Masked Singer unveils Bubble Tea’s identity as Ab Fab star to shock of guest judge Jennifer Saunders

The Masked Singer has revealed the celebrity identity of Bubble Tea after the contestant was eliminated from Saturday night’s episode (20 January).

The ITV singing show returned earlier this month with Joel Dommett on hosting duties, and super sleuths Davina McCall, Rita Ora, Jonathan Ross and Mo Gilligan back in the detective chairs to guess which celebrities are behind the costumes. This week’s episode had a “School Disco” theme, with French and Saunders star Jennifer Saunders joining the panel as a guest judge.

At the end of the episode, the judges had to pick between Bubble Tea and Owl, who were voted into the sing-off.

Bubble Tea’s final performance on the series was a rendition of “What’s Up?” by 4 Non Blondes, but it wasn’t enough to convince the panel to save her as they decided to send Owl through to the next round, after their performance of Middle of the Road’s “Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep”.

The panel made several guesses about who could be hiding behind Bubble Tea’s mask, including Fearne Cotton and Miriam Margolyes, but eventually, Bubble Tea was revealed as actor Julia Sawalha, who played Saunders’ on-screen daughter in Absolutely Fabulous.

“Darling, what are you doing? Silly girl. You got yourself in a mess but you were very good,” Saunders joked.

Sawalha replied: “I was like ‘she’s going to know it’s me.’ It’s beautiful to see you again.”

“I wanted to do something that would really take me out of my comfort zone,” Sawalha said following the show. “I like to do jobs that actually I’m really terrified of because then they’re a big challenge. This lived up to that!”

Julia Sawalha on ‘The Masked Singer’ (ITV)
Julia Sawalha on ‘The Masked Singer’ (ITV)

Sawalha admitted that singing is “not my thing at all” and that she found the process of singing on stage “really scary”.

“My favourite thing about becoming Bubble Tea was just being able to be really playful and young, and people thinking that I was a young pop star when I’m a little older than that!” she said.

Bubble Tea became the fourth contestant to exit the series following Rat, who was unveiled as Strictly Come Dancing star Shirley Ballas, Chicken Caesar, who was unmasked as presenter and actor Alexander Armstrong and Weather, who was revealed to be legendary soul singer Dionne Warwick.

Owl, Air Fryer, Piranha and Eiffel Tower progressed to the next round.

The Masked Singer returns on Saturdays on ITV1 and ITVX.