After becoming a huge hit for FOX TV here in the United States, The Masked Singer premiered in the UK on Saturday (Jan 4). US judge Ken Jeong joins pop singer Rita Ora, chat show host Jonathan Ross and TV presenter Davina McCall on the panel. Twelve celebrities will dress in elaborate costumes so that a panel of judges and the audience at home have to guess their identity. So far, every celebrity has performed over the series/ two night premiere.
On the first night, Butterfly, Aka Patsy Palmer, a DJ who stars in the UK soap EastEnders got the boot. Sunday’s eliminated mask, Pharaoh, turned out ot be a UK political figure, former Home Secretary Alan Johnson. Fingers crossed that FOX doesn’t get any bright ideas about casting politicians on the US version. Dancing with the Stars casting former press secretary Sean Spicer was unpleasant enough, indeed.
I watched both episodes on Saturday and Sunday, and it appears that most of the celebrities are UK-centric. So while I’ll be watching every week, I’ll probably only post if an unmasked celebrity is familiar to most readers. Considering the show airs on ITV, X Factor UK alums are likely in the casting pipeline.
The UK version of The Masked Singer recycles some of the characters from the US version (Butterfly, Monster). But I think the US costumes win for creativity and appeal. Also on the UK version, the judges choose the eliminated contestant out of a bottom 3. On the first two episodes, masks were paired up. After the audience voted, the loser was sent to the bottom. There were no additional sing-offs. At the end of the show, the judges chose who goes home. An extra performance and quick elimination, like in the US version, makes for better pacing, I think.
As far as Ken Jeong is concerned–yes, he’s carried his schtick across the pond, including his signature catch phrase “I KNOW EXACTLY WHO THIS IS.”
Expect a season two if the ratings hold up. According to Deadline, the celebrity singing contest premiered with 5.5M viewers between 7PM and 8.30PM. It was the highest-rated show of the day on any channel, peaking with 6.5M as the identity of The Butterfly was revealed, according to BARB figures provided by overnights.tv. For a comparison, The Voice UK, which aired immediately afterward, nabbed 4.6 million viewers as new coach Meghan Trainor joined the panel. Back in October, Simon Cowell’s Celebrity X Factor earned an average audience of 5 million viewers for the first episode.
Here’s Pharaoh singing “Walk Like an Egyptian.” Remember, this guy served in the UK government. CRINGE.
Pharaoh AKA Former Home Secretary Alan Johnson is Unmasked
Here’s Unicorn singing Kate Bush’s “Babushka.” It’s my favorite performance of the weekend. One of the judges thinks it’s Adam Lambert behind the mask. Heh. (LOL NO). My favorite masks embody their character from beginning to end, just like this.