Today saw the return of the successful Rupaul’s Drag Race UK franchise that took the UK by storm at the end of 2019 with over 15 million requests on BBC iPlayer. Now twelve brand new queens are here to fight for an all-expenses-paid trip to Hollywood to create their own digital series with the producers of Drag Race.
If you want to avoid spoilers for Rupaul’s Drag Race, stop reading now.
Unlike the recent US Season 13 premiere, it was business as usual for Drag Race UK with all the queens making their entrance into the Werk Room. Glaswegian Lawrence Chaney entered the Werk Room first and proclaimed herself the Subo of Drag Race as the first Scottish Queen to grace the show. After a slight wardrobe malfunction, in came queen number two, Cherry Valentine a 26 year old from Darlington who declared she’s the triple threat. Already the difference between the UK show and her US cousin are notable. Much like Series 1, there is a real Britishness to the queens that makes things seem altogether a bit more unpredictable, familiar and hilarious all at once.
As the rest of the girls make their entrance one-by-one the mood seems very friendly and everyone seems up for a laugh. Tia is third in and definitely has a more intellectual side under his dress and Bimini is right behind. Su Pollardesque Ginny Lemon is next in all yellow with a lemon slice handbag. Lawrence seemed a little uncomfortable to see another Scottish queen enter when Dundee’s Ellie Diamond walked in but turns out they know each other and are friendly.
Sister Sister entered the Werk Room with a joke that draw tumbleweed from the other queens. She had a blue glittering circle around her mouth causing Ginny to declare she’d gone down on a smurf! Welsh sexpot Tayce was in next, closely followed by seasoned pro Joe Black who got many of the girls excited.
When the Better The Devil You Know soundalike music played I got a bit excited and in walked Veronica Green who looked like a fishy 80s prom queen. She fan-girled many of the other queens in the room – we have a super fan I think! An early shout for Miss Congeniality too.
The penultimate queen was Asttina Mandella giving us some supermodel legs for days and last but not least was A’Whora, a Northern queen of the fashion scene, dressed in her Wizard of Oz’s Dorothy outfit. Remind yourself of all the new queens.
Rupaul’s appearance on the TV causes an excited hush in the Werk Room and we are treated to Ru’s British accent (Dick Van Dyke is running scared!). Soon after he enters the Werk Room with a ‘Ello Guv-nah’ and sets this week’s first challenge; a tennis inspired photo shoot. It was a close net call but Lawrence Chaney got the win.
This week’s main challenge was to create not one but two different runway looks. The first a look a tribute to their favourite British gay icon and the second a look that says Queen of their Hometown.
In the Werk Room as the girls got to see each other out of drag and Lawrence was taking his time to de-drag and admitted that it’s a confidence thing and he has been bullied in the past. Much like Snatch Game, two queens both chose Naomi Campbell as their icon with both deciding to go for it.
On the main stage, Rupaul was joined by Michelle Visage, Graham Norton and special guest judge Elizabeth Hurley. The icons represented included David Bowie, Kate Bush, Princess Julia, Diana Rigg, Dusty Springfield, Lily Savage and Naomi Campbell twice as mentioned! My highlights were Tia as Alan Turing from Tia – a real curve ball and high brow, Veronica as Boy George and Cherry as Freddie Mercury in drag from the I Want To Break Free video.
For Queen of your Hometown look, Joe Black was a bit panto in his all gold Tudor queen, Asttina was praised for her East London chicken shop black girl magic. There were a couple of Robin Hoods (Tia won that battle), Dennis the Menace and Charles Renie MacIntosh latex outfits, a pyjamas and rollers scouse housewife and a Dragon that had Liz Hurley saying the immortal line ‘Do I make you horny Baby?’ All-in-all a creative couple of runway looks.
Rupaul called out Veronica, Cherry, Tayce, Tia, Ginny and A’Whora and declared them safe and told them to step up their pussies. Then came the critiques with Joe being read for both his Bowie and Brighton looks. Asttina was praised for both her Naomi and East London looks. Bimini was told that his tape was showing but his risque football fan look did get Liz Hurley a bit hot under the collar. Michelle told Lawrence that he was one to watch with Graham and Liz echoing her sentiment. Sister Sister was told her Dusty was a bit understated but Liz loved her pyjamaed look whereas Michelle thought again it could’ve been even more over the top. Finally, Ellie was praised for her hair and make-up in particular with her Dennis look being described as ‘genius’ by Graham.
Meanwhile, the safe queens were chatting back in the Werk Room with Tayce annoyed she wasn’t in the top and A’Whora stirring the pot by saying that she thought they were the tops and bottoms of the week. When pushed she said she thought Asttina and Tia would be bottom two.
Rupaul called them back to the runway and declared that Lawrence Chaney was safe as was Ellie and Asttina was the winner of the week. The final queen to be saved was Sister Sister, meaning Joe Black and Bimini would have to lip sync to Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s Relax. Both queens started strong but then Joe stopped lip syncing and started doing some miming like being in a lift which felt very odd. It was probably this that saw him sent home and Bimini staying.
Next time, the queens will be singing live to Rats the Musical!
Rupaul’s Drag Race UK Series 2 is available on BBC Three through iPlayer with new episodes each Thursday at 7pm.