SPORT RELIEF 2016: WHO'S ON THE LINE UP? 0 354

The Sport Relief Weekend is kicking off with a stellar line-up of sport and entertainment stars, bringing viewers an unmissable evening of entertainment broadcast live from Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park on Friday 18 March.

Highlights on the night will include some very special one-off sketches all in aid of Sport Relief, including David Walliams bringing back popular Little Britain character Emily Howard for a sketch with comedian Micky Flanagan and Stoke City striker Peter Crouch as you’ve never seen him before!

The Night of TV itself will be presented from the Copper Box Arena by some of the best-loved names in sport and entertainment, including John Bishop, Alesha Dixon, Greg James, Gary Lineker, Davina McCall, David Walliams and Claudia Winkleman.

Other sketch highlights include Jack Whitehall enlisting the help of Gareth Bale in a bid for English football glory at the Euros this summer. Plus a one-off Luther special as Idris Elba stars alongside Lenny Henry and a whole host of sports stars including Rio Ferdinand, Denise Lewis, Louis Smith, Ian Wright and David Haye.

And, returning to the role after nearly 40 years, Michael Crawford will don his beret as the disaster-prone Frank Spencer in an exclusive Some Mothers Do Ave ‘Em sketch with Michele Dotrice and cameos including Sir Bradley Wiggins.

Throughout the night, viewers will be treated to live events from Lee Valley Velopark and Aquatics Centre as Sir Steve Redgrave and Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff captain two teams of celebrities in a return of the Clash of the Titans competition hosted by Dan Walker and Ore Oduba.

Audiences at both arenas will be treated to a thrilling contest across five events, including rhythmic gymnastics, elimination cycling, synchronised swimming, and, for the first time, wrestling and triathlon. It is set to be must-see TV as Paddy McGuiness and Harry Judd go head-to-head in a wrestling spectacular, Russell Kane and Will Young don nose pegs for synchronised swimming routines, and Freddie Flintoff and Darren Gough have their twirling batons at the ready as they take to the floor for rhythmic gymnastics.

During the evening, Jo Brand and Greg James will re-live their outstanding fundraising challenges, while Eddie Izzard nears the climax of his epic 27-day Marathon Man endeavour in South Africa. Not forgetting the six brave celebrities, Alex Jones, Hal Cruttenden, Ore Oduba, Angellica Bell, Doon Mackichan and Suzi Perry that sailed around the UK in five days battling fearsome winds, freezing temperatures and rough seas, in a feat of pure physical, mental and emotional endurance. There’s also live music from Birdy, and the official Sport Relief 2016 single performed by James Bay, and we find out exactly where the money raised by Sport Relief goes.

Powerful reminders of the serious side of Sport Relief will be shown throughout the night with moving appeal films presented by the likes of Danny Dyer, Marvin, and Rochelle Humes and Olivia Coleman, showing how the money raised could help change lives both here in the UK and around the world.

Sport Relief Night of TV: Friday 18 March, 7pm, BBC One.

To buy tickets to be part of Clash of the Titans audience go to: seetickets.com/go/sportrelief

The Sport Relief Weekend takes place from Friday 18 to Sunday 20 March and sees the return of the Sport Relief Games. This year, the public can walk, run, swim or cycle their way to raising life-changing cash. Find out more at sportrelief.com.

Money raised this Sport Relief will make a massive difference to people living incredibly tough lives, here at home in the UK and across the world’s poorest communities.

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READY STEADY COOK TO RETURN WITH RYLAN AS HOST 0 17

Cookery hit Ready Steady Cook is set to return to BBC One Daytime in 2020, with new host, Celebrity MasterChef finalist Rylan Clark-Neal. The new series will offer up fresh challenges to put the next generation of chefs through their culinary paces.

Ready Steady Cook, produced by Remarkable TV (part of EndemolShine UK), will feature a diverse range of exciting talent from the culinary world, offering the new line-up of chefs a platform to showcase their cookery prowess against the clock on BBC One. Chefs signed up for the series so far include Mike Reid, Romy Gill, Akis Petretzikis, Ellis Barrie and Anna Haugh.

The show will reflect contemporary food themes, from cooking on budget to eating healthily, managing food waste to feeding the whole family, mirroring the changes in food and British cooking over the past decade.

In every episode two contestants are each paired up with a chef, going head to head in the newly designed Ready Steady Cook kitchen. But in this new series, the chefs will now face two different taste tests and the clock is always ticking! In the first challenge, each contestant comes armed with their bag of ingredients, all bought within a £10 budget. They’ll have just 20 minutes to create delicious, surprising and inspiring dishes ready to wow the discerning studio audience. And with further format twists along the way, from wildcard ingredients to chef timeouts, Rylan always has a surprise in store.

The revamped second challenge is even faster, as each pair has just 10 minutes to create yet more amazing dishes, this time based on audience ingredients cards. With unlikely combinations always a possibility, the pressure is on to create yet more flavour sensations. And, in true Ready Steady tradition, the casting vote on the show’s winner will be left to the audience who’ll have their say on the best dishes, by voting with the iconic red tomato and green pepper voting cards.

Rylan says: “I’m so excited that Ready Steady Cook is finally coming back to our screens. To be asked to host such an amazing show for the BBC is such a privilege. After making the finals of Celebrity MasterChef I know how tough cooking under pressure can be. I’m sure that the mix of new challenges, fantastic chefs and enthusiastic cooks will be a recipe for success, maybe with the odd disaster! I can’t wait to get in the kitchen!”

Carla-Maria Lawson, Acting Head of BBC Daytime says: “Ready Steady Cook is a celebration of the much loved BBC One Daytime show, reimagined for contemporary Britain. The premise of healthy, aspirational food being prepared against the clock will be familiar to the audience, as will the iconic red tomatoes and green peppers! This will be a series for the modern day featuring a brigade of exciting new culinary talent and with Celebrity MasterChef finalist, Rylan at the helm, a teatime treat for a whole new generation of viewers.”

