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The experiment is over. The results are in. Britain’s first drag superstar is…

Charlie Jones November 21, 2019
Drag Race UK

Make it reign (BBC).

The experiment is over. The results are in. The winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK season one is…

Drag Race UK season one: C.U.N.T.

How much Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve and Talent was Drag Race UK’s first season packing?

All of us. Sum Ting Wong’s stamp. Vinegar Strokes’ underground dress. Divina De Campo’s IKEA collab. Baga Chipz’s Thatcher and The Vivienne’s Trump. The Frock Destroyers. Blu Hydrangea shading RuPaul. Cheryl Hole delighting us. Viv shining a light on the darker parts of queer nightlife. Alan Carr likening Gothy Kendoll to an estate agent at Regent’s Park Zoo.

Gothy Kendoll with tiger face paint
“And then she’s gone back into work and gone, ‘What do you think girls?'”. (BBC)

RuPaul’s Drag Race UK has been a rip-roaring, royal romp from start to tonight’s finish.

Those worried it could Americanise the British drag scene were wrong. In fact it might be only recent thing from Britain – or its royalty – to spark any joy at all.

Drag Race UK: The final verdict.

Overall: C.U.N.

Despite it’s royal assent to pinnacle and – surely – staple of British viewing and bingeing, the finale of Drag Race UK ended not with a bang – or a Baga – but a bit of banality.

From podcast to challenge, runway to speeches, the finale was original only in that it was the first time Drag Race UK hasn’t been “much bettah” than its American cousin.

But then the winner was revealed. And everything changed.

Challenge: C.U.

While rehearsing with the Strictly Love Pritchard brothers AJ and Curtis (who had the audacity to never call them “talented young ladies” once!?) we were teased with prospect of Baga tackling serious issues, Divina channelling the spirit – and entire choreography – of Katya and Viv completing the narrative arc of girl-who-stumbled-during-a-dance to girl-who-wasn’t-going-to-stumble-during-a-dance.

Splitting image (BBC).

The Viv delivered on her promise by serving serious face (and moving roughly twice). Divina flailed flexibly but lacked any of Katya’s Read U Wrote U realness. And Baga’s big message turned out to be it’s OK to be straight or gay and also she’s in the top three. Accuracy? Sure. Legacy? Meh.

Still, at least we weren’t completely cheated out of cringy Curtis throwbacks.

‘You are 100% a talented young lady’ (BBC)

Runway: C.U.

Category is: Final three eleganza extravaganza. 

The final runway is meant to be the one you’ve been saving, the Naomi Smalls tuck-you-for-overlooking-me moment, the walk that proves your worth.

Instead we got three gorgeous gowns, which is fine. But not really final.

Make it reign (BBC).

Where’s the Tee?

I’ve never exactly loved RuPaul and Michelle Visage’s forays into armchair therapy on their What’s The Tee podcast, but it has resulted in some genuinely draw-dropping reveals including Monique Heart confessing she used to be the leader of an ex-gay ministry on All Stars 4.

We came some of the way on Drag Race UK, with Baga explaining her rocky history with her mum and The Viv repeating her warnings about the dangers of drugs on the queer scene. Divina, meanwhile, recited her speech about the imperfections of perfectionism.

Shady ladies.

The best bits of the Drag Race UK finale were the disbelieving looks Div and Viv threw each other while pitching their qualities to the panel.

I have been consistently good throughout this competition. At points I’ve been absolutely incredible.

The Vivienne starts the war of the side-eye (BBC).

I bring a humbleness, relatability and likability to this craft.

Divina (at least) wins the side-eye game (BBC).

The brainy Baga Chipz.

“I think these two deserve it way more than me. I’m just happy I’m top three. That is the best ever.”

Bye bye Baga (BBC).

Baga’s self-elimination was the other big shock of the night. It might have earned her a glare from Ru, but Baga was being brainy.

Since there’s no prize money – or actual prize if you already have the means to ruffle up a basement, camera and return flight to LAX – it’s better to be runner up. Baga won max screen time, the dignity of leaving on her own terms and a guaranteed spot on the first All Stars.

Michelle was wrong: Baga didn’t lack confidence, she just knew how to play the game.

Lip syncing for the UK’s life.

I’m Your Man isn’t an easy song to slay, but they both packed every second with punch and story. Viv deserves originality points for sliding across the runway like she’d just scored a goal and Divina sold e’ry damn beat. It may not have topped the US lip sync giants, but it delivered a certain wham.

Divina De Campo: Queen of reality TV.

Queen Divina of Drag Race (BBC).

She can sing in five languages and four octaves, act for England and dance for Brighouse. She owned that runway (Michelle’s: “she’s made some questionable fashion choices” can tuck right off) and smashed every challenge. But her real skill was letting us fall in love with her. She owned her perceived imperfections – wearing her wed rig and silver dress in the promo shoot was a touch of genius – and gave story to educate, inform and entertain the world. Most people thought she had the crown in the bag, but we can all wait just a bit before cheering her on even harder to win the first inter-continental All Stars. Just think about that journey.

All hail Divina De Campo: Queen of reality TV.

The Vivienne: Our true ambassador for British drag and Drag Race UK winner.

Britains first drag superstar (BBC).

The Vivienne is drag perfection. She bravely dug up an unflattering past and got people speaking about an issue that is pervasive but often passed over in the make believe world of produced storylines and faux-authenticity. But she didn’t need a story, she didn’t need an arc and she didn’t have to hit us over the head with her growth. She was – simply – the best at drag. And I’m thrilled. The twist was crowning the most deserving queen. This is how it’s meant to be.

All hail Drag Race UK and Her Royal Highness: The Vivienne.

Now we just need a season two that properly reflects her subjects.

More: alan carr, Baga Chipz, Blu Hydrangea, cheryl hole, Crystal, Divina de Campo, Drag Race finale, Gothy Kendoll, Graham Norton, Michelle Visage, rupaul, RuPaul's Drag Race: UK, Scaredy Kat, Sum Ting Wong, the vivienne, To The Moon

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