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Everything we know about RuPaul's Drag Race UK

SUCCESS: RuPaul

BACK IN December, RuPaul Charles announced that his award-winning reality TV show RuPaul’s Drag Race will be making a pit stop in the United Kingdom this year on BBC Three.

In the announcement, the original drag superstar of the world stated that he is ready to “celebrate the massive charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent of the Queen’s queens.” It’s thought that like the US version, UK Drag Race will revolve around a number of top drag queens competing for the title, though here the winner will be known as the ‘Queen of Great Britain.’

According to the BBC, only 10 contestants will appear in the first series (which will be eight episodes long), but we all know that surprises are known to happen in the show so who knows.

One thing we do know for certain is that actress and singer Michelle Visage will remain a judge for the British edition of Drag Race, stating on twitter “guys. Yes. Of COURSE I am a judge… I am THE judge!!” As for other celebrity appearances, there are rumours that Sherlock actor Andrew Scott and chat show host Jonathan Ross, who attempted to bring a UK version of the show to life back in 2014, will appear. RuPaul has said he’d be thrilled to have Meghan Markle join the cast, especially since he’d already prepared for a ‘Royal-Mother-To-Be’ runway challenge.

The show that lip-synced it’s way to success

If you haven’t been keeping up with the Drag Race or are yet to binge watch all ten of the main show’s series then firstly, oh-no-she-better-do watch it and, secondly, be aware there may be some minor spoilers below.

The first ever episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race aired in the United States on February 2, 2009, on Logo. Later referred to as The Lost Season, this first series was bright and blurry but if you squinted, you’d make out nine fabulous drag queens, all competing to become America’s Next Drag Superstar, a lifetime supply of MAC Cosmetics and $20,000.

Though Puerto Rican contestant Nina Flowers was a fan favourite right from the start and went on to win Miss Congeniality, it was ultimately BeBe Zahara Benet who became the world’s first ever Next Drag Superstar and RuPaul’s Drag Race Champion.

Right from the start, the show was a hit. In 2009, the NewNowNext Awards honoured season 1 contestant Ongina with the “Most Addictive Reality Star” award, and since then the show has claimed a total of 22 awards. These include multiple Emmy Awards in 2016, 2017 and 2018, an MTV Movie & TV Award in 2017 and a Critic’s Choice Award for Best Reality Show Host in 2018.

Drag Race UK will join a legendary collection of spin-offs

In addition to 10 fun-filled series, during which 140 drag queens competed for the crown and celebrities including Ariana Grande, Lady Gaga and Khloe Kardashian appeared as guest judges, there have also been several spin-offs. First, there was Untucked, a series focused on the contestant’s conversation in the green room which began as a seven-episode web series entitled Under the Hood of RuPaul’s Drag Race back in 2009.

Then there was RuPaul’s Drag U which ran from 2010 to 2012 and featured three women per episode paired with former Drag Race contestants who then give the women drag makeovers.

Though it only ran for two seasons, it was by no means the end of spin-offs, as RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars replaced Drag U in 2012. In this spin-off, former contestants return to the competition for another round to see who really is worthy of a spot in the Drag Race Hall of Fame. Whatcha Packin’ and The Pit Stop have also been incredibly popular since they started during the seventh and eighth season respectively. Plus, we could never forget the iconic Christmas specials we’ve been graced with: Green Screen Christmas (2015) and Holi-Slay Spectacular (2018). More recently, RuPaul brought a brand-new spin-off titled Dancing Queen to Netflix, starring season five contestant and All Stars season two favourite Alyssa Edwards.

Great Britain won’t be the first nation to get their own Drag Race series either, as The Switch Drag Race aired in Chile back in 2015. There’s also Drag Race Thailand and a Brazilian version of the show in the making already. As for more of the original American show, season 11 of both RuPaul’s Drag Race and Untucked have already been picked up by VH1.

Is the UK ready for a Drag Race?

Needless to say, RuPaul’s Drag Race is a true global phenomenon, but it is so much more than simply a TV show… and its several spin-offs. As season 9 contestant Charlie Hides told the BBC back in March 2017, the show represents drag queens as “fully formed three-dimensional people with feelings and souls. We’ve been humanised and that’s important, that we’re seen as more than just a dancing freak. We’re actual people.”
In the same article, British super-fan Cybil War suggested that the show has had a particularly strong impact here in the UK. “Because of Drag Race, a huge portion of the LGBTQ community is now starting to play with drag and gender and explore just how much fun drag can be,” she told the BBC.

War couldn’t be more right, especially when we look at how much we as a country love drag right now. We’ve always adored drag queens, with Paul O’Grady and Eddie Izzard being just two of our icons, but now drag is bigger than ever. There are drag shows up and down the country, ranging from lip syncs to roasts and live singing to burlesque. There are even drag shows that feature one of our other favourite British pastimes: bingo! As Wink

Bingo explains, Drag Bingo has been big since the 90s, but it’s only since RuPaul’s Drag Race that huge events like Cosmic Drag Queen Bingo and Drag Queen Bingo at Tonkutsu Ramen London have really taken off. Even some of the Drag Race alumni have taken part, including Lady Bunny (yes, we count her), Bianca and Chad Michaels!
So, as we’re sure you can imagine, when an official UK Drag Race series was announced, Great British Drag Race fans went bonkers. There were people asking for specific celebrity judges, lip sync battles to their favourite songs and even category suggestions such as Time Lord Eleganza.

We still have plenty of questions about the upcoming UK Drag Race series, for instance, will contestants still lip sync for their lives considering British drag queens including Mary Mac and Crystal D’Cantor like to sing live? How will we ever live on if Paul O’Grady doesn’t appear in literally every episode? Will Drag Bingo play a role in the UK series? Which makeup company will be providing all the paint for our queens and which of the millions of panel show comedians we have will be appearing beside the judges? All we know for certain is that we are more than ready for the Eleganza extravaganza that’s about to hit BBC Three.

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