Kitty Walshe, Joint Managing Director for Remarkable TV, says: “We’re absolutely thrilled to be bringing back such an iconic favourite. Ready Steady Cook was a staple ingredient of TV viewing for so many years and our refresh will bring it right up to date, while keeping the essence of the much-loved format. Rylan is the perfect host to bring the series back and the show promises to be the perfect mix of culinary inspiration and fantastic entertainment.”

Ready Steady Cook (20×45) was commissioned for BBC One by Carla-Maria Lawson, Acting Head of BBC Daytime and the Commissioning Editor for BBC Daytime is Lindsay Bradbury. Executive Producer for Remarkable TV is Cat Lawson.

The new series will be filmed and produced in Glasgow.

Ellis Barrie

Ellis got his big break in cooking aged just 15, at Fellini’s in Liverpool. After developing his skills in restaurants across Liverpool and Australia, he eventually relocated to his family home in Anglesey, where with his brothers he turned an abandoned chicken shed on an old camp-site into one of the region’s most talked-about restaurants, the Marram Grass. After realising how much pork is imported into Wales, he set up his own farm next to the restaurant, providing it with his own home grown vegetables and meat. On top of this, he can often be found foraging for wild garlic along the Anglesey coast. All of which means it’s little surprise that The Marram Grass won Best Bistro/Brasserie of the Year at the Anglesey Tourism Awards, and Ellis personally was named one of the most promising names in hospitality under 30.

Mike Reid

With a career spanning 20 years on both sides of the globe, Mike Reid brings a wealth of experience to the RSC kitchen. He first fell in love with cooking while at university, and after choosing to follow his passion full time, found himself under the tutelage of Michel Roux Jr, Gordon Ramsay, and even cooking alongside Heston Blumenthal. In 2014, he opened Jardin Tan in Melbourne before returning to the UK to open another restaurant the same year, M in London. Never one to shy away from hard work, he balances his time between his restaurants in Melbourne and the UK. His food is eclectic, drawing on influences and cuisines from across the globe.

Romy Gill

Romy initially learned to cook from her mother while growing up in India. She moved to the UK for university and decided to make the UK her home. A trip to her local curry house left her longing for the authentic flavours of real Indian food and so she decided to open a restaurant, Romy’s Kitchen in Bristol. In 2016 Romy received an MBE for services to hospitality, so she’ll be unphased by anything the RSC kitchen can throw up! She is a master of both classic British cooking and authentic Indian cuisine, but loves to find new ways to combine both.

Akis Petretzikis

Akis discovered his true love was cooking whilst training to be an accountant. Within a year of finishing his degree he had gone on to become the first Greek winner of MasterChef, and later became Head Chef at Michel Roux’s Avenue Bistro. Since then he has become a regular name on Greek TV, fronting several of his own cooking shows, and even hosting the Greek version of Ready Steady Cook. With his own line of cookbooks, food products and his own (bilingual) YouTube channel, this is not a chef who shies away from a challenge.

Anna Haugh

Anna grew up surrounded by a family who loved cooking and while her career has brought her through some of the top restaurants all over the UK and France, she has never lost touch with those Irish roots. After establishing herself at restaurants including London’s Pied à Terre and Paris’ Hotel Lotti, she helped launch Gordon Ramsay’s London House restaurant, acting as its first head chef. It was always her dream, however, to launch her own restaurant, and in 2019 that became a reality with Myrtle in Chelsea. Anna has experienced all aspects of the restaurant industry over the last 20 years, and is ready to bring all that experience, plus a pinch of Irish know-how, to the RSC kitchen.

RUPAUL’S DRAG RACE UK LINE UP ANNOUNCED 0 14

The ten beautiful drag queens who will be competing for the title of UK’s first Drag Race Superstar have been ru-vealed.

Handpicked for their huge slaying potential by Mama Ru herself, this eclectic group of queens are the perfect showcase of what the UK drag scene has to offer.

RuPaul says: “Each of the UK queens is so unique, so courageous and so special. I can’t wait for the UK – and the world – to fall in love with them the same way I did.”

The US Series of RuPaul’s Drag Race is a cult global phenomenon and since the announcement of the first UK adaptation of the show there has been frenzied fan speculation about the line-up.

Introducing the ten competing queens: Baga Chipz, Blu Hydrangea, Crystal, Cheryl Hole, Divina De Campo, Gothy Kendoll, Sum Ting Wong, Scaredy Kat, The Vivienne, Vinegar Strokes.

Start your engines, and may the best woman win!

The RuPaul’s Drag Race franchise, including RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, is produced by World of Wonder for BBC Three.

Drag Race UK is commissioned by Fiona Campbell, Controller BBC Three and Kate Phillips, Controller, BBC Entertainment. The BBC Commissioning Editor is Ruby Kuraishe, and the Executive Producers are RuPaul Charles, Fenton Bailey, Randy Barbato, Tom Campbell, Sally Miles and Bruce McCoy from World of Wonder.

A global phenomenon, the RuPaul’s Drag Race franchise is available in 193 countries through network partners and World Of Wonder’s streaming service WOW Presents Plus. The series was nominated in the US for a record-breaking 23 Emmys, with nine wins including Outstanding Reality-Competition Program and Outstanding Host for a Reality-Competition Program for the first time in Emmy history.


