It’s the Holy Grail of weekend tv: a actuality present that appeals to all ages and holds the eye of a youthful era whose brains have been shrunk to the dimensions of walnuts by 15-second social media clips.
ITV’s newest foray into this highly-competitive enviornment is The Masked Singer, which turned a sensation when it debuted in South Korea in 2015, then rapidly took the world by storm with copycat variations in America, France and Australia.
Now it’s in Britain with a prime-time Saturday night slot. However will it’s a sure-fire smash or the primary turkey of the brand new yr?
I sat down with my three youngsters to see if it handed the all-important ‘household’ take a look at.
An grownup dancing in a 7ft duck swimsuit is often solely on stage in a vacation camp, however right here we’re handled to such a sight with the addition of a conical Madonna bra and 4ft blonde ponytail
Issues weren’t promising in the beginning. True, my youngsters are arduous to please at the very best of occasions however the thought we may probably get pleasure from the identical TV present was met with derision: ‘We wouldn’t watch this in case you weren’t making us,’ they cried. However we persevered and located a present with a fairly normal format: a bubbly host (on this case comic Joel Dommett) bantering with 4 well-known judges sitting behind a desk.
The solo acts sing on stage (this time it’s celebrities performing different folks’s hits) whereas a dwell studio viewers votes for his or her favourites. Thus far, so standard. However the twist is that the singers put on outlandish costumes that come full with outrageous masks – therefore the present’s title – that means there’s no method of understanding who you’re watching. Is it Adele or a Love Island no person?
The celebrities’ identities are solely revealed once they’re voted off by the judges. In final night time’s British debut, the shedding movie star was former EastEnders actress Patsy Palmer, which provides you an thought of the calibre we’re speaking about.
It’s this component of thriller, suspense and ‘who-the-heck-is-that?’ as you slender your eyes to attempt to guess who they’re which makes this present a little bit totally different. And let’s face it, the masked idea is a technique of getting over the same old grievance about actuality TV exhibits that you just’ve by no means heard of any of the contestants earlier than.
However will it seize the entire household’s consideration? The problem is to cross a era hole that has by no means been so extensive because of particular person, personalised viewing habits.
My son might know extra You-Tubers than cleaning soap stars however I wouldn’t recognise his gaming vloggers if their sun-starved, veal-calf our bodies sat beside me on the couch. Only a few celebrities are in a position to cross this chasm.
I sat down with my three youngsters to see if it handed the all-important ‘household’ take a look at. The problem is to cross a era hole that has by no means been so extensive because of particular person, personalised viewing habits
Pictured from left to proper, Ken Jeong, Davina McCall, Rita Ora and Jonathan Ross. The celebrities’ identities are solely revealed once they’re voted off by the judges
That a lot was apparent at the same time as Dommett launched the panel: Davina McCall (assured to carry glowing enthusiasm to any format); Rita Ora (‘oh I do know that one,’ says Trixie); the humorous ‘one-for-the-adults’ Jonathan Ross (‘who?’ all of them blink); and actor Ken Jeong. ‘Is that Kim Jong Un?’ asks Kiki who takes an curiosity in worldwide politics. Croyde corrects her. ‘He’s the actor from The Hangover. He’s superior.’
So, one thing for everybody – except, after all, you had been on the lookout for a communist dictator. The contestants come on two at a time – first had been ‘Queen Bee’ and ‘Duck’, named after their costumes.
‘I sort of wish to see this,’ says my eight-year-old as Queen Bee – with a bizarre, china-doll face – comes on stage, which is as enthusiastic as that era will get about old style tv. All these exhibits depend on the essential ‘back-story’ of the contestants so we get a video from every act giving clues about their id in a through-the-keyhole method.
Then Dommett actually earns his charge by interviewing these folks behind their immoveable big masks. Their voices are distorted which provides the characters a relatively sinister air, as if they’re NHS whistleblowers fearing reprisals.
Lastly they sing. Queen Bee treats us to Sia’s Alive whereas Duck performs Madonna’s Like A Virgin.
An grownup dancing in a 7ft duck swimsuit is often solely noticed on stage in a vacation camp, however right here we’re handled to such a sight with the addition of a conical Madonna bra and 4ft blonde ponytail. They aren’t essentially singers, though everybody on this first episode can maintain a tune.
Queen Bee treats us to Sia’s Alive. Make no mistake, the costumes are unimaginable. So detailed, they make the common Strictly gown appear to be sackcloth
And crooning by a mesh mouth beneath a large duck, butterfly or hedgehog outfit because the nation strains to recognise your voice absolutely can’t be simple.
Make no mistake, the costumes are unimaginable. So detailed, they make the common Strictly gown appear to be sackcloth.
It’s not lengthy earlier than we’re all sucked in. Because of the present’s intelligent enhancing and clues, we will’t assist however try and guess who the celebrities may be. ‘It could possibly be Ariana Grande – she wears excessive boots,’ wonders Trixie of Queen Bee.
And so do the perplexed panel (even Dommett’s at midnight). ‘She mentioned she was arduous on the skin, mushy on the within,’ ruminates Davina of the 8ft duck. ‘Theresa Might!’ suggests Ross. The youngsters giggle.
After the primary efficiency, my youngsters are itching for a reveal – ‘Go on, take the masks off,’ they’re all muttering. I sit there questioning if South Korean youngsters have extra persistence than British ones.
It’s solely on the finish that the shedding movie star is revealed (the others will seem in future episodes) they usually’re unmasked to the marginally creepy frat-boy chanting of ‘take it off! take it off! take it off!’
The suspense is so intense with its fast-cut edits and wham-bam crescendo soundtrack that the viewers dangers being dissatisfied if it doesn’t finally turn into Elvis behind the masks.
So will it’s a success? All my youngsters may agree on was that it’s ‘simply so bizarre.’ However in an age when it’s tough to fascinate, bizarre will be good.