Gareth Malone says he went to great lengths to keep The Masked Dancer a secret

The choirmaster was unmasked as Cactus in Saturday evening’s show.
The choirmaster was unmasked as Cactus in Saturday evening’s show. The choirmaster was unmasked as Cactus in Saturday evening’s show.

Gareth Malone has said he lied to his parents and told them he was working with Tom Cruise in order to keep his participation in The Masked Dancer a secret.

The British choirmaster, who is best known for his role on TV programme The Choir, was unmasked as Cactus on the hit ITV dance show on Saturday evening.

After his unveiling Malone, 46, revealed he went to great lengths to keep his involvement in the show a secret from his family and friends, going so far as to tell his parents he was working with Tom Cruise as a justification for why he would be late to their 50th wedding anniversary celebrations.

Malone said: “The rehearsal and recording of my first programme was on the day of my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary, my dad’s 80th birthday and my mum’s 70th birthday. They all fell on this weekend.

“And they moved heaven and Earth but I couldn’t tell them why I was late, so I told them that I was working with Tom Cruise.

“Because I previously did a little bit of work for the Mission: Impossible trailer soundtrack, I was like ‘I shouldn’t really be telling you this, but Tom Cruise is going to be in the country so…’ and they were like ‘OK, hush, absolutely!’ So they didn’t say anything.

“They had absolutely no idea that anything was going on.”

He also shared his suspicions of which celebrities may be behind the characters remaining on the show.

“I’m getting a strong Danny Dyer vibe from Pearly King,” he said, adding: “And I thought that when we were there as well, because it’s just the way he moved…

“Anyway it was very hard to tell. We didn’t see each other’s dances when we were there, so I don’t have any special insight into any of it.”

In addition to 45-year-old actor and soap star Dyer, Malone revealed he initially thought The Masked Dancer’s first ever dancing duo, Pillar and Post, may be TV presenters Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan.

Speaking about his theory, Malone joked: “I’m quite intrigued by Pillar and Post because I thought, a couple, who’s that?

“Is it going to be Richard Madeley and his wife? And then they started throwing each other around and I was like ‘Oh, I suspect it’s not’.

Masked Dancer 2022
Masked Dancer 2022 The Masked Dancer contestant Cactus was revealed as choirmaster Gareth Malone (Vincent Dolman/ITV)

Saturday’s show saw the composer land in the bottom two and face a “dance jam” with Pearly King after all the characters had performed their routines.

Malone, who said that no one but his wife was aware he was taking part in the show, later became the fourth celebrity to be unmasked and eliminated from the competition.

The show sees 12 celebrity contestants perform routines across the course of the competition while disguised in extravagant and outrageous costumes as a star panel tries to guess their identities.

The Masked Dancer continues Saturdays at 6.30pm on ITV and ITV Hub.