‘RuPaul’s Drag Race UK’ Season 4, Episode 1 power ranking: This is the BBC

A two-look runway challenge separated the fashion queens from those struggling to make an impression

Welcome to RuPaul’s Drag Race UK Power Rankings! Every Saturday, we’ll debrief the week’s new episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK Season 4 to determine which queens are riding high, and which need she-mergency care. One queen lip synced her way out of danger, while one queen served her way to the top. Welcome back to the power rankings!

12. Just May—ELIMINATED

This was not exactly a subtle first-out edit. From the second Danny Beard noted how sad May’s eye makeup looked, you could just imagine the judges bringing up the same point on the runway. That said, May did herself no favours by admitting that her makeup skills are limited. Drag Race, now more than ever, is looking for a queen to market herself as a star. May’s lack of confidence likely demolished any chance she had of staying out of the bottom. And by her own admission, lip syncing isn’t her strong suit: Dakota Schiffer clearly won their battle. A sad, early departure for May, but not unexpected.

11. Dakota Schiffer

Had May been able to lip sync, I think Dakota might’ve been first out the door. Like Gothy Kendoll back in Season 1, Dakota’s style across her two runway looks was just too simple. The train on her second look, which Joanna Lumley described as “so humble,” was particularly sad. Luckily for her, she was able to command the stage during her lip sync of Mabel’s “Let Them Know,” so she survives to slay another day.

10. Copper Topp

No harm meant to Copper, but I am glad that she landed in the low-scoring group for her take on Julie Walters in the “Two Soups” sketch. The reference was the whole look, and there wasn’t anything else to it. Maybe it’s just bad feelings left over from Baga Chipz’s UK vs. The World run, but I’m used to this judging panel rewarding broad camp even when the execution isn’t up to par. That said, I do think what ultimately doomed Copper this week was the cheap-looking lettering on her second look. I admire a statement on the runway, but I agree with Graham Norton that this needed to look less homemade. Still, she avoided lip syncing, so she’s not in terrible shape heading into next week.

9. Le Fil

A quick note on Le Fil before we dive in: he uses he/him or they/them pronouns while in drag, and as always, I will be using pronouns a contestant prefers while in drag, as I refer to them exclusively as their drag personae. Le Fil was actually a favourite of mine coming into this season; one look at his Instagram shows you quite a range in his looks and aesthetics. And during the Ru Are You? runway category, I got a sense of that: the “east meets west” look was dramatic and impressive. But I forgot to write any notes on his Pudsey Bear look—never a good sign—and he largely faded into the background of the edit. Not the start you’d expect of a future winner, sadly.

 

8. Pixie Polite

While Pixie seems very funny, this is a season with a lot of queens aiming to be the wittiest gal in the room. And if the edit is anything to go by, Pixie seems to not be at the front of that pack. I admit, I actually really liked her Only Fools and Horses-inspired runway look, but Pixie lost me on the rainbow reveal during the Ru Are You? category. Reveals can’t be so telegraphed that you’re literally carrying it folded behind you! Had there been a skirt of sorts to cover that, I think the look might’ve been passable, but this was so blatant.

7. Jonbers Blonde

“A showgirl on a Saturday and an absolute bin fire on a Sunday” should be exactly my type of queen, and yet I’m not sure about Jonbers just yet. Neither of her looks quite worked for me: the Blue Peter garment was pretty (and got a great reaction out of Ru: “So this is what Blue Peter is!”), and the refashioned motorcycle jacket was a cool concept. But they faded from memory quickly when compared to several of the more striking looks this week. That said, Jonbers did get a good share of the edit this week, which is a sign that we’re not losing her anytime soon.

6. Baby

“Nobody puts Baby in the corner!” A Londoner with a passion for dance who turned out two great looks in the first runway challenge? I’ve gotten my heart shattered once before by Asttina Mandella’s early exit, but here I am, falling in love with Baby. Granted, there’s a lot that separates the two, including and especially the fact that Baby didn’t win this challenge. Though she easily could’ve been in contention for it with that ultra-detailed take on “my nan’s sofa in Tottenham”! Her edit was not as prominent as Asttina’s in that premiere, so I’m crossing my fingers that this means she’ll be a later bloomer in the competition. (Yes, I just argued the exact opposite about Jonbers’s edit in the last paragraph. I never claimed I wasn’t a hypocrite for my faves!)

5. Danny Beard

With both Danny and our next entrant on this list, don’t let their actual challenge placements fool you: these are two of our main characters of the season. Not only did they get a ton of confessionals and edit time—Danny even got a mini-breakdown in Mini-Untucked—but they also were repeatedly name-checked as legends by the other queens. The reason I have Danny lower than Cheddar Gorgeous is that her gambit with the duelling Mr. Blobbys did not pay off for her. Her take, while compared to Leigh Bowery by Ru, felt too on the nose; hilarious when you remember Danny shaded her competition for going too “literal.” I think Danny’s with us for the long haul, but how strong a run it is may rest on how she takes her loss in this duel.

4. Cheddar Gorgeous

You could tell we were in for some fun with Cheddar when she entered by saying, “Intrigued? I think you will be.” And indeed I am! Both of Cheddar’s runway looks delighted me: the BBC test screen was such an outré idea presented fashionably, and her “post-industrial, non-binary alien warrior deity” look was very cool. I’m excited to see how Cheddar does in other challenges, but I have a feeling she’s going to keep us entertained on the runway no matter what. And like Danny, I see her hanging around for quite some time.

3. Starlet

Did anyone else feel the Krystal Versace alarms go off when Ru said Starlet’s entrance look was perhaps his favourite entrance look ever? That’s a ton of praise right out of the gate, Ru! But I will admit, while I’m ultra-sensitive on UK to Ru picking early favourites, I do think there are two major signals here that we’re not in for a Krystal redux. For one, Starlet did not actually win this challenge—and with her super fun and campy Patsy Stone and stunning fairy look, she easily could have. For another, Ru spent some of the runway time calling Starlet out for being too shy. Ru’s clearly not totally in on Starlet, which leaves some room for others to worm their way into his heart. If he starts telling her that she’s born to do drag, though, those alarms are going to code red.

2. Sminty Drop

Colour me very surprised by Sminty! I didn’t love her entrance look, and her legacy as a member of the Kendoll family didn’t suggest longevity in this competition. But Sminty quickly shut me up with an absolutely gorgeous take on Antiques Roadshow on the runway that demonstrated both wit and a real sense of proportion and style. That she then followed it up with a dramatic, fabulous Renaissance wig and look led to one of the best runway packages of the episode. It’s a shame for Sminty that someone was just clearly better, but I imagine she was a clear second place on many a mental scorecard for this week.

1. Black Peppa

I mean, she is the moment. Black Peppa has been a much-requested fan pick to appear on Drag Race UK since its inception, and she wasted absolutely no time proving why in this premiere. She killed her entrance look (the mask reveal!), won the mini-challenge, turned out two gorgeous looks on the main stage and won the maxi-challenge. Not a bad start! Peppa is my favourite of this season coming into it, and I’m hopeful that the show gives her plentiful space to slay. It’s not unfair to say that Drag Race UK has been historically unfavourable toward Black queens—again, may I preach the gospel of Asttina Mandella? But if the show gets out of Peppa’s way, I have no doubt she’ll give us a hell of a season.

Kevin O’Keeffe is a writer, host, instructor, and RuPaul’s Drag Race herstorian living in Los Angeles, California. His favourite pastime is watching a perfect lip sync.

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