RuPaul’s Drag Race UK: How to watch the first season with Graham Norton and Alan Carr
When does Ru Paul's Drag Race air in UK?
If you’re looking for a TV show with glitter, dance-offs and sassy comebacks aplenty, 2019 is the year for you – Ru Paul’s Drag Race is coming to the UK. Plans for the new show were announced back in December, much to the delight of those who are already fans of the US version.The premise of the glitzy reality show involves several drag queens dressing, sashaying and lip-synching their way to be crowned the Next Drag Superstar.
When does Ru Paul's Drag Race air in UK?
A start date for the show hasn’t been confirmed yet but we can expect it sometime later this year. The UK edition of the show will be available to view on BBC Three, which you can access via BBCiPlayer or your smart TV.
Who will be hosting the UK edition?
RuPaul will be hosting the UK edition. After all, what would RuPaul’s Drag Race be without its leading man? RuPaul said: “I am beyond excited to celebrate the massive charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent of the Queen’s queens.”
Graham Norton and Alan Carr have been confirmed as celebrity judges on the show. Both presenters will be joining veteran judges RuPaul and Michelle Visage on the panel. Norton previously starred as a guest judge on the US version in 2016
Carr said: “To be sat next to Michelle Visage and Mama Ru as a guest judge on possibly one of my all-time favourite shows ever is a dream come true.“I can’t wait to see what the UK queens have got in store – it’s going to be sickening.”
What can we expect from the new series?
Whilst we don't know the line-up yet, we can expect it to be full of fabulousness. The BBC have said they will be inviting ten drag artists to appear on the show, with filming taking place in London.
Fans can expect all the usual escapades as on the US version, including outrageous challenges and the all-important “lip-sync for your life” knockout battle. Paying homage to the show’s new home, RuPaul has already hinted that the UK version will be influenced by the Royal Family. “We would be thrilled to have Meghan Markle join us, and we are already preparing a ‘Royal-Mother-To-Be’ runway challenge,” RuPaul said
Queens we need to see on RuPaul’s Drag Race UK
Lads, start your engines…
For ten seasons (and four versions of All Stars) millions of people across the world have watched over a hundred queens compete to be America’s Next Drag Superstar. But now, with a UK Drag Race scheduled to air on BBC Three in 2019, it’s time for some English Breakfast Tea to be spilt…
“I am beyond excited to celebrate the massive charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent of the Queen’s queens,” RuPaul said. “And before anyone asks, yes, we would be thrilled to have Meghan Markle join us, as we are already preparing a ‘Royal-Mother-To-Be’ runway challenge.”
In anticipation, we’ve compiled a list of our dream Drag Race UK cast. Take a look below, and let us know if we’ve missed any of your favourite “local” queens!
Baga Chipz (Leo Lauren)
Self-described as an “elegant trollope” and “Queen of the Battered Sausage”, Baga Chipz is a legend in the UK drag scene. The performer is best known for appearing on Drag Queens of London and for her regular role as a Porn Idol judge at Heaven. Like any sane person, she bases her act on strong working class women on Coronation Street.
Cara Melle (Sterling Butler)
The “sweet, salty and sticky” Cara Melle is a London based queen who hails from Atlanta, Georgia. She’s a rapper, singer, and a high-energy performer, so she’d provide us with life if she landed in the bottom two. Yes, life! Cara Melle often performs with her drag sister and bff, Tayce, who also appears on this list. Trust us when we say they are a force to be reckoned with.
Charity Kase (Harry Whitfield)
Charity Kase is one of the most outlandish, terrifying queens we’ve ever seen. Honestly. We let out a tiny squeal as she minced past us at DragWorld last year. She showed off her crazy, high concept looks in 2017 when she posted 365 days of drag on Instagram, which included looks such as: Rotten Ronalds Mcmonster, Gretchen Grundler, Decapitated Nun and A Girl With a Pearl Necklace. Check them out, they’re insane.
Cheddar Gorgeous (Michael Atkins)
Manchester based performer Cheddar Gorgeous has garnered over 85k followers on Instagram because of her androgynous, avant-garde aesthetic. She describes herself as a “unicorn, alien, and idealist”, and originally trained to be a social worker. Cheddar – real name Michael Atkins – went on to take an MA in visual anthropology, and has been a drag queen since 2010.
