As if we weren’t already counting down until the new series of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK debuting in a matter of weeks, our excitement was cranked up about 50 notches when HuffPost UK attended the show’s official launch in London on Tuesday night.
The 10 competing queens were all in attendance – and looking fabulous, we should say – and while we can’t tell you anything about the episode itself (sorrrrrry), there’s still plenty of tea we can spill from the event...
The queens served looks
In the past, when a new RuPaul’s Drag Race line-up is announced, it can be a little difficult to distinguish one queen from another.
Until you see them in action on the show and discover what makes each one unique, the contestants have a habit of blurring into one another.
Well, having now seen all 10 in action – both in the opening episode and on the runway at the Drag Race UK launch – we’re happy to say that the queens are all bringing something individual and very special to the party.
Here’s a look at what they were wearing on the night…
Our favourite looks? Well, The Vivienne probably sparked the biggest “gay gasp” when she hit the runway, but we were big fans of Sum Ting Wong giving a simple but glamorous look.
Meanwhile, Blu Hydrangea paid homage to her own drag identity - complete with scattered petals on the runway (although we’re not sure it was intentional), Baga Chipz put her own spin on the regal theme and we loved Scaredy Kat’s hyper-colourful outfit.
Let’s talk about the judges
No, Mama Ru was not in attendance (she was filming in LA, apparently), but she did provide a pre-recorded video message in typical RuPaul fashion, in which she thanked “the BBC Three” and threw in a few British-isms for good measure (we’re pretty sure she said “guv’nor” about three times).
It was an absolute delight to see that they all clearly get on really well, chiming in on each other’s jokes (Alan’s declaration he was “creaming his knickers” was met with a response of “cream all over the carpet” and “double cream!” from Graham and Michelle.
They’ve also reached a stage where they don’t mind poking a bit of fun at one another, with Graham responding “they still do” when Michelle joked that people called her a “dumpster” in high school, and commenting on her “cross-promotion” abilities when she suddenly brought up her Strictly Come Dancing partner Giovanni Pernice. Which brings us to our next point...
Giovanni Pernice says Michelle has been “hard work” in Strictly rehearsals
Yes, while she had an audience, Michelle took the opportunity to remind everyone that she’s just days away from making her dance floor debut on Strictly (her performance in the group number, where she mostly just stood at the side and clapped, doesn’t count).
After asking dance partner Giovanni how he thinks “it’s been going” he joked: “It’s going. No, it’s going really well actually.”
Michelle then reminded everyone of the importance of voting for her in Strictly, to keep her in the competition for as long as possible.
“Speaking of not fucking it up,” she began, before urging everyone to vote.
Giovanni did then point out that Michelle has been “very hard work” and has a “very strong personality”, but added that they were also having fun in the process.
We have to applaud Giovanni, as he proved his performance skills aren’t just limited to the Strictly dance floor, giving an impressive strut with one of the Drag Race fans (a literal device for fanning oneself, not a devotee of the show, we should stress).
The queens’ runway presentation
In the style of a beauty pageant, the queens were introduced one-by-one prior to the screening of the first episode, before giving a short strut down the runway to a song of their choice. These included everything from Ariana Grande to Roy Orbison’s Pretty Woman.
Each queen was then asked a pageant-style question by one of the judges. Our favourite answers came from Baga Chipz (“the only peace I’m interested in is a piece of pizza”), and another queen (who shall remain nameless) who, when asked what they would choose if they could only eat one thing for the rest of their lives, declared: “I’m always looking for the fountain of youth so... babies? I was told I couldn’t say that.”
Watching the episode a foot away from the queens
It wasn’t just us who were watching the episode for the first time, as after leaving the runway, the queens each settled down to have their first viewing as well.
There were gasps, laughs and, indeed, screams scattered throughout as they caught their first glimpse at how they came across on screens.
What we weren’t expecting was that the seats we picked would be right next to where the queens plonked themselves, meaning we were left trying to keep it as stoic as possible, so as not to offend any of them.
Who were the other celebs in attendance?
Joining Giovanni was his girlfriend and fellow Strictly finalist Ashley Roberts, who looked suitably glam in head-to-toe sequins. Joining them were fellow Strictly stars Janette Manrara and AJ Pritchard, who watched alongside his brother Curtis.
AJ and Curtis will actually be appearing in Drag Race UK later in the series, where they’ll be offering dance tips to the contestants.
Also hitting the pink carpet were Derry Girls stars Nicola Coughlan and Jamie-Lee O’Donnell, who had truly dressed for the occasion.
Nicola told PA shortly before watching the episode: “This show, it’s always got that political edge to it.
“It’s really like an eff-you to all the bigots. It’s showing that you should be celebrating, you should be fabulous. It’s sending out the most positive message. If you can’t get on board with that then get in the bin.”
And what about the episode itself?
We’ve told you, we’re sworn to secrecy.
Oh, go on. While we can’t share any of the details (even we don’t know which two queens were lip syncing as the preview stopped short of revealing that), but what we can say is... Drag Race fans are in for a treat.
Any fans concerned that the UK version would just be a carbon-copy of the original can breathe a sigh of relief.
It’s still RuPaul’s Drag Race, so it’s still got the formula that has been working so well for all these years, but it’s also got a Britishness to it that makes it feel surprisingly fresh and, of course, shows off what the UK’s drag scene has to offer.
RuPaul’s Drag Race UK debuts on October 3 and will stream in Australia on Stan the same day as the UK.