YOU think nothing on a Saturday night can get dumber and weirder than Rita Ora suggesting the tall, slim American woman disguised as a plant is “Lulu”.
Then Jonathan Ross chips in with his guess: “I think it could be Natalie Cole in there.”
The entire audience applauds in agreement and you suddenly realise, not only did Natalie Cole die in 2015, but you’ve also passed through the looking glass into an entirely different television world.
It’s The Masked Singer on ITV, which has been attaching all sorts of flattering descriptions to itself since the start of the month, including “TV’s most outrageous show”, and “TV’s best-kept secret”.
What it actually is, though, is TV’s coronavirus. It began in the far east (South Korea) back in 2015 and since then, has spread to Italy, Argentina, Mexico, South Africa and Vietnam, where it’s presented by Hoang Rapper. Seriously.
Five weeks ago the global pandemic reached Britain and those millions of us who were infected have spent an uncomfortable month trying to work out if The Masked Singer is so bad it’s good or merely so bad it’s an affront to humanity.
Somewhat reluctantly, I’ve finally got to admit it’s the former, despite having more than enough self-inflicted wounds and production flaws to sink most programmes.
The Masked Singer is, for starters, no sort of contest, and while some of the singers, like Chameleon Justin Hawkins, disguise their identity brilliantly, John Barrowman could no more hide his showbiz light under the Large Hadron Collider than he could a unicorn outfit.
There are also issues with that hopelessly random panel, Jonathan, Rita, Davina McCall and Donny Osmond/Ken Jeong, who are either deliberately muddying the waters or are actually thick and deluded enough to believe a Joel Dommett-fronted show might also feature “Margot Robbie”, “Ray Winstone”, “Gemma Arterton”, “Helen Mirren” and “Olivia Colman”, in fancy dress outfits.
God knows, it must be hard for them to confront the idea The Masked Singer is now the biggest thing in their careers. The only people I actually feel sorry for, though, are the poor dancers who’ve suffered the torments of hell on this show.
The absolute worst of which was doing the twist, wearing only towels and snorkels, while that trippy octopus thing sang Splish Splash standing up in a bath. Yet still I watch. Why? Well, I’ve no realistic choice when the alternative is as tedious as BBC1’s The Greatest Dancer.
But I’d also choose The Masked Singer over X Factor, The Voice UK and practically any other Saturday night alternative the two main channels have served up recently, for the simple reason the basic guessing game concept and the end-of-show reveal are infuriatingly brilliant.
Indeed, I’d go so far as to say Tutankhamun removing his head to reveal former Home Secretary Alan Johnson is one of the TV highlights of the year so far. Inevitably, the overlong shows, repetitive nature of the process and relative disappointments, like discovering it was Kelis in the daisy outfit, will quickly cure me.
I’m sticking with The Masked Singer for now, though, because a slightly better bet than Natalie Cole has just reared its head in the duck outfit. After several weeks insisting it was a Spice Girl, Jonathan Ross now thinks: “It could be Diane Abbott . . . ”
And, you never know, she might even do her own version of a Spice Girls song, 2 Become 3. I’ve rarely wanted anything more.
Great TV lies and delusions of the month
- Good Morning Britain weathergirl Laura Tobin: “I don’t like lots of attention.” (Craves it like a high-pressure system from the west).
- Good Morning Britain, Piers Morgan: “I’m done with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.” This Morning, Eamonn Holmes: “At some stage in my life I will have been 10st.” Foetus stage doesn’t count.
Lost in the slog of war
BEST TV hour of the past week was Channel 4’s SAS: Who Dares Wins, despite the fact its contestants were only visible for about 60 per cent of Sunday night’s show.
Rest of the time they were blotted out by a gigantic Atlantic p***-storm which had engulfed the beautiful and brutal island of Raasay, on Scotland’s west coast, so that all you could actually see were some green blobs lumbering up and down the mountains and all you could hear was swearing, from Ant Middleton.
Or Foxy. Or possibly Billy. Or maybe even Ollie. “Put the casualty on the f***ing stretcher. Grab the f***ing stretcher and f***ing get him off the f***ing hill. That’s how we f***ing do it. Now move.”
A big ask, I think you’ll agree, and the only one who seemed equal to it was James, an estate agent, who’s cracked every single challenge but not a single smile since episode one.
He has, however, hinted at a very dark background (rentals and lettings?) and claimed, with an entirely straight face: “It’s difficult to say if I’m good at hiding my emotions, ’cos I don’t have many.”
No sooner had he said it, though, than Ant and the boys were pressing play on a Skype message from his mum. “Hi Peanut!” At which point James turned into a blubbing, schoolboy wreck.
- Hypnotic television (Channel 4, Sunday, 9pm).
Bush ire blamed on men
THE burning issue and question on Channel 4’s mind last night was Bring Back The Bush: Where Did Our Pubic Hair Go? Where indeed? If it isn’t exactly where you left it or down the back of the sofa.
Who worse to investigate this pressing issue, then, than Chidera Eggerue, the creative force behind the “Saggy Boobs Matter” campaign, who clearly craves attention and victim status but hasn’t worked out any better way of getting them than by making a gigantic exhibition of herself.
So she’d set herself a real “challenge” here. “I’m growing my pubic hair for the next six weeks.” Exactly the sort of zero-effort empty gesture millennials seem to love.
Chidera wasn’t quite confident enough in the project to go it alone, though, so she’d roped in four other minge martyrs to sprout away, while she went to LA to gawp at a porn shoot and work out why it was all the fault of men and the media.
With the help of some anecdotal cobblers and an old copy of Playboy, Chidera eventually established the “flawless, hairless women” era was all about blokes “policing women’s bodies”, and the only way to fight back was, as I’d feared: “By revealing our bushes to the world.”
When push came to shave, though, two of her mates insisted on wearing massive pants for the climactic photoshoot, the smartest one opted out completely and Chidera herself unveiled something that could’ve been her chuff, but could just as easily have been Ben Kingsley in All Hail The King. Bring Back The Bush? Bring back National Service first, please.
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