Cheryl Hole began her drag career when she competed in Not Another Drag Competition back in 2016. She’s influenced by Rihanna, Lady Gaga, and describes herself as the “Gemma Collins of drag”. We saw her perform at DragWorld last year, and trust us when we say this queen can command a stage.
FKA has only been doing drag for two years, but is making waves in the community for being outspoken in regards to how queens of colour are treated by fans and promoters. In the October issue of Gay Times, she told us: “I think I work as hard as I do because I want my black and brown sisters to see that world domination is in fact a possibility.”
Professional dancer Freida Slaves is inspired by industry women with complex choreography, such as Janet Jackson, Madonna, Paula Abdul and Beyonce. She only started drag two years ago, but that didn’t stop Shangela or Valentina from making an impression, did it? Freida makes her own wigs, she makes her own costumes, and honey, she can perform. Top three? Probably.
Herr’s performances often incorporate pop culture references such as American Horror Story, Harry Potter and Girls Aloud, and her skills led to her winning Not Another Drag Competition: All Stars. If she ever walked into that werk room, we can imagine the expression on the other queen’s faces because she would be a serious competitor.
Scottish queen Mary Mac is revered in the London drag scene for her cabaret act and powerhouse vocals. She wrote and performed in her one-woman show Glaswegian Beauty as Milton Court Theatre, so yeah, taaaaaaaaalented. She’d be a sickening competitor, and if the challenges are anything like the US version, we can see Mary Mac walking away with the crown.
Meth is, without a doubt, one of the most well-known queens in the London drag scene. She was a regular performer at Her Upstairs, a cast member on Drag Queens of London, and is a member of the legendary drag collective Familyyy Fierce. As soon as Drag Race UK is confirmed, we have no doubt in our minds that Meth will be cast.
Sister Fibrosis describes herself as “sugar and spice and a contraceptive device”, so yeah, she’s Drag Race ready. The wacky, irreverent queen is known for her off-the-wall makeup and performances, and we would do just about anything to see her prance down the runway and interact with judges, especially Michelle.
Son of a Tutu
African drag queen extraordinaire Son of a Tutu was born in the UK and moved to Nigeria as a child. She started doing drag at age seven, but was beaten by her father when he found out. When she grew up, she moved to the United States for a career in the financial sector, and later relocated back to the UK to become a professional drag queen. Her dream is to one day perform at Nigeria’s gay Pride.
When a queen’s main inspiration is Grace Jones, you know she will bring IT. London based performer Tayce is one of our top picks because she’s stunning, she serves lewks and she has a presence. And her performance skills? Other queens: beware.
Unlike other queens on this list, Virgin Xtravaganzah is an actor first and a drag queen second. Her official website reads: “Heaven is boring. Gawd is old. I am a 2,000+ year old virgin and I have had enough! So I came down to earth to be a superstar!” Enough said?
Have The UK 'RuPaul’s Drag Race' Queens Been Announced Yet? The Anticipation Is Sickening
RuPaul’s Drag Race has been a straight-up phenomenon from day one. Shining the lime light on drag culture and pushing it, front and centre, into mainstream entertainment where it belongs, I don’t understand where you have been if you haven’t caught an episode.
BBC Three and Mama Ru caused quite the stir when it was announced in December 2018 that the UK would finally be getting its own spinoff, but have the UK RuPaul’s Drag Race queens been announced yet? There isn’t a single doubt in my mind that the UK version is going to be just as fierce, fabulous, and dramatic as the original U.S. version, but who should you expect strutting onto your screens in 2019?
As details are slowly being released about the UK version of RuPaul’s Drag Race I can barely contain my curiosity any longer. Who will be sashaying onto our screens for season one? Sadly, while BBC Three have announced that there will be ten queens starring this season, there has been no release of who they will be. I contacted a representative for the show at the BBC who told me
“we haven't announced the queens or the launch date yet, but will in due course.” However, Gay Times reported that filming began on March 1, which means that, out there, somewhere, the ten queens that I will inevitably become well and truly obsessed with are competing, posing, and being asked to lip sync for their lives.
While the RuPauls Drag Race UK queens are yet to be confirmed, the BBC has announced that Graham Norton and Allan Carr will be joining RuPaul and Michelle Visage as judges. To say I am excited about Norton's appointment is a massive understatement. In a statement, the legendary presenter said: “Becoming part of the Drag Race family makes me ridiculously happy!
