Chris Kamara has been unmasked as Ghost on The Masked Singer in the first elimination – after being diagnosed with apraxia of speech.
The former Sky Sports pundit, 64, was revealed to be hiding under the ghost costume in the new series debut episode.
He said he had done the show for his grandchildren, saying: ‘My grandkids, we’ll sit around together and they’ll have no idea. They love this show. They just sing ‘take it off’ and grandad’s going to turn around!’
Wow! Chris Kamara has been unmasked as Ghost on The Masked Singer in the first elimination – after being diagnosed with apraxia of speech
He added: ‘I did it for the grandkids. I want to see the surprise on their faces when they see me unmasked on the show.
‘Not even my wife knows so it’s going to be a surprise for the whole family. I’m not the best at keeping secrets so I’m not sure what will shock them most, taking part in the show or keeping it a secret.’
Chris also explained several of the clues about his identity, sharing that he previously had two albums out, and has done duets with big stars, such as Robbie Williams and Danny Jones.
Surprise! The former Sky Sports pundit, 64, was revealed to be hiding under the ghost costume in the new series debut episode
The judges were gobsmacked, after having guessed the identity of Ghost as John Bishop and Iain Stirling.
Fans at home were not as easily deceived however, and many guessed that the former footballer was under the mask.
It comes after Chris went public about his apraxia of speech (AOS) diagnosis last year.
It was an end of an era for Chris when he left his Sky Sports jobs after 24 years at the end of last season due to the condition.
Sweet: He said he had done the show for his grandchildren, saying: ‘I did it for the grandkids. I want to see the surprise on their faces when they see me unmasked on the show’
Explanation: Chris also explained several of the clues about his identity, sharing that he previously had two albums out, and has done duets with big stars, such as Robbie Williams and Danny Jones
AOS can make it difficult to pronounce words correctly, and led to people often thinking Chris was ‘drunk’ due to his slurred speech.
He said he felt ‘a fraud’ as a broadcaster having learned he had the condition earlier this year.
A documentary called for Lost For Words about Chris coming to terms with the condition was broadcast earlier this month.
Apraxia is a neurological condition that affects the body’s ability to perform natural motor functions, with many sufferers developing problems with speech.
Sad: It comes after Chris went public about his apraxia of speech (AOS) diagnosis last year
He was also diagnosed with an underactive thyroid last year and has stepped away from the majority of his broadcasting roles due to the issue.
The Middlesbrough-born presenter quit Sky due to the demands of live broadcasting but has continued working for ITV on a number of pre-recorded television shows.
Chris has fought to overcome his speech issues and recently returned to screens to co-host The Games and Ninja Warrior UK.
Fans originally became concerned for the pundit when they noticed he was slurring some of his words when reporting live from matches, with Chris eventually revealing that he had been dealing with the issue for two years.
Work: The Middlesbrough-born presenter quit Sky due to the demands of live broadcasting but has continued working for ITV on a number of pre-recorded television shows
WHAT IS APRAXIA OF SPEECH?
Apraxia of speech is a motor speech disorder that makes it difficult to speak.
This disorder can make saying the right sounds and words very difficult and can be observed as slurring.
It is caused by damage to the parts of the brain that control how muscles move, leading to apraxia of speech.
After he was unmasked, viewers took to Twitter to praise him for his performance and for ‘letting nothing stop him’.
One said: ‘Is it possible to love @chris_kammy even more?? The Masked Singer!!!! Legend!!!!’
While another tweeted: ‘@chris_kammy What an absolute bloody legend you are!!!’
A third echoed: @chris_kammy is just awesome doing @MaskedSingerUK letting nothing stop him ❤️ hope you’re grandchildren were thrilled to see you shame you weren’t #Ghost for long #TheMaskedSingerUK’.
A fourth agreed, writing: ‘@chris_kammy well I hope the grand kids enjoyed that, #Ghost #TheMaskedSingerUK well done Kammy’.
Praise: After he was unmasked, viewers took to Twitter to praise him for his performance and for ‘letting nothing stop him’
And a fifth declared: ‘@chris_kammy be proud of yourself going on the masked singer you did #Unbelievable’.
Chris’ unmasking comes after judge Davina McCall said two of the performers on the show made her cry this year.
The programme sees 12 celebrity acts sing while disguised in extravagant and outrageous costumes, as a star panel tries to guess their identities.