BAGA CHIPZ (29, LONDON)

Tell us a bit more about you!
Well, I’m Baga Chipz MBE, I’m 29 and I’m from London. Baga Chipz is a pub queen; tart with a heart; Like someone’s auntie I give advice on how to pull fellas and how to get pissed. I’m not one of these gorgeous beautiful Kate Moss lookalike drag queens. My style is more cabaret, old school, sequin frocks, Shirley Bassey, Danny La Rue, Lily Savage kind of drag. I’m common as muck, Baga Chipz from Walthamstow.

Why did you decide to apply for Drag Race UK?
I’ve always been a fan. It’s the dog bollocks of drag TV shows. I want to show off my acting and performing skills and show Ru what Baga Chipz does.

When I auditioned it was like putting a quid on the lottery. I thought I haven’t got a cat in hell’s chance. When I got the phone call I thought it was a prank call and then I started to get emails and I thought ‘well done love’!

Where were you when you got the call?
When I first got the call I was watching Coronation Street, and I thought I don’t miss Corrie for no one and I thought they’ll phone me back after. Well, it was RuPaul’s bloody Drag Race! I just couldn’t believe it and I even missed the second episode of Corrie that night because I was over the moon!

What are you greatest strengths?
My greatest strengths are my comedy and my wit. I’m a live performer and I do my own material. I might not have the best outfits or makeup, but put me on a stage and I will entertain the absolute shite out of the room.

How do you think you’ll fare in the competition?
I think I’ll do really well in the Snatch Game and the acting challenges. I like playing different characters. I’m good at accents, but I’m absolutely petrified when it comes to making dresses, or wigs. I’m the star dear! I normally have people do that stuff for me. You don’t see Lady Gaga or Shirley Bassey sewing their own dresses or doing their own makeup do you?!

How did you come up with the name Baga Chipz?
I was having a drink in a pub in Birmingham and this fella came up and started flirting with me and my mate. I said: “Look, why do you want burger when you can have me, prime steak on a plate?” And he was like: “Prime steak? more like a bag a chips.”

I thought you can’t get more British than a bag of chips can you?! You’ve got your Crystals and your Sandras, but I’m unique. I stand out. If anyone else has my name, then they’ve copied it!

How did you get into drag?
About ten years ago my mate put me into drag. She made me up as Amy Winehouse with the tattoos and beehive and we went to a karaoke bar where I sang Back to Black and everyone was like: “Wow, that’s amazing.” The owner of the boozer said would I like a gig. I literally smashed his hand off and the rest is history. I’ve done drag for the past ten years – it keeps a roof over my head and keeps me in clean knickers.

How has drag changed over ten years?
The drag scene has changed dramatically over ten years. When I first started off, you put a sequin frock on and you’d look like a man in a dress. It was all about performing and making the audience laugh but since RuPaul’s Drag Race came out people have stepped up their game. I’ve got a lot to thank it for – I didn’t even wear lashes before. My act has changed dramatically!

Even the straight community watch Drag Race. I’d say eighty per cent of my show’s audience are heterosexual couples. Drag isn’t just for the LGBT community, it’s for everyone.

What has been the impact of RuPaul’s Drag Race on the drag community, and you?
Drag Race has opened the art of drag to millions around the world. It’s not about being pretty, but being an entertainer. Drag Race has changed drag forever giving it a bigger audience with a bigger platform and its entertaining telly and we bloody love it!

Drag Race has also shown the world we’re here, we’re queer – get used to it.

What does it mean to you to be in the competition?
I feel like I’m dreaming, I feel so privileged to be on this programme, to be picked by Ru.

I need to bring it and entertain the shit out of Ru.

I hope this show brings out the real me as underneath this, there is someone quite sweet and shy who is kind. I’ll do anything for anyone, I’ll give you my last quid.

What do you do when you’re not in drag?
When I’m at home I’m watching Coronation Street, eating a pot noodle, smoking a fag. I’m like lady of the manor with a fella over to feed me grapes.

I’m also bit of a geek when it comes to the monarchy.

What do you think viewers will think of you?
I think it will be a facial reaction. They’ll be speechless, or maybe utter one word: ‘trollop’. I’ll never be famous, I’ll be infamous. Notorious Baga.


BLU HYDRANGEA (23, BELFAST)

Tell us about your act?
Blu Hydrangea is like a GCSE art project, high fashion from outer space, a cartoon character – with muppet realness. She is queen of the makeup brush and her strength lies in her mug. Not only am I a look queen but I can dance, I can perform, I can do some funny movements to make people laugh

Where did you get your drag name from?
My drag name comes from some Blu Hydrangea bush that is in my garden. My nanna told me that we had to plant it with a rusty nail so that it turns into a beautiful blue hydrangea. I love that story of something coming from a rusty dirty old nail into something beautiful which is kind of like me as a person. I came from someone who wasn’t so confident who was a little bit of a nerd into this glamourous colourful being – I love it.

What makes you unique?
Blu’s greatest strengths are her makeup, which is always flawless, my lovely outfits and my creative drive. I love to be outside the box, not just one of those queens who says they are outside of the box; I am outside of the box. One day, I might be a beautiful lady and the next I might be a pineapple.

By day I am a makeup artist, and I think that will give me an edge in the competition because I know that Michelle and Ru will be looking for someone that is polished, well put together and will wear that crown and look gorgeous – and that’s me!

How has RuPaul’s Drag Race impacted on your drag?
I don’t think I’d be a drag queen without it. I am a child of the Ru generation and without it I wouldn’t have known what drag was.

How is it being a queen in Belfast?
As a queen from Belfast the scene is very small – we literally have two gay bars opposite each other and you’re either on one side or the other and that’s it.

It’s hard sometimes you’re performing to an empty bar with seven people and it’s very quiet, but I’ve built a big social media profile, and I now have a platform that allows me to talk about what it’s like to be gay and a queen in Belfast.

