The Masked Singer

The Masked Singer is one of the most entertaining, surreal prime time hit TV shows in a long time!

With most of the established reality TV formats in the UK either gone, or at least very much brands in decline, this new show is very interesting and watchable, for the bizarre, and beautifully rendered, costumes alone.

(The show has just finished it’s first run now, but the rest of this post CONTAINS SPOILERS if you haven’t seen the full series!)

It’s based on The King of Mask Singer, a South Korean show which made an impression internationally on the internet with memes and comments on it. The format itself  has been expanded all over the world, with versions in the USA, Australia, Germany and France among others. Us lot in the UK are actually quite late to the party this time!

In the context of British TV gameshows though, the programme it most resembles is Through The Keyhole, having to guess who the celebrity is from various clues. It also has similarities to The X Factor, and has openly been touted as a possible replacement of that franchise, due to The X Factor plummeting into total irrelevance and being “rested” this year.

What The Masked Singer has in common with The X Factor is that both are extravagant karaoke contests, but this time the participants wear elaborate theme park/football mascot-esque costumes. The 12 contestants are all celebrities, and at least one is unmasked each episode.

The costumes have a bit of a Power Rangers villian feel to them, which is fitting as the Power Rangers franchise was a remake of the Japanese Super Sentai franchise. The
Masked Singer is also a Western remake of an East Asian franchise.

Like most reality TV shows in the UK, The Masked Singer has a public vote of a kind, but because every show is pre-recorded well before it ends up on screen it is just the vote of the studio audience. They have gone to lengths to make sure nothing gets leaked out, with only limited audience who have signed non-disclosure contracts  getting to see who is revealed. When not in their costumes, the celebrities also had to wear hoodies with “Don’t Speak To Me” written on them, and visors to cover up their faces!

The host is Joel Dommett. While he’s done a fair bit of presenting, he is not someone you see presenting every other TV show, so that was a refreshing change.

The “celebrity detectives”/judges panel had to guess who the contestants were, and sometimes got to decide who stayed. The panel was chatshow host Jonathan Ross, TV
presenter Davina McCall, popstar Rita Ora, and Ken Jeong, who was in The Hangover. Ken Jeong’s schtick of getting up saying “I know exactly who this is!”,
guessing someone who obviously isn’t the right answer and saying “Welcome to The Masked Singer UK!” got old very quickly. Like, the first episode! I haven’t seen the
US version, but apparently Ken Jeong is exactly the same on that, but it works a lot better in that version of the show for whatever reason. But he was definitely the worst of the judges here.

He wasn’t even on all the shows either, he had to have a couple of weeks off. His stand-ins in those weeks were Donny Osmond (who competed in the first series of the US version as Peacock, finishing runner-up), and Sharon and Kelly Osbourne (who was Ladybug in the second US series).

Apart from Ken, the panel worked pretty well though. Davina McCall is, for us in the UK, the “original” reality TV presenter, and Jonathan Ross is a reasonably big name as TV presenters go. Rita Ora was by far the best though, perhaps that’s because she is a singer and has some background and knowledge for guessing who the singers are. She also bought a sweet likeability and enthusiasm to the programme.

The first contestant to go was Butterfly. I liked Joel Dommett’s intro to her “This is what The Very Hungry Caterpillar looks like now!”. Butterfly had shiny, bright orange and purple wings and gave quite an understated, but vocally decent, performance of ‘You Got The Love’ by the Source feat. Candi Staton, with a background of butterflies in a heart shape. The thing about insects though, even pretty ones like butterflies and ladybirds, is that close up, they look very creepy and alien-like. An episode of Spongebob Squarepants was centred on that, with a butterfly being trapped in a bubble, and the undersea inhabitants being terrified of it! Anyway, after losing out in a head to head against Unicorn, and the bottom 3 against Chameleon and Duck, Butterfly was the first out, and her mask came off, revealing her to be… Patsy Palmer! Most famous for shouting “RICK-AYYYYY!” in EastEnders playing Bianca. In fairness to her, I never knew Patsy Palmer could sing as well as she did on here.

