Although Cheryl Hole welcomes her instantly iconic “I’m ready for another week of me doing mediocre” slogan from RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, which makes the rounds every Monday on Twitter (without fail), the dancing diva of Essex is determined to show the world that she’s a mothertucking star. Following her run on the first season of the aforementioned drag competition in 2019 (honestly, what is time?), Cheryl has cemented her status as one of the supreme queens in Britain with appearances on BBC Breakfast, Celebrity Juice and Netflix, plus a podcast dedicated to the fiercest girl-groups in herstory.
Now, Cheryl is ditching her high glamour lifestyle for the rural countryside in the third season of Celebs on the Farm, which will see the fan-favourite entertainer faceplanting the mud in high-drag, milking cows and riding alpacas. Honestly, what more could you want from British TV? Ahead of Cheryl’s debut on the series, we caught up with the diva to discuss her foray into farm life, who she’s rooting for on Drag Race UK season two and how queer talent is taking over the UK.
Hi Cheryl! How’s lockdown three treating you?
Darling, it feels like lockdown 47, but it’s all good. I cannot complain. I think we know the drill now, so I just get excited going to Tesco’s, I’m not going to lie to ya.
Even just leaving the house for 15 minutes feels like an achievement.
Me going on walks I’m like, ‘Ooh, I’m getting my steps in!’
Even though it’s lockdown 47, you’ve been busy! You’ve had projects with Netflix, BBC Breakfast, Celebrity Juice, WWE…
Look, when we first went into lockdown, I was like, ‘I’ve got to keep myself busy no matter what.’ It’s not just for keeping the work coming in, it’s more for my mental state. I like to be busy and I like to be doing something. I just wanna reconnect with everybody and show that I’m still here and I’m still hustlin’. As much as I brand myself the “mediocre queen of Essex,” I’m not as mediocre as people saw on Drag Race.
That quote is still doing the rounds, nearly two years later – I think I see it every Monday?!
There is a Twitter account that tweets it every single Monday! Without fail. That is dedication.
STOP IT. I can see that it’s your WhatsApp picture too, love that.
[Laughs] Can’t be tamed, can’t blamed – in the words of Miley Cyrus.
We need to talk about Celebs on The Farm. Your involvement is giving me very Simple Life vibes, as well as Nikki Grahame when she did her own version.
Princess Nikki! Oh my god, that’s a throwback and a half. When I heard that I was going to be doing this, I was so excited! Look, there are some jobs that aren’t fit for some people. Some people like to stay in their lane, but I’m one of these people who will doing everything once just to say, ‘I’ve done it.’ I’ve never been an outdoorsy diva. I’ve never been an animal lover, really, and I just wanted to challenge myself. But also, prove to everyone that I can do things outside of the world of drag, and just show that I can get stuck in and down to business.
Did you have any reservations beforehand?
No! I am one of these people that will jump in the deep end, I’m far from the shallow now. The more you think about things, you more you talk yourself off the ledge. I think you need to get on with it and realise it’s not that bad and it’s not that deep. So, on day dot, I walked onto that farm in a fully stoned catsuit and I went, ‘Let’s do it girls. Let’s get down to business.’
As the first drag act to be involved in a show like this, how important is it for viewers to see someone like you represented on screen?
There are lots of people that only see drag queens on stage, and lots of people that don’t watch RuPaul’s Drag Race haven’t seen the heart, soul and stories of the queer community. I’m just so excited to share my story and my journey with a brand new audience that have never even heard of me. I do the show predominantly in drag, but a diva needs a day off every once in a while, so there were a few days I did it out of drag. I wanted to do it in drag because it’s ridiculous seeing me in armour drag running around trying to heard sheep, but it also gets me in the zone. I think I needed that when there weren’t any Red Bulls to hand!
Can we expect you to have a farm aesthetic on the series, or is it still classic glitz and glam Cheryl?
I arrived in full drag Cheryl Hole, like I would when I walk on the stage! Then I went, ‘This ain’t gonna work.’ Luckily, I packed practically, but I’m still turning chic farmer looks. You’ve got to remember, the element of drag is there from the neck up. It’s just ridiculous watching me fall flat on my face in mud. You can’t not love that. I just had so much fun! I wasn’t fussed about the pads or the corset. I was enjoying running around in North Yorkshire. I was just so excited to give everything a go and just say, ‘I’ve milked a cow. I’ve heard sheep. I’ve looked after a baby cow. I’ve rode an alpaca.’ Do you know what I mean? It’s things where you can leave and go, ‘I’m probably not gonna do that again, but bloody hell, I did a good job.’
What did you learn from your time on the show?
