The secrets of the new series of The Masked Singer & why you'll never guess who's behind the mask this year

IT’S the musical guessing game that drives Britain crazy – and the new series of The Masked Singer is set to be the trickiest yet.

With 12 mystery celebrities ready to sing their hearts out while hidden inside a new set of crazy costumes, panellist Rita Ora is already flummoxed.

The 31-year-old singer said: “This series is the hardest because the contestants are catching on to what our strong points are.”

Rita and her fellow guessers — Davina McCall, Jonathan Ross and comedian Mo Gilligan — have the task of trying to figure out who is inside each wacky suit when the series returns on New Year’s Day.

Yet despite correctly guessing the most celebs in series one and two of the hit ITV show, Rita isn’t sure she’ll score so highly this time round.

She went on: “I always listen to the voice, while Jonathan and Mo are so strong on the comedy side of things, and Davina knows everyone.

“It’s hard for me now because the mystery singers are adjusting their accents and their singing voices, which is what I always rely on.”

Mo, 33, who replaced US comic Ken Jeong on the panel for the second series last year, agreed, saying: “Contestants have seen the show so they’re trying to change the way they speak. They might put on an accent to throw us off. They’re even changing the way they sing now.

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“People are really upping their game to not be sussed out so soon.”

And Jonathan, 61, added: “I think it’s probably harder than ever.”

This year’s costumes are at another level of bonkers, from a traffic cone to a set of bagpipes.

But for 54-year-old Davina, the real fun is all in finding out which big name is lurking within.

She said: “The difficulty level is off the charts. It’s so much harder this year than it ever has been.

“The clues are much harder, but I think the production team want to make it harder because it’s entertaining.

“I have come to realise that it is more fun watching someone get unmasked when you don’t know, because you’re so excited to find out who it is.

“So it’s a win/win for me. It’s a win if you get it right but it’s also a massive win if you don’t, because you think, ‘Who is it? I have no idea’.

“There are a lot in this series who I don’t know who they are. I felt a bit of pressure to get it right in the first couple of series, but now I’ve realised part of the fun is not knowing.”

The dynamic between panellists is electric as their competitive streaks shine through — and their banter is now part of the show.

Chat show king Jonathan was so keen to excel that before filming began he prepared at home by listening to a range of younger pop acts.

And it paid off, as his fellow panellists say he was leading the field early on.

Jonathan said: “We all pretend it doesn’t matter. Rita’s the one who wants to really win this series.


“She won the last two, and I think she feels going for the hat trick is a prize worth getting.

“I’m doing the best at the moment, against all odds, but that won’t last.

“I do check out who the younger stars are and try to listen to their voices. A lot of the younger stars I wouldn’t necessarily know as well as I know the older stars as I’ve been listening to them all my life.

“I’ll listen to bands and try to hear the distinct voices, like Little Mix, Girls Aloud, One Direction, and see if I can pick out the individual voices. So I do a little bit of warming up for it.”

Rita added: “Jonathan is really trying to win this year and he’s doing a great job. It’s so hard for me to say that, but he is.”

The panel have shared a number of quirky facts from behind the scenes. Mo revealed that three people have to help the celeb into the Robobunny costume.

Host Joel Dommett said the star inside the Traffic Cone costume is able to sit down in it — while Rita exposed the Doughnuts celeb for being a “crowd pleaser”.

Joel, 36, faces a different challenge from the star panel — and it’s one he says is also getting tougher every year.

He said: “When I first started doing this show, the suits I was wearing were bold, whereas now they’re actually not as bold as they used to be. Now it’s getting to the point where Daniel Craig is wearing a pink velvet tuxedo jacket, the game has changed.

“We are trying to up our game each series. I don’t know where that will take us, but we’ll see.”

For Davina, Rockhopper the penguin is the star.

She said: “Rockhopper did a performance that was so lovely and afterwards we could see they were actually crying. It was incredibly moving.

“It was really lovely that you can be so moved by a performance in a mask that’s moved you to tears when you haven’t been able to connect with somebody with your face.”

  • The Masked Singer returns on New Year’s Day at 7pm on ITV.

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