The Masked Singer: 18 Behind-The-Scenes Secrets You Didn't Know

From creating the costumes to production trickery, we lift the lid on TV's most secretive show.
The Masked Singer's Joel Dommett, Mo Gilligan, Davina McCall, Rita Ora and Jonathan Ross
The Masked Singer's Joel Dommett, Mo Gilligan, Davina McCall, Rita Ora and Jonathan Ross
Vincent Dolman/ITV

The very nature of The Masked Singer means it’s one of the most secretive shows on TV, as viewers desperately try to fathom out who is hiding behind each of the colourful and outlandish costumes

While we’ve got our own theories as to who might be among the latest crop of mysterious warblers, we’ve also been doing some digging as to what goes on behind the scenes of the madcap guessing game.

Here are 18 secrets we managed to uncover...

1. In order to stop the identities of the singers leaking, not all audience members get to see the unmasking

The whole show is filmed in front of about 500 people (apart from last year’s series, which featured a socially-distanced audience) who all stay put right up until the celebrity is about to take off their mask.

At this point, the majority of the audience have to leave the studio, with only about 30 or so people staying to see the big reveal, so as to minimise spoilers leaking. Both parts are then edited together, with viewers at home none the wiser about the switch-up.

Those who apply for tickets to watch the show are warned of this in advance on the ticketing website, so they are not disappointed on the night of filming.

2. Audience members also have to sign a confidentiality agreement

According to SRO Audiences, who deal with tickets for the show, all audience members are required to sign a release form, which allows them to be filmed, but it also contains “confidentiality clauses” to stop them telling others about who is unmasked on the show.

3. Only a handful of people know all the names of everyone taking part

Some of the characters from the third series of The Masked Singer
Some of the characters from the third series of The Masked Singer
Vincent Dolman/ITV

In fact just six people know the identity of all the celebrities taking part in the series.

Host Joel Dommett told a virtual press conference in 2020: “I think there’s six people in the production staff who know, out of a production team of probably 250 people. That’s two producers, a clues team person, a make-up person and a costume person and that’s basically it.”

4. The singers have no idea who all the other stars on the show are

They may all share the stage in the group numbers, but the celebrities genuinely have no idea who else they are appearing on the show with – they find out at the same time the rest of us do.

5. As well as character names, the celebrities also have codenames

These codenames – often linked to the celeb in some way or another – are used by the production team when referring to them prior to filming starting.

For example, former Labour Party MP and postman Alan Johnson – who appeared as Pharaoh in series one – was referred to as “Stamp”, while ex-EastEnders star Patsy Palmer (aka as Butterfly), was “Square” and The Darkness singer Justin Hawkins (aka Chameleon) was “Light”.

6. The costume designers have no idea who they are making outfits for

Behind the scenes at costume maker Plunge
Behind the scenes at costume maker Plunge
ITV

The team are sent the celebrities’ measurements and then they use a stand-in with someone of the same body size to fit the costumes.

A few of the costume team will find out the identity of the celebrities when they get to set and have to get the stars into the outfits, but designer Tim Simpson of Plunge Creations told HuffPost UK that the majority of his team only find out their identities when the reveals air on TV.

7. Way more costumes are made for each series than are needed

There are usually 12 contestants on each series of The Masked Singer, but the final costumes are whittled down from a list of around 75 ideas. Around 20 of those get made into working ideas before the final line-up is decided.

8. Each costume takes about a month to make

The design team do fittings with stunt doubles to keep the celebrity contestants' identities private
The design team do fittings with stunt doubles to keep the celebrity contestants' identities private
Sarah Mead/Plunge Creations

The designers can get to work on the head before knowing who the celebrity is, but need their measurements before starting on the actual costume, and Tim said it can be very “stop-start” until the producers have got the entire line-up in place.

However, once they are all confirmed, there are 12 costumes to make in around a month, with work taking place simultaneously on them all.

9. There are around 45 people on the costume team

The creative team working on Robin's costume for series two
The creative team working on Robin's costume for series two
Sarah Mead/Plunge Creations

Tim explained they have “a whole range of different skills” and they all work on the costumes, simultaneously, noting: “We’ve got sculptors who are sculpting the masks, we’ve got tailors, we’ve got people who can flock and who can paint and who can pattern cut and work in foams.

“There’s also metalwork going into the costumes, there’s electronics – not to mention the team that just organise everything and the logistics of buying all the materials in, which has been so much harder this year, because we weren’t able to just walk down the rag market and go shopping, we had to do it all online.”

