RuPaul's Drag Race UK
|RuPaul's Drag Race UK|
|Based on||RuPaul's Drag Race|
|Directed by||Tony Grech-Smith|
|Theme music composer||RuPaul|
|Opening theme||RuPaul's Drag Race theme|
|Ending theme||"Rock It (To the Moon)"|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||3|
|No. of episodes||21 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||60–70 minutes|
|Production company||World of Wonder|
|Distributor||World of Wonder|
BBC Three (online) / BBC One (UK)
WOW Presents Plus (International)
|Picture format||HDTV 1080i|
|First shown in||United Kingdom|
|Original release||3 October 2019 –
|Related shows||God Shave the Queens|
RuPaul's Drag Race UK is a British reality competition television series based on the American television series of the same name. The television series is produced by World of Wonder for the BBC and WOW Presents Plus. The show is the fourth installment of the Drag Race franchise, and the second fronted by RuPaul. The show documents RuPaul and a panel of judges' search for "the United Kingdom's next drag superstar", series 1 dubbed "UK's First Drag Superstar". RuPaul plays several roles on the show including host, mentor and head judge for the series, as the contestants are given different challenges to participate in each week. The show also employs a panel of judges: RuPaul, Michelle Visage, Alan Carr and Graham Norton. The series, a collaboration between the BBC and World of Wonder, premiered on 3 October 2019. In November 2019, RuPaul's Drag Race UK was renewed for a second series. To date, there have been two winners of the show: The Vivienne in Series 1 and Lawrence Chaney in Series 2.
The show was renewed for a second series in 2019, however production was suspended in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Production of the second series resumed later in the year, with filming concluding late 2020. The cast of 12 new queens was announced on 16 December 2020 and the series premiered on 14 January 2021. Casting of the third series was announced on 2 November 2020, with the application deadline being 14 November 2020. After the first series aired, the show received numerous award nominations from the twenty-fifth National Television Awards including: "The Bruce Forsyth Entertainment Award" and "Best TV Judge" with both Visage and RuPaul receiving a nomination. The show's success is credited as a factor in BBC Three's decision to return to television.
RuPaul's Drag Race originated in the United States, where it was devised as a replacement for Rick & Steve: The Happiest Gay Couple in All the World (2007–2009), and has been adapted in various countries. The show's aim is to find the next "Drag Superstar", with the winner occupying the traits of "charisma", "uniqueness", "nerve" and "talent". RuPaul has stated that the show looks for an entertainer who can stand out from the rest. In 2014, it was speculated that Jonathan Ross was in talks to host a UK version of Drag Race. Where he had stated that he was working on the version with UK drag queen, Jodie Harsh, along with Katie Price as one of the judges. However, production took a halt in April 2014, due to Ross having to work on family issues. A year later in 2015, Ross and Price assisted RuPaul in a one-off search of the "UK Drag Race Ambassador", which series one winner, The Vivienne won in 2015. The Vivienne won a trip to the set of the American version of the show. Production of the show continued, however again came to a stand still because TV show producers didn't think anyone would watch it. During Michelle Visage's time on Celebrity Big Brother, she said; "I tell you what, I could cast RuPaul's Drag Race the British invasion or the UK version in five minutes because there's so much talent over there. It's so different, the Liverpool queens, to the Blackpool queens, to the Mancunian queens, to the London queens. I'm not going to stop until [RuPaul's Drag Race UK] gets made. Trust me." Channel 5 expressed interest in broadcasting the show in 2018. However, in June 2018, the producers of the American version hinted that a British version of the show was in the works. Fenton Bailey then confirmed that he, Randy Barbato and RuPaul had a meeting with the BBC and that "something is coming, be afraid – be very afraid. Nothing’s impossible." Michelle Visage said about her driving force to get a UK version made: "Let me tell you I'm a big driving force behind it happening because I came over here like six or seven years ago and started performing in the gay bars. And I saw the love and the passion for Drag Race and that's the reason I did Celebrity Big Brother five years ago, was to bring attention to it. I knew that the LGBTQIA+ community in the UK needed their own version. These kids craved it, they deserved it. So I fought really hard for this British version to happen. It took five years, but it ended up where it belonged at the BBC of all places. And it was a huge hit because there's so much heart and so much love in the UK for the art of drag." The show was commissioned by Fiona Campbell, Controller BBC Three and Kate Phillips, Controller, BBC Entertainment. The Executive Producers are RuPaul Charles, Fenton Bailey, Randy Barbato, Tom Campbell, Sally Miles and Bruce McCoy, and the BBC Commissioning Editor is Ruby Kuraishe.
