'Alex Horne is a snitch and a brown-noser' | Charlotte Ritchie on her Taskmaster experience © Andy Devonshire/C4

'Alex Horne is a snitch and a brown-noser'

Charlotte Ritchie on her Taskmaster experience

Were you a fan of the show before you signed up?

I couldn’t believe I got asked to do it, I was so chuffed. Especially as I’m not a stand-up, I don’t write anything, so they’re taking a risk and I think they’ll see that they’ve taken a risk now that they’ve seen me in the studio!

I generally don’t like being myself in anything but I couldn’t turn this down. When I look back on my life I want to be able to say I was on Taskmaster. So I just thought, ‘Fuck it.’

What have you learned about yourself?

I’ve learned a lot about myself and how I come across. The big running theme is – and this is no disservice to them because it’s a really honourable industry and profession – but Greg has called me a children’s TV presenter a lot. And actually I’m going to own it because those people access the purest of us, i.e. children, and if they can be on a level with children, before they’re corrupted by the world and trauma, I’m really happy to be counted amongst those people.

Pictures shows Charlotte in dungarees outside the Taskmaster houseSo what is it about you that has come across like a children’s TV presenter?

I didn’t help myself with my outfit [right] because it’s like something from Jackanory. Actually, I think I might be dressed exactly like one of the puppets from In The Night Garden.

So there’s that, and then also my relentlessly positive demeanour which doesn’t really chime with what goes on in my head. It’s quite unnerving to watch because that’s not what I’m thinking so clearly there is a big disconnect between my inner world and my outer world. But if I come across as a positive person then I’m happy with that.

There’s a good correlation that the more I’m laughing, the more I’m in hell, but I think that’s fine because there are two options: you could either wallow in something or you really over-compensate in the other direction. That tends to work out better in life so that’s how I’ve gone.

There’s a good chance I’ll never be cast in anything again. I’m happy, I like Jackanory and I bet the money’s good.

Was it different than you imagined?

Yes, I was really nervous all the way through all of the tasks. I find being creative or entertaining on demand impossible.

So the tasks were OK because I could just get on with them, but the studio was a real adjustment. I feel like it was a real baptism of fire because the only other studio I thing I’ve ever done was 8 Out Of 10 Cats.

I went from being completely petrified in the first episode to being like, ‘This can never end: I want us to all be perpetually in this room talking about nothing’. It’s been an adjustment and it’s definitely more full-on than it looks on TV but that’s great. Difficult things are good … most of the time.

Were you intimidated by the fact that the others are comedians?

Yep. Because their job is being funny by themselves and the only time I’ve ever been funny is if someone else has written something good for me to put in my mouth. Without that I’m an empty vessel that needs to be filled with genius. The proof will be in the tweets following the show so I’m looking forward to learning who I am on the internet.

I was intimidated but also I’m in good company. It’s pretty great to be around those people whose brains work as fast as that.

How competitive did it get between you all?

It actually started off really competitive and then slowly relaxed. I didn’t know how I could argue that I would win or find that passion to want to win, but then we all seemed to really chill out…

Also, not having an audience does feel sometimes like we’re just having a chat whilst we’re waiting for the cameras to start.

Who was the most competitive?

It’s difficult to choose. Lee Mack, I think, because he had a lot of pressure from his kids to win because they love the show. His reputation as a father is on the line whereas I don’t have that pressure and that freed me.

Some people describe Taskmaster as like therapy. Have you found that?

This is what I’m worried about! I do feel really exposed. I don’t think I thought that through. I thought it would be fine, no one would ever get to know me but put anyone in front of a camera for long enough and if they do tasks and answer questions you’ll get to really know them. Oh God.

Did you bear the brunt of any of Greg’s tempers?

He relentlessly bullied me from start to finish.

How have you found Alex?

I enjoyed his dynamic with Greg in the studio. But he’s a snitch and a brown-noser. So quite often when I was at the lowest place he’d eagerly go to point directly at me when the points are being read out

How would you describe their relationship?

It’s like they’ve been married for a very long time but it’s quite a psychologically abusive relationship. Alex has got Stockholm Syndrome and Greg is a messed-up patriarch.

Did your day job come in handy in any way?

Disappointingly there was one task where I had to make the house haunted. Considering I‘ve just filmed two series about a haunted house, I think I performed poorly.

There was a lot of stuff that involved physically moving around and sometimes I think I look like a puppet on a string, I can’t believe how I move.

Greg said I’m a human cartoon, which pretty much sums it up. I do think there’s some footage that will make future employers be like, ‘I would have hired her but did you see the way she moved on that show? I don’t think we can have that associated with our film about the Second World War.’

Did you bring in anything precious for the first round?

I only brought in stuff that’s mine, which turns out is too Route One.

Greg said, ‘You can’t just bring things from around your house’ and I was like, ‘That’s literally what I thought you were supposed to do’. 

Did you get any advice from anyone who has done it?

Yeah, quite a few people. Katy Wix, Lolly Adefope, Rose Matafeo. All of their advice was the same, that you can’t really plan anything: you just have to do it. So I guess the proof will be in the pudding.

• Taskmaster returns to Channel 4 at 9pm on Thursday with contestants Charlotte Ritchie, Jamali Maddix, Lee Mack, Mike Wozniak and Sarah Kendall.

Published: 15 Mar 2021

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