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BBC Three to return as a proper TV channel after Drag Race UK’s runaway success

Reiss Smith March 2, 2021
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RuPaul's Drag Race UK has been a huge BBC Three hit. (BBC)

BBC Three is to return as a linear broadcast TV channel, thanks in part to the runaway success of Drag Race UK.

BBC Three went off air in 2016, with the brand living on as part of the BBC iPlayer.

But after the huge success of new shows such as Drag Race UK and Fleabag, the Beeb has decided to bring BBC back as a TV channel proper.

Charlotte Moore, chief content officer, said: “BBC Three is a BBC success story, backing creativity, new talent and brave ideas has resulted in hit after hit, from Fleabag and Man Like Mobeen, RuPaul’s Drag Race UK and Jesy Nelson’s Odd One Out, to Normal People and This Country.

“The BBC needs to back success and make sure its programmes reach as many young people as possible wherever they live in the UK. So regardless of the debates about the past, we want to give BBC Three its own broadcast channel again.”

For LGBT+ viewers the news had a seismic knock-on effect – as Drag Race UK fans realised they’ll finally be able to watch the show together, on live television.

BBC Three channel to relaunch in January 2022

The new BBC Three is set to launch in January 2022 and will air from 7pm until 4am.

This likely means the already-confirmed Drag Race UK season three will air on iPlayer (it’s been announced for “late 2021”). But starting with the inevitable season four (or – if we’re lucky – perhaps a UK All Stars season?), Drag Race UK will be where it belongs – on prime time schedules.

In the meantime, the current season continues Thursdays on BBC iPlayer. This week the queens face guest judge Dawn French for a comedy challenge.

Last week the show saw the exit of Sister Sister, who has spoken out against the toxic bullying she has received from viewers, urging them to be kinder to queens for the good of the entire fandom.

Related topics: BBC Three, Drag Race UK

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