Pharaoh was the first out of the second round of contestants, losing out in a head to head against Tree, and a bottom three against Monster and Daisy. But this was expected because, well, he couldn’t sing. He was probably a bit unlucky with the costume too. I mean, nobody would have been expecting them to recreate the magnificence of Ancient Egypt, but this looked more like a tacky Vegas casino version – and a very, very, very low budget version of a tacky Vegas casino at that! I’m not sure there was much variety of staging you could do with it either, even more so for songs. How many songs would fit? His first and only song was ‘Walk Like an Egyptian’ by The Bangles, and I’m not sure what else he could have sung. He was… former Home Secretary Alan Johnson! In his opening VT he played a guitar, so I guessed that he was in a band, but not the lead singer. Which technically turned out to be true, as apparently he was a guitarist in a band when he was younger, but I think it was probably one of those bands high school/college/uni students form in their spare time. He also gave the clue that his job was also an item of furniture (cabinet), so that confirmed to people he was a former member of parliament, but I don’t know if many guessed it was him. Still, he said he had a lot of fun coming on the show.

Chameleon was a lizard covered in electric lights. The costume looked a bit like a suit of armour as well, so gave a feeling of an old school series Doctor Who villain. In his first week he sang ‘Creep’ by Radiohead, a song that has more reality TV singing contest exposure than you might expect! Popera band G4 in the first series of The X Factor and Wagner in the 7th series both performed it. This performance by Chameleon was better. Yep, someone dressed up as a lizard gave a less ridiculous performance of ‘Creep’ than those two X Factor ones!

In his second week, Chameleon performed ‘Feel It Still’ by Portugal.The Man, and it was really good! He changed colours as well, the lights on his armour going red, green and yellow. He handed a rose to Rita Ora, as there had been a lot of flirtation between them in both weeks. However, both weeks he also ended up at a risk of being voted off. He was chosen along with Duck to be given another chance in episode one, but had to be in a sing-off against her in his second episode. His sing-off performance saw him singing ‘True Colours’ by Cyndi Lauper – and … awww, is was so sweet! ‘True Colours’ is a slightly tearjerking delicate song with a postive message anyway, but when it’s been sung as a chameleon, which change colour to blend in with their surroundings for survival, that’s all the more cute.

Chameleon was voted out this week though. His true indentity was Justin Hawkins from The Darkness! The clues in the VTs had The Darkness written in the background. I lent more towards it being Justin Hawkins after Chameleon said in his VT that he once won three awards at the same event – The Darkness infamously won three BRIT Awards in 2004. When he performed ‘True Colours’ I was sure it was him due to his voice.

I wish he had been on longer. I might have liked him to do ‘Chameleon’ by Michela, Malta’s Eurovision entry last year. I’m certainly surprised he didn’t do ‘Karma Chameleon’ by Culture Club, but I suppose they would have got round to that.

Tree probably had the creepiest looking costume! He had the face like an old bearded man carved into a tree, with toadstools growing on the tree. The staging often had him among other trees and with lots of falling leaves. He sounded OK in his first song, ‘It Must Be Love’ by Madness, but he really didn’t sound good in his second performace, ‘Lovely Day’ by Bill Withers. He ended up in the bottom 2, and he sounded even worse in his sing-off song, ‘Evergreen’, which was Will Young’s Pop Idol winners’ song back in 2002. But I think it was chosen mainly for the tree connection. Anyway, the panel decided to save his sing-off oponent, Octopus.

It was obvious by this point that Tree was a footballer. Peter Crouch had been a popular guess, and he denied being the tree on Twitter in the Tree’s first episode. What I know about football could probably be written on the stud of a football boot, so I was never going to guess this one correctly, but I was quite pleased that I guessed one of the clues correctly. Tree said in one of his VTs that trees are part of a forest, and I thought this would be a reference to Nottingham Forest F.C., which turned out to be true! The identity of Tree was Teddy Sheringham.

Daisy had sunglasses and plantpot shoes, but in her first week this contrasted a bit with the modern, urban song choice with ‘Can’t Feel My Face’ by The Weeknd. The background screen was filled with flower power psychedelia, which was a good fit for a flower, but probably not a good fit for that song.

In her second week she sang an excellent, soulful version of ‘I Can’t Make You Love Me’ by Bonnie Raitt. This had daisies with “he loves me”/”he loves me not” written on them in the background, and the setting appeared to be a wedding. That song is very sad anyway, but your wedding being the moment when you realise the person you’re in love with isn’t in love with you… that’s got to be painful.