We can’t even get married. My partner and I have been together for four and a half years. I would love to marry him but it’s not even legal. We don’t even want to get engaged yet until it’s legal and then we can do our thing. So hopefully, I’ll inspire people and hopefully, one day we’ll be able to get married in our own country.

Are you competitive?
Yes, I guess I am competitive.

I had to drive to build my reputation. In Belfast, the only way to make yourself known on the scene is to do a few competitions and so I now have a crown or two. I’m hoping that my drive will help me inside this competition and hopefully I’ll walk away with the biggest crown of them all!

What are your lip-syncing and sewing skills like?
I may not be the best sewer in the world, I have definitely taken a lesson or two but I am a very creative person and I may a lot of things out of unconventional materials. One time I wanted to be all five of the spice girls so I made life size puppets of all the girls (I was Geri) – if that’s not creative I don’t know what is!

What would be your greatest challenge in the show?
The challenge in Drag Race that I think would most struggle with is a comedy challenge. I don’t find myself overly funny – hopefully the world does but I don’t think I am. If they set me up to do a roast I know I’d bomb.com

What does being in this competition mean to you?
I absolutely eat breathe and sleep being a drag queen. It’s my way of being expressive and creative. I’m so thankful. I think I’ve got a lot to show especially my Northern Irish pride.

In Belfast you don’t really see that much drag, so I’m big fish in a little pond but now I want to be a big fish in a big pond.

I want people to know who Blu is and appreciate her art.


DIVINA DE CAMPO (35, WEST YORKSHIRE)

Tell us a bit more about you!
I’m Divina De Campo, I’m 35 and from Brighouse in West Yorkshire.

My act is a massive variety of different things. You’ll get some opera, Italian aria, some pop tunes, some show tunes, some blue tunes I like sing things that are a bit more challenging or exciting that makes people say: “Oh my god, I wasn’t expecting that.”

A bit of everything for everybody.

How would you describe your style of drag?
My style of drag is old school glamour. A sequin dress, a big wig, a big lash, an approximate face (laughs).

How did you get your drag name?
So Divina is Italian for Divine who was a big inspiration for me. I have a strong falsetto and I use that a lot as part of my acts and then De Campo means field but I got that really because I’m super camp. I think that drag names should give you a flavour of what you’re going to get so I think Divina De Campo does that – it tells you there’s gonna be more than you’re expecting.

What makes you unique?
My ridiculous laugh – which isn’t fake! I’ve taken a long time to build up my skillset so when you come to a Divina De Campo show you know there’ll be some comedy, some dancing, some singing, and some acting. I think there’s credibility to an artist, who has made everything you’re seeing on stage. The choreography, the music, the lyrics, all of that is my ideas, my vision. That’s what makes me unique, that and I’m a complete control freak.

When was the first time you did drag?
As a kid I was dressing up in dresses all the time, but the first time I went out, I went out as Christina Aguilera from the Moulin Rouge video. I had this ridiculous massive blonde wig and all these sexy clothes on. I went to meet my best friend and he didn’t recognise me at all. It was hilarious fun, and I just kind of got the bug from then on.

What does drag mean to you?
Drag to me is absolute freedom. You can do anything and everything that you want. If you want to do a lip sync number about 1940s Germany, you do that; you wanna do something about time travel, perfect, let’s put that in; politics? Even better; just entertainment? Perfect. I’m down with that. You can do whatever you find interesting. The process is what I find most exciting about drag. That you started with an idea and by the end you have a full rounded concept you can put on stage. And hopefully, it’s something you can make money from (laughs).

Why did you decide to apply for RuPaul’s Drag Race UK?
I decided to apply to make shit tonnes of money! No, I decided to apply because there is no bigger platform for a drag queen than RuPaul’s Drag Race. This is the Olympics of drag and I wanted to see where on the race track I’d finish.

How has RuPaul’s Drag Race had an impact on your drag or life?
It’s quite difficult to understate how much of an impact RuPaul’s Drag Race has had, not just on me but on drag in the UK as a whole. I started drag in 2005 and the internet was only just becoming a thing so there weren’t loads of makeup tutorials or lessons about how to make wigs or any of that stuff. There was almost none of that online. That has changed dramatically in the last ten years because Drag Race has a cult following and people are making content so that you can now find how to do a smokey eye, a cut crease, a bold lip, or teach yourself how to make dresses. So because of the effect of Drag Race and all of us wanting to be a bit better, and look better, I think it has elevated my drag and we’ve seen that all through the UK. Everybody’s just pitching a bit higher all the time.

What’s been your biggest mishap on stage?
I think the worst thing I ever did was when I was doing a Cheryl Cole song Call My Name and she does a swan dive on TV and I so I ran out into the audience and head butted some fixed seating My eye just exploded everywhere with blood everywhere and I just carried on singing. Then I gave someone a birthday cake stood with blood everywhere trying to hold the cake far away so I didn’t bleed on it (laughs). I finally put a plaster on and drew my eyebrow over the top and finished the show, until I went to hospital at the end to get stitched up. A proper drag adventure!

How do you think viewers will describe you?
I have absolutely no idea what anyone will think of me in terms of the competition because I hate competitions – there’s a secret for you. I find them really stressful so I worry about whether I’ll turn into the neurotic crazy person or whether I’ll be okay.

So you’re not competitive?
I know how intense this whole experience is going to be! I don’t know whether I’m good competitive or come across as a horrible person. I’m very competitive with myself – I always want to be better. Everything should be better every single time you step on stage, to me. I don’t know how that will translate when you’re in the mix with other people.

How are your lip syncing skills?
I’ve done a mixture of singing live and miming, or lip-syncing if you prefer. I’m old school so it’s mime!

What about your sewing skills?
I’ve never had a sewing lesson in my entire life, but I do make things. It’s something I’m trying to get better at but I tend not to use patterns so I sketch out an idea then try and make it. sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.

