COMEDY show Taskmaster is proof that laughter really can be just the tonic. Despite filming for the forthcoming 10th series being temporarily halted due to Covid restrictions, the essence of the Bafta-winning series lived on during lockdown courtesy of internet spin-off Hometasking.

The adaptation saw Taskmaster creator and co-host Alex Horne mirror the recorded concept, dreaming up ludicrous tasks for the public - rather than celebrities - to complete from the confines of their homes.

"I think it's one of the few shows you can do in lockdown fairly easily," says Horne, 42.

"We're quite a lucky show in that people come to it and do it in isolation anyway," he says, referring to the individual nature of Taskmaster's creative showdowns.

"It was no more stressful than usual - except for the whole Covid nonsense I suppose."

Now, following the move from Dave to Channel 4 as part of a landmark six-series deal and with the new series finally complete, Taskmaster Greg Davies and his assistant Little Alex Horne (as he's affectionately known) are ready to entertain audiences once again.

"We'd all been cooped up, so I do think there's a renewed energy there," says comedian and Taskmaster host Davies, 52.

"I was just thrilled to be out and doing something... before Covid, I ensured Alex was never closer than five metres to me anyway. So if anything, Covid is more intimate than I would choose. The pesky virus has drawn me closer to him."

With lockdown acting as a period of reflection for the duo, it appears Horne has made some startling realisations.

"I don't think it really hits me until late at night, what bad things he's made me do," he confesses wide-eyed.

"In a TV studio you feel so safe about saying all these things and you forget there will be potentially millions of people watching this torment. But I don't think you need to worry, I'm pretty strong inside."

"It's a very strange switch that clicks though," counters Davies of their on-screen relationship.

"I feel nothing but affection for Alex until we walk out onto the studio floor. And then I feel genuine animosity.

"I guess it's some sort of form of method acting that I'm not in charge of, but the minute we sit down in those chairs, I look at him and I think... I bring the energy of a father who knows it's not his real son."

Like many shows returning to filming following lockdown, the production was required to swap a live audience for a studio filled with empty seats.

Given the fundamental nature of comedy, you'd be inclined to think such a change would alter the show's dynamic for the worse. However, the change of format seems to have had quite the opposite effect.

"We all kind of let loose," says Horne. "We didn't have an audience in the room and in a way that freed us up; we didn't worry about making those people laugh, we just tried to have as much fun as possible.

"Sometimes the person furthest away from the audience doesn't connect with them as much," he notes, so "no-one was left out".

"For Alex and I, it's a real change just to be dealing with the five people rather than entertaining a larger crowd at the same time, and I, for one, thought that it was wonderful that we could just focus all of our attention on them," agrees Davies.

Taskmaster, starts 9pm Thursday 15th October on Channel 4. Catch series 1-9 on All 4.