Her final song was ‘Unforgettable’ by Nat King Cole, which ironically was quite a forgettable song. I think that probably contributed to her finishing in the bottom 2, being on early in the running order as well.

Daisy was my earliest correct guess. I guessed she was Kelis from her first song, but it was from her voice alone, the clues didn’t help me at all! In the fourth episode Rita Ora was so convinced it was Kelis she started singing ‘Milkshake’. Of the other guesses put forward, Fleur East was a fun one due to the flower name, and Jonthan Ross infamously guessed Natalie Cole in the week Daisy sang ‘Unforgettable’ – despite the fact Natalie Cole died in 2015! Not only did the show not edit it out, but they edited IN a picture of Natalie Cole, AND tagged her in a tweet! Didn’t do their research there…

I thought that Daisy/Kelis went too early. The songs in her final week were all supposed to have a connection to the performer, but the connection was extremely loose with ‘Unforgettable’. That song was covered by Natalie Cole, who was the daughter of the original singer Nat King Cole, and the connection to Kelis was that like Natalie Cole, Kelis is also the daughter of a jazz musician. This is where it gets a bit “reading into absolutely everything” like me and others used to do when we went on the Sofabet comments section to talk about The X Factor, but I think having Daisy wear a different outfit – a glittery tuxedo – possibly took away her “identity” and might have cost votes too. But who knows.

Rita Ora reiterrated her guess it was Kelis when it came to unmasking, making Rita the first time the panel actually got one right!

Kelis said that the reason she did the show was that she had always been told throughout her career that she had a distinctive voice, so she wanted to test that. Well I think it was proven right, as quite a few of us guessed based on her voice!

She was in the bottom 2 with Monster, and that reminded me of ‘Lil Star’, her track with CeeLo Green, and one of my favourite songs of 2007!

Duck was… a very interesting one for me!

Her costume looked like a giant yellow rubber duck, with legs very like Big Bird’s from Sesame Street. She tended to have costumes on top of her costume. In her first week she was “Duck-Donna”, singing Madonna’s ‘Like A Virgin’, with a blonde wig on top of the duck mask and a conical bra! The song didn’t really suit her voice, but in her second week she performed ‘Livin On A Prayer’ by Bon Jovi, wearing a scarf and a black-orange-grey wig with a rock band, and that fitted her voice a lot better.

But the big surprise with Duck came when she ended up in the bottom two that week. She had a sing-off performance, and her choice for that was… ‘Ave Maria’. Yes, the classical opera prayer ‘Ave Maria’. And Duck sung it very well too! There’s been surprising sing-off moments before, but that had to rank as a huge one! There was the added bonus of her sing-off oponent, Chameleon, looking resigned at the TV screen knowing he wouldn’t be able to compete with that.

‘Blinded By Your Grace Part 2’ by Stormzy was performed by Duck the following week, with a background of a whole choir of Ducks, plus a stained glass window featuring a bathtime rubber duck!

It was almost certainly a coincidence, but I noticed a bit of a recurring religious theme with a lot of Duck’s songs. As well as ‘Ava Maria’, the song titles contained the words virgin, prayer, and grace. That trend was largely broken with her final song, ‘My Heart Will Go On’ by Celine Dion, which as we all know is the theme song from the film Titanic. (I know broadly speaking that song has a little bit of a death/grief/faith/afterlife thing to it, which is probably why it’s been a popular choice to play at funerals, but it’s a huge stretch to say it fits a religious thing).

In this performance, there was the Titanic in the background, with lots of floating rubber ducks, which reminded me of the ‘Big Blue’ episode of Blue Planet II which mentioned when a lot of plastic yellow ducks fell into the sea from a ship. Duck had another accessory too, this time a heart shaped locket similar to what Kate Winslet wore in Titanic.

In the first week Duck was speculated to be an athtele such as Denise Lewis or Kelly Holmes due to a sport themed VT. The second week the panel guessed she could be
one of four of the Spice Girls (Mel C, Mel B, Emma and Victoria). Joel Dormett said imagine if it turned out to be Geri Halliwell! Then, after the ‘Ave Maria’ performance Charlotte Church was a name people suggested.

