One of the best things about teenagers is their ability to dredge up unexpected treasure from the strata of pop culture. It doesn’t matter to them if it’s five years old, or fifty – everything is history. The strangest things are brought out, dusted down, repurposed and memed around the world. Often the original creators, or anyone old enough to remember the original incarnation, are caught by surprise, as by the recasting of Chuck Norris as an internet demi-god, or Matthew Wilder’s bewilderment in the face of his one hit song exploding all over TikTok more than thirty-five years after it faded from the charts.
They love to share their enthusiasm, like true fans, and while some of it passes me by (Marty Robins, from before even I was born; the – apparently – hysterical origin of the internet phrase ‘And I oop’), but I have also got to share in a whole new cultural canon ranging from Jack SepticEye to Dolly Parton.
For quite a few years, one of the kids has been a big fan of Taskmaster, tracking the show down on obscure cable channels. Over the summer it transferred to Channel 4; and since everyone was spending much more time watching TV, and it was one of the rare things we all liked, we settled down to work our way through ten seasons of it.
On one nameless day over the long, hot summer, with bad things behind us and more clearly yet to come, we watched Liza Tarbuck make Alex Horne sit bare-arsed on a large cream cake, and laughed until we choked at the expression on his face.
Wherever you look, there isn’t much to laugh about, but we saw it again the other day and it’s still funny. So I’m grateful to Alex Horne and Greg Davies, and their guests and production crew, for the time and effort they put into making a polished piece of inventive low-budget absurdity; and grateful to my kids for the recommendation, and a million other things besides.