In 2023, audiences will watch as Fawn, Jacket Potato, Piece Of Cake, Pigeon, Rhino, Rubbish, Ghost, Jellyfish, Knitting, Otter, Phoenix and a duo, for the first time, called Cat & Mouse are revealed as famous faces.
Emotional: Davina McCall, 55, (second left) said two of the performers on The Masked Singer UK made her cry, as the competition returns next year (Davina pictured with her fellow judges Mo Gilligan, left, Rita Ora, second right, and Jonathan Ross, right, as well as host Joel Dommett, centre)
The previous series saw pop star Natalie Imbruglia, as Panda, crowned the winner, while former England footballer Michael Owen was found to be Doughnuts, and singer Charlotte Church was revealed as Mushroom.
Former Big Brother presenter McCall, 55, is joined by singer-songwriter Rita Ora, presenter Jonathan Ross and comedian Mo Gilligan again on the judging panel, as Joel Dommett returns to his hosting duties.
When asked if any of the performances have made her cry, Davina said: ‘Absolutely – Jellyfish is an extraordinary performer and has made us all feel pretty emotional.
Born to perform: The programme sees 12 celebrity acts sing while disguised in extravagant and outrageous costumes, as a star panel tries to guess their identities (Jellyfish, left, and Ghost, right, picture)
Television magic: When asked if any of the performances have made her cry, Davina said: ‘Absolutely’
‘Rhino, as well, has been particularly emotive. There are people who completely draw you in.’
She added that the celebrity playing Rhino is ‘massive and quite humble’ and puts his ‘little hooves together’ in a sweet movement.
Davina also said, of her fellow judges, that Jonathan, 62, has been the ‘naughtiest’, Rita, 32, has been ‘the most hilarious’ and Mo, 34, has been ‘nice to see again’.
Set to take to the stage: The yet-to-be-unveiled celebrity contestants will wear costumes such as Pigeon (left) and Potato (right)
All wrapped up: Knitting is seen, with the pink and blue costume featuring white needles across the front
All stars: Host Joel Dommett looks stylish in a mint green suit as he poses with Cat & Mouse ahead of the 2023 series
Jonathan said: ‘I’ll tell you what I really like about it, and I know Davina feels the same way, is to be doing something when you look out at the audience and you see it’s mums, dads, grannies and grandpas with their kids.’
Rita was asked if she felt the celebrities had upped their game this time around, and said: ‘I think now they’ve seen the show they’re like, “What can I do that hasn’t been done before, and how far can I take it?”. They are going further than ever before.’
Mo said: ‘I feel people are really coming into their costumes more this series.
Competitors: Two celebrities will wear the costumes named Rubbish (left) and Rhino (right) when the new season starts next month
Star quality: Panellist Rita Ora was in good spirits as she posed alongside Fawn ahead of the new series
‘So Phoenix always looks at us a bit weirdly for example. Then you’ve got some characters who are really funny, which is also hard because you think – is this a comedian that I know?’
It comes after Davina revealed she was initially asked to appear as a contestant on The Masked Singer UK rather than on the judging panel.
During a recent appearance at Good Housekeeping Live, she said: ‘I’ve got a really good story to tell about The Masked Singer. I had lunch with the head of ITV and I was 52 or 53, I’ve known him forever, and he asked: ”Can you sing Davina?” and I said: ”Sort of.. in the shower Why?’
Playing dress up: Piece of Cake (left) and Phoenix (right) will be two of the costumes worn by celebrities during the competition
Entertainer: Otter is seen wearing a pair of goggles and a snorkle ahead of the new run of the programme
‘He brought up being a contestant on the show, and I said: ”What are you talking about? I shouldn’t be on it, I should present it!” He told me they already had a presenter for the show – Joel Dommett – who is amazing, so I said: ”Can I be on the panel then?” A week later, I got a call to be on the panel.
‘For me, that was a second spring because I never thought I’d work in entertainment again, I never thought I’d get the chance to wear pretty dresses and outrageous shoes on telly again.
‘Every week, when I’m on The Masked Singer, you just know you’re looking at the most grateful person. Not because I’m on telly, but because I know it’s an opportunity to do a form of telly that I love so much. If you don’t try, you don’t get!’
Comeback: The Masked Singer starts on 1st January at 6.30pm ITV1 and ITVX (Panellist Jonathan Ross seen with Knitting)