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The Masked Singer UK: Premiere Episode Review and Analysis

Billed as “TV’s most outrageous singing show” during the opening montage, The Masked Singer burst onto British screens in an captivation of colour, costumes and celebrities this past weekend. As a massive fan of the American iteration of the programme, I was insanely excited to finally find out whether there was finally a hit American show that we Brits don’t suck the soul and enthusiasm out of and render completely unwatchable – The Wall, I’m looking at you!

The Panel of Detectives

When this panel was announced towards the end of last year, I was extremely concerned about the dynamic that this group would have. While on an individual level the American panel of Nicole Scherzinger, Robin Thicke, Jenny McCarthy and Ken Jeong can each have their ‘dear God, please shut up’ moments, the quartet have really gelled over the course of the two seasons that have aired and will be a hard act to replicate.

Jonathan Ross – Chat show host, king of the lisp, all round okay guy. Despite my misgivings, I found Ross to be the funniest part of the panel this episode. Lots of quips, some fairly astute suggestions and reasoned explanations. He could grow on me.

Rita Ora – Firstly, didn’t know she was British until I heard her speak. The Scherzinger and Thicke of the group rolled into one, Rita Ora provides the musical analysis on the panel; that is, when she isn’t namechecking her friends list. Generally clueless but in the most charming and entertaining way. She can stay.

Davina McCall – Ordinarily, I find McCall quite a pointless and irritating personality but her confused innocence adds quite a bit to the panel. Although she tends to piggyback on the suggestions of her peers a fair amount, McCall is often stumped for suggestions and asks the requisite ‘Who is that?’ and ‘Who are you?’s.

Dr. Ken (Ken Jeong) – The Masked Singer veteran of the group, Dr. Ken is exactly the same on the British Masked Singer as he is on the American. His insistence on standing up to share his thoughts and declaring ‘I know exactly who this is’ are trademarks cemented during the US’s second season. While I know this, get it, and enjoy it, I don’t think it’s necessarily translating well to a British audience. His guesses are ridiculous – that’s the point – and, if Twitter reaction is anything to go by, the Brits just ain’t getting it.

The Masked Celebrities

From her video package, we learn that Queen Bee was quite young when she began her career. She notes that people like to confine her to one type of beehive suggesting that she may be a typecast role or a singer stuck doing one style of music. “I’ve always been a bit of a wild card” she says. The panel took this to mean she was a bit of a party animal a wildchild, but given that this is an ITV show, I got major X Factor vibes from that quip. She concludes, “Now I feel like I’ve grown up, I’m no longer a princess, I’m a queen. Roll out the red carpet because I’m going to have a ball!”

During the package, there is a hint of an accent, maybe Scouser or Geordie (Liverpool or Newcastle Upon Tyne, for our international readers). This accent was not as present during performance but this is often the case with professionals. From her performance, odds are that she is likely to be a professional singer. Very good voice.

Out of all of my friends, I am the joker of the pack.

Queen Bee’s final clue

With all that we heard, my guess, initially, was Cheryl Cole; based on the accent I’m heard in the video, her career starting young in Girls Aloud, and the “wild card” hint, perhaps alluding to her time as a judge on The X Factor.

The wild card / X Factor notion is an interesting one, though. Is there perhaps a better candidate that was a wild card on The X Factor? I’m not as hot on my X Factor trivia as I could be but perhaps someone like Alexandra Burke, whom Louie Walsh kicked out of season two of the competition because he felt she was too young, or perhaps a still very young Louis Johnson – X Factor’s youngest winner – who was also mentored in the competition by Masked Singer panellist Rita Ora! I’ll be keeping my eyes and ears peeled going forward, listening out for more X Factor clues.

Who do you think the Queen Bee is?

The Duck’s video montage kicks off with London in the background. Could the location in the video be important or just a good place to film a chick in a Duck costume frolicking around? She’s yellow, mellow and a real softie, but adds that maybe you wouldn’t think it. This suggests that Duck may have a gruff outward appearance, like a boxer or an MMA fighter. The London based portion of the video concludes with Duck stating that she’s shy and very quiet, always trying to stay out of trouble. The location switches to a running track – she’s an athlete, minds spring to. Duck is ‘fully grown and love a challenge; which says to me that she’s slightly older and has perhaps retired from her profession but still likes to keep active. “You might even catch me surfing from time to time,” she quips. This could be taken literally or figuratively and didn’t help me one bit! The video package ends with the line, “I’m never hard on myself if I fail. I think failure is a badge of honour, after it’s better to have tried and failed than never to have tried at all.” Continuing the athlete train of thought, these final words make me think that this might be a person who hasn’t quite reached the top of their field or perhaps fell short a number of times before their crowning achievement.

From her performance, I would suggest that Duck is very unlikely to be a professional singer. She definitely has an older sounding voice. Singing a Madonna song, Like A Virgin, tells me that this is a song from the era in which she was most known.

I used to be a long distance runner.

Duck’s final clue

Even before Ken Jeong piped up, my mind jumped to Paula Radcliffe. It took Miss. Piss in the Street a number of attempts before she was able to win in any of the various long distance disciplines she participated in. She’s the right age to have the older voice we heard. I think it’s a real contender.

Who do you think Duck could be?

Neigh! It’s Unicorn! His video package begins with the obvious. “I’ve always stood out from the crowd, been different from the other horses.” Thanks for that nugget, mate. Wouldn’t have noticed lest you pointed it out. “I’m always up for a party,” he adds, not really narrowing anything down any. He continues by saying that a unicorn is a one of a kind. “We sparkle!” he exclaims. Perhaps this, if the costume wasn’t a brick in the face type of one, is a hint at his being part of the LGBT community. Unicorn closes with a quip about kicking his way into the competition. The kick reference may be that he’s a football player, soccer not American, but I’m not really buying that.