10. The show’s producers took inspiration from Mickey Mouse for rules around the costumes

The contestants only spend a certain amount of time in their costumes
The contestants only spend a certain amount of time in their costumes
Kieron McCarron/ITV

When it comes to how long the celebrities should spend in their costumes, executive producers Derek McLean and Daniel Nettleton said they looked to Disneyworld and the rules in place for performers there.

“The stars were only allowed in their costumes for 20 minutes,” they told The Sun. “We took inspiration from Disney. That’s how long Minnie and Mickey Mouse can be in their costumes before going doolally.

“We ended up being quite strict about it. You don’t want celebrities in costumes going crazy all over the place.”

11. Even the disguises the singers wear backstage are uncomfortable

The Masked Singer contestants have to wear disguises backstage
The Masked Singer contestants have to wear disguises backstage
ITV

All Masked Singer fans know that the contestants wear a big black hoodie saying “Don’t Speak To Me” and a visor to hide their faces when they are backstage and not in costume. What you don’t see, however, is how they also have to wear a balaclava and gloves too, to ensure every part of their body is hidden.

Following her elimination as series three’s Snowleopard, Gloria Hunniford, said that the behind-the-scenes get-up wasn’t much more comfortable than her on-stage ensemble.

“I’ve never had to wear a balaclava in my life!” she told the Loose Women panel. “It’s hot and very restrictive.

“If you went out the studio, say to do voiceovers or something, they had portacabins out in the grounds, so you had to put that on every single time. And actually when you got into the actual costume, that was a relief in some ways.”

12. The requirement to wear plain black even extends to the other items they bring to the studio

Mel B – who appeared as Seahorse in the show’s second series – revealed that the singers are even told to bring all their belongings in plain black bags, to avoid revealing any clues about themselves.

She told of how she nearly gave the game away when she turned up to filming with some very on-brand items.

“I’m a big fan of leopard print so I did arrive with a leopard print bag and my leopard print ear pods that I had to then cover up and hide,” she told Metro.

“They were like, ‘no you’re meant to bring everything in plain black’.”

13. The show is filmed on an old RAF airfield

The Masked Singer is filmed at a studio facility at the old RAF airfield in Bovingdon in Hertfordshire. It was specially constructed in 2018 for the revival of Dancing On Ice, and the studio is also home of Michael McIntyre’s The Wheel.

The airbase itself has also welcomed a number of film productions over the years too, including the 2016 Star Wars spin-off film Rogue One.

14. The panel are not allowed access all areas behind the scenes

The Masked Singer panel
The Masked Singer panel
Kieron McCarron/ITV

Davina McCall told OK! Magazine: “I’m not allowed behind the scenes! We’re not allowed to go anywhere because it’s all top-secret.”

There are separate areas backstage for host Joel Dommett, the panel and for the singers so that possible contact is reduced to an absolute minimum.

15. Jonathan Ross has lots of creature comforts in his dressing room

Davina described him as “the coolest person” when it comes to dressing rooms, revealing he’s got plenty of home comforts when they’re filming the show.

She told OK!: “He arrives on day one with a massive record player, speaker system and loads of vinyl. He does his whole dressing room up like it’s a home from home.

“I’m always so jealous and think, ‘God, I must do that next time.’”

16. Rita and Mo have their phones taken off them during filming

Jonathan recently revealed that Rita Ora had her mobile confiscated on set, telling Metro: “Rita got told off for using her phone in all the breaks, because you know young people and their phones cannot be separated.

​​”In the end now, they take her phone off her. When we start recording, they remove Rita Ora’s phone so she cannot have access to the gram while she’s doing the show.”

Mo Gilligan then revealed he also had his phone taken away by bosses, but seemingly Jonathan and Davina are not subject to such rules.

17. Joel’s suits are often custom made for him

Joel Dommett
Joel Dommett
Kieron McCarron/ITV

If there’s one thing that’s guaranteed during any episode of The Masked Singer it is that host Joel Dommett will be wearing a spectacular suit.

Most of his ensembles are bespoke, made for him on the show by designer ​​Joshua Kane, and in previous series, Joel has auctioned off a number of them to raise money for charity.

18. Some HUGE stars have appeared on international versions

Kermit was unmasked on The Masked Singer US
Kermit was unmasked on The Masked Singer US
ITV

The Masked Singer UK has pulled it out of the bag when it comes to casting, with impressive names like Ne-Yo, Kelis and Mel B all appearing, but the international versions of the show have featured some truly surprising names.

In the US, the likes of Lil Wayne, Caitlyn Jenner, Mickey Rourke, Chaka Khan, Dionne Warwick, and even Sarah Palin and Kermit The Frog have been unmasked. Ryan Reynolds has also appeared on the original Korean series.

The Masked Singer airs on Saturdays at 7pm on ITV.