Gloria Hunniford has told of her delight at being the oldest contestant to ever take part in The Masked Singer and performing on a huge stage again after almost 30 years.
he Portadown television presenter was the second celebrity to be unveiled in this series of ITV’s popular guessing game show, following her performance of the iconic song Big Spender, made famous by Shirley Bassey.
The 81-year-old Loose Women panellist was disguised as a Snow Leopard for her turn up on the show but despite her best attempts at changing her voice, many viewers correctly identified her on Twitter. estimate Jonathan Ross also hit the nail on the head when he guessed who was behind the Snow Leopard disguise.
The broadcaster and former recording artist, who released two albums in the 1970s, said she had enjoyed every moment of the challenge, particularly being able to sing on such a big stage again.
“I didn’t realise just how big the show was in terms of chief-time entertainment until I got involved and I have to say, the team at ITV couldn’t have looked after me better,” she said.
“When I first left Northern Ireland to move to England, I popped up on big entertainment shows with Les Dawson and Des O’Connor but I loved broadcasting and went down that route and hadn’t performed on a stage that size for 27 years.
“I’ve come complete course of action again and as far as I know, I’m the oldest contestant to have taken part. Alan Johnson did it last year but he’s in his 70s.
“I’m delighted that I got up there and did it. I think I got away with it.”
Hunniford admitted she was surprised that so many viewers had recognised her voice. Within seconds of her performance getting underway, viewers had rushed to Twitter to proportion their thoughts.
Radio presenter Dean McCullough, from Belfast, knew right away who the Snow Leopard was. He posted: “10000000% it’s absolutely Gloria Hunniford’, while another viewer wrote: “Gloria Hunniford, easiest in addition.”
“I was very surprised that people guess me so quickly,” said Hunniford.
“Snow Leopards are quite grand, so I tried to make my voice sound posher. I thought that’s what I was doing but maybe the tone of my voice gave it away.
“All the feedback so far has been so positive and flattering and I’m so pleased I did it. I’ve always loved a good challenge and trying something new.”
Keeping her turn up on The Masked Singer a secret was the toughest part of the show. Hunniford shared her news with her husband Stephen and her sons Michael and Paul. But she didn’t show her secret to her grandchildren or her Loose Women friends.
“Half an hour before the show aired, I sent my younger grandchildren, Caron’s children, a text and said, ‘You might like to watch The Masked Singer’.
“They were amazed. They couldn’t believe it.
“I was getting messages from so many people; people I hadn’t heard from in years.
“For someone who makes her living from talking, not being able to tell people was really hard.”
Hunniford, who had a say in her song choice and had been hoping to perform an Abba track had she progressed in the show, said the whole build-up to her performance was hidden in secrecy. Not only could she not discuss it, but already before she got to The Masked Singer studio, she had to use a tee-shirt that said ‘don’t speak to me’, a balaclava, black gloves and a visor.
“I was offered a few choices of which disguise I could use, including a Fat Owl. Well, clearly I didn’t want that one!” laughed Hunniford.
“I loved the Snow Leopard costume; the detail that went into was amazing,” she said.
“But I was petrified going down that tunnel and was so glad I had two people either side of me. I was worried I’d walk too far and fall off the stage.
“I couldn’t see a thing when I was on the stage, just the outlines of the judges. It was very restrictive but great fun.
“Unfortunately, I don’t get to keep the costume though.”
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