RuPaul's Drag Race UK

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RuPaul's Drag Race UK
Drag Race UK Logo 2020.png
GenreReality competition
Based onRuPaul's Drag Race
Directed byTony Grech-Smith
Presented byRuPaul
Theme music composerRuPaul
Opening theme"RuPaul's Drag Race" theme
Ending theme"Rock It (To the Moon)"
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
No. of series2
No. of episodes9
Executive producers
  • Bruce McCoy
  • Sally Sanders
  • RuPaul Charles
  • Fenton Bailey
  • Randy Barbato
  • Tom Campbell
ProducerMichelle Visage
Production locations
Camera setupMultiple
Running time60–70 minutes
Production companyWorld of Wonder
DistributorWorld of Wonder
Original networkBBC Three (online) / BBC One (UK)
WOW Presents Plus (International)
Picture formatHDTV 1080i
First shown inUnited Kingdom
Original release3 October 2019 (2019-10-03) –
Related showsGod 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 panel of judges: RuPaul, Michelle Visage, Alan Carr and Graham Norton.[1] The series, a collaboration between the BBC and World of Wonder, premiered on 3 October 2019.[2][3] In November 2019, RuPaul's Drag Race UK was renewed for a second series.[4][5] To date there has been one winner of the show: The Vivienne.

The show was renewed for a second series in 2019, however production was suspended in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[6] Production of the second series had since resumed, 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.[7]


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.[8] 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.[9] The Vivienne won a trip to the set of the American version of the show.[9] 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.[9] 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."[9][10] 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."[11] 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.[12]


Current main judges
Michelle Visage
Alan Carr
Graham Norton

Like the American version, RuPaul has several roles within the show including: host, coach and judge. During his role as host, RuPaul introduced celebrity guests, announce what week challenges the queens will take part in and reveal who will be leaving the competition. During his role as a coach, RuPaul offered guidance to the contestants through each challenge, as his role as judge will critique 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 will 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.

Spin-off series RuPaul's Drag Race UK: The Podcast presented by Scarlett Moffatt and Baby Lame airs on BBC Sounds, with interviews with the queens who Sashay Away each week, as well as guests.[13]

Mini challenges[edit]

In mini challenges, each contestant is asked to perform a different task with varying requirements and time limitations. Certain mini challenges are repeated from season to season, 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[edit]

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 taken 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 humorous recreation of Match Game The Vivienne portraying Donald Trump and Baga Chipz portraying Margaret Thatcher in series one, 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.

Judging panel[edit]

A panel of judges cast opinions about the challenge performances and runway looks, first to the contestants onstage, and then again with them offstage.

Judges on RuPaul's Drag Race UK[14]
Judge Series
1 2
RuPaul Main
Michelle Visage Main
Alan Carr Main
Graham Norton Main

RuPaul acted as both the host and main judge,[15] with Michelle Visage,[16] Graham Norton and Alan Carr as supporting judges.[17] Guest judges in Series 1 included Maisie Williams,[18] Geri Halliwell, Jade Thirlwall,[19] Andrew Garfield, Michaela Coel,[20] Cheryl, and Twiggy.[21] 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.[22] She went onto revealed that the BBC had originally asked French to be a main judge on the first series.[22][23] 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."[22] 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".[23]

Series overview[edit]

Series Premiere Date Finale Date Winner Runner-up Winner's Prizes
1 3 October 2019 21 November 2019 The Vivienne Divina de Campo
  • A crown and sceptre
  • Star in their own digital series produced by the creators of RuPaul's Drag Race
2 14 January 2021 18 March 2021

Series 1 (2019)[edit]

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 constestant, 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.[24] It was revealed that the contestants from series 1 would all star in a documentary web television series about the tour following the first season of RuPaul's Drag Race UK.[25] The show originally premiered internationally on 10 September 2020 on WOW Presents Plus and will debut on BBC iPlayer on 15 November 2020.[26] 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.[12]

Series 2 (2021)[edit]

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.

—Carr during an interview with Lorraine Kelly[27]

The second series of RuPaul's Drag Race UK was confirmed and casting was closed on 15 November 2019.[28] Filming was indefinitely suspended because of the COVID-19 pandemic.[29] In June 2020, Visage confirmed that the show would return once government guidelines were lifted.[11] 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."[11] 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.[27] 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 season.[27] 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.[27] 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!"[27] 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.[23] 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.[23] 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.[22] In November 2020, BBC revealed that series two would air in early 2021.[12] A spokes person 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."[12] There will be 12 queens competing for the title of "UK's Next Drag Superstar", over 10 episodes.[12] 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."[12] It was announced on 15 December 2020, that the second series would premier on 14 January 2021.[30] Gemma Collins was revealed to be a panellist on the Snatch Game episode.[31]

RuPaul's Drag Race UK Werk Room web-series was launched alongside series two. The show is hosted by Jake Fersko.

