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UK drag queen contestants from Ru Paul's Drag Race posing against a pink backgroundBBC Three/World of Wonder

RuPaul's Drag Race UK: When is it on? And everything else you need to know

The show's been a big hit in the US for 10 years, and now the first UK version is on BBC Three.

Harvey Day
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For a decade, reality competition show RuPaul’s Drag Race has entertained fans around the world with its mix of laughs, tears and – of course – drag queens. And the show has been a critical success too, picking up 13 Emmys in recent years. 

Drag Race, hosted by legendary drag performer RuPaul, aims to find the "next drag superstar." And now the first ever UK version is here, on BBC Three on Thursday from 8pm on 3 October.

Here’s everything you need to know about it...

What is the format of RuPaul's Drag Race UK?

The format of the show closely follows the US version where contestants compete in light-hearted mini challenges that test a specific drag queen skill – like make-up design or "reading" (pointing out someone's flaws) – before taking on the Maxi Challenge. This is the headline moment of each show where the queens may be required to perform, model in a photoshoot or to prepare a runway look for a themed challenge before having to face the judges. One queen each week is eliminated and asked to "sashay away".

Who are the judges on RuPaul's Drag Race UK?

On the judges' panel, Ru is joined by his longtime TV partner Michelle Visage (who is taking part in this year's Strictly Come Dancing).

"We've been working tirelessly to bring the magic of RuPaul's Drag Race to my favourite city in the world: London!" Visage said. "I know the UK has a wealth of talent to offer and I'm thrilled beyond belief to see these queens battle it out on the main stage, UK-style! GOD SAVE THE QUEENS!"

Ru and Michelle are also joined by Graham Norton and Alan Carr, who will rotate as regular judges.

And just like the US show, the regular judges are joined each week by special celebrity guest judges including Andrew Garfield, Michaela Coel, Dame Twiggy, Cheryl, Maisie Williams, Geri Horner and Jade Thirlwall.

Meanwhile, musician MNEK, Strictly's AJ Pritchard and his brother, Love Islander Curtis, have been announced as Drag Race superstar coaches.

Who are the queens on RuPaul's Drag Race UK?

"Each of the UK queens is so unique, so courageous and so special," RuPaul said of the new queens.

"I can't wait for the UK – and the world – to fall in love with them the same way I did."

Baga Chipz, 29, London

"My style is more cabaret, old school, sequin frocks, Shirley Bassey, Danny La Rue, Lily Savage kind of drag."

Blu Hydrangea, 23, Belfast

"It's hard sometimes. You're performing to an empty bar with seven people and it's very quiet.

"But I've built a big social media profile, and I now have a platform that allows me to talk about what it's like to be gay and a queen in Belfast."

Divina De Campo, 35, West Yorkshire

Divina says her drag is "old school glamour".

"As a kid I was dressing up in dresses all the time, but the first time I went out, I went out as Christina Aguilera from the Moulin Rouge video."

Crystal, 34, London

Originally from Canada, Crystal has been living in the UK for 10 years.

"I do aerial circus, I can crack a whip, put cigarettes out on my tongue – it's a freak show."

Sum Ting Wong, 30, Birmingham

"I am a Chinese male who's overweight and losing his hair.

"When I started doing drag five years ago, I wanted a name that was cheeky but also reflected my British-Vietnamese heritage."

Cheryl Hole, 25, Essex

Cheryl performs as Cheryl Cole in Girls Aloud tribute drag group, Gals Aloud.

"I think my degree in dance will give me an edge because there are several challenges that are thrown at you where you have to use your body."

Gothy Kendoll, 21, Leicester

Gothy describes her drag as "dark, contemporary, striking and unique".

"I first did drag on New Year's Eve 2016 and it was a mess. I was in a leotard with no wig on but I was living my life, having the best night ever."

Vinegar Strokes, 35, London

Vinegar already has some Drag Race experience, having performed in London's West End with judge Michelle Visage and former champion Bianca Del Rio.

"Drag is the new black," she says.

Scaredy Kat, 20, Wiltshire

"I really haven't done it that long," says Scaredy Kat, the youngest drag queen to ever appear on Drag Race. "It was probably about a year ago. I was with my girlfriend trying to have a laugh. It was quite embarrassing but it went quite well for a first try."

