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The Masked Singer 2023: Who are the costumes and contestants in series 4? Who might be behind the masks?
TV's craziest guessing game is back with a dozen new contestants including Potato, Rhino, Ghost, Phoenix, Knitting and a Cat & Mouse duo. But who's behind the masks?
The Masked Singer was a surprise prime-time hit when it launched in January 2020, and three years on, it's about to embark on a fourth series.
The concept – that celebrities would sing in bizarre costumes while viewers and judges alike tried to guess who they were – didn’t necessarily sound like a winning formula to begin with, but before long it was the family show everyone was talking about.
You could even argue it was ahead of its time: by the summer of 2020 we were all wearing masks against the continued Covid-19 pandemic, and series 2, which began in January 2021, provided a welcome break from the doom and gloom of the previous year.
A summer spin-off for those more skilled at boogieing than bursting into song - The Masked Dancer - followed, and after an I'm a Celebrity star Vernon Kay's Koala see off Sinitta's Kangaroo in November 2022, we're ready for a fourth season.
The new series of The Masked Singer began on Sunday, 1 January and continues at 7pm every Saturday on ITV and ITVX.
This season, 13 celebrities will squeeze into incredible costumes and hope to sing their way through to the final. One things's for sure - we know for sure who they are until those masks come off...
Which celebrities have already been unmasked?
Who are the Masked Singer 2023 contestants?
This year, 13 contestants will try and bamboozle the puzzled panel while singing well enough to stay in the game and avoid being unmasked. For the first time, one of the acts will be a duo, adding to the intrigue.
Here are the 12 acts, and their incredible costumes, in The Masked Singer 2023 and - based on no evidence other than their costumes - the celebrities we think might be behind the masks.
Fawn to be wild? The identity of this diva of the deer remains a closely guarded secret.
Uneducated Guess: We all know the term for a female deer - a doe - thanks to the Sound of Music, and it's not thinking on the hoof to take a trip back through weekend TV and remember 2006's Maria Von Trapp hunt How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? Is winner Connie Fisher under Fawn's wide-eyed disguise?
Jacket Potato is sure to butter up the panellists, but will he foil them when it comes to guessing his identity? The singing spud is already a favourite of panellist Mo Gilligan.
"Probably this series, my favourite costume is Jacket Potato, it's so weird!" said Mo.
"You've even got styrofoam feet that you get for jacket potatoes. And you just look at it and the attention to detail is insane, he's got a shirt which is beans and there is butter on his head."
Uneducated Guess: No-one has done more to raise the profile of the humble jacket potato than a comedian and actor who has also been a special guest on The Masked Singer panel. So it's a big Thank You, Baked Potato to Matt Lucas!
They only sing when they're stinging, but Jellyfish has already brought tears to the eyes of one Masker Singer panellist.
"Jellyfish is an extraordinary performer and has made us all feel pretty emotional," said Davina McCall.
Uneducated Guess: The world's best known jellyfish is undoubtedly the fearsome Portugese Man o'War. So who else could possibly be inside Jellyfish's tentacles than belligerent Portugese football manager, Special One Jose Mourinho?
How's this for a knotty puzzle? Knitting will give the judges the needle as they spin a cunning yarn to hide their true identity.
Uneducated Guess: He may have countless diving gold medals, including an Olympic gold, to his name, but his knack with the needles have made him Britain's best known knitter. He has also been frequently mentioned by the Masked Singer panel, not least as a candidate for last year's finalist Robobunny. Welcome to the show, Tom Daley!
Diving into the fourth season of The Masked Singer is Otter, and water costume that is! It certainly boasts attention to detail, according to Mo Gilligan.
"I love otters, one of my favourite animals. Otters have a stone that they have to smash clams, so ours has little pockets for the stones on the costume. The attention to detail and the costumes are so cool," he said.
Uneducated Guess: Don't let Otter's lithe form put you off, those costumes hide a multitude of sins. This mask is a tribute to the late star of Goodfellas from one of British cinema's own classic gangsters. Step forward 'Ray the Otter', Ray Winstone!
