Comedian, host and Inbetweeners actor, Greg Davies, 52, opens up on Taskmaster moving over to Channel 4 and why he’s not going to be on Strictly Come Dancing.
Taskmaster is back but on Channel 4. Didn’t C4 refuse to air the show initially?
I think they commissioned a taster pilot or something, so it piqued their interest at first, but then they decided it wasn’t for them. And if you’ve seen the adverts, we chastise them for being cowards. That advert was their idea so they’re keen to admit they were wrong.
Were you worried you wouldn’t be able to finish filming it due to lockdown?
Mercifully for the team members and for Alex [Horne], the vast majority of the tasks were filmed before lockdown and you’ll see in the tasks where lockdown kicks in. There’s one melon-feeding challenge where one team get to feed each other melon manually and the other team have to be two metres apart. We like restrictions on Taskmaster so, in that sense, Covid didn’t affect it that much.
The only real difference is that we didn’t film it in front of a studio audience – and I really enjoyed that. A lot of comedians have it in-built that if there are people in front of them, they have to try to make them laugh, so a lot of their energy goes on entertaining them. This felt quite intimate as a consequence.
It’s interesting that the comedians acted so differently…
I’m actually paraphrasing Johnny Vegas. He said he would have been a nightmare because he would have been trying to make the crowd laugh the whole time.
Has Alex become a bit big for his boots since working in the US and with Peter Crouch?
Every now and then I see a flash, and see him go a bit show pony-like and flamboyant, but I soon crush it. It’s not difficult for me to take the wind out of those sails so I like to think I’m keeping him grounded. It’s important!
Which comedian were you most excited about in this series?
I was excited about Johnny Vegas as he’s such a law unto himself. I couldn’t wait for us to put him through the wringer and see how he responded to not being able to freewheel in the way he might. No one’s ever been quite as poetic in failure as he is. He’s a very clever man, it was joy to have him on, but they’re all absolutely fascinating. I love to see them confound themselves. It’s always the case that the cleverest people do the stupidest things.
Is there anyone you’d love to get on the show?
Alex has an obsession with getting Jack Dee on it. Obviously we all love Jack but his obsession fascinates me just because it’s been so constant across the 10 series. I almost think that Jack must have read this now and is doggedly refusing to come near it because Alex is so obsessive.
What have you been watching for a bit of escapism?
I’m really busy at the moment writing so I’m not watching an awful lot because I have a sponge-like mind. If I’m writing something then it will end up sounding like whatever I’m watching so I tend to watch quite earnest documentaries and terrifying news coverage from the States – anything that’s removed from what I’m doing. So it hasn’t been very relaxing lately.
Has lockdown made you really creative?
I found it one of the least creative times and it’s probably because it’s been such a peculiar period and you’re so painfully aware of the separation from your loved ones. I found it very unsettling and, hand on heart, wrote nothing of worth for the whole of the first lockdown. I hope that all those things that people decided to do differently as a consequence of lockdown, I hope some of it sticks. For me personally, that’s for sure.
What do you want to do differently?
Oh, where do I start? Not be fat. Not leave things to the last minute.
There were rumours you were going to be on Strictly.
No, no. I’m not going on it, I promise. Sorry. They have very kindly asked me on a couple of occasions but from what I hear it’s a very challenging schedule and I have too much on at the moment.
What’s going on?
The Cleaner for the BBC is happening after I’ve filmed a comedy drama for Sky called Safe Space about a psychotherapist gone rogue. At the moment the Covid protocols are really good so it feels really rigorous and safe. Unlike the live comedy industry, of course, which is in crisis, and that really is awful.
Is it nice to act again?
It will be lovely because I haven’t done any acting for a long time. Safe Space is quite a radical departure from anything I’ve done so we’ll see whether I actually can act. Then hopefully Taskmaster will be continuing for some time. As long as that little weirdo can keep churning out tasks for people to do, then we’ll be fine. And feel free to call Alex a little weirdo.
Taskmaster is on Thursdays at 9pm on Channel 4. Catch series 1-10 on All 4
Credit: Original article published here.