Are you a death drop queen?
I could not do a death drop if you paid me. I can do the splits and I can do tricks. My training is dance and drama. I’ve choreographed and have worked all over the place with international artists.


CRYSTAL (34, LONDON)

Tell us about yourself?
I’m Crystal, I’m 34 and I’m originally from Canada but I have been living in London for the past 10 years as I have a British passport and dual citizenship through my mother, so I’m British!

Crystal is a gender bending, ‘mess with your brain’ kinda drag queen. She stands for tearing down gender constructs using creativity, looks, and fashion and crazy performances. I do aerial circus, I can crack a whip, put cigarettes out on my tongue – it’s a freak show. It’s unexpected. It’s nothing you have ever seen before.

I’m unique as a drag performer because I’m not afraid to think outside the box and create looks, concepts, acts and performances that challenge and excite and pull from lots of sources. I’m not a ‘cookie cutter’ drag queen.

I do drag because of RuPaul’s Drag Race, but I don’t look to RuPaul’s Drag Race to inspire my drag. I look to sources like 80s films, comic books and fantasy novels and that’s where I get my inspiration from.

What are your greatest strengths?
Crystal’s greatest strengths are her creative mind. I love to approach a concept and come up with a look and story and figure a way to execute that on stage in an exciting way. I bring things on stage that people haven’t seen before.

A lot of people might think of drag as the lady in Blackpool, and I’m bringing much more of an East London fashion, creative element to it. Some might call it pretentious but I call it interesting.

I’m not afraid to look a bit ugly, messy, and scary – it’s not about being pretty all the time. I hope I will surprise viewers and show them that drag isn’t just one thing, or isn’t just looking like a woman. Maybe drag can be about messing with gender and playing with the lines and the boundaries.

How has drag changed your life?
Drag is amazing because it gives you access to this pool of confidence and security and strength that we don’t all have access to in our daily life. Knowing that you have those powers within you, that can be just unlocked with a bit of makeup, great hair and a costume is really amazing.

I love British drag, I do drag because of East London. The way that people approach it with creativity, spirit and heart but also so much humour and irreverence, and no one takes themselves too seriously – it’s just really, really fun

I think the East London drag scene has given me permission to be authentically me, and figure out more about myself, my queerness and my identity.

At the end of the day I’m just a man in stupid clothes and a lot of makeup so the idea that this is a job is so bizarre to me but I’m really grateful.

Are you a competitive person?
I’m not competitive with other people, but I’m very competitive with myself. I have really high standards for myself and so I can be very hard on myself. I’m a control freak so I’m quite nervous about the loss of control. I’m a huge perfectionist and I know so much about the show is letting go and trusting and being free and wild, and I’m not very good at that. It’s going to be interesting.

You studied costume design in university. Do you think that will give you an edge in the competition?
I’m great behind a sewing machine and I think that will certainly give me an edge, when it comes to finishing looks, putting concepts together and creating costumes.

I feel really confident when it comes to my sewing and lip syncing skills but you just don’t know what other people are going to bring to the competition and so all I’m worried about is doing the best I can do and hopefully that’s enough!

What does it mean being in RuPaul’s Drag Race UK?
Being in Drag Race is insane; it’s such an opportunity to be in the first season of Drag Race UK. I feel such a responsibility to do a good job and show people what the UK drag scene has to offer. It’s just blowing my mind.

RuPaul was the first drag queen I ever saw probably, so she has created an entire world where this can be a career – it’s crazy. This is all because of RuPaul.

Who are you when you’re not in drag?
Crystal is the ultimate expression of Colin. Crystal is Colin without any of the baggage that comes with growing up queer in a straight world. She is totally liberated, very confident and she doesn’t have any of those hang-ups. It’s really liberating.


SUM TING WONG (30, READING)

Tell us about yourself
I’m Sum Ting Wong, I’m 30 and I live in Reading.

Tell us about your drag?
My drag comes from singing. I was a little emo kid at 12 years old and I loved to sing. I can’t be a singer out of drag. I am a Chinese male who’s overweight and losing his hair. I’m never gonna make it like that so drag helped me, and the 12 year old me, finally live out my dream of performing and singing. That’s the only reason I put all of this on – so I can perform and sing. It’s the best job in the world.

How did you come up with your drag name?
When I started doing drag five years ago, I wanted a name that was cheeky but also reflected my British Vietnamese heritage, so I browsed the internet and came across a meme about an American news report which turned out to be a prank. It was about a missing Asian plane and all the names of the missing crew were plays on Chinese names, such as Sum Ting Wong and Wi Tu Lo, and another was Ho Lee Fuk. It was wrong in so many ways, and that was why I chose my name, as my own act of reclamation!

I’m here because I’m a drag queen not because I’m Asian. Asian is who I am but does not define who I am. I want to show you that I’m a queen like anyone else.

Tell us the first time you did drag?
My housemate started doing drag, and I’m watching him as he puts on his makeup and I thought: “I could 100 per cent do this better than you”, and so I did. I entered a small competition run by my rugby team and thought this is kinda cool. I wanna try this. I then entered Drag Idol. It was my first time on stage and I came third in the UK for my first time in drag. So hopefully, I’ll come third in this – or even better.

How do you think you will fare in the competition?
I think I’ll excel in the singing challenges. Dancing is not my forte. I like sewing, I think I’ll be alright in that. This is a fluke – I don’t know why I’m here. This is incredible. I feel like Willy Wonka with the golden ticket to go to RuPaul’s magical chocolate factory. So many people would kill to be in this position!

