Drag Race UK season five: RuPaul throws out the rulebook in episode one with gagworthy twists

On the left, RuPaul in a promo image for Drag Race UK season 5. On the right, a still of Tomara Thomas looking shocked from episode one of Drag Race UK season 5.

RuPaul’s Drag Race UK season five kicked off last night (28 September) with a host of twists, turns and shenanigans.

Ten queens strutted into the pink sugar walls of the werkroom, only to learn minutes later that their entrance looks were in fact part of the very first maxi challenge. 

It’s the first time in Drag Race herstory that the queens’ looks upon entering the competition have informed the judging panel’s final decisions.

The maxi challenge in question was the ‘Fierce Impressions Ball’, in which the queens had to serve up three looks in three categories – the first being their entrance look and the second an ‘Up In Da Club’ ensemble on a make-shift runway in ‘Club Tickety-Boo’.

In the second gag in as many minutes, the queens were told that they’d be judged on their club looks by a number of Drag Race legends from around the globe, including All Stars 8 winner Jimbo, UK vs. the World champion Blu Hydrangea, former finalist Silky Nutmeg Ganache, and Drag Race Thailand judge Pangina Heals.

The third look was debuted by each queen on the main stage, where RuPaul, Michelle Visage and guest judge Kristen McMenamy were watching closely. The category was ‘Fierce Impressions Extravaganza Eleganza’, where the queens had to present an impressive look that encapsulated their drag style.

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Fans swiftly dubbed McMenamy as one of the best Drag Race guest judges of all time. After being introduced by Ru to the rest of the panel, McMenamy hilariously quipped, while totally deadpan: “I remember you when you were nothing”. She then burst into hysterical laughter.

After all the queens had made their runway presentations, Ru declared DeDeLicious, Kate Butch, Banksie, Ms Naomi Carter and Tomara Thomas as ‘safe’.

Ru then told the remaining queens – Alexis Saint-Pete, Ginger Johnson, Cara Melle, Vicky Vivacious and Michael Marouli – that he had a “surprise” for them. Cue gag number three, as Ru declared the five queens as the top queens of the week.

For the first time in Drag Race UK herstory, no queen was going home on the first episode.

The top two queens of the week, Cara Melle and Vicki Vivacious, instead had to lip-sync for the win to “Ooh Aah… Just A Little Bit” by Eurovision icon Gina G.

The lip-sync was very much a close call, but some fans felt Cara Melle wasn’t 100 per cent aware of the words to the song – a fact she admitted, suggesting she hadn’t learnt it because she didn’t think she’d end up lip-syncing.

As a result, it was Cornish queen Vicki Vivacious who won, joining former Drag Race UK stars The Vivienne, Asttina Mandella, Krystal Versace and Black Peppa as the first recipient of a RuPeter Badge in a season.

A teaser for next week’s episode shows that the maxi challenge is design-based, with the queens having to turn pet supplies into high-fashion looks, and a warning from RuPaul that the competition starts then.

RuPaul’s Drag Race UK season five continues next Thursday (5 October) on BBC Three and BBC iPlayer.