I can’t wait to see what the UK drag queens bring to the party, but they better weeeeerk!!!” It's like the role was made for him. To add to the excitement, Carr said in a comment: “Wow! To be sat next to Michelle Visage and Mama Ru as a guest judge on possibly one of my all-time favourite shows EVER is a dream come true. I can’t wait to see what the UK Queens have got in store -
it’s going to be sickening! *does death drop*.” I am literally overcome with anticipation. The official start date of RuPauls Drag Race UK is yet to be announced, but it will air in 2019. The BBC has revealed that there will be eight one-hour episodes and, in statement about bringing Drag Race joy to the UK, Mama Ru said:
“It is a dream come true to extend our royal family to the United Kingdom with our partners at BBC Three. I am beyond excited to celebrate the massive charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent of the Queen’s queens.”
While there haven’t be any big reveals about which queens will be involved just yet, there is one thing you can know for sure: the announcements will be coming soon and they will be big. Watch this space.
Graham Norton, Alan Carr to judge RuPaul's Drag Race UK
Graham Norton and Alan Carr are to be celebrity judges on RuPaul's Drag Race when it comes to the UK. They will appear as rotating resident judges each week, joining RuPaul, Michelle Visage and a celebrity guest judge. Both chat show hosts are major fans of the show which has been a hit around the world and Norton has appeared as a guest judge on the original show.
For the grand finale, they will both appear on the judging panel. It was announced in December that the Emmy award-winning show would be coming to BBC Three this year. Norton appeared as a guest judge on RuPaul's Drag Race: All Stars season two in the US in 2016.
He said he has been a fan of the show forever. "Becoming part of the drag race family makes me ridiculously happy! I can't wait to see what the UK drag queens bring to the party, but they better weeeeerk!!!" In a video message on Twitter Graham joked "maybe this is what the UK's good at."
Carr met Ru-Paul when he appeared on his chat show Alan Carr's Chatty Man but has been a fan for a long time. "Wow! To be sat next to Michelle Visage and Mama Ru as a guest judge on possibly one of my all-time favourite shows EVER is a dream come true," he said. "I can't wait to see what the UK Queens have got in store - it's going to be sickening! *does death drop*"
Like the US version, 10 contestants will compete in individual and team challenges, culminating in a weekly challenge that could be a performance, a photo shoot or a runway walk-off, until one drag queen is left. The show which has had 10 seasons is broadcast in 193 countries around the world.
Host and show creator RuPaul said he was very pleased with his UK judges. "I was both shocked and delighted when Graham and Alan told me they'd be wearing tucking panties when sitting at the judges' table. I told them it was not necessary, but they insisted. Now that's what I call dedication!"
RuPaul’s Drag Race
Halfway through its run, RuPaul’s Drag Race season 11 has a personality problem. While there is energy and charisma to spare in the workroom, only a few of the queens consistently stand out in the challenges, delivering memorable, distinct performances. Most of those who do—Vanjie, Nina, and sometimes Silky—are hit-and-miss at best on the runway. Brooke, Plastique, A’keria, and Ra’Jah tend to present striking and beautiful looks on the runway, but they rarely develop a character to go with.
As for Shuga, while she’s stepped up her game from earlier in the season, she has yet to make a strong impression. Yvie is the only queen to consistently bring her personality and distinct point of view to the challenges and the runway, and as of the start of this episode, she’s injured.
The queens this season are talented and engaging, but few have developed the full package Ru looks for in a winner, and with the season ticking away, that’s becoming a bigger and bigger problem. Normally, the solution would be a comedy or acting challenge, pushing the queens to come further out of their shells—and giving the editors some wiggle room if no one steps up. Instead, the season’s third design challenge is up next.
The increase in sewing and design challenges this season has been great, getting Drag Race a step closer to its roots than the uber-polished All Stars and giving the queens the opportunity to show the audience who they are through their creativity and sense of fashion. Unfortunately, the increased profile of the show and constant pressure for polished, pristine looks has left the queens understandably less willing to take big swings and step outside their comfort zone
. That leads to beautiful, but predictable runways. Ru is very aware of this, and with Snatch Game right around the corner, he and the producers do everything they can to amp up the drama, find teachable moments, and light a fire under the queens, pushing them to deliver as well on the main stage as they do backstage. “Farm To Runway” begins with Ra’Jah still hot from Scarlet picking her as the queen who should go home.
