A decade after it launched in the U.S., RuPaul’s Drag Race UK is finally here. We run through our thoughts of episode one.
RuPaul’s Drag Race has made Herstory by finally landing on British soil for the first time ever.
“[The show follows] the same format, it’s just uniquely British,” RuPaul tells Stylist, “And the queens will all be sort of like Danny La Rue (a performer known for his drag act).
“The girls in this series are more global and they all have that British humour going on, but they’re lovely and so funny and so heartfelt.
“At its core, our show is really about the tenacity of human spirit. And in the show, they’re all survivors. They have so much courage and so much fun - and people are just going to love it.”
And love it we did.
Here are our favourite moments from RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, series one, episode one…
1. When the Queens entered the werkroom
Just like the original version of Drag Race, the first episode of the season begins with the Queens entering the werkroom and introducing themselves one-by-one.
While nobody death-dropped straight to the ground à la Laganja Estranja, each Queen was ready to make themselves known. This year’s line-up includes:
Baga Chipz, 29, who describes her drag as a mix of Shirley Bassey, Danny La Rue and Lily Savage.
Blu Hydrangea, 23, who is inspired by cos-play and calls her drag “a school art project with legs”.
“Classy, sassy and a bit brassy” is how Divina De Campo, 35, describes herself. She’s been on TV a lot and claims to be able to do it all. Yes, that includes sewing (thank god – why do Queens that can’t sew still get shocked by sewing challenges?).
Hailing from Canada but living in London for the last 10 years, Crystal, 34, considers her drag a Jessica Rabbit parody of what sexy is. “It’s a fusion of glam rock, comic books and superheroes and sci-fi and fantasy novels,” she adds.
30-year-old Sum Ting Wong learned her drag skills from older girls on the scene, but is also inspired by modern icons like Ariana Grande. As for her name? “It’s a reclamation of those little micro-aggressional racist digs that people give out.”
Self-proclaimed “Queen of Essex” Cheryl Hole, 25, says she’s known for lip-sync slaying and death-dropping. She also performs as Cheryl in a Girls Aloud tribute drag group, Gals Aloud. Fingers crossed Cheryl Hole is still in the race when the Cheryl comes in as a guest judge.
Gothy Kendoll, 21, calls her drag “dark and intimidating but fresh and unique”.
35-year-old Vinegar Strokes has already been involved in the Drag Race world, having worked with Michelle Visage and former Drag Race champ Bianca Del Rio in London’s West End show Everybody’s Talking About Jamie. She says she’s “not afraid to go from gorgeous to minging”.
The youngest Queen in the competition, Scaredy Kat, 20, has been drag for just 11 months. She’s never performed and relies on bold, creative and fun drag.
27-year-old The Vivienne’s name was inspired by fashion designer Vivienne Westwood. Four years ago, she was crowned the UK ambassador for Drag Race by RuPaul himself, but The Vivienne stresses “that was just a little competition in a bar. I deserve to be here”.
2. All of the British puns
When all of the Queens have entered the werkroom and the alarm for RuMail goes off, it’s clear the British jokes and puns will be rolling in all season long.
RuPaul’s iconic “she already done had herses” alert has been changed to “her majesty done already has herses”.
-“Keep calm and carry on, or heads will roll…”
- The Pit Crew are now the Brit Crew and wear Union Jack boxers
- A mini-challenge that wouldn’t look out of place in London Dungeons
- A maxi challenge inspired by Queen Elizabeth II herself.
And then there was Ru and Michelle’s exchange:
“’Ello guv’nor, fancy a crumpet?”
“May I please have some more?”
Yes, it made no sense, but it was still pretty funny.
3. Ru’s words of wisdom
Along with the gags, RuPaul is known for incredibly inspirational words (“everybody say LOVE”) - and he doesn’t miss an opportunity to impart a bit of wisdom in episode one.
Speaking to the Queens in the werkroom, he tells them, “You are the 21st century global identity, a shiny example of when different cultures come together with open hearts, open minds and 10lbs of make-up, we can change the mothertucking world.” YAS. We love this show so much.
4. The challenge twist
When Ru fills the Queens in on their Maxi Challenge, he informs them there will be not one, but TWO looks required for the runway.
There’s “Queen of your hometown”, a look based on where you come from, and “Queen Elizabeth realness”, a look based on one of the Queen’s iconic outfits.
5. RuPaul’s outfit
RuPaul is the QUEEN of turning looks, just take a look for yourself:
…and she kickstarted episode one with a (bright) bang.
Sashaying down the runway to Covergirl, Ru has everything covered.
A neon green mini dress with pointed power shoulders and built-in gloves? Ten. Matching neon green heels? Ten. Platinum blonde hair with a sky-high quiff? Ten. Retro hot pink square earrings? Ten. Blue eyeshadow and purple lipstick? TENS, TENS, TENS ACROSS THE BOARD.
Put simply, it’s one of our favourite RuPaul looks of all time and we can’t wait to see what else Mother Ru is going to wear throughout the season.
6. The stellar judging line-up
Much like the US version, each week Drag Race UK will have two celebrity guest judges - and for episode one, it’s TV presenter Alan Carr and actor Andrew Garfield.
As the Queens compete in the maxi challenge, the judges’ commentary is as hilarious as ever. But the funniest line comes when Carr completely reads Gothy Kendoll’s hometown look, comparing her to an estate agent who went to Regents Park Zoo to get her face painted. Howling.
Now, onto the serious stuff…
Who was eliminated on RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, series one, episode one?
Gothy Kendoll became the first queen to leave RuPaul’s Drag Race UK after she faced Vinegar Storkes in a lip-sync battle to New Rules by Dua lipa.
Before she sashayed down the runway one last time, Ru told her: “You are a champion and we’re going to hear you roar.”
For her lipstick note on the mirror, Gothy wrote, “I’m the UK’s Porkchop. Love you, friends for life! xxx Gothy” - referring to Drag Race icon Porkchop, the first contestant to leave series one, episode one in the US edition.
Who was crowned the winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, season one, episode one?
The Maxi Challenge put some of the Queens at the forefront of the competition early. Sum Ting Wong’s incredible Birmingham Bullring and Stamp Queen looks were very impressive. Blu Hydrangea’s Coin Queen outfit was another one for the Herstory books.
Despite being called out for wearing flats for both her Pete Burns look and Queen-strolling-the-grounds-in-Balmoral outfit, Ru con-drag-ulated The Vivienne for being the winner of week one’s maxi challenge.
The Vivienne was also praised for her painting skills after Visage was convinced she was wearing prosthetics on her nose - only for the judges to discover it was all make-up. Awkward - but at least she got a Ru Peter badge for winning.
How do you watch RuPaul’s Drag Race in the UK?
RuPaul’s Drag Race UK is airing exclusively on BBC Three. A new episode will be available to stream every Thursday from 8pm.
All images: BBC