The Masked Singer's Ken Jeong replaced by Mo Gilligan after travel restrictions force change

THE Masked Singer's Ken Jeong will be replaced by Mo Gilligan after travel restrictions forced the American comic to pull out.

The Celebrity Gogglebox star has signed up for the hit ITV show and will join host Joel Dommett and panelists Davina McCall, Rita Ora and Jonathan Ross.

BAFTA-winning comic Mo, 32, won the slot after Ken, 55, stepped down due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Mo said: "It’s a real privilege to be joining The Masked Singer team.

"It’s one of the funniest shows out there and I’m really proud to play my small part to help bring a little bit of joy to the nation.

"I can’t wait to join Jonathan, Rita, Davina, Joel and hopefully Ken! Now…let’s get cracking."

Ken Jeong, best known for the Hangover movies, had unexpectedly become the saviour of ITV.

The Masked Singer, which saw Nicola Roberts as Queen Bee crowned winner in February, gave the channel its best launch-night figures since 2013.

It walloped BBC One rival The Greatest Dancer, netting 6.5million viewers — more than double the 3.2million who tuned in for Cheryl Tweedy’s dance contest.

The bonkers format, hosted by Joel Dommett, sees celebs ­perform while wearing elaborate and crazy costumes and masks, ranging from a futuristic ­chameleon to a rainbow-coloured unicorn.

ITV were so keen to sign Ken up, producer Daniel Nettleton flew to the US to convince him to do it.

Ken proved a hit when he ­randomly insisted one performer must be Murder, She Wrote sleuth Angela Lansbury.

Despite his obvious appeal, viewers could be forgiven for wondering not just who is behind the masks but who this flamboyant American is.

He first got a foot in the door in Hollywood when he answered director Judd Apatow’s call for an actor with medical experience for a small part in 2007 comedy Knocked Up.

Mo rose to fame in 2017 when a sketch he uploaded to Twitter about different types of DJ got a million hits in 24 hours.

One of his comedy characters, the geezer, has the catchphrase "Bring me a coupla cans" which has been shared and liked by Drake and Stormzy.

Previously he worked in retail – in the Apple Store, Primark and a Levi's shop.

Mo is the co-host of The Big Narstie Show on Channel 4, alongside Grime star Big Narstie.

The comedian was given his own shows on Netflix called Momentum and The Lateish Show With Mo Gilligan on Channel 4.

Mo appeared alongside actor and comedian Babatunde Aleshe on the first episode of Celebrity Gogglebox 2020 on 5 June.

Ken Jeong gave a statement about his departure and said the door isn't closed for his return.

Ken said: "I had so much fun on season 1 of The Masked Singer UK, I told the team nothing short of a global pandemic would stop me from coming back for Season 2!

"I am gutted because I truly love working with Joel, Rita, Davina, Jonathan and everyone at Bandicoot and ITV.

"I hope when things start to normalize I can return and offer my expertise on all things British, like the Australian Open.

"Please take care, be safe, and as the title of the show suggests, wear a mask."

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