Series 3 (2021)[edit]

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!”[12] Casting for the third series opened on 2 November 2020.[12]

International broadcasts[edit]

The first series was broadcast on the Logo TV network in the US, on OutTV in Canada, on Vitaya in Belgium, on DR TV in Denmark, on Stan in Australia and on Yes Drama in Israel.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Abbott, Kate (14 February 2019). "'They better werk!' Graham Norton and Alan Carr join RuPaul's Drag Race UK". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 14 February 2019.
  2. ^ "Michelle Visage is our ninth celebrity for Strictly 2019!". BBC. 5 August 2019.
  3. ^ "'RuPaul's Drag Race' launching U.K. version with RuPaul, Michelle Visage reportedly returning". Retrieved 14 February 2019.
  4. ^ Earp, Catherine (7 November 2019). "RuPaul's Drag Race UK gets a second series on BBC Three". Digital Spy. Retrieved 7 November 2019.
  5. ^ "Shantay, you stay! Ru Paul's Drag Race UK renewed for second series". Radio Times. Retrieved 7 November 2019.
  6. ^ Harp, Justin (18 March 2020). "RuPaul's Drag Race UK season 2 halts filming due to coronavirus pandemic". Digital Spy. Retrieved 9 April 2020.
  7. ^ "NTA nominations 2020: the full shortlist of National Television Awards nominees, and how to vote for the NTAs". i. Retrieved 28 January 2020.
  8. ^ Hughes, Scarlett (16 May 2019). ""RuPaul's Drag Race"!". Radio Times. Retrieved 12 October 2019.
  9. ^ a b c d "RuPaul's Drag Race producers hint at a British version". Huffington post. Retrieved 5 June 2018.
  10. ^ "RuPaul's Drag Race UK in talks with the BBC". BBC. Retrieved 1 June 2018.
  11. ^ a b c Watson, Fay (4 June 2020). "Michelle Visage confirms Drag Race UK will be back as soon as possible". Express. Retrieved 4 June 2020.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h BBC, BBC (2 November 2020). "BBC announces when series two of RPDR UK air date". BBC. Retrieved 2 November 2020.
  13. ^
  14. ^ "RuPaul's Drag Race UK Series Two: When is it on? And everything else you need to know". BBC News. 3 January 2021. Retrieved 6 January 2021.
  15. ^ "Start your engines, RuPaul's Drag Race UK is coming to BBC Three". BBC. Retrieved 17 July 2019.
  16. ^ "Michelle Visage confirmed as judge for RuPaul's Drag Race UK". BBC. Retrieved 17 July 2019.
  17. ^ "Graham Norton and Alan Carr confirmed as celebrity judges for RuPaul's Drag Race UK – series to air on BBC Three in 2019". BBC. Retrieved 17 July 2019.
  18. ^ "'Dame of Thrones: Maisie Williams confirmed as a guest judge for RuPaul's Drag Race UK". BBC. Retrieved 20 May 2019.
  19. ^ "Geri Horner and Jade Thirlwall join BBC Three's RuPaul's Drag Race UK as extra special guest judges". BBC. Retrieved 17 July 2019.
  20. ^ "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.
  21. ^ "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.
  22. ^ a b c d Warner, Sam (21 October 2020). "Dawn French reveals she was originally asked to be main judge". Digital Spy. Retrieved 21 October 2020.
  23. ^ a b c d Bang, Showbiz (22 October 2020). "Dawn French revealed as guest judge on Drag Race UK Series 2". Digital Spy. Retrieved 22 October 2020.
  24. ^ Cyndy, Yeates (6 October 2020). "Crystal sues Laurence Fox for calling her a peado". Digital Spy. Retrieved 6 October 2020.
  25. ^ Rude, Mey (14 October 2020). "There's a 'Drag Race' Docu-Series Coming Our Way". Out. Retrieved 14 October 2020.
  26. ^ Kile, Meredith B (2 October 2020). "'God Shave the Queens': Watch Alyssa Edwards & 'Drag Race UK' Queens Put on a Sickening Stage Show (Exclusive)". etonline. Retrieved 14 October 2020.
  27. ^ a b c d e Warner, Sam (20 October 2020). "RuPaul's Drag Race UK season 2 resumes filming". Digital Spy. Retrieved 20 October 2020.
  28. ^ 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.
  29. ^ Harp, Justin (18 March 2020). "RuPaul's Drag Race UK season 2 halts filming due to coronavirus pandemic". Digital Spy. Retrieved 9 April 2020.
  30. ^ 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.
  31. ^ 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.

External links[edit]