What makes you unique?
So, let’s get a few things straight… I’m in a homosexual relationship; I’m a person of colour. I think that’s two pretty strong things. Especially being a person of colour of oriental descent. This isn’t easy for me doing this. I’m first generation born here. I didn’t speak any English until the age of three. I live an oriental Chinese Vietnamese background so going from that and being told I need to go to school, university, you need to get good job, you need to get married, have a house, kids. I am none of that. I have decided to go against everything that I have been brought up to do, because deep down before I was a drag queen I was unhappy. This is the first time in like 30 years that I am doing something I actually love. People talk about representation all the time, but if a little Chinese homo is watching this at home and sees me and thinks wow I’ve been brought up to do those things too. I’m not going to tell you not to go university, I’m not going to tell you not to go to law school, but if you are unhappy then I am going to tell you to do what you love. Honestly, that would fill my heart with joy.

What will be your greatest challenge?
I’m a strong person, I’m a drag queen for fuck’s sake. I get on stages across all of the UK, but I’m scared of this because I don’t have anyone else and I can only go on me.

It’s not that I’m scared of doing it alone, it’s that I’m scared of doing it alone badly.


CHERYL HOLE (25, ESSEX)

Can you tell us about yourself and your act?
I’m Cheryl Hole, I’m 25 years old and I’m from the glamorous land of Essex. I’m a dancing diva, I’m known for my dance moves, death drops and pure entertainment and that’s what you want from a drag queen isn’t it?

Can you tell us a bit more about your drag style?
My style of drag is that Essex glamour with a touch of showgirl. Everything’s got a bling, a touch of vajazzle but a real girl at heart. I like to play up the Essex stereotype and really incorporate that into my drag.

How do you think viewers will describe you on the show?
People watching at home will probably think: “Cheryl is that lovely girl everyone wants to be around who’s doing okay.” But you still love her anyway.

How did you get your drag name?
My drag name comes from the icon and Geordie princess Cheryl Cole. Cheryl have inspired so much of my life. I’m also in a Girls Aloud drag tribute group called Gals Aloud and I play Cheryl for obvious reasons.

Are you a competitive person?
Everyone knows Drag Race is one of the most competitive competitions out there, and you wouldn’t enter something you didn’t think you were gonna win so I’m gonna put up a fight, and these girls best be ready to throw a punch.

What are your greatest strengths?
My strengths come with my personality, my charisma, my likeability, and my performance skills. It’s something that everyone knows me for – I can hold a room, entertain the crowds, and I can make people’s jaws drop with my dance performances.

I think my degree in dance will give me an edge because there are several challenges that are thrown at you where you have to use your body. It’s not necessarily a dance challenge but you need to know how to carry yourself and know your body. Even walking the runway you need to know your body and how to carry yourself.

Also, I am a lip sync assassin and I’d like to see any of these girls try and out lip sync me as this is what I do.

I’m quite well known for my death drop and dancing skills so girl you better watch out as I’m gonna bring the exclamation mark of the dance moves to the dance floor!

What do you think will be your greatest challenge on the show?
Now, I am not known as a seamstress. I will put my best hand through that sewing machine but don’t expecting couture gowns from me darling.

What does drag mean to you?
Well, drag means the absolute world to me. Drag is the expression and freedom through an art form from all the thoughts I had suppressed as a child.

I always wanted to on a world stage being a superstar dancing to pop music. I never thought I could because I’m not the best singer, but through drag I can own the stage and be the superstar I’ve always wanted to be.

With drag, you don’t have to fit any type of box, mould or stereotype. I’m ready to show the world why I do drag, and why I deserve to be the UK’s first Drag Race superstar.

What does it mean being in the first RuPaul’s Drag Race UK?
For me to make it on the first season means the absolutely world to me. I feel like I’ve put my stamp on the UK scene and I’m ready to show the word what I do in the UK. For the world to see the calibration of our queens is fantastic. The world is going to be surprised!


GOTHY KENDOLL (21, LEICESTER)

Tell us about you and Gothy?
My name is Gothy Kendoll, I’m 21 and I’m from Leicester. My name comes from my friend who described me as a Ken doll but a gothy one because I used to be wear loads of black, have really black hair, but also be really tanned and wear loads of makeup!

How would you describe your drag? What makes you unique?
My drag is dark, contemporary, striking and unique, and everything that is cool and fresh about UK drag now. The fact that my name is Gothy lets me bring in those darker elements; especially when it comes to wigs and makeup.

I like to look very different to traditional queens who are more camper, and more performance based. I also do a lot of different work compared to other queens in the UK. I like to DJ, host and throw parties – that’s what I’m good at.

I feel like a lot of queens in the UK are quite shut off to their own perception of drag and that what makes me standout amongst them.

What’s your greatest strength?
I’m really good at coming up with concepts and executing them in a really unique and striking way that is true to Gothy. I’m inspired by Grace Jones, Annie Lennox, people in the 80s who were redefining what gender is and what gender can be; also fast fashion; other drag queens across the world; I find inspiration from everywhere.

Are you a competitive queen?
I would consider myself quite competitive. When I first started working in drag I was voted as one of the best drag queens in Leeds within three months so getting that made me competitive. I always want to be the best I can be and that’s a good way to be.

What are you most nervous about in Drag Race?
I don’t have that much experience in performing. I’m not the strongest dancer and when it comes to lip-syncing; it takes me ages to learn a song. I’m so thick.

I don’t lip-sync at the party, I throw the party!

What are your sewing skills like?
I went to uni to study fashion, and I can pretty much sew anything. I can sew really well – catsuits, headpieces, everything.

What inspired you to do drag?
When I first did drag I was half way through a project on drag. I was writing my dissertation on the art, the metamorphosis. I had so much fun doing it and getting that first-hand experience really helped me develop better ideas and different ideas.

What does being in this competition mean to you?
Being in this competition means the world to me. Being cast doesn’t even feel real. Getting to show my drag to a national and international audience feels insane.

