Hello and welcome to the final post in a series recapping the episodes of the first ever series of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK – and what a series it has been! RuPaul and the producers have brought everything that was good about the hit US reality TV show and have fused it with a sense of British humour to create a great show, one that has already been given the green light for renewal. Ten drag queens entered the Werkroom in the hope of becoming the UK’s First Drag Superstar and now only three remain after last week’s challenge, where the queens had to makeover a family member into a part of their drag family. Divina De Campo won her third challenge of the series, whilst the Essex diva Cheryl Hole became the seventh to exit the competition. With only three remaining – Divina, The Vivienne and Baga Chipz – that means it is time for the finale episode!
*Warning: This recap contains spoilers relating to the winner*
Baga Chipz has been the comedy star of the series. Not since Bob The Drag Queen has one contestant ruthlessly torn up the scenery, as they did as their role as Becky the Maid in “Downton Draggy”. They have won three challenges, including a double win in Snatch Game as a Carry On-esque Margaret Thatcher. What has let them down has been their runway looks, which they skated by on early in the series but in the past two weeks has faced huge critique, ended up in the bottom two for the makeover challenge. Can they turn the downward slide around in the finale?
Divina De Campo, who you may know from the TV singing competition All Together Now, has impressed throughout the run on the show with their sheer consistency. Their first win came in the sewing challenge, where they constructed a garment made of laundry bags and made it modern and worthy of a runway. They then won as part of The Frock Destroyers (along with Baga Chipz) as they featured an amazing falsetto note, with their third victory coming in the makeover challenge. What has been their weakness has been the pressure they put on themselves, nearly falling into the bottom two for the Snatch Game and breaking down despite a great performance in “Downton Draggy”. Can they overcome their mental block and take the crown?
From the moment they walked in to the Werkroom and told the other contestants that “this will only take two minutes”, The Vivienne has been the frontrunner of this entire competition. From a hilarious Donald Trump impersonation that should have given them solo honours in Snatch Game (sorry Baga!) to their brilliant Pete Burns/Queen Elizabeth II looks in the very first challenge of the series, they have looked unstoppable at both comedy and fashion. Their only big blip was blanking during the girl group challenge and having to lip sync for their life. Can they keep their head during the finale and become the UK’s First Drag Superstar?
The three finalists walk into the Werkroom following Cheryl’s elimination and honestly, I could not see a scenario where they would have gone through to the final three above any of the others. This feels like the best top three on track record and what they have brought to the competition. Only one other contestant (Blu Hydrangea) has won a single maxi challenge and this fact just shows how strong these three are. As the realisation sinks in, there are a few shady comments made between them but I think all three of them believe they can win; you can’t get this far in the competition and doubt your abilities.
As has been the case with the last few years of the US show, the final challenge is for the finalists to write and record verses for one of RuPaul’s songs – this series the honour goes to “Rock It (To The Moon)”, which has been used as the closing song for episodes this series. They will also record a segment for Ru and Michelle Visage’s radio podcast What’s the Tee? and perform the song on the final runway, with tough ballroom inspired choreography given by brothers AJ and Curtis Pritchard (known for being on Strictly Come Dancing and Love Island respectively).
RuPaul’s mention of the word choreography instantly worries The Vivienne, who messed up a challenge very similar to this one when performing in a girl group. It also worries Baga Chipz, who feels like they won’t be able to keep up with the pace. Baga is also trying to write a verse that is way more serious than the persona that they have displayed across the series – something akin to Lady Gaga’s Born This Way – a risk that I am not sure about when the three are trying to sell who they are. Divina should be feeling comfortable with the challenge but the judges know they sing and dance so they do feel a bit of pressure to show them something new.