Like the American version, RuPaul has several roles within the show, acting as host, coach and judge. As the host, RuPaul introduces celebrity guests, announces the challenges the queens will take part in each week, and reveals who will be leaving the competition. For his role as a coach, RuPaul offers guidance to the contestants through each challenge, and as a judge he critiques the queens on their overall performance of the challenge. The show uses progressive elimination to reduce the number of drag queens in the competition from the initial field of ten contestants (series 1), down until the final three, who compete in the final challenge, and the final two lip-syncing for the crown. Each episode follows a format consisting of a mini challenge, a main challenge, a runway walk (where the contestants model fashion on a runway, usually with a theme based on the main challenge), the judging panel, a lip sync battle, and the elimination of a contestant.
In mini challenges, each contestant is asked to perform a different task with varying requirements and time limitations. Certain mini challenges are repeated from series to series, or repeated from the original American season. For instance, the first mini challenge is a photo shoot with a photographer or RuPaul himself, that includes a special twist (such as being doused with water while in full drag, having a high-powered fan turned on during the shoot, or being photographed while jumping on a trampoline): in the UK version, the queens had to do something with their own heads via Green Screen. Another recurring mini challenge is dedicated to "reading", a drag term for making insulting observations about one's peers for comedic effect, inspired by Paris Is Burning. The winner of a mini challenge is sometimes rewarded with an advantage in the main challenge. Though most episodes have a mini challenge, select episodes do not.
Maxi challenges and runways
The requirements of the maxi challenge vary across each episode, and can be individual or group challenges. The winner of the maxi challenge also receives a special prize for their win, for example, a "RuPeter Badge" a spoof of the CBBC's famous Blue Peter badge, which would be received for doing something well. The final maxi challenge consisted of the queens taking part in an all-singing and all-dancing routine to one of RuPaul's songs.
The goal of each maxi challenge involves a new theme and outcome. Contestants are often asked to design and construct a custom outfit, sometimes incorporating unconventional materials. Other challenges focus on the contestants' ability to present themselves on camera, perform with music, or perform humorously. Some challenges became a tradition across seasons, such as the "Snatch Game" (in which the contestants impersonate celebrities in a recreation of Blankety Blank's US equivalent, Match Game), a ball or a makeover, in which the contestants create drag personas for other people. The contestants walk down a runway presenting outfits. If the maxi challenge involves the creation of an outfit, that outfit is presented to the judges in the runway. Otherwise, a theme is assigned and the contestants must put together a look that fits the theme, which is presented to the judges. The runway looks and presentation are judged along with the maxi challenge performance.
A panel of judges cast opinions about the challenge performances and runway looks, first to the contestants onstage, and then again with them offstage.
RuPaul acted as both the host and main judge, with Michelle Visage, Graham Norton and Alan Carr as supporting judges. Guest judges in Series 1 included Maisie Williams, Geri Halliwell, Jade Thirlwall, Andrew Garfield, Michaela Coel, Cheryl, and Twiggy. MNEK and AJ & Curtis Pritchard served as guest vocalists and choreographers to the contestants during themed tasks. Dawn French revealed herself to be the first guest judge of the second series. She went onto reveal that the BBC had originally asked French to be a main judge on the first series. French said: "They did originally ask me if I would be a full-time judge, but I couldn't – because I just don't live in London. But I am going to be a guest judge in a couple of weeks." She further revealed that for the second series, due to COVID-19, that each of the judges would sit on their own panel, instead of sitting together on one panel. As well as a "sort of Perspex between each judge".
