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All the best theories ahead of The Masked Singer’s grand finale

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All the best theories ahead of The Masked Singer’s grand finale

As well as wowing the judges and studio audience with their surprising singing abilities, Sausage, Badger and Robin have spent the past seven weeks dropping oblique (and not so oblique) hints about their identities, along with some red herrings designed to throw fans off the scent.

Here’s our guide to the celebrities most likely to be unmasked on Saturday evening…

Sausage has performed banger after banger on the show

/ ITV

Whoever is hiding inside the sausage costume is almost certainly a professional singer: throughout the series, she’s nailed everything from uptempo bangers (sorry) like Lizzo’s Good As Hell and I Will Survive to musical showstoppers like And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going from Dreamgirls.

Stacey Solomon, who was an X Factor runner up before she pivoted to Loose Women appearance and being lovely on Instagram, emerged as a potential option earlier in the series, perhaps thanks to the reference to classic Louis Walsh cliché “You look like a pop star, you sound like a popstar” which cropped up in Sausage’s ‘two lies, one truth’ segment. Two Essex seaside towns, Clacton and Southend, cropped up in her clue package (Solomon lives in Essex) along with the pink toolbox that regularly features in her Instagram posts.

Another potential hint is Sausage’s claim that she’s been told she “looks like a horse” – Solomon has previously shared comments that she’s received from trolls on Instagram, including one particularly nasty jibe claiming just that. Though she has since ruled herself out of the running – “How inappropriate would it be for me, a lovely Jewish girl, to be dancing round as a pork sausage?” she asked her Loose Women colleagues earlier this month – there’s always a chance she’s bluffing…

There’s also a faction of Twitter users convinced that Sausage is not Solomon but bare-footed singer extraordinaire Joss Stone. What’s swaying them? References to a love of travel (Stone previously embarked on a Total World Tour that saw her visit 200 countries; it came to an end when she was deported from Iran in 2019) plus a royal wedding reference (the singer is a pal of Prince Harry’s and attended his wedding to Meghan Markle in 2018). She also hails from Dover, and there’s been a handful of references to the coast sprinkled throughout Sausage’s clues so far. Another potential hint included in the ‘two lies, one truth’ teasers was a claim that she “owes her career to a horse” – as a youngster, Stone’s family couldn’t afford to buy the field that she rode her pet horse in, so they ended up selling the horse too, prompting her to turn to singing as a potential money spinner.

The royal clues could point to Joss Stone

/ AFP via Getty Images

And as for the other horse reference? You’d be forgiven for having expunged this particular casting detail from your memory, but Stone actually played Anne of Cleves opposite Jonathan Rhys Meyers’s Henry VIII in The Tudors, so she has indeed been likened to a horse, albeit while in character and dressed in dodgy period get-up.

Perhaps most convincing, though, is the evidence that’s pointing to Sheridan Smith. For one, she’s had an acclaimed musical theatre career, which has been hinted at in past episodes, with one reference to how her “hair colour is certified by law” (she starred as Elle Woods in Legally Blonde, duh!) and one outrageously obvious nod to her being a “funny girl” (Smith played Fanny Brice in the 2016 West End revival of Sondheim’s musical).

Then there’s the Blackpool references (she recently performed there for the Royal Variety Show) as well as the nod to her love of indulging in “a couple of beers and a bag of potato snacks,” which surely points towards  her role in Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps, and the random Welsh dragon that appeared a few episodes back: combined with those namechecks of Essex towns, could that be a tribute to her role in Gavin & Stacey as Smithy’s sister Rudi?

Sausage says this isn’t the first time her face hasn’t been seen in her work, potentially referencing her voiceover projects, and keeps mentioning fairy tales: Smith played a “tomboy princess” in US musical comedy series Galavant, she made her stage debut as Red Riding Hood in the Donmar’s production of Into the Woods and recently starred in Jack & the Beanstalk Ever After. Then there’s the ‘Billie’s Burgers’ van that appeared early on in the show, which could hint towards her role as a burger-flipping step-mum in Ratburger, an adaptation of one of David Walliams’ kids’ books… plus Smith’s baby son, born last May, is named Billy.

The judges seem flummoxed by Badger

/ ITV

The judges have offered up some of their most erratic guesses as they’ve attempted to work out Badger’s identity, with suggestions ranging from Alan Titchmarsh to Andy Serkis to one half of the Hairy Bikers duo. The frontrunner, however, seems to be US singer and producer Ne-Yo. There’s a marked similarity between Badger’s vocals and the star’s during slower tracks, and the weird reference to the character “see[ing] things like a virtual world” could be a nod to his stage name, which came about after a producer he worked with claimed that he could “see music like the character Neo sees the Matrix” in the sci-fi trilogy.

Badger also “likes to make people’s dreams come true” and Ne-Yo has served as a judge on a handful of US talent shows (the clues also say he’s familiar with “more than one type of studio”, another potential nod to Ne-Yo’s TV and film work) while a sign reading ‘Blurred Lines’ could refer to him turning down the opportunity to sing on Robin Thicke and Pharrell’s infamous track.

Ne-Yo has a song called Because of You, and Badger sang the Kelly Clarkson track of the same name during the competition. After Norwegian singer Morten Harket from A-ha was unmasked as the Viking (having previously sung a slowed down version of his band’s most famous track on the show) this feels like precisely the kind of on-the-nose hint that the show would throw into the mix. Throw in references to motorbikes (he’s ridden them in plenty of his music videos), hats (he really does wear a lot of hats) and coding (he invested in a Silicon Valley coding school in 2017) and it all starts to add up.

