Graham Norton has revealed how the fourth season of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK compares to its predecessor.
Although the comedian and presenter admits he’s unable to divulge much about the new season because he’s “totally under oath”, he tells GAY TIMES that it’s “really impressive” and boasts “some of the best queens we’ve ever seen”.
“It’s a post-COVID season,” teases Graham. “It was very hard for the [season three] queens in COVID because they weren’t making any money and lots of the dressmakers had stopped working.
“I think it was really hard during COVID, so this is definitely a post-COVID season and it’s great. You can look forward to it. You don’t need to worry!”
Graham was speaking with GAY TIMES ahead of the release of Queen of the Universe, which launched in the UK on 22 June with the brand new streaming service Paramount+.
The first season of the drag-singing competition sees some of the world’s most talented drag performers compete in front of a pop diva panel, consisting of Leona Lewis, Michelle Visage, Trixie Mattel and Vanessa Williams.
Featuring powerhouse vocals from British, Indian, French, Italian, Mexican, Australian, Chinese, Danish and Brazilian talent, the winner received $250,000 – the highest ever total for a drag competition series.
Graham, who hosts the series, reveals that he was “blind-sided” by the contestants’ emotional backstories. “I think, often, we need reminding of how lucky we are,” he says.
“We got queens where, in their country, it’s not safe to do this. A good day for them is nobody shouting at them, nothing bad happening to them. Suddenly, to be celebrated and embraced in this way, is really moving.”
Describing Queen of the Universe as an “unapologetic, shiny-floored mainstream show”, the Eurovision commentator says he can’t “imagine” anyone resisting the series due to the high production value and queens’ powerhouse vocals.
“You don’t see production like this anymore, so I loved that,” he continues.
“What I liked about it is that it is a very queer show, but it’s a very mainstream show. There is nothing alternative about it. It doesn’t feel like an alternative programme. It’s just a big, fun mainstream show.”
Graham also credits both RuPaul’s Drag Race UK and Queen of the Universe with educating audiences on how “no one’s path is the same”.
“You look at a drag queen being fabulous, being wonderful and a bit of your brain goes, ‘How did that happen? What decision, what series of sliding doors happened to get them to that point?'” he explains.
“I think one of the things that really makes me love drag is that, often, it’s difficult decisions and it’s people deciding not to be crushed. ‘Not only am I not going to be crushed, I’m going to do this. I’m going to do this extreme manifestation of my fabulousness,’ and I love that.
“Even in the show you hear stories and they are heartbreaking; about their families, about their communities and where they live. Yet, they can create the spectacle that they do and can perform and entertain in that way. There is something about that dichotomy in show business that I love.”
Queen of the Universe is now streaming on Paramount+. The series has been renewed for a second season, which is expected to premiere later this year. It was recently announced that Mel B will join the panel following Leona Lewis’ departure.
RuPaul’s Drag Race UK season four will also launch later this year on BBC iPlayer.