|Series||Premiere Date||Finale Date||Winner||Runner(s)-up||No. of contestants||Winner's Prizes|
|1||3 October 2019||21 November 2019||The Vivienne||Divina de Campo||10||
|2||14 January 2021||18 March 2021||Lawrence Chaney||12|
|3||23 September 2021||25 November 2021||TBA||TBA||
Series 1 (2019)
The first series of RuPaul's Drag Race UK began airing on 3 October 2019 on the BBC Three section of BBC iPlayer in the UK and World of Wonder's WOW Presents Plus streaming service internationally, and ran for 8 episodes. The cast was announced on 21 August on YouTube and Instagram. Baga Chipz, Divina de Campo and The Vivienne made the final, with The Vivienne being crowned the UK's First Drag Superstar and heading to Hollywood to star in their own digital TV series. In October 2020, series 1 contestant, Crystal sued Laurence Fox for defamation after he called them a "paedophile" on social media as he ranted at Sainsbury's for supporting Black Lives Matter. It was revealed that the contestants from series 1 would all star in a documentary web television series about the tour following the first series of RuPaul's Drag Race UK. The show originally premiered internationally on 10 September 2020 on WOW Presents Plus and will debut on BBC iPlayer on 15 November 2020. The eight-episode series follows Drag Race UK series 1 contestants and it also features Alyssa Edwards from season 5 of the American version as the host of the six-city tour across the UK, titled God Shave the Queens. The first series was a massive success generating many memes, garnering huge critical acclaim, picking up numerous award nominations, and even breaking into the music charts with a top ten single, series one of RuPaul's Drag Race UK was a triumph for BBC Three, with a huge 15.6 million requests on iPlayer so far.
Series 2 (2021)
It's also good for some of the drag queens who maybe their sewing wasn't that good – because in the lockdown, if they've got any sense, they'd be on that sewing machine, with that pedal down! No excuse.
The second series of RuPaul's Drag Race UK was confirmed and casting was closed on 15 November 2019. Filming was indefinitely suspended because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In June 2020, Visage confirmed that the show would return once government guidelines were lifted. Visage said: "It's gonna happen but we just can't do it in quarantine. So once the guidelines are lifted then we'll have more information but we are excited to get underway." On 29 October 2020, during an interview on Lorraine, Carr revealed that production had begun again and he was due to resume filming the second series of the show within two weeks. Carr revealed that RuPaul and Visage who go through the application auditions to choose which queens will make it onto the show, had more than double the applicants than the first series. Carr also revealed that he never knows who he is going to be on the show with, as it is so secretive and when he turns up to judge the show, he does not know which queens are still in the competition and who will be the guest judges. He said of his excitement of filming the show; "They've already filmed the first one. I can't wait. I'm going to be like that kid in that Alton Towers advert saying, One more sleep!" During an interview on judge Norton's show, The Graham Norton Show, Dawn French revealed herself to be the first guest judge of the series. French revealed that the panel had now been changed to a socially distanced panel, and each of the judges had to sit at their own smaller panel, as opposed to the usual sitting together. French further revealed that the BBC had originally asked her to be a full-time judge for the first series, however she had to decline because she did not live in London and would mean a lot of travelling for her. In November 2020, BBC revealed that series two would air in early 2021. A spokesperson for the BBC said "Our lips are still sealed with regards to the incoming queens, and extra special celebrity judges, BUT we can tell you that the second series will be even bigger than the first, with twelve queens battling it out for the title of the UK’s Next Drag Superstar over ten weeks." There will be 12 queens competing for the title of "UK's Next Drag Superstar", over 10 episodes. RuPaul revealed he was "Looking forward to better days! I’m happy to announce the triumphant return of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK. Early in 2021, season two will arrive with all the hope, joy, laughter and glitter you’ve come to expect from our brilliant queens. We’re also currently casting season three with the best and the brightest Great Britain has to offer. We feel honored that you’ve embraced our little show, and our only wish is that we can offer a smile at a time when we can all use it the most." It was announced on 15 December 2020, that the second series would premier on 14 January 2021. Gemma Collins was revealed to be a panellist on the Snatch Game episode.