The thing with Celebs on the Farm, as much as it’s a reality TV show slash competition, is that it’s an educational show about the farming life. If anything, I think it’s really going to highlight to people the importance of buying from local farmers and butchers. We know that eventually these animals are going to be turned into meat products, but it hasn’t turned me into a vegan. If anything, it’s really shown me that these animals have an amazing life, they’re really looked after and given the best care possible. When we were doing all these tasks, that’s the one thing that stuck in my mind. It wasn’t just for TV, we were doing actual tasks that were preparing the land for winter and the welfare of these animals, so we wanted to do an amazing job – while making amazing TV at the same time!
Did you build a connection with the animals?
We have a responsibility on the farms to look after these baby animals. You do build a maternal instinct. I didn’t think I would be as attached to my baby calf as I did throughout the whole process. Building that relationship is so adorable, but also the relationships with the other celebrities. There was not one person that didn’t want to get stuck in and have fun. There’s always one that’s like, ‘I’m not doing it!’ Even Lady C was picking up a shovel and scooping rocks into a hole. There wasn’t a single person who didn’t wanna do a good job.
As a notable girl band fanatic, what was it like being in the presence of the Kerry Katona?
I’m not often starstruck, but the first day, being surrounded by all of these celebrities… I had Shawn [Williamson], bloody Barry from Eastenders, saying hello to me! Honestly, it was just a surreal moment. The only person I knew prior to this was Duncan [James], because I met him that summer doing a gig with him. We clicked with everybody from the get-go, and Kerry… I’m so excited for everyone to see Kerry in this, because we’ve seen the ups and downs of her throughout her career. She’s had a really tough and hard life. To see this warm, caring and maternal side is so lovely, and I can’t wait for everyone to see that. Plus, we sang Whole Again every single day. That gagged me!
In the UK, representation for drag entertainers is still lacking – bar you, Baga Chipz, Courtney Act and The Vivienne. Why do you think that is?
I think mainstream audiences are still growing towards drag talent. As much as Drag Race has become such a huge phenomenon around the world, there’s still a lot of people who don’t know about our show. I personally want to continue being representation for our community, but also showing how drag talent and artists are real divas underneath the glitz and glam. Going on Celebs on the Farm, which is mainstream, shows that we can come together! There’s no him, there’s no her, there’s no divided groups. We as a world are one, and we need to come together as one.
Queer British TV is thriving at the moment, with Drag Race UK, It’s A Sin and I May Destroy You, among others. How does it feel to be part of this change?
It was so incredible watching the first couple of episodes of Drag Race UK season one, and seeing how many people got behind it. The BBC is such a huge platform, so to have a show like Drag Race UK on there is so incredible. I think it also gave everybody a kick up the arse. There is so much amazing talent out there and stories to be told, like It’s A Sin. In the 80s, it wasn’t even being spoken about in mainstream media, but needed to be. To have a show like It’s A Sin to educate people, who didn’t even know about the AIDS crisis, is so warming and educational. It shows that we’re still here. We’re still fighting, and we need our voices to be heard.
What are your thoughts on Drag Race UK season 2?
Diva, it’s so lovely to see some other queens going through the thunderdome! It’s not as easy as it seems! I am so proud of each and every one of them because you can’t compare any season of Drag Race. No one season is better than another. Every queer artist is different, unique and special, and everybody has a different voice to tell with their drag. These queens are so talented. If I walked into season two and they were all there, I’d be brickin’ it. They are turning it out and I’m so excited to see what else we’ve got in store!
Are you rooting for your telephone sister Tayce?
I know each and every one of them. I’ve worked with everybody bar Cherry Valentine, but obviously, my heart lies with my sister Tayce! We’ve been through thick and thin. I’ve got a scar on my leg from Tayce that will never leave me, so she’s stuck with me forever! Honestly, she’s doing such an incredible job, and she’s also so bloody entertaining. It’s too early to call. There’s no frontrunner. Everyone thought Asttina [Mandella] was the frontrunner, and she got the bloody chop, so don’t be expecting anything…
Okay, now you have to tell me the story about your scar. How did this happen?
[Laughs] Sam, I swear to bloody god if you turn this into a headline! No, it was a little playfight that ended up with me falling onto a bin bag, and that’s all I’m saying!
Celebs on the Farm airs Monday-Friday at 9pm from 8th February on MTV.
To hear our thoughts on the brand new season of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, subscribe to Snatched! an original podcast from GAY TIMES. Each week, we dissect all of the drama and conflama of the latest episode and chat with the eliminated queen, who spills all the T on their exit and time on the series. Snatched! is now available on all streaming services including Spotify and Apple Podcasts.