Words: Will Stroude
"See ya in Essex - byeeeeeee!" And so it was that Drag Race UK's sunniest contestant Cheryl Hole sashayed from the workroom following Thursday night's family-filled episode (14 November).
Cheryl might have appeared to hold her own in the family make-over challenge, but as the 25-year-old admitted herself following her elimination, it looked like the "writing was on the wall" for her time on the show after failing to win any challenges over the course of the series.
While Chez might have joked about "doing mediocre" during her time on the show, she's quickly established herself as one of Drag Race UK's most beloved queens - and as we catch up with her to discuss her elimination episode, she insists her drag has already improved "ten-fold" since filming. Something that might be useful on a future instalment of All Stars, perhaps...
Hello darling! I just want to say, I hope I've gone up in your estimations since you ranked us all at the beginning of the season!
[laughs nervously] I will definitely pass that message on to the person responsible.
Well on that note - how are you feeling about your performance on the series? Do you feel like you have exceeded peoples' expectations?
Do you know what, I had such a fun time while I was there. I saw a tweet the other day that said 'Cheryl's just there for the free drink in Untucked', and yeah, pretty much I was just there for that! No, I had a great time. I showcased me at my finest. Yes it wasn't the best in comparison to the other queens, but I was my true authentic self from start to finish - contrary to the opinion of other queens! I got to meet some amazing people and I had a great final episode with my sister.
Top four is such a huge achievement, but were you disappointed not to make the final three when it was so close?
I had a rocky start to the season which really knocked my confidence, and every week that was going by I was like 'I've made another week and that's an accomplishment in itself'. So to fall at the final hurdle, yes I was gutted. But to make the top four, I was absolutely over the moon about that. I would have slayed the final challenge. I love the finale challenges, they're always amazing. But there's always All Stars to do that...
There's been a bit of an outcry over the fact you performed so well in the makeover challenge, but that it seemed like whatever you'd done the writing was on the wall for you in the competition. Do you think it's fair you seemed to be judged on you performance throughout the series rather the individual challenge?
Well I think when it gets down to the wire and it's four of the best queens in the country, you're clutching at straws [and] you really have to take into consideration the bigger picture. Davina had two wins, Baga and Viv had three bloody badges, and then there was little old Chez with no badges. I think the only way I'd have been justified [to be] in the final is if I'd won that challenge. And Davina smashed it out the park so...
So no hard feelings there then?
We saw you come into your own over the course of the series, but you had a tough first few weeks when some of the queens accused you of not being yourself. What was the turning point for you in the competition?
When you're there, initially you're like 'Right, I'm going to give it my all', and when there's 10 of you you don't want to fade into the background, you'll get lost. They [the producers] are always like 'Everybody, let's have big energy, big personalities, show yourself at your best', and that's what I was doing. I'm an over-the-top person; I can be annoying. I think some people were just like 'She's amping it up a bit too much'. And yeah, sometimes when I'm pumped on Red Bull 24/7 I am a bit too much! But I was nothing but myself. I felt like the couple of weeks after that conversation in Untucked I defintiely relaxed and was like 'Ok, let's ride the wave and have and a camp old time'. That sewing challenge where I was just walking around the workroom with a wig and no make-up on, that was just me being a tit in a wig, you know?
And still looking fabulous.
Thank you for lying.
We saw you come face-to-face with your idol Cheryl last week, and I know you guys crossed paths again at the Attitude Awards last month. So are you gal pals now?
Erm, we're not on numbers terms yet but she has followed me on the Insta, so that's a big old step in the world isn't it? She was like [adopts Geordie accent] 'Baaabes, let's get a picture together!' And I was like 'I'm not sure if we can or not' - but someone snapped a picture while we were getting a picture and I was like 'Oh God, this has blown up hasn't it?' But no, she's an absolute sweetheart and I feel like the world's crying out for a Cheryl meets Cheryl collaboration, you know? Maybe there's some music on the wall, maybe there's a music video. That'd be camp!
You mentioned that you'd be up for returning to the workroom for All Stars - what do you feel like you'd be able to bring having had the experience of being on Drag Race?
Um... [laughs] Well I would definitely bring better runways. I definitely felt post-season that I learnt a lot from the girls that I've been able to incorporate into my drag. I have a different outlook and the level of costuming and outfits that I've brought to my wardrobe since the show, I feel like I've stepped up my drag ten-fold. I'm just ready to showcase that and show I'm not so mediocre and have less bodysuits in my repertoire!
Well that'll keep Michelle happy at least.
Well, Michelle's Michelle at the end of the day.
You were lipsyncing against Baga and there was a bit of a tense moment on stage with her mum during the critiques - was that difficult to witness first-hand?
So the thing is, it's so intense when you're there, and when you have done so well in the competition and you can see and smell the final, you want to do anything you can to get there. And I think Baga knew she wasn't going to deliver the best on the make-over because she's not a make-up queen. She can't do other people's make-up, God bless her - she barely does her own make-up! But we're not one to comment on parents and childrens' relationships. I don't know what's gone on in their past, but all I can say is they're both absolute sweethearts. They were sweethearts in the workroom and I think people need to cut Baga a little bit of slack because they don't know some of the history, and she is a lovely person.
You spoke about your partner on the show, and I remember when we caught up before the series aired you mentioned that he was part of the reason you were doing drag?
He was there at my first ever gig. He was dancing in his underwear, being a little go-go boy, and that sort of sparked our friendship, which turned into a relationship through drag. If it wasn't for drag we wouldn't be together and I wouldn't have a ring on my finger. He's gone through the entire journey with me and God help him he's now having to carry the bags for me!
He must be very proud of your efforts over the last few weeks.
Well he's in the room right now so you can ask him!
Cheryl's fiance Haydn: Hi!
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Hi! So how's it felt to be Cheryl's First Lady throughout all this?
Haydn: Um, quite knackering to be honest. I've got my day job normally but I'm leaving there to basically become Cheryl's skivvie.
Cheryl: I need it!
Finally Cheryl, we know that series two is coming next year - which queens would you like to see on the series and what would your advice to them be?
So I have an amazing drag sisterhood and they have been there with me from the get-go: Ophelia Love, Kitty Scott Claus, Meth; they all would be incredible on it. Oh and Lydia L'Scabies, she'd be insane. And my advice to them would be, just f**king have fun! Don't go in there and get stressed out. Take each week as it comes, do your best, and if you're in the bottom just slay the lipsync.
RuPaul's Drag Race UK continues next Thursday 21 November at 8pm on BBc Three.