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The Masked Dancer comes to ITV - when is it on, who are the judges, how does it work?
The Masked Singer gets a sister show as the dance version of the crazy costumed contest launches its first series - here's everything you need to know.
If you’re missing spending your Saturday nights shouting “Sausage is Joss Stone!” at the TV screen, you’re in for a treat – The Masked Singer's spin-off show, The Masked Dancer, is heading your way.
Series two of The Masked Singer was a huge hit for ITV, so with Britain’s Got Talent taking a year off, what better show to fill the gap in their schedule than the dance version of the undercover celebrity competition?
Here’s all you need to know about The Masked Dancer – including who the judges are, how the contest works, and when you can see it.
What is The Masked Dancer?
Like its sister show The Masked Singer, The Masked Dancer does exactly what it says on the tin.
A cast of top secret celebrity contestants will don some of the best costumes on telly, including intricate masks to hide any identifying features, and perform a dance routine each week.
As well as performing as their costumed alter-egos, the celebrities will offer cryptic clues as to their identity before each dance. But beware - their voices will be disguised to throw viewers and the judging panel off the scent.
As with The Masked Singer, the fun is in guessing who each dancer could be as the judges put forward their best guesses each time.
Voting is a combination of studio audience and judging panel choices. Two contestants will face the dance off each week and one will be unmasked before leaving the show.
So start making a list of your best guesses and join the likes of celebrity fans Louise Redknapp and Antony Costa in asking “who’s that behind the mask?”.
Who are the judges?
It’s a familiar panel, with three of the four Masked Singer judges returning to their seats.
Joining The Masked Dancer is ballroom pro and double-Strictly winner Oti Mabuse, who will replace Masked Singer judge Rita Ora to sit alongside fellow judges Davina McCall, Mo Gilligan and Jonathan Ross.
Oti is of course best known for her starring role as one of the most popular pros in Strictly Come Dancing, but she also has judging experience from being a dance captain on BBC talent show The Greatest Dancer.
“I’m so thrilled and honoured to be joining the panel on The Masked Dancer," she said.
“I’m a huge fan of The Masked Singer and I loved the US Masked Dancer so I just can’t wait to start on this show.
“As a dancer, I will be watching the dancers intently looking for clues – it’s going to be so much fun!”
Jonathan may not strike you as being the greatest expert on singing or dancing, but his unrivalled celebrity knowledge and the fact that he’s interviewed pretty much everyone at some point has made him a formidable guesser on The Masked Singer.
He said: “What people don’t know is that secretly I am an expert in dance and can spot a ball change from a box step no problem.
“The title of best detective on the panel is most certainly coming my way!”
Mo joined The Masked Singer for series two, replacing Ken Jeong, and is sticking around for the new spin-off show.
He said: “I love The Masked Singer. It’s a crazy bit of joy, which we all need right now – so when ITV asked if I wanted to join The Masked Dancer, I of course said a huge yes.”
Davina will also be back, and admitted that she was taking the role seriously: “I love playing detective and I love dancing, so what could be better?
“I’m currently swotting up on all things dance in preparation and I will be watching those celebrity feet like a hawk.
“They always have such an amazing cast on The Masked Singer, so it could literally be anyone hiding and dancing behind those masks.”
Comedian Joel Dommett will also return to host the show.
He said: “I’m looking forward to some incredible costumes, epic performances and accidentally saying Masked Singer at least five times.”
Has there been a Masked Dancer series before?
Masked Singer superfans may well recognise the new format, as the US has already run a Masked Dancer contest.
It actually came about from a Masked Singer spoof segment on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, but was developed into a full series in 2020.
The US contest was won by Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas peforming as Cotton Candy and also included Ice-T as Disco Ball and Jordin Sparks as Exotic Bird.
Judges included former UK Masked Singer panellist Ken Jeong, alongside Paula Abdul, Brian Austin Green and Ashley Tisdale.
Who won The Masked Singer?
Earlier this year, we were glued to the second series of The Masked Singer with everyone convinced that winner Sausage would turn out to be either Stacey Solomon or Sheridan Smith.
However, when Sausage was unmasked she was actually Joss Stone, who had been competing in the bulky costume while heavily pregnant.
She summed up everyone’s thoughts about The Masked Singer as she laughed: “What a funny show!” at finding out she was the champion.
The series also included early exits from Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Mel B and Martine McCutcheon, with Aston Merrygold and Gabrielle reaching the final as Robin and Harlequin.
Series one was won by Nicola Roberts, who performed as Queen Bee.
When is The Masked Dancer on TV?
For now, we’re still awaiting a start date, although the wait shouldn’t be too long as ITV has promised us The Masked Dancer from late spring.
The series will run for seven weekly episodes of 90 minutes each and will be available to watch on ITV and ITV Hub.