The Queen is holding court in the United Kingdom – but there’s not a corgi or pillbox hat in sight. Instead, brace yourself for all the luxuriously abundant wigs, garish corsets and fishnet stockings you can imagine.
We’re talking about the Queen of Drag, Mama Ru, RuPaul, and the fabulous first UK season of the Emmy-winning series RuPaul’s Drag Race, coming to BBC Brit (DStv ch. 120) on 21 April. If there were any fears that the innately American series would struggle to translate into a successful UK spin-off, fans need not have worried. In the words of one of the quirky and colourful UK hopefuls Baga Chipz its: “much betta!”
Unapologetically UK Queens
Let’s start with the main attraction – the fierce contending UK queens themselves, all in the running to be crowned the UK’s First Drag Race Superstar. Alongside the aforementioned Baga, the line-up features the likes of Liverpool’s lovely The Vivienne, Insta star Blu Hydrangea, Cheryl Hole (apologies to Cheryl Cole), London’s edgy Crystal (no longer allowed to use the 2nd part of her name, Beth) and Birmingham’s Sum Ting Wong, the series certainly seems to run the glamorous gamut of the country’s wide definition of drag.
While most US fans will be furiously searching the net for translations of UK slang like “minging”, “slag” and “gob”, UK viewers will feel right at home from the first episode. From the fiercely audacious Baga Chipz proclaiming herself as “Queen of the Battered Sausage” who loves “gin and tonic, Coronation Street and a good old shag”, to face-melting impressions of Bake-Off doyenne Mary Berry and endless bawdy East Enders references, there’s no doubt that this is indeed a very English drag race. Each week’s winner bags a RuPeter Badge, word play on the UK’s children’s show Blue Peter’s badge, which is given out to guests and viewers.
All the fan-fave OTT challenges
Fans can expect all the tried-and-trusted (and baffling) maxi and mini challenges in which the ladies will showcase their make-up skills, fashion sense, sewing abilities, comedy, singing, acting and dancing skills, and of course lip-sync skills. In fact, critics rate that this season delivered probably one of the best-ever Snatch Games, featuring gaspingly-camp impressions of icons like Sir David Attenborough, Donald Trump and Margaret Thatcher. The production is a lot more intimate, with only 8 episodes, as opposed to the usual 10 or 11, but the final crowning of the winner was a closely guarded secret with two outcomes filmed, so not even the winner knew the outcome until the show aired.
The Queen’s celeb guest judges
The main judges of the eleganza are Mama Ru and BFF Michelle Visage, with UK kings of comedy Graham Norton and Alan Carr contributing their very British wit and sensibilities. Each week they will be joined by an extra special guest judge and celebrity Drag Race fan. From Game of Thrones alum Maisie Williams and modelling icon Dame Twiggy, to Ginger Spice Geri Horner and Spider-Man Andrew Garfield, celebs will swoon at the chance to share a stage with these larger-than-life legends of drag.
Mama Ru’s memes
Ultimately, the true success of any Drag Race season is how many memes it thrusts into the world of social media. Fans are still giddy about judge Alan Carr’s description of Gothy Kendoll as an “estate agent who went to Regent’s Park on her lunch break and got her face painted as a tiger”, The Frock Destroyers stunned with their rendition of Break Up (Bye Bye), and the number of glam drag queen UK postage stamp images littering the net is gobsmacking. Rule Britannia!
RuPaul’s Drag Race UK starts 21 April on BBC Brit (DStv ch. 120).
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