During the video package, Unicorn had an American or Canadian accent. This could have been put on as part of the performance, though. His song was captivating; he’s a natural performer, a good singer and had a very musical or pantomime voice.

When I was child, I used to go on holiday with my family on a private plane.

Unicorn’s final clue

Jonathan Ross’ suggestion of John Barrowman is the most credible guess I heard from the panel. That said, something isn’t sitting right with that idea for me. I don’t know what it is that gives me pause but something just doesn’t seem Barrowman to me.

Do you think Unicorn is John Barrowman?

The Butterfly is a free spirit. Her wings have carried her to foreign lands – I’m thinking that this is someone famous who is both here in the UK and abroad, likely the US. “Sadly, my habitat has recently been threatened,” she says. As she says this, there is fire in the grass on video. If the other place she is famous is California, there have been a lot of wildfires there recently. Butterfly starts DJing in the video – so she’s probably a DJ but this might be a little on the nose perhaps? Could it maybe be read another way? “I still remember the bouquet I held when I walked down the aisle,” she begins, “Millions of people tuned in to see me tie the knot.” Finally a real clue! She’s married and had a famous wedding. Only a handful of people have televised their wedding on television, so this has to be a big celebrity. “I’m not used to singing on stage,” she closes, warning us that she’s not a professional singer and her performance may suck. “So tonight, this butterfly is definitely feeling butterflies.” Me too, love. Me too.

Despite what she said, she hasn’t got a bad singing voice but she’s definitely not a professional, as they suggested in the video.

I was spotted before my big break. Suggests to me she was a model.

Butterfly’s last clue

My guess on this person, based on the wedding watched by millions clue is Jordan – Katie Price. Other thing that makes me think it might be Jordan, and forgive the crassness, but she has a rather large pair of breasts under that butterfly chestplate, which is something that Jordan was very famous for during her modelling career.

Who oh who could the Butterfly be?

Grandiose in his delivery, Chameleon begins with a number of one liners. “Who is the Chameleon? Good question.” “They are many things, a blend of talents.” “I’ve slipped into many backgrounds but one thing more than another…” “I’m a dazzling urbanite.” In isolation, these are just a lot of words. I’m hoping we can reflect on these declarations more combined with future video packages – should the Chameleon survive the night. He goes on to say that he chose to be a Chameleon because he gets to feel technical and modern, suggesting that might not be the case in his day to day life; an older gentleman perhaps. This is corroborated by his next line, “To be honest, I’m more used to the tech of the 70s.” Definitely an older man… of Jonathan Ross’ generation, as he suggested. The video ends, “I’m going into battle tonight! This town ain’t big enough for the both of us.” There’s a good clue in that last line somewhere. Maybe we’ll decipher it later.

Chameleon has a good physique under the costume. His quads – that’s thigh muscles for the non gym speaker – are huge! He obviously works out or does something that involves a lot of squatting or heavy lifting regularly. Probably not a professional singer – not because the performance was bad – but he just didn’t nail the parts of the song a pro would.

I once provided the voice of a children’s cartoon character.

Chameleon’s final clue

Honestly, I haven’t a foggy who this is. Maybe a dancer? I don’t know any dancers…

Are you as stumped as I am? Who is this buff Chameleon?

Saving the best ’til last… Hedgehog is my jam! He starts his video package stating that he’s quite a homely creature although, more often than not, he’s more active at night. This is an interesting juxtaposition… not a party animal but thrives in the dark. “Am I a prickly character?” he laughs, “I don’t think so.” He’s really pushing the notion that he’s a nice bloke. Do nice blokes keep saying they’re nice blokes? “My natural habitat is being on stage,” he continues, “I love it!” A stage performer, gotcha. Based on his mannerisms, I’m more inclined to say theatre actor than stand-up comedian or singer. Hedgehog goes on to say that he’s a workaholic and ends with another suggestion that he works in theatre, using the phrases “Tonight is opening night,” and “The show must go on…”

Hedgehog is very well spoken. He has a well elocuted voice – he enunciates well. He also has a very good singing voice but probably more a Broadway style singer than pop star. When speaking the clue, it sounded like he had a more Northern accent. One of the voices is put on… but which?

I once had a job that meant I died at 8:30 every night.

Hedgehog’s final clue

Hedgehog is incredible but I’ve absolutely no idea who it is under that amazing costume. I’d say Charles Dance but I don’t think he’d be caught dead doing this.

The Unmasking

Getting the boot this week is the Butterfly. I personally don’t think she was the worst performer of the night and I’m surprised it wasn’t Duck in plum sauce for us.

The Butterfly is…

Patsy Palmer!

Breaking news: Patsy Palmer is a DJ? It seems that following the destruction of British auditory canals with high pitched “RICKAAAY!”, Palmer travelled to Los Angeles where she DJ’s for fun, apparently. Who knew?

The not ridiculous clues that pointed to it being her were, obviously, the wedding watched by millions which was not her own nuptials but those of her Eastenders soap opera character, Bianca. Her house in Malibu was the one under threat due to wildfire, as suggested above. The ‘spotted before my big break’ clue referred not to modelling, but a spot cream commercial she appeared in as a teen.

Final Thoughts

So, there you go then! The first episode of the British adaptation of The Masked Singer is in the books. The show I much beloved HAS been done justice and I’m excited to see more.

Join me each week on Twitter as I live tweet the episodes. If you have any guesses or interpretations you’d like to share, I’d love to hear from you. Find me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram!