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‘Masked Singer’ names new panelist for upcoming season. Why Nicole Scherzinger is stepping away

The famous face is already a member of “The Masked Singer” family across the pond.
/ Source: TODAY

“The Masked Singer” has announced that longtime panelist Nicole Scherzinger will step away from the show for its 11th Season, which will air in 2024. 

On Sept. 13, the Fox competition series announced in a press release that Scherzinger is busy starring in a London West End production, so singer Rita Ora will be filling in for her next season. 

The news was also shared on “The Masked Singer’s” official social media accounts

Rita Ora.
Rita Ora joins "The Masked Singer" for Season 11.Michael Becker / FOX

Here's what to know about the upcoming Season 10 and Season 11.

When will Rita Ora take her seat on the panel?

According to the press release, Ora will make her debut alongside fellow panelists Ken Jeong, Jenny McCarthy Wahlberg and Robin Thicke for Season 11 next year.

However, Season 10 premieres on Wednesday, Sept. 27 at 8 p.m. ET, which will still include Scherzinger.

Has Rita Ora been on ‘The Masked Singer’ before?

Ora is already a member of “The Masked Singer” family. She has been a panelist on “The Masked Singer UK” since the British version debuted in January 2020 and has remained on the show for four seasons. The latest season across the pond concluded in February.

The 32-year-old singer will be reunited with Jeong, who briefly served as a panelist on the British series for its first season. She also has plenty of reality television experience as she was a coach on “The Voice Australia”, a judge on “The X Factor UK” and the host of “America’s Next Top Model” for Season 23. 

Scherzinger, Jeong, McCarthy Wahlberg and Thicke have been sharing their outlandish singer theories with host Nick Cannon and viewers on “The Masked Singer” since the Fox series launched in January 2019. The show has had a few celebrity guests join the panel over the years and Niecy Nash temporarily became the host in Season Five after Cannon tested positive for COVID-19.

Season 11, however, marks the first time one of the faces of the original franchise favorites will be absent for an entire season. 

Although fans will have to wait to watch Ora in Season 11, which has already begun filming, her appearance on “The Masked Singer” was teased in a Season 10 trailer released Sept. 13. 

In the clip, Ora takes a seat on the panel and tells the crowd, “I like it here in Hollywood. I might stick around. I like it!” 

Why is Scherzinger leaving the show?

The BBC reported in May that the former Pussycat Dolls singer was tapped to lead Andrew Lloyd Webber’s production of “Sunset Boulevard” starting in September. 

But, fans will get to enjoy Scherzinger’s banter with Jeong and the rest of the team during the current season. 

What can fans expect in “The Masked Singer” Season 10?

Ahead of the official premiere, a special episode aired on Sept. 10. During the Sunday night special, Anonymous rocked the stage with a roaring performance of Heart’s “What About Love?”

“Thank you for kicking off season 10. You are a force of nature,” Scherzinger told the masked celeb. 

After hearing a few clues, Scherzinger, McCarthy Wahlberg and Thicke correctly guessed Demi Lovato was behind the mask while Jeong suggested Lady Gaga.

Lovato was revealed and said she had so much fun during her short-lived stint on the show.

Former contestants like Rumer Willis, Michelle Williams, NBA player Victor Oladipo, Joey Fatone and more returned to “The Masked Singer” stage for the grand lead-up to Season 10. 

Scherzinger also showed off her singing chops and delivered an impressive rendition of Prince’s iconic anthem “Purple Rain.”   

Viewers will get to see her and the other panelists figure out the new group of contestants, like Donut, Hawk and Anteater, when Season 10 arrives in a couple weeks.