The third series of The Masked Singer UK is returning to ITV this month, with fans eagerly trying to guess the identities of characters including Bagpipes, Lionfish, Robobunny and many more.

Joining the audience in guessing the star's identities will be a celebrity panel including Davina McCall, Rita Ora, Jonathan Ross and Mo Gilligan, with the TV programme hosted once again by Joel Dommett.

Stars to have been revealed in the past have included Sophie Ellis Bextor, Nicole Roberts and Joss Stone, but what you might not know is that the makers of The Masked Singer go to huge lengths to keep their identities a secret.

Daily Star takes a look at some of the ways that producers keep the star's identities a secret, as well as revealing some of the secrets behind the programme including the rules that audiences in the studio have to follow.

Where and when is the Masked Singer filmed?

Filming for The Masked Singer takes place at ITV Studios Bovingdon.

The studios are based at a former RAF airfield site in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, just over 20 miles outside London.

However, the shows are recorded in advance in September of each year, which explains why it is one of the TV singing competitions not to have telephone votes from home.

Having already delighted audiences for two series, the third series of The Masked Singer UK will arrive on ITV on Saturday January 1 2022.

Audience rules

Audiences attending the filming of The Masked Singer have to follow a number of rules while in the studio, so that the identities of the characters are not revealed before the TV programme airs.

All audience members must hand in their phones and sign a non-disclosure agreement – and that's before they have even entered the studio.

One of the most surprising rules however, is that despite sitting through all of the performances while they are filmed, the audience are not actually allowed to know the identities of the stars when the masks are taken off.

Host Joel Dommett revealed the secret on Sunday Brunch, saying: "We record the whole show and then they get to the bit where they go 'take it off, take it off', they go to take off the mask and that's the point where, I don't know if I'm allowed to announce this, we then get rid of the audience so they can then keep it a secret."

While the rule is meant to keep the audience from revealing the star's identities before the programme airs, Joel said the studio audience are often not best pleased.

He added: "The entire audience leaves, and they're very angry about that. And after we get rid of the audience, we reveal who it is."

The audience are also not allowed to discuss the guesses that the celebrity panel makes, or any rumours they hear in the studio about the character's identities once they leave the building – now that is a lot of rules to follow.

How are star's identities kept a secret?

Celebrity panel member Mo Gilligan revealed some of the ways that show producers keep star's identities a secret while filming, telling Alison Hammond on her My Life In TV podcast: "I got in the car, the driver was instructed he can't talk to me. I cannot talk to you, I'm not allowed.

"There's a gate. There's another gate with huge security guards. This happened every single day."

He added: "You don't see anyone, you go straight into your dressing room, it's so secretive."

However Mo explained that despite the rules, The Masked Singer is "a fun show, it's a really good family game."

Despite all the rules and regulations to keep star's identities a secret, previous The Masked Singer guests have revealed that sometimes their identities have been easy to guess – particularly by their own families.

Sophie Ellis Bextor, who was revealed as Alien in the previous series, told The Daily Mail: "Even my one-year-old pointed at the telly and shouted "mummy!" when I started singing in the alien suit!

"Anyhoo a fun and trippy way to spend a few days and enjoy the rest of the show – no idea who anyone is!"

She explained that one of the reasons her identity was guessed so quickly was because of her recognisable voice, adding that vocal coaches on the programme help singers to try and alter their voices so that they are harder to identify.

However, stars are encouraged occasionally to give a glimpse of their real voice as a clue for the audience.

Sophie said: "My kids found it absolutely hilarious that I put on such a weird accent, they were like 'why on earth did you do that?'

"You want to have a recognisable voice if you're a singer but I felt like I'd done quite a good job so I was quite surprised."

However, the singer did add that despite the celebrity panel guessing her identity quite quickly while filming due to her iconic voice, the guesses were edited out to make it harder for the audience at home to guess the character's identity.

The Masked Singer UK continues Sunday on ITV at 7pm

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