It is the time in the finale episode where the finalists talk about their demons and motivations with RuPaul and Michelle on their podcast. Baga explains the reason for the tension with their mum in the previous episode, explaining that they lived with their nan for years because there was no room and it also explains the mental wall that they have put up. Divina mentions how much they second guess themselves and give the negative voices in their life power, bringing up how they felt underestimated by The Vivienne earlier in the competition and she gave that voice power. The Vivienne themselves recalls their heartbreaking confession that they struggled with substance abuse in the past, something that RuPaul can relate to and they felt happy with the Britishness of the cast.
Choreography for the performance of “Rock It (To The Moon)” is given by AJ and Curtis Pritchard has a ballroom and latin twist to it. Each of the three finalists are assigned a style of dance that is incorporated into their solo sections, with Baga performing elements of the Tango, Divina the Cha-Cha-Cha and Vivienne doing the Samba. None of the three pick up all of the material, though Divina impresses with an upside down transition move in her solo. Baga is struggling to get into the mood of the performance and The Vivienne is consistently doing the wrong footwork.
Now it is time for the final runway of the series and RuPaul is dressed for the occasion in a beautiful gold dress with the slit down one side and a poofed hairstyle to match; the stylists have done a great job this series. Tonight it is just family, so Ru is joined by Michelle Visage, Graham Norton and Alan Carr. It is now time for the performance of “Rock It (To The Moon)”. All three have some great moments during their solo performances, with Divina showcasing her flexibility, The Vivienne much more confident and Baga turning her dancing deficiencies into moments of comedy. The three then strut their stuff on the final runway of the series, category is “Final Three Eleganza Extravaganza”. Here are my thoughts on what they brought for their finale looks.
|Maybe Baga’s most polished look this season, the wig (loaned to them by Cheryl Hole) goes nicely with the dress, which has a lovely pattern to it. Even so, compared to the other two, this final look does seem a bit simple and isn’t really an Extravaganza.|
|Divina De Campo|
|This is quintessential Divina, with their signature red hair and ashy makeup. However, this is an elevated form of Divina; the dress is really well fitted and seems a celebration of British drag and the hair gives off a princess and regal vibe.|
|The Vivienne has been turning looks all series but even so, this is probably the most beautiful she has looked in the entire competition. The hair and the nude dress is giving me royalty like Divina, but her outfit feels more royal and feminine. A stunning final look.|
Onto the final critiques, Baga’s final look was praised and the judges forgave the poor ballroom dancing because they had fun with it. Divina’s gown was called beautiful and she received rave reviews for dancing well with some difficult choreography. The Vivienne was also praised on the beautiful runway look and the confidence they brought to the challenge after struggling with the girl group look. After giving their child selves some important advice on dealing with the future, they are asked to tell the judges why they deserve to win. Both Divina and Viv give compelling reasons but Baga Chipz can’t bring herself to name a single reason, which was basically a tap out. The three are then sent to relax in the Werkroom…
…where they are joined by the seven queens who were eliminated in the series, all of whom are wearing the looks that they would have worn for the final. It is good to see all of them, even though they scared me for a second when they said they will decide on the top two (re: All Stars 3). After the eliminated girls discussed their runs on the show, we switch to the judges deliberating. The vibes were mainly positive, though questions were raised of Baga’s confidence, which makes it no surprise that Ru names her as third place. This leaves Divina and Vivienne to lip-sync for the crown.
The song that they battle to is “I’m Your Man” by WHAM!, one of the few songs featured in the competition that have been sung by a male artist, but one who fits into the LGBT+ community. Despite being an anthem, the song isn’t the easiest to lip-sync to, but both of them do a wonderful job at having fun with the lyrics and even do a floor slide or two. The song choice relates what I have said about this whole series, that Drag Race UK has fully embraced and taken advantage of British culture and that is what has made this series so good. I have really enjoyed it and look forward to the second series of the show.
In the end, there can only be one winner and that is…
That’s it from me. It has been great covering the first run of this show and I hope to see all of you readers again soon for more TV and literature recaps! If you enjoyed reading my posts, please subscribe to my blog to get notified via email when new posts are published.
What did you make of the finale and was the right queen crowned in your eyes? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.