More than 8m people tune in to final of ITV's The Masked Singer

Final of celebrity singing contest is most watched show of 2021 so far outside of news and sport

Alien, Robin, Badger, Swan, Dragon, Sausage, some of the stars of The Masked Singer
(Left to right) Alien, Robin, Badger, Swan, Dragon and Sausage, some of the stars of The Masked Singer. The winner, Sausage, was revealed to be Joss Stone. Photograph: Vincent Dolman/Bandicoot TV/ITV/PA
(Left to right) Alien, Robin, Badger, Swan, Dragon and Sausage, some of the stars of The Masked Singer. The winner, Sausage, was revealed to be Joss Stone. Photograph: Vincent Dolman/Bandicoot TV/ITV/PA

Last modified on Sun 14 Feb 2021 14.04 EST

The final of The Masked Singer was the most watched show of the year so far outside of news and sport, ITV has said.

An average of 8.6 million viewers tuned in to watch Joss Stone crowned the series winner after she was revealed to be Sausage. The finale of the latest series of the surreal show, which has had singers disguised as badgers, dragons and bush babies, attracted an audience of up to 10.6 million at its peak on Saturday night.

Kevin Lygo, the managing director of media and entertainment at ITV, said the team was delighted to bring escapist joy and light relief to so many during testing times. “At the end of a long week in lockdown we’re all coming together and trying to guess who’s dressed as a giant sausage, and quite frankly, it’s been a brilliantly entertaining tonic,” he said.

Joss Stone
Joss Stone, who has been revealed as the star behind the winner of The Masked Singer 2021, Sausage. Photograph: Tabatha Fireman/PA

In The Masked Singer, famous contestants clad in elaborate costumes sing in front of a celebrity panel tasked with trying to guess their identities. Its final attracted 2.2 million more viewers than the last episode of the 2020 series, according to the broadcaster’s average figures, and was the biggest audience the programme has had so far. The show has more than doubled its viewership since the series began on Boxing Day, when it was watched by an average of 4.2 million viewers.

In Saturday’s episode the judges Jonathan Ross, Rita Ora, Mo Gilligan and Davina McCall, alongside the guest judge Nicola Roberts, vied to guess the identities of the three remaining singers.

The majority of the judges failed to guess that the Grammy-winning R&B musician Ne-Yo was Badger, who had performed Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit and adopted an English accent at times. Aston Merrygold, a former member of the boyband JLS, was revealed to be Robin.

Earlier in the series, the singers Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Mel B and Gabrielle were unmasked as the characters Alien, Seahorse and Harlequin. Audiences had also watched the comedian Sir Lenny Henry, the television presenter Sue Perkins, the former England footballer Glenn Hoddle and the actor Martine McCutcheon perform as Blob, Dragon, Grandfather Clock and Swan.