Phoenix will be fanning the flames of doubt in the panellists' minds, and Mo Gilligan says whoever is filling the costume of the mythical bird is already getting heavily into character.
"I feel people are really coming into their costumes more this series. So Phoenix always looks at us a bit weirdly for example," he said.
Uneducated Guess: The immortal Phoenix can famously regenerate itself time after time, rising from the ashes of its predecessor. One celebrity who, while not quite immortal, has been around for some time and repeatedly reinvented herself as a singer, an actress and a TV presenter. Ladies and gentlemen, relight your fire for Lulu!
The panellists may have to wing it when it comes to guessing the identity of Pigeon. It's already driving Jonathan Ross mad.
"I was saying to someone earlier, I want to leave the studio and actually find talking pigeons. I would like the world to be more like the Masked Singer actually is," he said.
Uneducated Guess: Keen fanciers will know that pigeons are closely related to doves, and older viewers may remember Shooting Stars' infamous Dove From Above. With the appearance of an older gent and tartan feet that suggest Scottish heritage, we're certain Pigeon is comedian and actor Jim Moir, better known as Vic Reeves.
Don't come charging in with wild guesses for Rhino's identity, their thick skin hides a sensitive soul, according to Davina McCall.
"Rhino has been particularly emotive," she said. "It’s lucky for Rhino, actually, that they can pull some emotion out of the bag, because it's very, very hard in that costume to give us anything at all.
"They are massive, and they are quite humble. They keep putting their little hooves together, it looks so sweet. If it's possible to have a sweet rhino, this is it."
Uneducated Guess: We're looking for a celebrity who has had to put up with a lot of stick but who has the thick skin to deflect it and continue to charge ahead in their career. There's an American theme to Rhino's costume too, suggesting someone who has found success across the pond. There's one very prominent British celeb who has become a success in the States despite criticism at home - we think Rhino is James Corden!
Rubbish - Stephen Hendry
The identity of the warbling wheelybin had the panel snookered, but it was still a surprise when green baize champion Stephen Henry appeared under the lid of Rubbish.
After his rendition of Kaiser Chiefs' Ruby left Rubbish in the sing-off with Jacket Potato, who had sung Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah, the trilling trashcan's version of skiffle hit My Old Man's a Dustman failed to impress the judges and he was soon left out on the doorstep.
"To try something completely out of my comfort zone," said seven-times World Snooker champion Hendry when asked why he did the Masked Singer.
"I have had the opportunity to do other shows that would have put me in that same ‘uncomfortable’ position but being completely hidden made it so much easier for me to let loose and get my head around the challenge.
"The feeling backstage before a performance was a really similar feeling to the one I used to get before going out for a World Championship final. I always felt physically sick, but once on stage the adrenalin kicked in. It was strangely enjoyable."
Cat & Mouse - Martin and Shirlie Kemp
The first duo to take part in The Masked Singer UK were the third act to be unmasked, and despite the panel's insistence that Cat & Mouse were not romantically linked, they very much were - 80s pop royalty Martin and Shirlie Kemp have only been married 35 years!
Spandau Ballet bassist and actor Martin and Wham! singer Shirlie took us back to the 1950s in Time Travel week for a performance of Get Happy from the musical Summer Stock, but ended up in the bottom two with Knitting. In the sing-off, the duo sang There's Nothing Holdin' Me Back by Shawn Mendes, but were seen off by the woolly warbler's belting rendition of Memory from Cats.
"I've never done anything so nerve-wracking in my life," Shirlie admitted. "It is just so off the wall. It’s so much harder to sing in the mask than you imagine it will be."
Despite four decades of performing experience, Martin also felt the pressure of singing inside the mask.
"I could literally hear my heart in my ears," he said.
Asked if their son, Capital Breakfast DJ Roman Kemp, knows that they have taken part, Shirlie said, "No this is going to embarrass him. Most people say they are doing it for their kids."
Martin added, "We're doing it to embarrass them."