But Duck was Skin from Skunk Anansie! I was pleased to see her on TV again, Skunk Anansie were one of my favourite bands as a teenger, and I liked Skin’s solo career too. It did take me a while to guess she was Duck though! It was only when Duck said she once had 850,000 people singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to her, something which happened to Skin at a concert in Poland, that I thought it might be her. Then in week 5 her VT Duck mentioned being Labour/liberal, and Skunk Anansie were always out and out political and left wing. But, once again, what confirmed it me was the voice. On the performance of ‘Blinded By Your Grace Part 2’ I thought “this is definitely Skin’s voice!”

I have to say though, I doubt ANYONE in 1997 could have predicted that 23 years later one of the biggest shows on TV would feature Skin from Skunk Anansie singing the love theme from Titanic dressed as a duck!

Unicorn had a big LGBT+ subtext from the start, being glittery silver with a glittery gold horn and rainbow mane and tail. Even more so in the VT, where he talked about “being different from the other horses” and wanting to shine. While his first couple of songs were quite grand diva-ish songs, they weren’t obvious, overdone ones. They were ‘Babooshka’ by Kate Bush and ‘Juice’ by Lizzo.

Suggestions for who Unicorn was included John Barrowman, the whole panel mentioning him and Unicorn himself mentioning him in the VT. Other common ones were various
male Glee cast members, Matthew Morrison, Chris Colfer and Kevin McHale.

One of Unicorn’s songs was ‘Sharp Dressed Man’ by ZZ Top, with the staging being a giant chessboard, with Unicorn Knights (i.e horse pieces with unicorn horn on their head) and giant Rooks (castle pieces) as well! He also performed ‘Girls & Boys’ by Blur, with pink unicorn lights and blue pyramid lights in the background. This looked very like a Scissor Sisters video…

In his VT this week Unicorn mentioned that Ozzy Osborne had seen him naked – and it just so happened that Sharon and Kelly Osborne were guest judges this week, and Kelly knew that her dad had seen Jake Shears naked, at Elton John’s stag night! Unicorn also mentioned that Cher tweeted him saying she wanted to work with him. Obviously, that would narrow it down a lot!

By the end, when it came to guessing who Unicorn was all the panel guessed Jake Shears from the Scissor Sisters. Jonathan Ross had suggested Shane Jenek/Courtney Act (not a bad guess either, to be fair).

But, it was Jake Shears. I really loved the way he kept in character so much with Unicorn during his run on this show. It was adorable how Unicorn trotted and always held his hooves/hands out in front of him.

Fox had a bit of a theme song, WWF wrestler style for when she entered and exited. It was ‘The Fox (What Does The Fox Say)?’ by Ylvis. Fox’s costume was one of the most novel ones. It was a vaguley antropormorphic fox-lady shape, but also like a disco ball, as she was covered head to toe in mirrors.

Her first performance was ‘Call Me’ by Blondie, with her using a red rotary telephone, swinging the cord around, looking very badass and seductive. She got a wolf-whistle from someone in the audience! Which I guess, fox, wolf they are both canids.

Her second performance was ‘On The Radio’ by Donna Summer, in which she gave a very strong vocal and an energetic dance performance. Her third performance was ‘On My Own’ from the musical Les Misérables. Though the staging was more like another Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, Cats. Lots of lampposts, and dustbins with yellow eyes peeking out of them. Fox also was hugging a picture of Joel, which was upside down and she didn’t know until after the song was over. Still, once again, it was a great vocal.

Sometimes her persona seemed more “cat” than “fox” really. From the start, her look reminded me of Kunimitsu (who had a cat shaped mask) from the Tekken video game
series. In her performance of ‘Firework’ by Katy Perry, as well as fireworks Fox was surrounded by dancers dressed like Catwoman!

She was voted out after performing a rather by-the-numbers rendition of ‘Holding Out For A Hero’ by Bonnie Tyler.

Some guesses for Fox included Samantha Fox, which Jonathan Ross suggested. I thought it could be her as well, though maybe the “fox” thing would have been too obvious. Rita Ora suggested “Sarah Fox”, when she meant Sara Cox! Martine McCutcheon seemed plausible as well, with VT comments suggesting being in EastEnders, and the fact that Martine McCutcheon released a cover of ‘On The Radio’ in 2000.