The Vivienne, 27, Liverpool

"Comedy is definitely my trump card. My favourite trick in drag is my vocal impersonations so I do everyone from Kim Woodburn to Donald Trump."

The queens also appeared on the pink carpet in London at the premiere last month.

When will RuPaul's Drag Race UK be shown?

The BBC Three show will air eight episodes, beginning on 3 October, every Thursday at 8pm on iPlayer.

How can you watch RuPaul's Drag Race UK?

You’ll be able to watch the show on BBC iPlayer.

Is there a trailer for RuPaul's Drag Race UK?

Yes! The trailer for the drag programme was released in September, showing the queens dancing to Donna Summer’s disco classic I Feel Love. 

Will there be a pit crew?

The pit crew is a convention of the original show, and the UK version has its own one called, appropriately, the Brit Crew.

Will there be a Snatch Game on RuPaul's Drag Race UK?

One of the highlights of each season is the Snatch Game – where queens choose a famous person to impersonate in a spoof of the classic TV show Match Game – known as Blankety Blank in the UK. This tradition, which has seen queens in the US impersonate Whoopi Goldberg, Melania Trump and Dame Maggie Smith, will continue with the UK version of the programme, with Lorraine Kelly and Stacey Dooley as celebrity guests.

When did we get our first look at the show?

The first look at the UK werk room – where the queens get ready for challenges – dropped on 20 August 2019.

Where can I listen to the official RuPaul's Drag Race UK podcast?

The official RuPaul's Drag Race UK podcast is hosted by celebrity superfan Scarlett Moffatt and drag queen and show producer Baby Lame.  

Scarlett Moffatt says: "If I could pick a dream job it would be sitting in a room with a fabulous drag queen chatting about RuPaul’s Drag Race. I have a life-size cutout of RuPaul himself and Bianca del Rio - honestly, this is a dream come true for me."

New episodes of the podcast are released each Sunday morning. You can listen to the teaser and subscribe to the podcast here

***WARNING: There are spoilers below - under the Jack Whitehall section***

Jack Whitehall sashays away on Graham Norton

RuPaul was on The Graham Norton Show on 27 September, explaining to the uninitiated how the show works.

"It is a competition reality show where we are looking for the top drag queen in the land - in this case, in the UK," Ru said.

"And we put them through a series of challenges that are not unlike the challenges that I have faced in my career to become the queen of drag… and then the hilarity ensues.

"And you [Graham] are a judge on the show as well as Alan Carr and Michelle Visage, who is on Strictly Come Dancing."

Ru even directed comedian and fellow guest Jack Whitehall through the process of sashaying away (what each queen does when she's eliminated from the show), while Dame Helen Mirren looked on.

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***Here come the spoilers...***

What is the elimination order on RuPaul's Drag Race UK?

Week 1: Gothy Kendoll eliminated (The Vivienne wins the main challenge) - read our recap.

Week 2: Scaredy Kat eliminated (Baga Chipz wins the main challenge) - read our recap.

Week 3: Vinegar Strokes eliminated (Divina De Campo wins the main challenge) - read our recap.

Week 4: Sum Ting Wong eliminated (The Vivienne and Baga Chipz win the main challenge) - read our recap

Week 5: Crystal eliminated (Blu Hydrangea, Baga Chipz and Divina De Campo win the main challenge) - read our recap.

Week 6: Blu Hydrangea eliminated (The Vivienne wins the main challenge) - read our recap.

Week 7: Cheryl Hole eliminated (Divina De Campo wins the main challenge) - read our recap

Week 8: The Vivienne crowned the winner! (Divina De Campo is first runner up and Baga Chipz is second runner up) - read our interview with The Vivienne, Michelle and Alan

Where can I find more information about RuPaul's Drag Race UK?

You can keep up to date with RuPaul’s Drag Race UK information on this page, the show's programme page, or on the show’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.

Drag Race smart speaker update

Can't wait for the premiere of Drag Race UK? If you're in the UK and have a smart speaker you can get a sneak peek of the first episode in the first Drag Race catch-up.

And after the first episode, the catch-up will be Michelle Visage's reminder of all the drama from the previous week, plus that teaser of next week's show.

For now it's available on the Alexa platform, say "ask the BBC for Drag Race UK catch-up". Just make sure you’ve got the BBC skill enabled. For more details check here. Sorry but this is for UK queens only!

This article was originally published on 22 August 2019.