Tell us about your first time in drag?
I first did drag on News Year Eve 2016 and it was a mess. I was in a leotard with no wig on but I was living my life, having the best night ever. But, I knew that I looked like a bit of a busted mess so for six months after that I just practised in my room until I was at a level I was happy with. The first time I went out, I got my first gig!

What has been your biggest drag mishap?
I think my biggest mishap was about the third time I did drag. I went out with a leotard with no pants dancing the night away. My friend just said ‘Sam’ and looked down. Then my knob was out, balls and everything. When I found I tucked it away and carried on dancing – I didn’t care.

After that I’ve made sure I tuck my balls away – not full on tuck though.

How has RuPaul’s Drag Race impacted on your life?
I think for a lot of queens my age Drag Race sets the standard for drag and what modern drag is. I’m definitely inspired the show as it literally changed my career.


VINEGAR STROKES (35, LONDON)

Tell us a bit about you?
I’m Vinegar Strokes, I’m 35 years and I’m from London and yes I’m a proper London lady, zone five. I am a straight up comedy queen, I do stand-up comedy, I sing in my own particular style. I’m like Tina Turner meets Lizzo meets Kat Slater.

What makes you unique?
I embrace who I am. I’m a working class girl and I like to put that in my act and celebrate that and wear my heart on my sleeve. It’s really important to me because we live in an age where so many want to be something else and actually it’s great to celebrate who you are.

How did you come up with your drag name?
The origins of my name came about with me putting makeup on for the first time and sending a picture to my best friend, who replied with: “Alright Vinegar Tits”, and I were like: “Vinegar? That is a hot name.” I wasn’t sure about ‘tits’, so I went on the internet and Vinegar Strokes popped up and I thought that’s my name!

How did you first get into drag?
I’ve been doing drag for four years now and my first gig was a Halloween gig and so yes I’m a Halloween queen. I was asked to do a comedy show at my friend’s bar and he said can you come as a witch? I said absolutely not and he said: “I can offer £75.” I said: “What time do you need me?” And so, Vinegar Strokes was born. We had a good old time and I’ve never looked back.

I do think it takes a certain kind of person to do drag. You’ve gotta have balls of steel and be able to tuck them really high as well. You have to be brave and not give two shits, and to use your voice in a unique and special way. It’s a hard career and at the same time it’s really rewarding. You have to cause a storm.

What impact has drag and RuPaul’s Drag Race had on your life?
Drag is the new black.

When I say drag is the new black I mean drag is everything you want it to be.

Drag has been the best decision I have ever made. I started off as an actor, which is so hard to get even an audition and drag has given me the opportunity to do so many amazing acting jobs and comedy shows, performing up and down the country, in the West End.

RuPaul’s Drag Race is all about love and expression and freedom, and that really struck a chord with me. As I’m from a generation where you were knocked back if you were different, so to be able to do this right now when all eyes are watching is incredible.

What are your career highlights to date?
My career highlight has to be performing in the West End in Everybody’s Talking About Jamie. I’ve been able to work with Michelle Visage and Bianca Del Rio and it’s great to be able to take drag from a small idea to the West End and hopefully beyond that.

But Michelle Visage is a Drag Race judge? Is that going to be a help or a hindrance?
I did dance with Michelle Visage every single night, but I’ve already been clearly told there’s going to be no favouritism and this will be a level playing field. She won’t be allowing me any airs or graces when it comes to RuPaul’s Drag Race UK – I better come correct!

How competitive are you?
I am very competitive but I don’t step on people to get to where I need to get to. My biggest competition is myself.

I’m feeling quite confident about my lip syncing skills but my sewing skills are shit!

What are the challenges for you doing drag?
Oh so many challenges! I tick so many boxes – he’s black, he’s gay, he a bit fat, he dresses like a woman which some people would say: “This is all wrong.”

I am showing people who come from working class backgrounds, with single parents, with practically everything against you right from the get go that following your dreams is possible. I hope having someone like me on this show inspires people, especially if they’ve come from the same background as me; look like me, or are questioning themselves. I hope I can inspire them to think that it doesn’t matter where you’ve come from, with hard work you can get to places which feel out of your reach.

Where were you when you found out you had been chosen to appear on RuPaul’s Drag Race UK?
I was sat in a café and my phone rang they said it was a yes and I absolutely lost it. I ran out of the shop screaming. It was such a crazy experience to know I’d made it on to the first ever season of Drag Race UK – it’s mental!

The first season means so much because it gives you that go ahead to say you’re doing the right thing. I must be doing something correct. I am so excited about this!

Who are you when you’re not in drag? Who is the real person behind Vinegar Strokes?
Underneath all of this is a guy called Daniel. I spent a long time doubting myself and not knowing where I wanted to go in life or how to get there. There’s been times of having my confidence knock from people and the best thing I’ve done it to build it back up so it’s stronger and unshakable.


SCAREDY KAT (20, WILTSHIRE)

Tell us about your unique style?
I’d say my style of drag is probably very pink, very cute and very feline-esque. It’s very camp, exciting, colourful and bold. Cute, pink and scared – like a nervous flamingo. I’m unique and another that makes me unique is that I’m the youngest queen ever on Drag Race.

At the moment, I do a lot of drag alone in my house but I’ve made quite a lot of videos – music videos, lip-sync videos, arty stuff and pictures, creative things.

I want to change that and I need to be on a stage in front of millions of people because the attention just has to be on me right now.

How did you come up with you drag name?
I came up with my drag name because I’m just a bit of a pussy really, and I’m scared of everything from answering the phone to going on Drag Race. It’s all the same to me.

What’s it like being a drag queen from a village?
I’m from Wiltshire which is literally in the middle of nowhere and to ask if they have a drag scene is a joke in itself. There was one close nearby, and even a gay bar but it got shut down, obviously.