But Fox’s identity was one that was worked out quickest by people. It was from her voice, but this time mainly her speaking voice rather than her singing voice. She was Denise van Outen! She mentioned in VTs “foxtrot”, which was a reference to when she competed in series 10 of Strictly Come Dancing. Denise Van Outen played Éponine in Les Misérables, who sings ‘On My Own’. Fox also mentioned that she collects teapots, and investigative viewers on Twitter found an old tweet by Denise van Outen saying she collects teapots.

Monster, like Fox, also had an entrance/exit theme. It was ‘Monster’ by The Automatic. He was a big, blue, fluffy ball of fur, and he had fangs and claws, plus trumpets on his head. He was a monster in the giant, colourful soft toy vein, like Sesame Street, Sully from Monsters Inc. or one of the Monster Munch creatures. The first song he performed was ‘Happy’ by Pharrell Williams, and had brighly coloured balloons in the background.

His second performance was among red toadstools with white spots, singing ‘I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You’ by Elvis Presley, to a toy mouse! It seemed likely that he was CeeLo Green from the start, from his speaking voice AND his singing voice, and the toy mouse was taken as a reference to Danger Mouse – the musician, not the cartoon character. CeeLo Green and Danger Mouse have recorded together as the duo Gnarls Barkley. Monster even said as one of his “two truths and a lie” that “I am CeeLo Green!”. His third song was ‘Don’t Cha’ by the Pussycat Dolls, a song which he produced

The panel tried other plausible suggestions, such as Rag N Bone Man. In the next week
Monster even performed ‘Human’ by Rag N Bone Man, although it clear then that his voice wasn’t like Rag N Bone Man’s.  A clue this week was that Monster had a call from “Kermit T. Frog”, and CeeLo Green has performed with The Muppets.

In the semi-final he sung ‘Do You Really Want To Hurt Me’ by Culture Club and ‘Careless Whisper’ by George Michael. The panel got to ask him a question, and it was “Are you CeeLo Green?” He was. Possibly the most obvious one, with Rita Ora guessing it in week one! I lot of his performances as Monster didn’t really work for me, to be honest, but I suppose he has a lot of personality and prescence, and he is a good singer.

The three who made the final were Queen Bee, Hedgehog and Octopus. They were also my personal top 3 in the first week, so I was glad they ended up as the finalists!

3rd place was Octopus. She was very giggly, and coloured purple and yellow, with big blue eyes and lipstick, and tentacles of course. Her costume was apparently very heavy, and they had to add wheels to it for her to move about after the first week, but that ended up working well, giving her a sort of “floaty” walk.

Her first song was ‘Part Of Your World’, Ariel’s big song from The Little Mermaid orignally sung by Jodi Benson, which of course I thought was amazing and was my favourite performance in the first week! It was set in a mermaid lagoon, and it was quite moving really. Octopus sometimes left to sound of ‘Under The Sea’, one of Sebastian the crab’s songs in The Little Mermaid. Though Octopus never sung ‘Poor Unfortunate Souls’, Ursula the Sea Witch’s song, which was a bit of a missed opportunity really, considering Ursula was an octopus!

In her second performance Octopus sang ‘Splish Splash’ by Bobby Darin, in a bathtub with a shower, wearing a shower cap and surrounded by bubbles. I liked how she put her tentacle around Joel, which she did most weeks. She was in the bottom 2 this week, but survived, singing ‘One Last Time’ by Ariana Grande.

In her VT in her third week she went past a washed up treasure chest – and a literal red herring! She sang ‘Diamonds Are Forever’ by Shirley Bassey, high glam again, with diamonds raining down, plus white cats for some reason – a reference to Blofeld’s cat in the film I suppose? Anyway, Octopus’ vocals got quite operetic in this one.

Octopus also sung ‘I’ll Never Love Again’ from the 2018 version of A Star Is Born. The staging had stars of a sort – starfish floating in the ocean, acting like stars in a night sky. Then she sung ‘Somewhere’ from West Side Story the week after, as well as performing ‘Vogue’ by Madonna, and it’s a pity she couldn’t do more vogueing with her tentacles! It was a decent enough performance, but, as Rita Ora noted, “This song is not her style!”.

