Masked Singer’s Jonathan Ross on who’s behind the costumes ahead of final

The age of just 42 seems a little young to be branded past it and uncool, but that’s exactly what Jonathan Ross has just done to me.

And not only has he called me old – and himself into the bargain – he’s dashed all my hopes of correctly guessing the identities of all three finalists in The Masked Singer this weekend.

“Badger is one I didn’t get, and you probably wouldn’t get it either because of our age,” says judge Ross. “I think that it’s one the younger crowd will know.”

Regardless of “our” age – Ross is 60 – nothing can get in the way of the childlike excitement that comes from trying to guess which celebrities are warbling away inside the, frankly, ridiculous costumes of Badger, Sausage and Robin.

The Masked Singer judge Jonathan Ross
Jonathan Ross has given clues about the final trio

Eight million viewers agree so I won’t stop trying to get him to reveal more hints at who the singing trio are. “Well, I really can’t give too much more away,” he says. “I still think it’s tough because a lot of the guesses online for people who are still to be unmasked in the final are wrong.

“Sausage has a really great voice, but Badger and Robin both have got great voices too. It’s interesting because even though it’s sort of a guessing game and fun, in the final it does come down to the quality of their singing.

“Sausage came into her own in about week three or four, but that is partly also because they’re disguising their voices early on, or they’re trying to.”

We are discussing the mad world of ITV show The Masked Singer – a cross between Eurovision, X Factor and the board game Guess Who?


The Masked Singer
Badger is also a finalist

Ross has struggled with this one. Last week he said: “Someone who likes seeing someone else’s dreams come true. It has got to be Louis Walsh. He has the legs of a 13-year-old.”

But he changed his mind saying: “I am going to go with Chris Moyles.”

Peter Andre is 2/1 with bookies but rapper Ne-Yo is favourite at 6/4, with former Strictly dancer Kevin Clifton at 3/1. Clues have included that Badger wrote poetry and a reference to gardening.

Louis Walsh, Chris Moyles, Peter Andre, Ne-Yo, and Kevin Clifton are rumoured to be Badger
Louis Walsh, Chris Moyles, Peter Andre, Ne-Yo, and Kevin Clifton are rumoured to be Badger


The Masked Singer
Robin is one of the three finalists

In the semis, Ross said: “The red breast makes me think of a soldier’s uniform, with that sweet voice could it be James Blunt in there?” He later changed his mind and suggested rapper Big Narstie.

Most viewers are convinced it’s singer Aston Merrygold from boy band JLS – a 1/5 bet with Ladbrokes. Other guesses have included Olly Murs and Joe Swash. He has dropped hints about sport and boybands.

James Blunt, Big Narstie, Aston Merrygold, Olly Murs, and Joe Swash are rumoured to be Robin
James Blunt, Big Narstie, Aston Merrygold, Olly Murs, and Joe Swash are rumoured to be Robin


The Masked Singer
Sausage is one of the finalists

The verdict from Ross is: “There has been one name I have been saying since almost the start as so many clues pointed towards her. She mentioned being a funny girl and she has been on stage in Funny Girl, it is Sheridan Smith.”

But after her second performance, Ross changed his mind and said: “I’m now convinced it is Stacey Solomon.”

Yet Joss Stone is a 5/4 chance to be Sausage.

Jess Stone, Sheridan Smith and Stacey Solomon are rumoured to be Sausage
Jess Stone, Sheridan Smith and Stacey Solomon are rumoured to be Sausage

So far we have seen world famous singers, knights of the realm and England football legends perform in giant brightly-coloured costumes as we try to solve the clues given by the stars and host Joel Dommett.

It makes for unusual but highly addictive TV. In the semi finals last weekend, a giant badger was held aloft by four men in leather jackets dressed as wolves.

Badger then dropped onto the stage to rock out to a grunge classic.

And it was at this moment that Ross, one of the four panelists, says he finally appreciated what a crazy kind of hit TV show he is involved in.

Judges Mo Gilligan, Davina McCall, Nicola Roberts, Rita Ora and Jonathan Ross

“I found it funny last week when Badger did Smells Like Teen Spirit from Nirvana,” says Ross. “I met Kurt Cobain. Nirvana were guests on one of my talks shows back in the day.

“If you would’ve said to him back then, in 25 years time that song will be performed by a Badger on a show in front of an audience, all of whom are wearing masks, and all of them are trying to guess who’s in the Badger mask, he would’ve thought you’d lost your mind.”

Ross, who has fronted shows for nearly 40 years, was confident long before the first series started that it had potential, in part due to his enjoyment of television from overseas.

“I’ve always been a fan of Japan and Korean TV. So I knew what it’s all about. But you don’t always know it’s going to click.” While the idea sounds mad, The Masked Singer series has been must-see viewing.

Ross and fellow judges Davina McCall, Rita Ora and Mo Gilligan got to know who the Masked Singers were, as did special guest and previous winner Nicola Roberts, when the final was filmed last year.

Blob on The Masked Singer
Blob on The Masked Singer

He will not reveal any more about the identities of Sausage, Robin and Badger – but he is a bit more loose-lipped when discussing it at home with his wife Jane Goldman.

“She’ll say, “Who’s that? Is that so and so?’ I’ll say ‘No, you’re way off, keep guessing’. I’ll tell her when she gets it. We do play along at home.”

Acts already unmasked in the second series include Lenny Henry, who was Blob and Gabrielle who was Harlequin. They seemed obvious to many viewers well before they took off their masks, so I put it to Jonathan that it seems odd that he couldn’t identify his good friend Lenny earlier.

He explained: “What you hear on TV is much clearer than what we hear in the studio. We’re getting it from mikes under the desk and we hear the audience and each other.

“We’re also encouraged to talk to each other and say things through the performances. The production team say, ‘Please keep talking, keep saying names’.”

Sir Lenny Henry was unmasked as Blob
Sir Lenny Henry was unmasked as Blob

“We’re trying to think of things to say and listening to each other. It’s a bit harder guessing in the studio. I’ve known her for years, but I just didn’t get Gabrielle. Maybe I take the clues too seriously,” he added.

The judges and Joel will return for another series and filming begins in October.

Ross says: “ITV is funded by advertising and revenue hasn’t been as much as it has in previous years. So they’ve asked people to take cuts, and all of us very happily, immediately said yes, to taking a cut on our wages in series two. We love doing it, I’m looking forward to doing it again because it’s a fun way to spend the evening.”

He added: “I’m doing a series of my talk show in April which I love, but it’s hard work. I’ve got to interview a bunch of people,make sure there’s common ground, keep the show going and bring the energy. It’s all on me.

Gabrielle was unmasked as Harlequin
Gabrielle was unmasked as Harlequin

“On Masked Singer, I’m as much a viewer as a participant. Rita’s lovely to hang around with. Davina’s wonderful and Mo is great fun, he’s brought a real breath of fresh air. And Joel couldn’t be lovelier. So there’s a real chemistry.”

His chat show is often on after the watershed so being on a hit family show makes a pleasant change.

Feedback from young people has been good and Jonathan has recorded video messages for school projects on the show. He says: “It’s really caught on with kids.

“I get sent loads of things on Instagram and Twitter of kids at home, with a bag on their head with a face drawn on, saying, ‘This is Robin aged four. He’s doing his version of Blob’.

“I’m the only one on the show with no stylist. I get a lot of feedback from young people who like my clothes. So I realised I dress like a toddler.”

  • The Masked Singer final is on ITV tonight at 7pm.

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