Meet the judges of Drag Race UK season 3

Shantay, they stay! Meet the judges helping RuPaul to find the UK’s Next Drag Race Superstar in series three of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK.


As RuPaul’s Drag Race UK returns to BBC iPlayer for series three , global drag icon RuPaul has yet again enlisted the help of resident judges Michelle Visage, Alan Carr and Graham Norton, to help him assess the best drag talent the UK has to offer. Michelle Visage join RuPaul on the main stage panel every week, while Alan Carr and Graham Norton join her on a rotational basis.

Alongside them, we will see a sparkling array of special guests, including: Alesha Dixon, Charity Shop Sue, Emma Bunton, Jay Revell, Judi Love, Kathy Burke, Leigh-Anne Pinnock, Lulu, Matt Lucas, Nadine Coyle, Nicola Coughlan, Oti Mabuse, Russell Tovey and Steps.

Photographer: Guy Levy

The RuPaul’s Drag Race franchise, including RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, is produced by World of Wonder. Drag Race UK is commissioned by Fiona Campbell, Controller BBC Three and Kate Phillips, Controller, BBC Entertainment. The BBC Commissioning Editor is Ruby Kuraishe, and the Executive Producers are RuPaul, Fenton Bailey, Randy Barbato, Tom Campbell, Sally Miles and Bruce McCoy.

MICHELLE VISAGE

Photographer: Guy Levy

The love for Drag race UK has grown to epic proportion. What do you think is the secret to the show’s success?

I think it’s because there is finally a show that marginalised people can see themselves reflected in. And that reflection is positive! For so many years, these stories weren’t told from the victors’ standpoint. So it is inspiring for queer kids from all cultures to know that a) they aren’t alone, b) that they matter and c) they can be anything they want to be! These queens, every single one of them, inspire me daily. And of course it’s Ru! Ru is the magic ingredient!

How does it make you feel that many people have said that the show got them through a bleak winter in lockdown?

What makes me the happiest is that people have found our little show and it has brought them laughter, joy and maybe a little bit of tears. There is nothing more rewarding than a parent or a sibling reaching out to me to tell me how much Drag Race has helped them understand their LGBTQIA+ child or relative in a way they couldn’t get their head around before. It is a show that literally brings families together and there is nothing more rewarding than that. We all deserve love…..and banana bread.

What were your favourite moments from last series?

Oh my Goodness, there were so many! For starters, we stopped 4 episodes in because of a WORLDWIDE PANDEMIC!!! So that was interesting…. I thought “I guess we will see which queens utilise this time to progress and who will just let it lie as is…” And I think we saw it all unfold! It was such a strong, great, talented cast of queens. I was fully impressed and even more so when we re-joined production.

Were there any surprises in series two for you?

For me Bimini was the biggest surprise. They used their time wisely over the lockdown. For the first few episodes I am not sure they were as focused and when we came back – it was a bash over the head with the growth of fabulousness! It was mesmerizing! I always have predictions and I am always right. But baby, I do LOVE a surprise!

How Is British Drag evolving?

I think British Drag is evolving much like the rest of the world: progressively. There is so much artistry in drag and it is all very subjective, like fine art. RuPaul’s Drag Race has changed the face of drag publicly and for the masses, but drag has been around long before our lovely telly show and will continue long after. We have come so far and we have much more to explore. I, for one, am here for it ALL and I canny wait! BRING ON THE DRAG!

What makes series three different to previous series?

THE QUEENS. full stop. You can’t compare seasons because the talent is so different. One thing you can count on is this: you will LOVE IT!

What is the talent like from the queens this year?

AMAZING!!!! I am so excited that we all get to go on another roller coaster ride with a new crop of queens vying for the crown, it is so exciting!

ALAN CARR

Photographer: Guy Levy


Why do you think the UK has fallen in love with Drag Race?