In the final Octopus performed ‘Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’ from Mary Poppins. Octopus Mary Poppins is enough of a fever dream in itself, but the staging also included people in lemon coloured suits and full orange goldfish masks for heads.

Perhaps more than any other contestant, there was a wide variety of guesses as to who she was. They included Myleene Klaas, Tyra Banks, Courtney Act, Sheree Murphy, Charlotte Church and Kym Marsh. I don’t think anyone else will have thought this, but I thought she could be Aubrey O’Day after she mentioned The Apprentice, as she was also in girlgroup Danity Kane. I also considered Jodi Benson herself after the ‘Part Of Your World’ performance.

But Octopus turned out to be classical singer Katherine Jenkins! Rita Ora was the only memeber of the panel to make the right guess in the final.

Octopus started off with an American accent, which faded more and more over the weeks, until her accent became very clearly Welsh. Katherine Jenkins was a guess a lot of viewers made, and I settled on fairly early on, though I waivered a bit. VT references to her “bringing the house down – literally!” and going in the countryside (taken to be a referenence to Emmerdale) made me think it could be Sheree Murphy, as her character in Emmerdale was killed off by a chimney falling down on her. Sheree Murphy had at one time said in an interview that the song that came to her mind then was ‘Feel It’ by The Tamperer feat. Maya, with the line “what’s she going to look like with a chimney on her”. No, Octopus didn’t sing that song!

I think that Octopus should have sung to a shark though, considering Katherine Jenkins’ character in her Doctor Who episode ‘A Christmas Carol’ sung ‘In The Bleak Midwinter’ to a shark! That episode was noted to in a VT, with Octopus saying her job has taken her “back in time”. As for why she did the show, Katherine Jenkins said it was for her daughter, who is a huge fan of The Little Mermaid and Blue Planet.

Runner-up was Hedgehog. He looked like something from a live action stage version of Beatrix Potter or Wind In The Willows, a hedgehog with top hat, goggles and jacket. Hedgehogs are such incredibly cute animals so he was appealing from the start. He was my initial favourite, which is probably because hedgehogs are my spirit animal – according to one of those online personality test quizzes I did years ago anyway.

Hedgehog’s first performance was set in a library with a giant bubbling cauldron and a spellbook, colourful magical dust flying around, singing ‘Black Magic’ by Little Mix.

He sang ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’ by Oasis, against a clockwork background, with a guitarist and drummer. He had put on a posh accent mostly, but in this one he did
a Noel Gallagher impression.

His performance of ‘Chandelier’ by Sia was set in a greenhouse for some reason. I mean, a chandelier in a greenhouse is something which makes no sense whatsoever.

Hedgehog was often in grand house settings, and one of those was with a banquet table with candelabras for ‘I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)’ by Meat Loaf. Hedgehog sung that to a fairy, which was a good fit as a minature version of Beauty And The Beast, and that song always has a Beauty And The Beast vibe to it.

He sung ‘My Way’ by Frank Sinatra, surrounded by footmen with frog heads playing violins. In this week he was asked to tell a joke, which was “Why did the hedgehog
cross the road? To see his flatmate!” That’s a corny old dad joke if ever there was one!

There was speculation Hedgehog could be Brian May from Queen, due to him being a rocker who has a hedgehog sanctuary, as shown on the Channel 5 programme Saving
Britain’s Hedgehogs. Other suggestions included singer Michael Ball (a VT red herring was a ball with the word “Michael” written on) and Jack Whitehall due to the posh accent and the clues to Hedgehog being a comedian. Steve Pemberton was a popular guess as well, though I can’t help but imagine a The League Of Gentlemen/Psychoville/Inside No. 9 giant hedgehog character, which would probably be much scarier than this hedgehog!

But Hedgehog was Jason Manford! He’s someone who a lot of people, myself included, guessed quite early on. I took a VT which featured lots of cat ornamanets to be a reference to the gameshow 8 Out Of 10 Cats. A big clue was Hedgehog saying in his job he “died every night at 8.30”, which was a reference to him playing Pirelli in the musical version of Sweeney Todd. I think if there were any doubts they would have been stopped in the final when he mentioned going on holiday and sending a postcard from Scarborough, which was a clear reference to the BBC sitcom of the same name.

