The Horne Section TV Show | Review of Alex Horne's attempts to escape from the Taskmaster's shadow... © C4
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The Horne Section TV Show

Review of Alex Horne's attempts to escape from the Taskmaster's shadow...

One of the many great running jokes in Taskmasker is Alex Horne’s utter lack of authority and status on the very show he created: not so much playing second fiddle to Greg Davies as reserve triangle-player.

It’s a gag that The Horne Section TV Show very much runs with. When Davies – who guests in episode one – calls round to his sidekick’s house, he drops off the laundry. And asked for a favour, he demands an eye-watering fee, which Horne meekly agrees to, apparently.

However there is one place where Horne does have some dominion –and that’s over his band: a collection of talented musos even milder in manner than him.

The premise here is that Horne’s pitching a talk show to Channel 4, to be filmed at his house and with the band backing him. Something like Noel’s House Party is how he’s billing it.

Of course he hasn’t the spunk to get out there and sell himself, so stepping into the breach is Thora, a straight-talking American friend of Alex’s (perennially unseen) wife who signs up to be producer. She’s played by Desiree Burch – who you might have thought Horne would have recognised as being a former Taskmaster contestant, but this series is fairly loose about who’s being themselves and who’s being a character.

When Thora pitches the show to a hard-bitten Channel 4 executive played by Georgina Tennant, she insists: ‘Sure they're not slick, sure they're not conventionally attractive or young, sure they won't appeal to a wide audience….’ and this from the band’s biggest cheerleader!

Despite that, the show does get commissioned, albeit accidentally, and the second episode shows what goes on behind the scenes of the live pilot episode, with Martin Kemp as a guest. If you’re thinking The Larry Sanders Show, you’d be wide of the mark for this is silly rather than cynical, with the narrative  often merely an excuse to hang silly sketches, imaginatively corny jokes and delightful songs on.

Guests are well-used. Davies’ enthusiastic embrace of Latin American music at the end of episode one is a delight, while John Oliver plays against type, fully of desperate gusto just to be a part of Horne’s project, and making a cameo in every episode.

What the band lack in cool they make up for in quirkily memorable numbers, such as their anthem in praise of Chinese Five Spice, some of which get inventive music videos, and there’s clearly a camaraderie between them that comes through the screen.

Horne’s low-key naivety is at the centre of it all, though, an innocent out of his depth as madness swirls around him. That he and the band are all slightly hesitant performers adds to the ramshackle charm of a show that’s an understated delight; as you might well have expected from any of the Horne Section’s previous work.

All episodes of The Horne Section TV Show are on All 4 now, and will air on Channel 4 weekly from 10pm on Thursday November 17.

» Interview with Alex Horne about the show

Review date: 3 Nov 2022
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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