“Imperfectly perfect”: How 10 is putting an Aussie spin on comedy game show Taskmaster


“There is something in this show where you can enjoy an epic failure because it’s of no consequence”

Taskmaster Australia is about to put five comedians to the ultimate test.

Hosted by Tom Gleeson, aka the Taskmaster, and his assistant Tom Cashman, the two Toms give the group of comedians a set of comical tasks to complete each in their own way.

Over 10 episodes, tasks range from simple physical challenges to more complex or artistic tasks. Some tasks may be timed, consist of multiple stages, or both.

Adapted from the hugely popular UK version, Australia’s Taskmaster is premiering Thursday, February 2, at 7.30pm on 10 and 10 Play.

Mediaweek spoke to Tom Cashman and executive producer, Sarah Thornton ahead of the show’s premiere about finding the perfect cast, brainstorming tasks and all the giggles along the way.

Finding the right cast

Taskmaster assistant, Cashman is an up-and-coming stand-up comedian, performer and writer. He is regular on 10’s The Project, as well as Question Everything, Celebrity Letters & Numbers, Planet America, Australia Debates, and Tonightly With Tom Ballard.

In addition to Gleeson and Cashman, the comedians putting their selves on the line for a winning chance at taking home the coveted gold-plated Gleeson- head trophy are Julia Morris, Luke McGregor, Jimmy Rees, Nina Oyama and Danielle Walker.

Luke McGregor, Julia Morris, Nina Oyama, Danielle Walker and Jimmy Rees

On picking the ideal cast, Thornton said, “It was extremely rigorous. My first wishes were for Tom and Tom, and I feel incredibly privileged that we have them in the show, and I think the finished product is a testament to that being a good decision.

“I think you’ll see there’s a real breadth of the types of comedians, and we really tried to make sure that each of the comedians we chose are there for a clear purpose and bring a particular kind of comedy.”

On air for 10 weeks, the show has the same comedians for the entire season, allowing viewers to pick and choose their favourites and watch them progress throughout the show. 

“We have our cast of five for 10 weeks, and we learned a lot about them that you wouldn’t normally learn on your average panel show,” Thornton said. “You get to know them, and you decide who you’re rooting for, you see their failures, you see their successes.

“And I think that that’s one of the brilliant things about this show – it’s one of the reasons I thought it would be great for Australia is that it gives you an insight into the panellists in a way that you don’t get anywhere else.”

Adapting Taskmaster for an Australian audience

The original concept for the program was first created by Alex Horne for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2010; he later secured a deal with British free-to-air television channel, Dave to adapt it for television, with the first episode premiering in 2015.

For the Australian version, Horne still plays a part in the production, signing off on the tasks before they are completed.

Cashman said, “I think there’s a lot of things in the [UK] format that you have to do the same because it’s a fantastic format. And I think the extent to which it’s different was basically about each person’s comedic voice.


Tom Cashman

Ahead of filming, Cashman talked to Horne about how to make the role his own.

“We had a bit of a chat about how to approach it in terms of my specific role, and he said what I was kind of hoping he would say – which is not to overthink it and basically be yourself.

All the tasks in the Australian series differ from the UK version. Despite 14 UK and three New Zealand series, all of them are original and fresh and written specifically for Australia

Thornton says she hopes the Australian version “pays homage to the UK format.”

“I think it’s a clever format and enables you to make a version that works because it has so much to it, and it does so much of the heavy lifting for you.

“All you have to do is cast well and get good writers and write good tasks. But ultimately, the format holds your hand through the show, and enables Tom and Tom and the rest of the cast to be themselves within the framework of the format.”

A new type of creativity

Cashman says brainstorming the tasks is a collaborative process, with almost every idea being “good.”

This is where Taskmaster differs from other types of comedy, Cashman admits. 

“It is this unique type of creativity,” he said. “If someone has an idea or a thought, it’s good, and you can add to it because little additions to the tasks often make them better.”

Thornton said there’s a team of writers behind the tasks, with the goal of bringing in new writers each season to keep it fresh.

“We try and have a variety,” she said. 

There are tasks that are open to interpretation, and there are tasks that are measurable in the time it takes to do something. 

In addition, Thornton said, “There are also brilliant, open-ended tasks where there are really fun hacks that the comedian can come up with if they’re thinking laterally.

“That’s the joy of Taskmasterthere’s no one answer to the tasks, and there’s real scope for creativity and fun.”


Sarah Thornton

Despite the Taskmaster designating points and each episode crowning a winner, Cashman and Thornton say there is no bad result.

“I’m not someone who normally loves failure. But there is something in this show where you can enjoy an epic failure because it’s of no consequence. And actually, comedy is the winner when there’s failure,” Thornton said.

The duo say the essence of the show is its ability to showcase a comedian’s talents. Putting comedians in stressful situations where they’re forced to be authentic is what makes Taskmaster great, admits Cashman.

“Their authentic selves come out, and I think that’s when their true funniness comes out. 

“That’s why I’m most excited about this show because it gives a new way for comedians in Australia to show how funny they are.”

Thornton echoed the sentiment saying, “I think you’ll see a side of comedians that is hard to see, so I think it’ll show comedy in a way that TV viewers don’t often get access to.”

“Every now and then, a format comes along that is slightly perfect. And this is for me, this is one of them. There’s a real perfection to this format, t’s imperfectly perfect, but that’s part of the joy of it,” Thornton concluded.

Taskmaster Australia premieres on Thursday, February 2, at 7.30pm on 10 and 10play.

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