Jason Manford, like Katherine Jenkins, put on an voice to go with the character and disguise his speaking voice so that it’d be more difficult to guess who he was. He didn’t use his natural Northern accent, he put on a plummy posh accent for Hedgehog. He also pretended to be a viewer who had just tuned into the show when it was broadcast, making a lot of guesses of his own, including that Hedgehog was Matt Lucas! I think though, a reason so many people guessed Jason Manford early is that he is such an amiable guy that it came through very strongly even underneath the hedgehog costume.

The winner was Queen Bee! She already had a crown with her costume, so it was quite funny that when she won they put another crown on top of that!

I have to say I really loved the character design and staging that went with Queen Bee. She had a vaguely Elizabeth I look (well, as much as a bee could look like her anyway), and was often surrounded by a royal court of people with bee heads dressed like they were at the ball in Cinderella. Queen Bee had a crown, big hair and a porcelain doll face and an orange ballerina skirt. Sometimes she’d be sat on a golden throne, and often had a honeycomb in the background and CGI bees. It was also the persona which fitted the best metaphorically, as she was like a pop diva surrounded by minions, similar to a queen bee surrounded by all the other bees. So I think they did a great job there from the start.

But all of that wouldn’t mean much if Queen Bee wasn’t a good singer, and she was a very good singer. She took on ‘Alive’ by Sia in the first week, not an easy song to sing, and did it well. She mainly performed ballads like ‘Somebody You Loved’ by Lewis Capaldi and ‘Girl On Fire’ by Alicia Keys.

She performed the DJ Sammy version of ‘Heaven’ – in fact, both DJ Sammy versions! She began with the piano-ballady “candlelight remix”, and went into the main electrodance

I think my favourite performance of Queen Bee’s was in the semi-final, when she sung ‘Greatest Love Of All’ by Whitney Houston, which is a very nice song, and Queen
Bee performed it well. The backdrop looked like trees covered in honey!

Her second performance was ‘Work It Out’ by Beyonce. Queen Bee performing a song by “Queen B” herself was one that was long awaited, and this track was an apt choice because of the lyrics “give me a taste of your honey, I want the whole beehive”. Also, after mainly doing ballads it gave Queen Bee an opportuinity to do something more uptempo and with more sass. She continued in a soulful/disco direction in the final, performing ‘Somebody Else’s Guy’ by Jocelyn Brown.

A popular choice for Queen Bee’s true identity was Charlotte Church (Again!). There were also some suggestions like Emma Watson and Cher Lloyd. It soon became clear that she was a girlgroup member though, with Jade Thirlwall or Jesy Nelson from Little Mix, or Heidi Range from the Sugababes being common guesses.

The later VTs confirmed she was in Girls Aloud. In one VT, there was a sign with a blue bee sign in a red circle and red prohibition line, and a sign with a pink bee with a tick – so that would read as no boys allowed, but girls allowed, i.e Girls Aloud. In another VT Queen Bee said “French isn’t a language I speak”, and Girls Aloud had a song called ‘Can’t Speak French’.

The panel in the final guessed Nadine Coyle, Kimberley Walsh and Cheryl Cole, but the correct answer (Rita Ora’s guess, again!) was Nicola Roberts! She was one many viewers guessed right away. One big clue was with Queen Bee mentioning she was a lawmaker, and Nicola Roberts did indeed help to pass a law to ban under-18s from using sunbeds, given the dangers that sunbeds have. By the final she said she mentioned The Masked Singer being like a fairytale and how she’d seen things “through Cinderella’s eyes”, and Cinderella’s Eyes was the name of her solo album, which got an increase in sales after she won!

Rita Ora proved once and for all she was by the best of the panel – she guessed everyone in the final correctly!

The Masked Singer has been called “a surprise hit”, and it does seem to have exceeded expectations, with high viewing figures.  It had a great cast as well, one of the best by reality TV show standards! It is one of the most enjoyable TV shows, having a sense of fun that has been missing from the TV schedules for a while, and I’m pleased that another series has been commissioned.

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