“Only the BBC had the balls” to bring RuPaul’s Drag Race to the UK, Michelle Visage has declared.
10 years ago, the competition series premiered in the USA, sparking a veritable TV phenomenon that has only grown since. To date, 11 seasons and 145 episodes have aired, with two spin-offs – RuPaul’s Drag U and RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars – and nine Emmys in the bag (including four for Outstanding Host and two for Outstanding Reality-Competition Program).
“RuPaul is a unique, intelligent and compassionate human being who has only ever encouraged all individuals all over the world to truly love yourself for who you are,” we wrote in our rave review of the show.
Nonetheless, it’s taken this long for RuPaul’s Drag Race to sashay its way over to the UK properly – although it has proven popular with UK audiences on Netflix.
Drag Race veteran Michelle Visage, who is a judge on the UK version of the show, says the series will turned down by “every UK commissioner” in the past five years.
“The reason I did Celebrity Big Brother five years ago was to get this show on the map,” she told Cosmopolitan. “We had met with every single commissioner and every single channel over the last five years and it took the BBC to have the balls to do it and it has ended here and that’s where it belongs. I’ve been here five years trying to get this show made. Amen to the BBC.”
Visage, who is currently on BBC One’s Strictly Come Dancing (pictured above), suggested that people were too “scared” of the concept to greenlight the programme.
“I think that people looked at and thought of it as boys dressing up in women’s clothing, and they don’t realise that this show is so much more than that,” she added. “It’s about heart integrity, and tenacity of the human spirit, and overcoming, about these kids going through a lot of stuff that humans should never have to go through and fighting through it all for love of what they do and the love of themselves that brings them to the art of drag and what they do.”
“I think a lot of people don’t actually watch it to understand that this show has so much heart and so much love and that’s why so many people are so passionate because it’s changes lives and let’s people know they’re not alone,” she continued.
Visage and RuPaul will be joined by Graham Norton and Alan Carr on rotating judging duties, with celebrity guest judges including Maisie Williams, Geri Horner, Jade Thirlwall, Michaela Coel, Andrew Garfield, Cheryl and Twiggy.
“Jade has been like a British daughter to me, and Andrew Garfield is a very dear friend – they were personal friends, and I’ve been a fan of Michaela Cole for a long time and of course Twiggy and Geri [Horner] ,” said Visage, who also hinted that the show might already have a second season confirmed.
“How can we top that next year! I have no idea,” she commened.
The ten competing queens in Drag Race UK are Baga Chipz, Blu Hydrangea, Crystal, Cheryl Hole, Divina De Campo, Gothy Kendoll, Sum Ting Wong, Scaredy Kat, The Vivienne, Vinegar Strokes.
You can see them start their engines on Thursday 3rd October, when the first episode of the series will premiere at 8pm on BBC iPlayer. Episodes will then be available weekly at the same time.
Until then, read our guide to why you should be watching Drag Race – or click here to find out more about the Drag Race UK queens.