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RuPaul’s Drag Race spin-off helps relaunch BBC Three as linear channel

(Albert Sanchez/BBC/PA)
(Albert Sanchez/BBC/PA)

Lemon became the first contestant to be eliminated from RuPaul’s Drag Race: UK Versus The World as the show helped mark the return of BBC Three.

The channel was revived as a linear service on Tuesday night – nearly six years after it moved online – featuring the international spin-off series as its launch showpiece.

The series sees nine international Drag Race alumni vying to win the title of Drag Race Superstar.

Lemon (World of Wonder/Guy Levy)

In a twist on the normal format, the two top queens competed in a lip sync battle, with the winner earning the right to choose who to oust from the competition.

Lemon, representing Canada, was the first to be eliminated after Pangina Heals triumphed over Jimbo.

She said: “I’m pretty crushed. I feel very, very heartbroken. I’m proud of what I did and I’m proud of what I put forward.

“I don’t think Pangina made the right choice but hopefully, Jimbo will bring back that crown (to Canada). I couldn’t take over the world here but, I’ll take over the world somewhere else.”

Guest judge Melanie C (BBC/Guy Levy/PA)

Head judge and show creator RuPaul told her: “Lemon, you are and always will be a global phenomenon. Now, sashay away.”

Spice Girl star Melanie C joined RuPaul, Michelle Visage and chat show host Graham Norton on the judging panel.

The episode began with a talent show, but Melanie C described Lemon’s performance as “nonchalant”.

After discovering her fate, Lemon left a note in lipstick on the mirror in the work room, saying: “Love you all. Not a bitter Lemon. See you on tour. XoXo, Lemon.”

BBC Three’s relaunch night also featured episodes of Eating With My Ex, Fleabag and Lazy Susan.

It will now air from 7pm every night on Freeview, Sky, Virgin and Freesat, and will also be available on iPlayer.

The BBC announced in March 2014 that it was planning to move the channel online, sparking a protest outside Broadcasting House.

More than 300,000 people signed a petition to save it on change.org, but it ceased operations in 2016 and was replaced by an online-only version available on iPlayer.

Its return was given the green light by broadcasting regulator Ofcom in November.

The watchdog said the relaunch would help the BBC reach younger viewers, particularly those from lower-income homes and those living outside London and the South East.

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