The Masked Singer may be the ideal programme for the social media age, but it's also a contender for the worst show of the year

I realise that we are just 11 days into the new year, but I think we can say we have already seen the worst TV show of the year, in the shape of new shiny-floor show The Masked Singer (ITV, Sat/Sun, 8pm).

Friday, 10th January 2020, 5:00 pm
Rita Ora offered her guesses as to the identity of The Masked Singer. Picture courtesy ITV

A dozen celebrities are dressed up in various costumes – a chameleon, a duck, a tree – and invited to murder a different song. Four other celebs on a panel, all in the grip of a massive sugar rush, judging by the mania with which they greet each contestant, then try to guess who is behind the mask.

Host Joel Dommett has the good grace to look embarrassed throughout, especially when the panel make outlandish guesses as to the identity of the singer –from Angela Lansbury, to Tyra Banks, to Tony Blair.

This is in spite of the ‘celebrity’ talent show rule which means any ITV ‘cast’ must comprise two former boy band members, three ex-Love Island stars, one from each of the major soaps, a breakfast TV news presenter and a Nolan sister.

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This is a show made for the modern age, one you don’t watch with any commitment or interest.

It’s best on catch-up, so you can fast forward through the interminable chat, stupid VTs and ludicrous guesses to get to the pay-off, or to consume through social media, being part of the Masked Singer ‘community’, sharing your snark with others on the hashtag.

It will capture the public consciousness for a few years, as it cycles through stars from Patsy Palmer through Joe Swash, all the way down to her who was thing in whotsit. Then it will be cancelled, reappearing in 15 years on talking head clipshow I Love 2020, on BBC8.

I can only hope that show will have better things to remember the year for.

I’m afraid I may have been premature last week, when I said Dracula (BBC1, Friday, 9pm) was ‘fun’. The last episode was anything but, featuring a load of chat and and not much else.

Welcome to HMP Belmarsh with Ross Kemp (ITV, Thursdays, 9pm) offered little of note except to remind you how horrifically violent prison life can be. Not the picnic the Daily Mail might suggest.