Panellist Jonathan Ross looks ahead to the eagerly awaited final of The Masked Singer – and explains his rather unusual costume choice…
Like much of the nation it seems, we’ve become well and truly hooked on The Masked Singer.
As an array of characters including a well-dressed hedgehog, a brightly coloured octopus and an elegant Queen Bee have taken to the stage on the ITV show each week, we’ve questioned, discussed and debated (at length!) the identities of the singing celebrities that may inhabit those incredible costumes.
Many of the show’s initial 12 celebrities – including ex-EastEnders actress Patsy Palmer and US singer-songwriter Kelis – have already been unmasked and, on Saturday night, the remaining three famous faces will finally be revealed.
We’ve had hints, clues and tips galore and, along the way, the show’s panellists, Davina McCall, Jonathan Ross, Ken Jeong and Rita Ora have had a fair crack at trying to expose the identities of our secret singers.
With the suspense now killing us, we chatted to Jonathan, 59, to see if he might spill the beans on who’s behind those masks…
We’re totally hooked on The Masked Singer – why is it so addictive?
“Well, at the heart of this show is a fun mystery. We all love a mystery and we’ve all been trying to work it out. If you do get it right, you can tell everyone you nailed it. But, if you get it wrong, hopefully it’s still fun because you’re surprised at who the celebrity is and you’re trying to work out why you went down a different path. The production of the show is great and the costumes themselves are amazing. Then last – and absolutely least! – are us panellists, who hopefully add a certain amount of humour to the show as well.”
Has it been tricky keeping quiet about the identity of the masked singers?
“Well, if I’m on TV I like to talk but in real life – and this might surprise you – I’m somewhat introverted, so I spend quite a lot of my life hiding from other people anyway. So, if anything, this show has given me a bigger, better excuse than previously not to have to hang out with people! Plus, I’m someone who hates spoilers in movies and TV shows, so I wouldn’t want to spoil it for anyone else. So, actually, I haven’t found it that hard to keep quiet at all.”
This show has got everybody talking – have any members of the public approached you with their guesses?
“The other day, me and my wife [screenwriter Jane Goldman] were driving back from outside London and we stopped for petrol. A guy came out of nowhere and started shouting at me: ‘Wossy! Wossy! Queen Bee is Charlotte Church. I’ve got a tenner on it!’ I’m thinking: ‘Erm, OK, I’m just gonna drive away now’.”
Why do you think the final three masked singers deserve their place in the final?
“The final three are the performers that really connected with the audience. So much of a performance is about facial expressions and conveying emotion – so for someone to deliver a good performance while dressed as a 9ft octopus is a real tribute to their skills! With our final three, all of them can sing to a professional standard. So that’s one box ticked. And all of them are great performers. That’s another box ticked. The winner will be the person who connected most on an emotional level with the audience.”
What do you think the viewer reaction will be once the final three are revealed? Will people feel it’s been worth the wait?
“I hope so. People have really stuck with this show, so they’ll want to see who wins. If you’ve been enjoying watching it so far, there’s still that fun of taking the masks off and seeing who’s underneath them. The final will be exciting, no doubt about it!”
We’ve had some really well-known faces unmasked throughout the series – has that been important to the success of the show?
“I’d seen the Korean and American versions of The Masked Singer, so when I was first asked to do this show, I remember saying that the level of the people behind the masks had to be good enough. You can have a few home-grown, domestic names who one would expect to see but I said I didn’t want to do it if it’s going to be all reality TV stars and daytime TV presenters. I have nothing against them but I was assured that we had some international calibre stars. And we’ve been pleasantly surprised.”
If you were to take part in The Masked Singer, what costume would you like?
“Mmm, I haven’t given this as much thought as perhaps I should. I’ll be quite honest with you, I’m getting to the age where I’m mainly happy sitting down. So I’d quite like to be a snail, maybe, so I could just pedal everywhere. Or a slug perhaps? Or maybe a worm, if I could sing lying down. I’m not someone who’s ever really worried about how I look on TV, so I’d kinda do anything.”
Do you think that, vocally, people would recognise it was you?
“My problem with singing isn’t really the singing as I can kind of hold a note. No, my problem is that I can never remember the words to songs. Even if it’s a song I’ve sung before many times, I’ll make up my own lyrics halfway through. Often, I think my words are better! So they’d need to build me a costume with a small autocue inside with the lyrics on, so I didn’t mess up.”
Would you be up for doing a second series of The Masked Singer?
“This show has been a lot of fun and I’ve very much enjoyed working with all the panel, and host Joel Dommett, so I’d hope everyone came back. I’ve known Davina on and off for 25 years but I’ve never really worked with her like this before where we just get to hang out. Rita’s a joy as well; she’s worth the extra half hour we waited for her in makeup every day. Ken spent even longer in makeup… and that really ISN’T worth the wait! In terms of production values, this is one of the biggest shows I’ve ever been involved in. So, yes, I’d really like to do it again.”
So, who IS behind those masks? All will finally be revealed on The Masked Singer, Saturday February 15, at 7pm on ITV.