The bold new era of Doctor Who has firmly begun, with a double-premiere at the weekend seeing us reintroduced to Ncuti Gatwa’s tenure as the mythic Doctor and welcoming us into a new era, with Disney’s backing and the return of Russell T Davies.


A major new addition to the universe comes in the form of Maestro, the captivating villain portrayed by Jinkx Monsoon in episode 2, The Devil's Chord.

Monsoon is known to most as the winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race season 5, later returning to RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars season 7 (the first, and currently only, season of previous winners facing off) to snatch the crown yet again.

She's also performed extensively worldwide (solo and with drag sister and Drag Race alum BenDeLaCreme), worked as a voice-over artist and made her Broadway debut in Chicago early last year.

Maestro made a compelling villain for many reasons - the gauche outfit, the powers and motivations that were tricky to follow at best - but Monsoon is what made it. Monsoon’s Doctor Who debut has been, rightfully, lauded by fans and critics alike.

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Thank god a drag queen was cast for an over-the-top, camp villain, who feeds on music and has the ability to sustain themselves from it. Somehow, in an episode featuring Gatwa leading a dance number and a cameo from Cilla Black (played by Josie Sedgwick-Davies), Monsoon’s Maestro stood head and shoulders above as the campest performance of the night.

Jinkx Monsoon wearing a blue uniform and putting her hand in the air while standing in the middle of Abbey Road Studios.
Jinkx Monsoon. BBC

Monsoon’s performance had her stealing the spotlight from an already large presence, Gatwa’s Doctor, and a refreshingly real companion (Millie Gibson’s Ruby Sunday), maybe outshining Neil Patrick Harris’s outrageously loud performance as their in-universe 'father', the Toymaker, in last year’s specials.

Maestro was as terrifying in their screams and shouts at the Doctor as they were in their teasing whispers, showing Monsoon’s immense ability to command whichever room she’s in. Maestro was enough to strike fear and admiration into adults, and probably cause a few younger viewers to err away from any of their piano lessons.

We didn’t really care what Maestro wanted, or wanted to do, we just needed them to be on screen and dominate - and not get defeated for good in only one episode.

To feature a performance that incredible and have them feature as a 'character of the day' would be a disservice to fans. But it’s Doctor Who - whether they return next week or in 40 years, we’ll probably be seeing Maestro again.

Jinkx Monsoon on top of a white grand piano, wearing a purple dress and pointing her finger into the air while on stage.
Jinkx Monsoon in Doctor Who season 14. BBC

As incredible as Monsoon was in this episode, we have to ask, what does it take for drag artists to be recognised in the mainstream as the entertainment powerhouses they are?

Monsoon is the only person to win Drag Race twice, and in joining Chicago she spiked ticket sales to over 100 per cent of the theatre’s seated capacity. She’s a theatre legend, a drag powerhouse and a comedian with the chops to prove it. She could, and should, be a top-billing name in television.

Drag artists have always had to fight for their recognition, overcoming immense stigma and hatred, while being expected to invest huge amounts of money into their craft.

On a recent episode of The Bald and the Beautiful podcast, Trixie Mattel and Monét X Change (winners of Drag Race All Stars season 3 and 4 respectively, with X Change finishing as runner-up to Monsoon in All Stars season 7) discussed the barriers for drag artists in entertainment.

They joked that if they were to be cast on a major reality show, they’d be 'the gay one' and facing off with people who lasted an episode in other reality series, despite being at the top of their field and internationally acclaimed stars.

Mattel further discussed the glass ceiling in the music industry as a drag artist, and that she feels her music will be foremost considered drag music, and so never given the recognition of other artists'.

It's unacceptable that this is still the case, and Monsoon's performance in Doctor Who proves why. She's not a rising star anymore - she has honed her craft over years and across countless different platforms, and it's about time that she's celebrated with a role on one of the biggest stages in the world.

Monsoon came out swinging for her Doctor Who debut, proving exactly why we need to trust in drag artists and elevate them to the mainstream more often. Let’s make sure we keep seeing her, and her fellow drag artists, on our screens for good. We’ll all be better off for it.

Doctor Who continues with Steven Moffat's Boom on 18th May on BBC iPlayer and BBC One.


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