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At 6ft 8in, Taskmaster host Greg Davies tells Gemma Dunn, the 'false sense of authority' that being tall brings does have its uses

Published 18/06/2016

Greg Davies and Alex Horne
Greg Davies and Alex Horne

Sitting atop a throne surrounded by self-portraits could be deemed a little self-indulgent, but for Greg Davies, it's simply another day on Taskmaster.

"It's business as usual," declares the 48-year-old teacher-turned-comedy star, who is promoting the return of the madcap game show with his loyal assistant Alex Horne.

It was Horne (37), who originally created Taskmaster (it started life as a live show at Edinburgh Fringe Festival), and Davies is full of praise for his co-host. Well, sort of.

"I respect him, as he has made some sort of contribution to the programme," quips the 6ft 8ins actor.

"I find him physically intriguing, a bit like Andy Murray, there is little difference between his head and his neck. It is not an insult, it's just rare."

The second series will see five new hyper-competitive comedians vying to take the crown, all under the watchful eye of Taskmaster Davies, of course.

Expect tricksy tests and some woeful decision making as the (mainly) fearless quintet fight to keep their sacrificed personal possessions: the important documents, trendiest clothing and coolest blue item they own.

The champion will topple Josh Widdicombe, the inaugural victor who had Davies' name tattooed on his foot in his bid for success.

Despite initial reservations that it would be impossible to get a group of people who gelled as well as the first run, Davies, best-known for his role as headteacher Mr Gilbert in hit sitcom The Inbetweeners, admits this series' roster of well-known acts proved him wrong.

"This group gelled just as well," he admits of the line-up, which includes Jon Richardson (8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown), Richard Osman (Pointless), Joe Wilkinson (Rovers), Katherine Ryan (Hair) and Doc Brown (Law & Order). But who's the most ruthless?

"It is a tie between Richard Osman and Jon Richardson. Seriously, though, they are all very competitive," reveals Davies.

"Someone asked me to describe the perfect contestant, and for me, it's a combination of not taking themselves at all seriously and desperately wanting victory," he reveals, chuckling.

As for favourites, he doesn't sit on the fence.

"A lot of people wouldn't answer this, but I think probably Katherine Ryan, or Joe Wilkinson, because he is so genuinely heartbreaking and it's not an act or a character. He'll tell you it is, but he is really like that."

Once again, the Taskmaster cottage remains the base for the feckless five, as they try their hand at concealing pineapples, rescuing cats and hurling potatoes.

They're also taken to peaks of massive man-made mounds, forced to wade through rivers and made to perform before civic royalty to meet Davies' expectations.

"Now that was great fun," quips the Welsh-born funny man, who - unconvincingly - claims to try all of the tasks beforehand, at home in his "messy bedroom".

"My first favourite task was when they had to impress a mayor," he adds. "They were put in a room with the mayor of Chesham and their response was incredible. My second favourite was the concealing of the pineapple."

Despite weeks of enduring blood, sweat and tears in an effort to accomplish these very silly assignments, the contestants needn't expect a heroes' welcome back in the studio. Instead, the weary comics are united for the Taskmaster's rulings in front of a baying - and occasionally sympathetic - audience.

Davies insists the process is yet to make him a power-crazed loon, however.

"No, I'm just a guy, you know, I'm just trying to be myself hanging about," he says, chuckling at the theory.

"Someone asked me if being tall affected me in life, and I said that what it does is give people a false sense of my authority, but here I am, given authority, and it's a wonderful thing."

While he's reluctant to give too much away about the future of the series, he does confess he likes the idea of expanding the net, so it's not just comedians taking part.

"I think that would be interesting, if we move away from comedians. Well not move away from, but include people who aren't necessarily comedians too," says Davies.

Belfast Telegraph

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