With shock eliminations and rushed challenges, the third series hasn’t compared to previous brash, irreverent outings. It’s time to bring back the authenticity – and the joy

In recent years, RuPaul’s Drag Race has become a mainstay of international TV, with outposts from Spain and Australia to Thailand and Canada. The UK version debuted at the end of 2019 to much acclaim, with two more series filmed in London and Manchester following in quick succession. The third – currently airing on BBC Three – has seen a number of twists on the format, however, with shock eliminations and surprise saves, and lip-syncs used to separate both the top and the bottom of the pile. It’s the closest the UK series has felt to its US counterpart, but in doing so it risks losing the subversive, cheeky charm that made it so irresistible.

In fact, the first two series of Drag Race UK were worlds away from the heavily produced and polished US series. Embracing the camp irreverence of its queens, it allowed them to shine on their own terms, relishing their rough edges and quintessentially British pop culture references (think EastEnders, Gemma Collins and, er, Margaret Thatcher). Breathing new life into Drag Race, it struck the balance between revering and ridiculing the franchise. It also celebrated queer people and shared their stories in a way that many shows struggle to do, with British drag celebrated on the global stage.

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