Alex Horne of Taskmaster presents The Horne Section Musical at Portsmouth Guildhall | Big maintenance

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The Horne Section, with Alex Horne, right, is at Portsmouth Guildhall on December 16th
The Horne Section, with Alex Horne, right, is at Portsmouth Guildhall on December 16th

Musical act The Horne Section sold the signature dish towels at their merchandising stand at the start of their tour and are struggling to secure more for the rest of the dates.

“Yes, we have run out of tea towels,” says group leader Alex Horne.

“We sell more tea towels than albums, and I don’t think that reflects well in the music…

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“The music is on CDs and people don’t need CDs anymore, but you will still need tea towels.

“We placed another order, but I think Brexit, strangely enough, is now the thing keeping tea towels from entering the country.”

“So there will be more tea towels eventually. ”

And he adds wistfully, “We could just stop making music and go into the haberdashery. “

The Horne section

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All six actors have been regulars on our screens for the past few years – they’ve been guest stars on Channel 4’s hit shows, 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown and The Last Leg, among others – and they’ve had a two-part special. hours filmed at the London Palladium aired on Dave.

They also have the chart-topping podcast, The Horne Section, which has been running since 2018 and features guests from all over the world of comedy and showbiz.

Then, of course, Horne is Greg Davies’ right-hand man in the hilarious Taskmaster – a show created by Horne.

Taskmaster hosts Greg Davies and Alex Horne

The group are currently on tour for their 10th anniversary, postponed to the pandemic, which stops at Portsmouth Guildhall next week.

“These are all shows carried over from last year, and there was a real excitement from people to go out and do something fun and forget about everything else for a few hours.

“The first two shows were weird because we hadn’t done anything for 18 months, but we just enjoy being on stage again – and you stop taking it for granted, which is good.”

Although they were unable to tour, the group was able to keep busy with TV and podcast work.

“We were a little lucky because the musicians really suffered – well, everyone suffered obviously – but they didn’t have a leave plan or an outlet.

“We know a lot of musicians and some of them went back to teaching, in my own band, some of them came back to that because they usually tour with Madness or Robbie Williams and various people, so everything their work is gone.

“But we did manage to pick up a few snippets where we figured out how to do things remotely, by recording our individual parts on our own computers and then putting them together. You can’t really make music on Zoom due to timing issues!

“We were lucky to have stuff with The Last Leg, and the Peter Crouch (Save Our Summer on BBC One) stuff was really fun.

“But these are our first real comeback gigs.

“The downside is that there are a few elements of interacting with the public that we are no longer allowed to do. I used to walk the stage in the early evening, and it stopped.

“I actually think it’s probably a relief for everyone.”

When it comes to live music, fans want to hear their old favorites, but when it comes to live comedy, people want to hear new jokes. So where does that leave a group that straddles the two?

‘We struggle!’ Alex laughs. “There are people who want certain songs, even if they know the joke, but they like the song. But we don’t like to play the same old songs, so it’s kind of a mix, about half and half of old and new.

“With the band, we try to keep it fresh every night. If the audience can see that the band is bored, everyone knows they are bored, so we always try to add lots of new stuff.

“I think what we do is disappoint everyone at some point.

“People who want old stuff aren’t getting all of that, and people who want old stuff aren’t going to get all of that either.”

“We try to spread our disappointment evenly, but also a lot of people don’t really know The Horne Section, they come because of Taskmaster or they come because we see each other on 8 out of 10 Cats… so a lot of people don’t. no ”I don’t really know what they are used for.

“We try to do a little bit of everything – there’s a little bit of Taskmaster in the show as well, and there’s a little bit of other stuff that you might have seen on TV, and then there’s a whole pile of clutter. “

Do they have the “biggest hits” they need to play?

“There’s a song about peas that’s our most requested, which we did on The Last Leg’s New Years Eve show two years ago, and it’s one that we just can’t afford.” allow not to play – people get upset if we don’t.

“But people have weird tastes – so we ask, ‘What do you want us to play? You get a lot of different answers, and also, it’s not like we’re the kind of band that had a number one hit.

“So they get what we give them, really,” he said impassively.

With the podcast, the group creates a frightening amount of new material

“I’m always amazed that real bands don’t do more. I mean Adele, she’s releasing her first album in six years. She’s done 12 songs in six years – we do 12 songs a week!

“I don’t know what’s wrong with these people,” he said, mockingly.

“These bands that release an album every five years, I don’t know what they’re doing – I think you can think too much.

“And with the podcast, we have a motto, ‘Well that’s good enough for the podcast,’ so it’s a good place to produce stuff and see if it works.

“We keep writing and posting stuff and then we take the cream of it and put it in the tour show.

“There is some pretty complicated stuff in podcasts,” he admits.

Speaking of six years – Taskmaster started on Dave in 2015, moving to Channel 4 in 2019. For those unfamiliar with him, the award-winning Bafta show features a bunch of comics and celebrities who clash through each other. series in increasingly stupid tasks. Their performances are then graded and rated by Greg Davies – the eponymous Taskmaster. Horne’s job is to oversee every task – and to be the butt of many of Greg’s jokes.

“It’s been over six years since we started doing it because it kind of got the upper hand, but I’m happy it’s continuing.

“I think it struck a chord in the lockdown because people needed to escape – there’s not a lot of seriousness, it’s people who are stupid, and neither is there of politics.

“I think people don’t really want to hear any Brexit or Covid jokes anymore – so it’s a good time to get away from it all.

“And for us who did, it kept us alive as well. Filming days are really fun.

“We’re starting tomorrow, actually, on the next series, so I’m at home setting things up. It’s always been fun – which is nice to have in your life. ‘

One of the constant jokes is that 6ft 8in Greg laughs at Alex’s “small” stature.

But as Alex reveals: “I’m 6ft 2, but I got a reputation for being around 5ft 4 because of it.

“People are very disappointed in real life when I am actually quite tall. I actually like it.

Beyond the filming of Taskmaster, what does 2022 have in store for Alex and The Horne Section?

“There are always little bits that we try to integrate. Unfortunately, there are a few projects that I am not allowed to talk about that sound a lot more exciting than it is. We like to appear on other stuff I’m sure we’ll be doing more Last Leg.

“We’re not doing a podcast right now, as we have other stuff coming up, so I must be mysterious about that…

“It’s a challenge to integrate everything, but it’s a beautiful problem to have.”

A message from the editor, Mark Waldron

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