She may disappear in challenges, but Ra’Jah is steering right into a villain edit at the top of the episode, to the point where Nina, Vanjie, and the other queens comment on it. Some may shy away from the diva role, but Ra’Jah knows exactly what she’s doing, serving up drama for the producers in the talking heads and ensuring plenty of screentime.
The next day, Yvie leads the queens into the workroom, on crutches, and after a brief chat about which Drag Race alums these queens have been compared to, it’s time for the mini challenge. The mini challenges have been delightful all season, with the previous episode’s Galisthenics with Love Connie the current high water mark. This mini challenge may not quite match that level, but it’s a hell of a lot of fun.
The queens need to get into quick drag and prepare to work their very best, “slo-mo, jugs-a-jigglin’ boobography.” The queens will compete in a potato sack race (even Yvie, who’ll compete while stationary), jumping up and down in their sacks as they make their way to the finish line. The queens with the most successful and satisfying boobography will win.
This is absolutely ridiculous, and expertly edited and timed. The editors cut back and forth between the queens in various slo-mo speeds as they go whole-hog, embracing the challenge with gleeful abandon. The expressions from the various queens as their breast enhancements shake and shimmy out of place are hilarious and their complete commitment to the bit makes it soar. In the end, Ru declares Nina and Shuga the winners, but all of the queens did well.
Once everyone is back in place, Ru announces the maxi challenge. The queens will use all natural ingredients to create a farm-to-runway look that is sustainable and high fashion. The reactions run the gamut. Nina looks apprehensive, to say the least, Vanjie assesses the materials thoughtfully, and Shuga starts eating all the delicious-looking produce.
After a brief exchange between Vanjie, who’s hyper-aware that she needs to change up her silhouette or face the wrath of Michelle, and Yvie, who Vanjie knows will give her the straight t, it’s time for Ru’s walkthrough. Ru’s there to check in with the queens and offer guidance, but even more than usual, this walkthrough is designed to whip up drama. Ru makes sure to ask each queen who they think should go home.
Brooke answers honestly, citing Ra’Jah’s track record, but most of the queens hedge. A’keria chooses Brooke, wanting to send home her competition; Vanjie chooses Yvie because of her comments last episode, before clarifying that she knows Yvie was right; and Silky chooses Yvie as well, due to her injury. It’s clear from the reaction shots that the entire workroom can hear these exchanges, and Ru gets exactly what she’s looking for when Yvie bristles at Silky’s comments.
She then picks Silky to go home, telling Ru that Silky’s not listening to the judges. After the cease fire between these two in the most recent Untucked, they’re back at it. It would seem this is a thread that will run for the rest of the season, or until one of the two is eliminated. If there’s one thing Ru likes more than a spirited rivalry in the workroom, it’s an emotional breakthrough and that’s exactly what she gets when she stops by Plastique’s station.
Ru’s not just stirring the pot, she also makes sure to emphasize to the queens that they need to deliver more personality. Plastique has been a little closed off so far this season, struggling to connect with the judges. After a little prodding, she opens up about the pressure she feels to live up to her family’s expectations for her, having tiptoed toward expressing her full self with them only to see this cause them pain. It’s an emotional exchange and before long
Ru’s giving Plastique a warm hug and letting her cry it out. Ra’Jah’s highly skeptical, but Nina and Yvie are moved, and the editors do a good job of interspersing reactions from the other queens, both in the moment and as talking heads. Yes, it’s convenient that Plastique has a breakthrough with Ru just as Ru starts harping on personality, but that doesn’t mean she’s not being genuine
Having Nina, the season’s voice of maturity and perspective, express her sympathy and support helps keep the audience rooting for Plastique. In case it wasn’t clear yet that this is Plastique’s episode, the queens head to the runway for a surprise coaching with Drag Race legend Alyssa Edwards, Plastique’s drag mother. Alyssa has the queens walk, giving notes on how to connect more immediately with the audience and stand out from their fellow competitors.
