The Vivienne: Baga Chipz and I are the Ant and Dec of drag
The Drag Race UK winner also chats quarantine drag realness, her 'unlikely friendship' with Cheryl Hole – and her new BBC Three solo series
Morecambe and Wise. French and Saunders. Gervais and Merchant. And now introducing the latest double act shantaying into the UK mainstream: Viv and Baga.
From serving up Netflix YouTube series We Like to Watch, to Breakfast TV parody T&T, podcast Fancy a Brew and even a joint tour show, RuPaul Drag Race UK superstars Baga Chipz and The Vivienne are fast becoming British enterainment royalty. And it's not hard to see why
"We’re like the Ant and Dec of drag," The Vivienne aka James Lee Williams tells RadioTimes.com. "We egg each other on to no end – We're just like two old ladies on Corrie. Any night of the week me and Baga are out performing or filming together. It's a nice thing we get to share this crazy ride."
But they've now got a problem. Although the pair have been able to record their podcast from a socially-safe distance, the coronavirus lockdown has completely halted their live show and TV projects.
But that hasn’t stopped Vivienne from performing alone. Far from it: as well as recording an online bigly hilarious series Trump Learns Things (as the US President) from her back room, she’s also been bringing quarantine realness to fans with a series of Facebook lockdown live streams.
And all this online activity has meant that despite cancellations, her fans have been more supportive than ever. Perhaps a little too supportive, mind. "I've had 13-year-olds trying to send me money – they're trying to send me tips online! I've been like 'what?!'" laughs Viv.
"Thanks for the gesture, I really appreciate it. But please just think about yourselves! Look after yourself and your family – put food in your fridge!" To paraphrase another drag superstar, if you don't look after yourself, how in the hell you gonna look after somebody else?
Fortunately for these fanatics, more Viv content is on the way in the form of The Vivienne Takes On Hollywood, the queen’s prize for winning RuPaul’s Drag Race UK. Set to drop on BBC Three (via BBC iPlayer) 6pm each Thursday (starting April 9th), the mockumentary will see Viv embark on a trip of a lifetime to LA as she prepares to make her first ever music video.
"She sees all the bright lights and thinks she's going to become this huge Hollywood star overnight – then she suddenly realises it's a lot of hard work," explains Vivienne. "So she tries widening her arsenal of skills, speaking to the likes of [drag icon and Cher impersonator] Chad Michaels and [Tony Award-winning singer] Marissa Jaret Winokur.
"She thinks she's going to become this huge Hollywood star overnight. But as she finds out, it doesn't happen that easy."
"There's going to be crazy singing lessons, there are dance lessons, acting sessions. I meet Hollywood legends who have written for the likes of Cher!
"It's all just insane things I never thought would happen in my life!” She adds: "[I] was really nervous filming and then I kind of beat myself into the fact that I'm here and I'm only doing it once. Just bloody go for it – even if you look a fool. Usually, it's the times when you look a fool makes for the best bits."
That’s not all though. There’s also more Vivienne content filmed and set to sissy onto screens, the queen slated to appear on Celebrity Juice alongside fellow Drag Race UK alumnus Cheryl Hole. Yes, the same Cheryl Hole that Vivienne spent almost a whole series feuding with.
However, turns out the pair have tucked away their Drag Race quarrels. "You know, me and Cheryl have got the most unlikely friendship out of [Drag Race]," The Vivienne says.
"We've become so bloody close. She's such a nice queen and another one of those that haven't brought into the whole fame thing. It's easy to think 'I’m on Drag Race now, I'm a big celebrity'. No, you're still just a bloody drag queen, love!"
So: what about Drag Race UK series two? What are the queens like? Who are the guest judges? And will The Vivienne appear? Although refusing to spill any T about the show – which has suspended filming during to COVID-19 – Vivienne did share some advice for the next batch of contestants.
"My advice for any queen is: don't be a dick," she says. "Don't buy into it all. You're still a drag queen. If you haven't got the entertainment chops – or the talent to back it up – you're never going to have the rights to act like that dick anyway."
Very very harsh? Perhaps. But if there’s one queen worth paying attention to at the moment, it’s The Vivienne.
The Vivienne Takes On Hollywood is available from 6pm on BBC Three from 9th April. Check out what else is on with our TV Guide.