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The Masked Dancer returns: Who are the panellists, who’s the host and just who is hiding behind those masks?
Thirteen celebrities are ready to bamboozle as they boogie in series 2 of ITV's hit show. Take a look at the spectacular costumes and meet the new member of the perma-perplexed panel.
The Masked Dancer – a dance-based version of ITV’s hit celebrity show The Masker Singer – raised a few cynical eyebrows when it launched last year, but the incredible costumes, outlandish clues and completely bamboozled panel made it as much a success as its singing sibling.
Now the show is back for a second season, with 13 mystery celebrities ready to boogie and baffle in equal measure. We don’t know who they are, but we do know there’s a new face on the panel and plenty of surprises in store.
Here’s everything we know about series 2 of The Masked Dancer.
When does The Masked Dancer return?
Series 2 of The Masked Dancer began on Saturday 3 September. New episodes are shown every Saturday night on ITV.
Who are the Masked Dancer panellists?
Three-quarters of the panel from the first series return for series 2, with Davina McCall, Oti Mabuse and Jonathan Ross being joined by former footballer – and famed robot dancer – Peter Crouch.
Former panellist Mo Gilligan will be back in a guest capacity at some point in the series to bring his celebrity-guessing experience to bear.
Peter Crouch said joining the show has impressed his family more than all his footballing caps and goals ever have.
“It's madness. Completely different to anything that I've ever done before.
“My kids love the show. I played football for England and Liverpool, I played in Cup finals, played in the Premier League and played in World Cups but my kids, the only thing they want to talk to me about is The Masked Dancer. They absolutely love it.
“They came and watched one of the shows and absolutely loved it and it's all they’ve talked about since.
Two-time Strictly winner Oti Mabuse is delighted by Peter’s addition to the panel, if only because she’s no longer the new kid in town.
“It's really nice not to be the new person,” she said.
“Peter’s been brilliant and a fantastic addition to the panel - he hears one clue and just goes down a rabbit hole, but it's a brilliant rabbit hole. His knowledge is incredible. His guesses are really good.”
Oti’s dance background may give her an insight into the identity of some of the celebrities but even she was shocked by some of the reveals.
“There was literally one where I didn't speak because I was so gobsmacked. I just couldn't fathom how they were literally on the show dancing!”
Jonathan Ross thinks it’s the combination of amazing costumes and good, clean, family entertainment that has made The Masked Singer and Dancer such big hits with the public.
“The costumes are, I think, even better than ever. The characters are wonderful. There’ll be characters that the kids fall in love with and some really cool characters that I think the grown-ups will love. The people under the masks are even more impressive and harder to guess,” said the talk show host.
“I think people love Masked Singer and Masked Dancer because there's so much fun and there's no meanness onstage, there's nothing really at stake.
“On this show the people involved are already successful and come along because they want to have fun and they want us to have fun watching. I think it's just a kind of win-win.”
Davina McCall confessed to taking the guesswork home with her, aided by a fellow panellist.
“Oti and I message all of the time; it was midnight the other night when Oti sent me random pictures of people and asked ‘same body shape as…….? I mean, we're just literally clutching at straws, but I am having such a hoot,” she said.
“What I love about this show is that everybody gives it 100%. I think there is something about being behind a mask which means that a celebrity is less encumbered with self-consciousness and will give 100% in everything that they do.
It can be embarrassing dancing but when you've got a mask on it isn't, they just go for it. It's brilliant.”
Who's the host?
Joel Dommett returns as the host of The Masked Dancer, having presented the first series as well as all three seasons of The Masked Singer on ITV.
Joel says that behind the masks, the two shows have subtle differences, especially if you’re standing next to a costumed contestant.
“There's lots of panting with Masked Dancer that you don’t get on Masked Singer because obviously, they're very tired at the end of it. So there's a lot of heavy breathing. So whereas everyone else is trying to guess with the clues, I'm trying to guess who it is from their heavy panting,” he said.
