Drag Race UK was almost dead on arrival, producers admit

Patrick Kelleher May 28, 2021
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RuPaul's Drag Race

RuPaul's Drag Race. (WOW)

The producers of RuPaul’s Drag Race revealed that the UK edition was turned down multiple times – and that they have plans for yet more localised versions.

Since it kicked off in 2009RuPaul’s Drag Race has gone from strength to strength, picking up an incredibly loyal fanbase along the way.

The series has expanded into new territories into recent years, with Drag Race UK proving a huge hit for the BBC. Other versions of the contest have been launched in Thailand, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Australia, Canada and – starting this weekend – Spain.

Speaking to Deadline, World of Wonder founders Randy Barbato and Fenton Bailey said they were rejected by almost every single British broadcaster when pitching Drag Race UK.

“Everybody’s afraid,” Barbato said. “It’s not the audience or the fans, it’s the gatekeepers. It’s the executives, no shade [intended]. They need to discover the show first, it’s often because their kids tell them about it.”

Drag Race UK was eventually picked up by the BBC after an executive came around to the idea based on a recommendation from his children.

The outlet reported that the pair “expect the format to sashay its way into 10 different territories before too long”.

Bailey said he isn’t ready to announce which countries will get their own versions of the contest just yet, however preliminary reports suggest that Italy could be next to get in on the action.

Italian LGBT+ website Gay.it reported on Thursday (27 May) that Italy’s Discovery network is working on its own iteration of the contest.

Early reports suggest that RuPaul herself could guest star on the series, while comedian and influencer Tommaso Zorzi has been named as a potential host.

Drag Race Espana launches on Sunday (30 May). Bailey teased that Spain’s version of the drag contest has “a very baroque aesthetic”.

“That’s the thing about Drag Race, in every country it’s its own animal. It’s the same show but completely different.”

Elsewhere, fans can continue to watch Drag Race Down Under, which just hit its halfway mark, and will soon be treated to All Stars 6, the line-up for which has just been confirmed.

New seasons of Drag Race UK and Canada’s Drag Race are believed to be airing later this year, along with the heavily-rumoured international All Stars series.

Related topics: Drag Race UK

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