Entertainment TV The Masked Singer is a totally trippy ratings sensation
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The Masked Singer is a totally trippy ratings sensation

Jackie O Dannii Minogue Dave Hughes Lindsay Lohan
The Masked Singer's judges Jackie 'O' Henderson, Dannii Minogue, Dave Hughes and Lindsay Lohan. Photo: Instagram
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Ten needed a hit after The Bachelor dished up solid but not spectacular ratings, and it found it in the loopiest show on TV, The Masked Singer.

Based on a South Korean concept, the show premiered on Monday after a full-tilt PR campaign.

It smashed rivals, taking down Nine’s previously unbeatable behemoth The Block and Seven’s Brownlow Medal coverage in the 7.30pm time slot.

The first episode drew 1.162 million metro viewers, making it the most-watched five-city show of the night.

The event TV extravaganza was expected to hold its audience on Tuesday.

For those not across it, The Masked Singer is a glitter cannon explosion of mystery and talent.

It’s a probably addictive example of the unabashed weirdness that is network TV in a time of oxygen-stealing streaming platforms.

It has the perfect formula for right now: Family friendly, interactive and a welcome respite from watching randoms go on dates or build bathrooms.

The show’s bizarre mash up includes Pufnstuf-quality costumes, ‘celebrities’, and a clunky panel featuring the best Minogue and – inexplicably, fabulously – Lindsay Lohan.

Lohan was the drawcard for me.

It’s her 1000-cigarettes-a-day voice and the car crash magnetism displayed in her last doomed reality show, which saw her boss around minions in various accents while running a Greek beach club.

“She is across pop culture because she is pop culture,” host Osher Gunsberg said.

Is she though? Lohan’s mention of Charles Manson as a possible contestant suggested otherwise, but hey, The Masked Singer is nothing if not magical showbiz juju.

Lohan seemed to be test driving a rebadged, family-friendly LiLo.

She looked delighted jigging along to Feel Like a Woman and had a working knowledge of at least a handful of Australian celebs (“Is it Bindi Irwin?”)

But the real hero is the kooky set up.

The Masked Singer showcases 12 ‘stars’ from different industries and countries who speak in disguised tones and give clues about who they might be below their outfits.

Each episode pits them against each other in a sing-off.

There’s a live audience and judges who guess who they are, based on their broadcast hints, size and ability to throw shapes.

The franchise debuted in the US last year and saw celebrities including Donny Osmond, Ricki Lake and Tori Spelling vying against each other.

Hip-hop artist T-Pain won the series dressed as a hybrid Monster.

The debut episode saw Alien pitted against Prawn, Robot (” a dope singer” according to Lohan) battle Octopus, and Unicorn take on Wolf.

The first celebrity unmasked was comedian Gretel Killeen, aka Octopus, whose strong voice was a surprise. On the second episode, Parrot – banging out the Hoodoo Gurus’ What’s My Scene – was revealed as former cricketer Brett Lee,

There’s already a stack of lists online speculating who the masked singers might be, with the names of sports stars, actors and musicians bowled up.

The most likely candidates? Anyone with a project to sell. Anyone linked to Ten. Anyone keen to reignite a flagging career via a gimmick.

Not anyone like Chris Hemsworth or Hugh Jackman.

The conundrum is that while the judges spend a lot of time taking stabs at who the singers might be – Jason Donovan? Keith Urban? Blair from Neighbours? – what they think appears not to actually matter.

It’s the votes from the public that count towards who gets to keep their mask on and keep rocking out.