With Drag Race you can enjoy it on so many levels, you can watch it on an emotional level, a bitchy level or on a really shallow level… Whether you come to it to watch the heart-warming journeys the queens have been on, simply to enjoy the theatricality of the drag – or just revel in the glitter of it all… There is literally something for everyone. Last series was aired over lockdown and so many people have said it got them through it. How does that make you feel Drag Race was a lifesaver for me too, obviously filmed during lockdown and at that time where, I think, as a country we were all feeling that slump…. wondering if ‘is this pandemic is ever going to end?!” We all needed escapism and to get away if not physically, but mentally. For me Drag Race was on the ‘green list’, no hassle, no paperwork and no queues at Heathrow. It was the perfect antidote to this mad and quite depressing world we were living in.

What were your favourite or standout moments from last series?

I loved the stand up comedy week. Lawrence was, as you’d expect, brilliantly self-deprecating. I also loved Bimini’s performance, they were so funny and of course – looked stunning! My phone went crazy at Awhora’s joke when the punchline was bleeped out. Everyone was asking “What did he say? What was bleeped out?” You really get an idea of how popular Drag Race when your phone doesn’t stop buzzing all night with people desperate to know!

Did you have any predictions when you saw the cast of series two for the first time?

Obviously as a judge I only get to see the runway looks, I have no idea what’s going on backstage. Who’s being a bitch? Who’s having a hard time? Who is the group villain? I only judge the outfits I see, so I only see 10 percent of what the queens are like. I didn’t ‘get’ Tia Kofi til after the show went out and then I saw her in her entirety, her personality, her brain and her humour – not just her runway looks and I was like ‘oh I see – you’re more than a depressed dinosaur!” People assume have inside information – I don’t! Like everyone else I watch the series with fresh eyes once it’s out. But I must say that Tayce, Bimini and Laurence were definitely in my top three. You could see they were special and its telling how well they are doing now, post the Drag Race final, and the world is their oyster. Books, live shows, modelling contracts, TV shows, appearing in Vogue magazine – they should be so proud!

Is there anything you’ve learned about British drag over the course of the last three series?

I didn’t realise how complex British drag was and how many sub-genres there are. If you think drag is just about popping on a wig and some lippy, you are seriously underestimating the drag scene. It all lies, I think, in subversion. Drag is everything: it can be punk, it can be political, it can be funny and historical. For me the best drag queens are magpies – stealing bits of pop culture past and present to create some amazing looks.

What is the talent like from the queens this year?

So much talent! Obviously I can’t give anything away but if anyone is worried that we have run out of drag talent in the UK – get ready to hold on to your wigs because you are going to get blown away!!

GRAHAM NORTON

Photographer: Guy Levy


Why do you think Drag Race has taken off so much in the UK?

I’m so happy that the UK has embraced Drag Race in this way. I think it is for the same reasons as the rest of the world, it’s funny, fabulous and fierce – but it all comes with more heart and vulnerability than I’ve ever seen in any reality competition. I think that is what makes it so very special. The last series got a lot of people through lockdown…

How did it feel to be providing a public service through drag entertainment?

Providing service through any kind of entertainment is great – but I think what made Drag Race even more important was that it wasn’t just distracting and delighting viewers in the moment, but it was also reminding them of a time when they could go out, dress up, and be in the bar or the club with their favourite queens….

What were your favourite or standout moments from last series?

Do you really need to ask? “No more f**king H&M!” I was on the panel that day. It was epic in every way.

Did you have any predictions for the top, when you first saw the cast of series two?

I think I always knew that Lawrence would do well, but for me the biggest surprise was Biminni. She seemed very rough around the edges at the start of the series and then transformed into an absolute superstar. It was great to watch.

How Is British Drag evolving?

British drag is becoming much harder. It used to be that you could get by with a wig and a couple of frocks and a backing tape. Now – really due to Drag Race – audiences demand so much more. They expect stunning fashion, reveals, acrobatics, the lot!

What’s coming in series three?

Season Three is extreme. There are incredible highs and then howling lows when a certain RuPaul is not a happy Mama. I loved it! This season has the greatest variety of queens we’ve seen, not just in ages and styles, but in other more surprising ways as well – no spoilers!

What is the talent like from the queens this year?

These queens are funny! I laughed a lot, but there are also some really amazing looks, great performance skills. I think there are more triple threats on this show than we have ever seen before.

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