“One particular character, Pearly King, makes a lot of noise in their costume, whatever they're doing they're having a lot of fun.”
Because the public and panel can’t hear the celebrity’s voice on Masked Dancer, Joel hands out more cryptic clues to their identities and he might on The Masked Singer.
“There's so many more games that we play now to help with the guessing, with extra clues up for grabs, which I think is quite fun.
“It's difficult and the spectacle of it is so odd that I think sometimes the panel forget about the guessing because you're just watching the madness in front of you. It’s so fun and there’s some incredible dancing happening as well.”
And what did Joel think of the new addition to the panel, footballer Peter Crouch?
“Peter has been so good. He's really taking it seriously. He's a sportsman so he wants to win and that’s made him a great sportsman and also a good detective on the show. He's very good at it. He just loves piecing together all of the clues.
“What makes me laugh the most is when all of the panel stand up, because Peter is so tall there is such a huge gap between the table and his legs that you could fit a whole person through the gap. He is so tall.”
This year sees 13 celebrities take to the dancefloor in a bid not only to win the title of series champion, but also to puzzle the panellists as to the nature of their true identities.
For the first time in Masked Dancer history, this series will feature a duo in the shape of Pillar and Post.
Here are the Masked Dancers still strutting their stuff, and what the panellists thought of their efforts…
Tripping the light fantastic, Candlestick's moves are sure to set the place alight.
They might have two - or maybe 200 - left feet, but Odd Socks is bound to bring plenty of colour to the show.
A big noise in their chosen field, Onomatopoeia is sure to make the party go with a bang!
"Onomatopoeia is another great costume and this person is a great dancer. They can really move, so I'm excited to see who is hiding behind the mask because I have absolutely no idea." - Joel Dommett
There's more to Pearly King than a knees-up along the Lambeth Walk - and rumours of a bromance with host Joel just won't go away.
"I do think that Pearly King is my absolute favourite. They're really good and embrace the whole character. Pearly King isn’t the best dancer by a country mile but he's embracing it and courts the audience, he’s really enjoying it and I think that can get you really far." - Joel Dommett
No-one cuts a rug - or anything else that may be lying around - like the sleek form of Scissors.
"Scissors is amazing. They have an amazing physique and an amazing physicality about them and the costume is really slinky and fun." - Jonathan Ross
Sea Slug moves as well on land as she does in water - her favourite dance is the Loco-m-ocean!
"I know when you say Sea Slug you don't think it's going to be very pretty, but Sea Slug is very glamorous, very sexy and very sophisticated. I think viewers will love Sea Slug." - Jonathan Ross
Tomato Sauce - Steph McGovern
Tomato Sauce was the fifth dancer to be elimated, and when the mask was unpeeled she was revealed to be TV presenter Steph McGovern. As Packed Lunch host, her costume was the perfect accompaniment!
After dancing to Red Alert by Basement Jaxx, Tomato Sauce was left in the bottom two with Odd Socks and the judges chose to unmask the ketchup queen.
"I love the show and I love dancing. Getting to dance as a completely different person/character is thrilling!" said former champion Irish dancer Steph.
“My character is literally my opposite – cute, sweet, affectionate. As soon as I am in costume I become my alter ego. I’m nothing like her... I’m a sarcastic, direct northern lass. She’s so sickly cute, but I love her."
Pillar and Post - Frankie & David Seaman
Pillar and Post were making Masked Dancer history as the show's first dance duo, but sadly made history of another kind when they had to pull out of the contest after Pillar picked up an ankle injury in rehearsals.
The couple were revealed to be husband and wife Frankie and David Seaman.
"Sadly, Pillar took a tumble during rehearsals and I am absolutely gutted to tell you that on medical advice they have had to withdraw from the competition," host Joel Dommett announced on episode 5.
Ice skating star Frankie, who met former England goalkeeper David on ITV show Dancing on Ice, said they were "gutted" to be leaving the programme.