What do you do when you’re not in drag?
When I’m not in drag I’m a student so this is where my student loan is going. I’m wearing it right now.

How has RuPaul’s Drag Race had an impact on your drag?
RuPaul’s Drag Race is the reason I started doing it. I find the girls awe inspiring. From the US version I love the classics like Katya, Trixie and Pearl. They’re all my favourites.

What was your first time in drag like?
I really haven’t done it that long; it was probably about a year ago. I was with my girlfriend trying to have a laugh. It was quite embarrassing but it went quite well for a first try. I did not look that good though, so I was glad the cat was the only audience member that night.

What was your reaction when you found out you had been selected?
I really liked the show and thought it might be fun to be on it, but I didn’t think I’d get on it. When I got the call that I wasn’t expecting, I was in a lecture at uni and so my reaction had to be kind of gauged. I was in the hallway trying not to scream and cry at the same time out of happiness and fear.

You must have slayed the application process?
I tried to conjure up as much as I could. I made a video with various looks and funny characters like Marie Antoinette in the modern era and a yummy mummy from Cheltenham, as well as a lip-sync number right in the middle of Trafalgar Square. I thought it would show how confident I am – even though I’m really a big scaredy cat.

Thankfully, they liked it!

What are you greatest strengths?
My greatest strength is probably the fact that I’m terrified of everything. I also have okay makeup skills I guess. I think being the youngest queen is a blessing and a curse. I haven’t got masses to prove but then again I’ve got barely any experience. I’m hoping the others will underestimate me, especially, because I look this cute.

Are you nervous about anything?
I’m nervous about sewing, and acting too. Mainly sewing as I can’t actually sew at all.

Whenever a song comes on that I like I just throw myself into it. I like anything from Wicked to 21 pilots. My number one lip-sync song ever would be Popular from Wicked because I just love the cute voice. It’s great.

Are you competitive?
Drag Race is very competitive and I’m not sure that I’m that competitive. I can be, but not when I’m around people who are better than me.

You’re not on social media – why is that?
I do not have a social media presence at all and the reason for that is I just got rid of it all when I was 16 because I think there’s a lot of toxicity on there for a teenager growing up. It’s not that helpful to feel that everyone else is more attractive than you, better than you, got a good boyfriend or whatever else.

How do you think viewers will perceive you?
I think viewers will describe me as cute, unbelievably unexperienced and possibly even a little annoying but here we are – I’m doing it anyway!

What does drag mean to you?
Drag is just fun, being me and having a good time. Everything everyone always says. Feeling sexy, looking great.


THE VIVIENNE (27, LIVERPOOL)

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I am The Vivienne, I’m 27 years old and I’m from the gorgeous town of Liverpool. I’m an engaged lady and I live for my fiancé. And I’m here to win the crown of the first ever RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, so bring it on!

How would you describe your style of drag?
My style is like a scouse wife who has come into money, she moved to LA and blew it all and then she’s had to move back to Liverpool. I like to have a really fierce look, but I like to be hilarious on stage so I’m kind of an old school and the new school put together which I think works.

Comedy is definitely my trump card. My favourite trick in drag is my vocal impersonations so I do everyone from Kim Woodburn, Cilla Black, Donald Trump – you name it, I’ll do it – for the right price!

How did you come up with your drag name?
I love Vivienne Westwood and when I moved to Liverpool everyone used to call me Vivienne as I was head to toe in Westwood, so when I started doing drag it was a natural progression, but I didn’t want one of those cheap, nasty, slutty drag names so I thought of ‘The Vivienne’ and here she is, there’s only one of them.

What are your greatest strengths?
My impersonations, I can sing, I look good, I’m funny as fuck and I can drink a whole bottle of Jägermeister in 20 seconds flat.

Are you worried about any of the challenges?
If I was to be nervous for any of the challenges it would be choreography. I can definitely move to music but choreography is not my strong suit. Strictly Come Dancing, I am not.

Would you say you’re competitive?
Yes. I can’t wait. I am so ready for this! I can’t wait to show the world all the skills that I’ve got, win every challenge and murder the competition.

You are a Drag Race Ambassador? What does that mean?
Around four years ago I was crowned by RuPaul himself as the UK ambassador for RuPaul’s Drag Race in the UK. It was like a role to have here in the UK to make some noise about Drag Race.

Being crowned by RuPaul was the most crazy experience, I’m a huge fan of the show and RuPaul himself. He’s the absolute queen of the world so being crowned was the most nuts experience, but I don’t think it it’s going to give me a head start in this competition. I had to audition like everyone else and I’m coming to slay, like everyone else.

What does being in this competition mean to you?
Being in this competition and doing well means absolutely everything to me. I have got quite a big following outside of this so if I fuck it up I’m gonna look so stupid. I owe it to myself and everyone who’s rooting for out there. Please God don’t let me die.

What are your lip-syncing skills like?
My lip-syncing skills are actually really good, which not a lot of people know about because I’m a live singer in my shows. If the situation does arise, I will absolutely kill it so watch out if you’re in a lip sync against me!

RuPaul’s Drag Race UK will air every Thursday from 3 October 2019 at 8pm on BBC Three, with judges Michelle Visage, Alan Carr, Graham Norton and RuPaul.

Guest judges confirmed to appear during the series are Game Of Thrones’ Maisie Williams, Spice Girls’ Geri Horner, Little Mix’s Jade Thirlwall, Andrew Garfield, Michaela Coel, Cheryl and Twiggy. Lorraine Kelly and Stacey Dooley will make an appearance during Snatch Game, while MNEK will serve as the vocal coach, with Strictly professional AJ Pritchard and his brother, Dancing With The Stars Ireland professional, Curtis Pritchard will feature as choreographers