Series 3 (2021)
Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato, World of Wonder Co-Founders and Executive Producers, revealed that 2021 would have two seasons of Drag Race UK. Stating: "Sashay away 2020. 2021 is just around the corner, and with it not one but two seasons of RuPaul's Drag Race UK. We are thrilled to be doing our part to make 2021 much betta!" Casting for the third series opened on 2 November 2020. One of the queens confirmed to compete is Veronica Green, who was promised an open invitation to return to the show after having to leave Series 2 due to a positive COVID-19 diagnosis. The series began airing on 23 September 2021.
|Title||Series||Peak chart positions|
|"Break Up (Bye Bye)"||1||35||44|
|"To the Moon (Cast Version)"||—||—|
|"A Little Bit of Love (Cast Version)"||—||—|
|"B.D.E. (Big Drag Energy)"||3||39[a]||—|
- While the song did not chart on the UK Singles Chart, it reached number 39 on the UK Singles Downloads Chart and number 40 on the UK Singles Sales Chart.
The first series was broadcast on the Logo TV network in the US, on OutTV and Crave in Canada, on Vitaya in Belgium, on DR TV in Denmark, on Stan in Australia and on Yes Drama in Israel.
Awards and nominations
|2020||National Television Awards||Bruce Forsyth Entertainment Award||RuPaul's Drag Race UK||Nominated|||
|2021||Talent Show||RuPaul's Drag Race UK||Nominated|||
|MTV Movie & TV Awards||Best International Reality Series||Nominated|||
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- "'Dame of Thrones: Maisie Williams confirmed as a guest judge for RuPaul's Drag Race UK". BBC. Retrieved 20 May 2019.
- "Geri Horner and Jade Thirlwall join BBC Three's RuPaul's Drag Race UK as extra special guest judges". BBC. Retrieved 17 July 2019.
- "And, The Category is: British Acting Royalty! Andrew Garfield and Michaela Coel are totally gagged to be joining the celebrity guest judge line-up for RuPaul's Drag Race UK". BBC. Retrieved 17 July 2019.
- "And the category is: Pop Culture Icon eleganza! Cheryl & Twiggy ru-vealed as extra special celebrity guest judges on BBC Three's RuPaul's Drag Race UK". BBC. Retrieved 17 July 2019.
- Warner, Sam (21 October 2020). "Dawn French reveals she was originally asked to be main judge". Digital Spy. Retrieved 21 October 2020.
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- Warner, Sam (20 October 2020). "RuPaul's Drag Race UK season 2 resumes filming". Digital Spy. Retrieved 20 October 2020.
- Ashurst, Sam (2 December 2019). "RuPaul's Drag Race UK season 2 audition, casting air date, trailer and everything you need to know". Digital Spy. Retrieved 5 December 2019.
- Harp, Justin (18 March 2020). "RuPaul's Drag Race UK season 2 halts filming due to coronavirus pandemic". Digital Spy. Retrieved 9 April 2020.
- Ashurst, Sam (15 December 2020). "RuPaul's Drag Race UK season 2 audition, casting air date, trailer and everything you need to know". Radio Times. Retrieved 15 December 2020.
- Damshenas, Sam (12 December 2020). "RuPaul's Drag Race UK season 2 Gemma Collins announced as Snatch Game panellist". Gay Times. Retrieved 12 December 2020.
- Day, Harvey (12 February 2021). "'I was utterly devastated': Veronica Green on the end of her Drag Race UK journey". BBC Three. Retrieved 25 April 2021.
- "Calling all UK queens, casting for #DragRaceUK Series 4 is now open!". Twitter. Retrieved 27 October 2021.
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