"We were gutted as we absolutely loved every minute! It was great fun but a tumble meant our Masked journey came to an end too soon, we had such a blast and we were sad that we had to hang up our masks without being able to share our final dance with you all!" she said in a statement.
Cactus - Gareth Malone
Choirmaster Gareth Malone was the fourth dancer to be unmasked as he lost out in the Dance Jam to Pearly King. The prickly customer stepped out to Cole Porter's jazz classic Too Darn Hot in his final show before changing styles completely and dancing to Kriss Kross's Jump in the dance-off. The Panel saved Pearly King but failed to guess Gareth's true identity before the mask came off.
The man behind The Choir admitted that his Masked Dancer experience was far from a comfortable one.
"I had to lie to everyone, had to lie to my parents, I had to lie to my children, I had to lie to everyone I work with, it was really difficult and I didn’t enjoy it at all," he said.
"It was really hard getting in the car and being clandestine about it and everything, and just so much of a relief when I took the mask off at the end. It was like, 'Great, finally I can just be myself again!'"
Prawn Cocktail - Stacey Dooley
Journalist and TV presenter Stacey Dooley might have lifted the Strictly Come Dancing glitterball back in 2018, but her return to Saturday night TV was less successful as she became the third celebrity to be revealed in The Masked Dancer series 2.
Prawn Cocktail's first dance to Dua Lipa's Physical left her in the dance-off, and after her modern dance routine to Girls Just Want to Have Fun, the panel saved Scissors and cut her loose instead.
As well as her identity, Stacey was also keeping another secret - that she was expecting her first baby with boyfriend Kevin Clifton. When the series was filmed earlier this year, the documentary maker was in the first three months of her pregnancy.
"A dancing, preggo prawn. You're welcome," Stacey wrote in an Instagram post after she had been unmasked.
"The choreographers were such sweethearts, and the entire crew behind the scenes. Ta so much. So fun! (Also, so sorry to my gorgeous runner, I just know my dressing room must've stunk of 1st trimester sickness.)"
Pig - Joanna Page
Pig was the second dancer to leave the show's second series. Despite a joyous 60s-style routine to Katrina and the Waves' Walking on Sunshine, the panel deciding they preferred to see Pearly King and Cactus dance again and Pig had to remove her mask.
To their surprise Pig was none other than Gavin & Stacey actress Joanna Page.
"I've had a fantastic time. It's been absolutely amazing," she said when the mask came off.
"The children don't know or anything. I'm very excited as this is their favourite programme."
Astronaut - Jesse Metcalfe
Astronaut was the first character to leave series 2 of the Masked Dancer after being voted off by the panel following his robotic routine to The Weeknd's Blinding Lights.
When the visor was lifted, the spaceman was revealed to be Desperate Housewives actor Jesse Metcalfe.
"Dance has always been something that intimidates me, so I thought it’d be cool to challenge myself, and face that fear. I was still quite nervous on performance night, but there was something liberating about being anonymous in the costume," he said, revealing that his biggest challenge was actually away from the dancefloor.
"I’m obviously based in the US, and I couldn’t tell friends why I was in the country, so lots of ignoring messages and being vague about what I was doing…and even some outright lying."
Who won The Masked Dancer series 1?
The first UK series of The Masked Dancer, shown across eight nights in May and June 2021, was Olympic gymnast Louis Smith, dressed as Carwash. He beat dancer Bonnie Langford’s Squirrel, Take That star Howard Donald’s Zip and actress Tamzin Outhwaite’s Scarecrow to win the contest.
The other masked dancers in series 1 were:
- Kelly Brook – Frog
- Craig Revel Horwood – Knickerbocker Glory
- Zoe Ball – Llama
- Christopher Dean – Beagle
- Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards – Rubber Chicken
- Dita Von Teese – Beetroot
- Louise Redknapp – Flamingo
- Jordan Banjo - Viper
Catch up with The Masked Dancer every Saturday on ITV and ITV Hub.