The RuPaul’s Drag Race format is being exported to the UK, where BBC Three will air its own version of the show in 2019.
RuPaul is going, too, and will preside over the competition between 10 drag queens to find—well, not “America’s Next Drag Superstar,” but the next “Queen of Great Britain.”
The UK series will be produced by World of Wonder, which created the show and produces it for VH1 in the U.S.
BBC Three controller Damian Kavanagh calls the show “one of the biggest entertainment titles in the world” and says that “anticipation levels for a UK version have been at feverish levels. With heart, humour and the un-imitable RuPaul, Drag Race is going to take BBC Three to a whole new level.”
BBC Three is actually no longer a TV channel in the UK, but a streaming, over-the-top service, though it still free for those in the UK.
And its shows eventually move over to traditional, linear TV. As BBC Three’s web site says, “you’ll be able to watch many BBC Three programmes on your TV as they’ll also be broadcast on BBC One or BBC Two.”
When the network switched to streaming, Radio Times reported that “the BBC Trust [insisted] that all BBC3 long-form programmes get a repeat on either BBC1 or BBC2.”
Update, Dec. 7: I confirmed, via a show publicist and the BBC, that RuPaul’s Drag Race UK counts as a long-form program, and thus will definitely air on BBC One or BBC Two. That’s eventually, though—since it’s so early in the show’s life, it’s not clear when that will happen.
Will the season be available in the U.S.? That’s also not clear—but hopefully.
Three years ago, in 2015, when the Logo version of Drag Race started airing in the UK, RuPaul said in an interview that he thought a UK version would come soon: “I predict that it will happen, especially after the truTV run. People are going to be so ravenous for it that they’re going to demand their own version, and I would love that.”
Today, in a press release, RuPaul said,
“It is a dream come true to extend our royal family to the United Kingdom with our partners at BBC Three. I am beyond excited to celebrate the massive charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent of the Queen’s queens. And before anyone asks, yes, we would be thrilled to have Meghan Markle join us, as we are already preparing a ‘Royal-Mother-To-Be’ runway challenge.”
Now casting British drag queens
RuPaul’s Drag Race UK is now casting “for drag queens from all over the UK to compete for the crown of RuPaul’s First UK Drag Superstar,” according to its casting web site.
The deadline is Jan. 11, and the show will start filming March 1.
The format of the show seems similar to the one born on Logo that has since moved to VH1. Here’s how a press release described it:
“In the first UK adaptation of the show, RuPaul will be on the lookout to crown one of the UK’s top drag artists the ‘Queen of Great Britain’. But, it will take more than just a wig and pair of heels to win as ten contestants take part in weekly challenges and face off against each other to keep themselves in the competition.
… Contestants will compete in individual or team challenges that test a specific drag queen skill before taking on the Maxi Challenge, the headline moment of each show where they may be required to perform, model in a photo shoot, prepare a runway look for a themed challenge before having to face the judges, with one contestant each week eliminated and asked to ‘Sashay Away’.”
The BBC’s Kate Phillips said, “I’ve been a huge fan of this funny, frank and fierce format for a long time. I also know there is a wealth of very talented and very competitive drag artists in the UK and I can’t wait for them to sashay onto the BBC!”