Behind The Masked Singer’s Success

The Masked Singer UK is a huge TV hit. The Recs looks at why people love it so…

There’s no hiding it – The Masked Singer UK is a huge hit. The Recs looks behind the secrets of its success…

On Boxing Day 2020, many unsuspecting Twitter users were baffled as their feeds were suddenly overwhelmed by interconnected tweets such as “Adele is Cactus”, “Eamonn Holmes is Unicorn” and “Boris Johnson is a Tool”. Well maybe not the last one.

It transpired that the huge audience of The Masked Singer UK Series 2 (reportedly over 7 million and climbing) had taken their speculation online. The return of the singing-celeb-hidden-identity-singy-song show caught the public’s imagination. But why? 

The Recs lifts the papier-mâché head of the light entertainment success to find out why it is such a hit!


The Concept

From the very theme tune, the show is clear of purpose. Who Dat Behind The Mask it posits repetitively.

In the locked down world of 2021, the answer is pretty obvious: everyone is behind the mask.

Apart from a few Covidiots. And a handful with underlying health conditions in Tescos. Show us your health certificate! Sorry, tangenting! 

A light entertainment show which makes wearing a mask a thing of joy is exactly what we need right now.

It’s Different And Accessible

Quite an interesting fact, but The Masked Singer is one of three shows currently on ITV that doesn’t feature someone from The Chase.

That. We. Know. Of!

There is something liberating about the format of The Masked Singer. You don’t need to be clever. Anyone watching at home is just as likely to guess ‘Who dat behind the mask’ of the celebrity performers. Even Tipping Point  contestants are in with a shout of guessing rightly.

The Host

The lovely Joel Dommett comes to The Masked Singer shiny floor via acting in the Keira Knightley, Sienna Miller and Cillian Murphy WW2 film The Edge Of Love, coming second to Scarlett Moffatt in the 16th series of I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! and a catfished wank video.

Joel is anodyne enough to be a family-friendly primetime ITV host but is also fit enough for Gay Twitter to yearn that he does them good and proper. 

The Celebs

What we love about this show is that the contestants are pretty much in the sweet spot of Celebs You Have Actually Heard Of*.

It’s not like Strictly Come Dancing‘s recent flirtation with YouTube foetus influencers or the legion of ITVBe “stars” heading to the rink for the chilly Dancing On Ice.

No, you have a fair chance of actually knowing who ‘dat’ is behind the mask when it’s revealed.  


(* not footballers)

The Panel

Don’t we just love the panel? Celebs so keen for a pay cheque they are quite happy to pretend that have no clue who ‘dat’ is behind the mask. No matter how distinct. 

Honestly they could have Dame Kiri Te Kanawa in a wallaby costume belting out Nessum Dorma and they’d still offer ‘Rio Ferdinand’, ‘Jeremy Corbyn’ or ‘Alfred Hitchcock’ because the series still has six episodes to run.

But what do each panelist offer the show?

Mo Gilligan

Mo is the latest panelist, replacing the nails-down-the-blackboard Ken “I know who it is, it’s the ghost of Whitney Housten, dressed in a pineapple costume” Jeong  – Ken couldn’t travel to the UK because of the global pandemic. So that’s one thing that Covid-19 has going for it.

Mo brings a cool, relaxed vibe to the proceedings. Then again an unholy hybrid of Tigger and Su Pollard would seem relaxed seated next to Davina! But more of her soon…

Rita Rulebreaker

Singer Rita, who has had three #1 singles I couldn’t name, when not breaking Covid-restrictions, is the returning Guess Queen of The Masked Singer. Maybe her guess was that she wouldn’t be spotted breaching lockdown twice – but maybe she peaked in Series 1.

For me, Rita is a bit like trigonometry in that I’ve heard of it but I don’t know what use it is.

Jonathan Ross

Like an elderly bloodhound that’s just been awakened by loud noise, Jonathan displays the same disinterest as when something that isn’t food presents itself.

Dressed by a wardrobe that clearly has a grudge against him, we just hope that he’s being well remunerated to claim he thinks Margaret Rutherford might be warbling Wrecking Ball while dressed as a kebab on primetime TV. 

Davina McCall

The absolute over-beating heart of The Masked Singer.

If only someone would look at us, in the way that Davina looks at a football player she’s never heard of taking a giant mole head off. 

Her enthusiasm is off the scale and as such irresistible. 

She is our spirit animal as we involuntarily shout the name of 90s singers at the screen. And that’s enough in these dark, troubling times. When hope is sparse, let’s be a little bit more Davina. 

“Coleen Nolan?”

“Vera Lynn?”

“The Go Compare Man?”

“Aretha Frankin?”

“Scoobie Doo?”

“Hercule Poirot?”

“Catherine de’ Medici?”

“Benny from Crossroads?”

“Some seedless grapes?”

“Davina McCall?”

The Contestants

So far we have had reveals of:

  • Sophie Ellis-Bextor – who frankly couldn’t have been more obviously Sophie Ellis-Bextor if she had been surrounded by a bunch of accident-prone children around her while she performed
  • Mel B – whose idea of a non-Leeds accent seemed to be as exotic as a Bradford one
  • Martine McCutcheon – whose clues were as riddle-me-ree as the ones on 3-2-1 where the same riddle could have been a car or a dustbin
  • A footballer – I’m sure he’s lovely but…sorry where was I?