A stunned Roman later posted a video of his reaction to the reveal [warning: contains strong language] on his Twitter feed, while his mother also took to social media to explain how they got away with it...
Piece of Cake - Lulu
We were sure the 'Relight My Fire' singer was Phoenix and had to 'Shout' when singer Lulu was revealed to be the berry on top of the Piece of Cake when The Masked Singer's second unmasking took place.
The Scottish songstress sang Ed Sheeran's Shivers on episode 2 of the new season but lost out to a commanding performance of Chasing Cars by the rhinestone Rhino. And in the final three the judges chose to save Jacket Potato and Rubbish, leaving Piece of Cake to remove her mask.
"I’m slightly in shock. I’m in and now I’m off," the 1969 Eurovision winner told host Joel Dommett.
"It’s adorable, I love watching the show, my grandchildren love the show, they love it – I love it and that’s why I’m here.”
Ghost - Chris Kamara
Footballer turned pundit and presenter Chris Kamara was the first contestant to have their mask removed in 2023. The serenading spectre sang The Drifters' Save the Last Dance for Me but lost out to Otter in the head-to-head before the judges chose to keep Knitting and Cat & Mouse in the contest for another week.
We were treated to a double unmasking - first Ghost's shroud came off to unveil a skeleton costume, before the skull was removed to reveal Kamara.
"I did it for the grandkids," the Cash in the Attic host said of his reasons for taking on the Masked Singer challenge.
"I want to see the surprise on their faces when they see me unmasked on the show. Not even my wife knows so it’s going to be a surprise for the whole family.
"I’m not the best at keeping secrets so I’m not sure what will shock them most, taking part in the show or keeping it a secret."
Who are The Masked Singer's panellists?
The Masked Singer panel will remain the same for the third series in a row, and consists of Davina McCall, Mo Gilligan, Rita Ora and Jonathan Ross.
"It's nice being back with the gang, they’re such a lovely bunch to work with," Jonathan Ross said.
"They are good fun and it gives us all an excuse to dress up and go out for the day if nothing else!"
Singer Rita Ora agrees.
"The whole idea of the show is just so amazing. I was already such a fan of The Masked Singer shows I saw in other countries. And so, when they first approached me for The Masked Singer UK four seasons ago, I was like, 'A hundred percent'," she said.
"I really love working with the other panellists, they're just so much fun, and we’re like a family now."
Mo Gilligan thinks it's the variety of panellists that makes the chemistry between them so strong.
"We all come from different forms of entertainment. I do stand up. Davina is a TV presenter. Jonathan Ross is a TV presenter and a comedian as well. He's been around for a long time. And then Rita, she comes from the world of music. So we all bring something different, which complements one another," he explained.
Comedian Joel Dommett again hosts the guessing game, and loves it when the whole Masked Singer family comes back together.
"There's something about it that everyone loves being a part of, like costume designers, they get to let their imaginations go absolutely wild," he said.
"When I write a link to things, it's so fun to write for. It's so silly, and the panellists are having a great time. The cameramen, they're playing the game. So, they're all guessing, at the same time. So, I think, it’s more fun than your usual job.
When is the final of The Masked Singer 2023?
ITV has not yet announced the date for the final of The Masked Singer 2023, however all three previous UK series have had eight episodes, which suggests we will find out the indentity of the series' winner on Saturday 19 February.
Who won the previous Masked Singer series?
This is the fourth series of The Masked Singer, and the show is still waiting to crown its first male champion - and its first non-professional singer. The first series, in 2020, was won by Girls Aloud singer Nicola Roberts as Queen Bee. Joss Stone (above) followed as Sausage before 2022's third season removed Australian singer Natalie Imbruglia's Panda head to crown her Masked Singer champion.
Sister series The Masked Dancer has seen male success - Olympic gymnast Louis Smith, dressed as Carwash, won the first season ahead of Bonnie Langford's Squirrel and American actress Heather Morris successfully cut a rug as Scissors to win season 2.
The Masked Singer continues at 7pm every Saturday on ITV and ITVX.
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