Ne-Yo wearing a trademark hat

/ Getty Images

There are plenty of other potential contenders. Former Strictly Come Dancing professional Kevin Clifton has had his name thrown into the mix by Twitter users. Clifton has pivoted to the world of musical theatre since his departure from the show, plus Badger’s dance skills are certainly sharper than you’d expect from someone trapped inside an animal costume. One clue also suggested that he was introduced to his “gift” by his mum, and Clifton’s parents taught him to dance. However, Badger says he’s “used to being anonymous” and isn’t easily recognised, which surely isn’t the case for the Strictly star.

Motorcycle fan James Blunt is another suspect, after Badger showed off what appeared to be military medals in one clue segment, though making some of the other hints work for the You’re Beautiful singer would require some serious mental gymnastics.

Is this rockin’ robin a former boybander?

/ ITV

There’s only one convincing answer to the conundrum of who’s inside that sparkling robin suit – and it’s Aston Merrygold. His impressive falsetto was the first giveaway, but the clues pointing towards the JLS singer have piled up since then. There’s the costume, for one: Merrygold’s first TV appearance came when he performed Rockin’ Robin on Stars in Their Eyes, a point that’s been further hammered home with the hint that he “started out doing impressions.”

A handful of boy band references have appeared so far, including a shot of Robin waving to screaming fans waiting outside a door, and his claim that he’s “been known to fly without wings” – JLS memorably teamed up with Westlife to sing their classic ballad for the final of The X Factor. We also know that sport has been a big part of Robin’s life, and there’s been hints that he’s represented his country, too, which correlates with Merrygold’s stint as a teenage football star, playing for England in the European Youth Games, as well as his Soccer Aid appearance in 2012.

JLS’s reunion tour has been postponed due to Covid – giving Aston Merrygold some free time…

/ Getty Images

Though he’s worn red for some of those sporting appearances, Robin says, blue will always be an important colour for him – because Merrygold’s designated merchandise colour in his JLS days (including, yes, that baffling Durex collaboration) was blue. Robin has also name-dropped diversity, perhaps linking to his work on the judging panel of talent show Got to Dance alongside… you guessed it, Diversity frontman Ashley Banjo.

Throw in the shot of a failed IQ test, surely a reference to his solo single Get Stupid, and we have a strong case, though some fans reckon Olly Murs might be another potential  contender: Robin did mention the importance of a mentor (Murs was mentored by Simon Cowell in his X Factor days, and now fulfils the same role for contestants on The Voice) and Murs has also been a mainstay on the England celebrity squad for Soccer Aid.

Thanks to the Westlife and sporting nods sprinkled throughout the series, too, fellow boybander Nicky Byrne has also been touted as a potential contender: Byrne represented the Republic of Ireland at junior level as a young footballer and went on to join Leeds United as a goalie before swapping all that for white suits, bar stools and key changes.

The finale of The Masked Singer is on ITV on Saturday at 7pm

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‘Extraordinary’: Helen McCrory’s life on stage remembered

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‘Extraordinary’: Helen McCrory’s life on stage remembered

“Whether you were in the back row of the stalls of the Olivier Theatre, or as close as the camera in Peaky Blinders, you got the same level of truth from her.”

Film director Stephen Frears, who cast McCrory as Cherie Blair in The Queen in 2006 and as Sonia Woodley QC in James Graham’s 2020 TV hit Quiz, described her acting as “forensic”.

He added: “She was such a witty woman, so glamorous and so bright.”

Nicolas Kent, who directed her as Lady Macbeth at the Tricycle (now the Kiln) in 1995 described McCrory as “almost the most dedicated actress I know of, a great leader of a company who never let anything go”.

Although she would win wide fame as Polly Gray in Peaky Blinders and Narcissa Malfoy in the Harry Potter franchise – and as half of London’s most glamorous thespian power couple with her husband Damian Lewis – McCrory was first and foremost a stage actress.

Although she could be witty and vivacious both on and off stage, she excelled in tragic parts.

Her National Theatre appearances alone embraced Nina in The Seagull (1994), a searing Medea (2014) and a heartbreaking Hester Collyer in Rattigan’s The Deep Blue Sea (2016). “Helen was quite diminutive in height and frame,” said Norris, “but [as Hester} she was in complete control of everyone.”

After training at Drama Centre and early success at Harrogate and Manchester, her first major London role was as Jacinta, the simple girl whose rape triggers a village revolution in Lope de Vega’s Fuente Ovejuna, for Declan Donnellan’s company Cheek by Jowl at the National in 1992.

“She was extraordinary, very moving and quite frightening,” said Donnellan.

He and his partner in life and work, Nick Ormerod, valued McCrory’s talent for friendship as well as her professional skills.

“We adored her,” he said. “She was the person you made a beeline for at the interval, to have a glass of wine with and a cackle.”

David Lan, who directed McCrory alongside Dominic West and Sienna Miller in As You Like It in the West End in 2006, praised her “quality of delicacy and fragility, though she was also quite robust. The sadness of it is that she could have gone on to do truly remarkable things.”

Many praised the commitment and force of her acting. “Oh my god, she had passion,” says Peter Moffat, creator of the 2000 TV legal drama North Square, in which McCrory played a fiery QC.

“She was also a really good reader of what’s been written and a really good listener.” Writer and director Paul Unwin recalled that, in the 2004 crime drama Messiah, “she broke a finger ‘in character’ because I asked her to do more. But she forgave me, I guess, as she would always turn out to help read a new play.”

Devoted to her craft, her friends, and to Lewis and their two children Manon and Gulliver, McCrory remained a force for practical good.

Even as she was dying, she promoted the Prince’s Trust and the Feed the NHS campaign, and helped choose the worthy recipients of the Evening Standard’s Future Theatre Fund.

“She’d always nudge showbusiness to do better,” said Unwin.

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