miscontrued for something rude... 

For the next task everyone has to wear black-out goggles and go outside where they have to identify a dodo statue by touch and put ice lollies in the order of rainbow colours by taste. The latter sounds difficult and it is. Rose Matafeo is pictured doing this very badly indeed. In fact it is so difficult one cheat attempts to do it without their goggles and still struggles to notch up many points. 

There is more fun to be had when everyone has to compete to make the most dramatic entrance. I'm not sure why this wasn't the first task – that might have made more sense – but it is a joy to see Jo Brand dressed as a famous much-married King, Katy Wix spouting nonsense and Ed Gamble surrounded by spooky dolls' heads in ghostly black cloaks.

Greg Davies seems to be playing increasingly fast and loose with the arbitrary scoring system this time round. We won't tell you who the winner of the first episode is, you'll have to watch it to find out. OK, we will tell you - the winner is the audience, who get to see the show back on top form again. 

Taskmaster, 9pm, Dave, Wednesdays from September 4, then on catch-up here


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