ROLAND WHITE reviews last night's TV

ROLAND WHITE reviews last night’s TV: All hail the king of TV silliness – and Liza Tarbuck’s fake beard

Taskmaster: Champion Of Champions 2022


The Undiscovered Tony Hancock


Can there be any show on telly that is more wonderfully, joyfully pointless than Taskmaster (C4)?

It’s even more pointless than Pointless. I mean, has there ever been a time when you thought to yourself: ‘What the viewing public needs to see right now is Liza Tarbuck eating a grape that has been delivered by a rudimentary pulley system operated by Alex Horne pedalling an exercise bike while wearing a sailor hat’?

If you happen to have thought this, you should get a job on the show. Or you could seek medical help.

Incidentally, Liza was wearing a very convincing goatee beard and moustache. I know, I know: I’m just as baffled as you are.

Last night’s episode of Taskmaster: Champion Of Champions 2022 saw Richard Herring defeat four other previous winners of the show. The show has been going for 13 series and four specials. PICTURED: Show hosts Greg Davies and Little Alex Horne

This is the magic of Taskmaster. It has no message to deliver and it does not take itself seriously — it’s just a group of comedians doing very silly tasks for no other reason than to make us laugh. How excellently old-fashioned.

Last night’s episode was essentially the programme’s Champions League final. Richard Herring defeated four other previous winners of the show.

He was in second place behind Liza until the final round, where he pulled off a spectacular victory.

Who knew that he’d be so skilled at filling up a suitcase and placing it on a platform so that taskmaster Greg Davies could not tell whether it was filled with bricks or balloons? In fact, Richard was the only contestant who managed this.

The show has been going for 13 series and four specials. To come up with fresh challenges after all this time must require great ingenuity. But after this Champion Of Champions show, where does it go from here?

Apart from Taskmaster, last night Channel 4 offered Drawers Off: The Big Naked Painting Challenge and Naked Attraction. Anyone for Taskmaster In The Nude?

The Undiscovered Tony Hancock explored how Hancock (pictured) was a huge star in the UK during the 50s and 60s, but was desperate to succeed in America – Hollywood doesn’t do failure

Elsewhere, we were reminded that it is 54 years this Saturday since the comedian Tony Hancock killed himself in Australia, where he had gone to revive his career.

The usual narrative is that Hancock was self-destructive and collapsed into depression and alcoholism. 

But The Undiscovered Tony Hancock (Sky Arts) argued that the usual narrative is wrong: that Hancock, a huge star in the UK in the 1950s and 1960s, was desperate to succeed in America. But, unfortunately, Hollywood doesn’t do failure.

Hancock’s downbeat character didn’t catch on, and his career never really recovered.

Presenter Victor Lewis-Smith guided us through home movie footage and some long-lost sketches; took us on a tour of the flat where Hancock lived with his first wife; and suggested that it was Hancock who paved the way for Alan Partridge and David Brent.

Apparently, he did have a thing for the ladies. Carry On star Liz Fraser, who often shared a taxi with Hancock, recalled: ‘I like to honour myself by saying that he fancied me.

‘He asked me several times whether I’d like to go to a hotel or something. I’m pleased to say I never did.’

The programme also featured a Norwegian version of Hancock’s most celebrated sketch, The Blood Donor.

Norwegians give blood in litres, and so the best line — ‘A pint? That’s very nearly an armful’ — was translated as: ‘A half-litre? You could drain a finger’.

Not quite the same, is it? 

Christopher Stevens is away.

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