Initially it feels like a stretch, but if there’s one alumnus to call in when the queens need an injection of personality, it’s Alyssa. She’s not impressed with Brooke’s balletic motion, pushing her to amp up her character, and she tells Vanjie she needs to slow down her strut and serve more face. Silky needs to cool it with her hands and, in one of the episode’s bigger surprises, viewers are treated to a much more animated Plastique, who mugs all over the place.
Alyssa’s coaching winds up being a terrific aside, putting the queens in stark relief beside each other. Stripped of their extravagant looks, who can captivate? Nina, who’s yet to really wow on the runway, does great and Yvie manages the impossible: she shuts Alyssa up, impressing her and going above and beyond to show Silky just how recovered she is.
Afterward, Alyssa choreographs a group line dance that the queens will perform before the runway. And like that, it’s elimination day. A’keria and Ra’Jah have had to make last-minute changes to their garments after running into trouble with their original designs. On the whole, though, the queens seem confident with their looks. What they shouldn’t feel confident in is Alyssa’s line dance.
It comes across as a complete after thought. Yvie’s a lot of fun as the fiddler, resting on a bale of hay so as to stay off her ankle, but the number is nowhere near as polished as the rest of the season’s routines have been. The camera keeps jumping around and it’s likely the queens did not get enough time to rehearse. Alyssa’s previous choreography for Drag Race was much more successful. Hopefully this won’t be her swan song in this role.
The runway itself is tricky. Ru is very nonspecific about what counts as natural materials and there doesn’t seem to be any particular weighting towards the queens who fully embraced the brief and those who didn’t. Shuga looks great, serving up a fun, spring-like look and a very different face. Silky’s garment is stylish and her use of candies and beans as stones works well.
Yvie’s stunning, and the clear winner, had the narrative not dictated Plastique walk away with the win. Nina’s working on her proportionizing and her corn husk look is cute from the waist up, but it’s a mess below. Then there’s Brooke, whose dress is admittedly lovely, but it’s one made entirely out of fabric. How is denim eligible?
The same is true for A’keria, whose darker denim look isn’t nearly as successful as Brooke’s. Vanjie’s look is not great, but at least she went for the spirit of the challenge with an all-rope top. Ra’Jah also uses fabric, but her burlap pants fall apart. If she’d made the pants of out denim, would she have been in trouble? And last is Plastique, who once again looks gorgeous in a corset and close-cropped headpiece.
Shuga, Silky, and Vanjie are quickly dispatched as safe. The top three are clear: Yvie, Brooke, and Plastique, and given the rest of the episode, Plastique’s win feels about right. Nina winds up safe, though low, thanks to her creative approach to the challenge and willingness to listen and grow. That leaves Ra’Jah and A’keria in the bottom, set to lip-sync to Sheena Easton’s “Strut.” It would take a lot for Ra’Jah to survive yet another lip-sync.
The judges are tired of telling her she needs to do more, and A’keria is just coming into her own after last episode’s win. Both A’keria and Ra’Jah do a fine job with “Strut,” but A’keria clinches the win with her pivot to comedy toward the end. Ra’Jah’s been on her way out for a while
despite serving up plenty of drama and entertainment in the workroom. She’s yet another queen this season who will likely be well served by a future appearance on All Stars, but this is definitely her time.
This challenge is a first for Drag Race, turning food into fashion, but reality fans will remember it as not far off from Project Runway’s first ever unconventional materials challenge.
Queens tend to come into Drag Race familiar with previous seasons of the show, but Nina’s decision to use corn husks for her look immediately calls to mind season one Project Runway standout Austin Scarlett’s premiere-winning corn-husk cocktail dress. I’d love to know if Nina’s familiar with that dress, and if that influenced her choice of materials.
Yes, this is Plastique’s episode, but if Michelle doesn’t start reading her for delivering the same silhouette soon, I’ll be annoyed.
After this episode, Brooke and Yvie feel like a lock for top two, but the other top spots could go a bunch of different ways, particularly after the serious contender edit Plastique gets here. Not Shuga, though. She keeps delivering in the talking heads, but she’s all but cut out of the rest of the episode. I expected Nina to make top four or five for sure,
But Ru seems pretty set against her. Here’s hoping Snatch Game changes her mind. Speaking of, next episode is Snatch Game! I know many fans have tired of this challenge, but I’m excited as ever to see what these queens have planned.
M I Ro
Photos by Pixabay.com