‘It was like someone had kicked me in the willy’: Danny Beard on winning Drag Race UK
‘You should want to bring people up – drag should always be about that’
I couldn’t hide my joy that Danny Beard won season four of Drag Race UK, because as much as I loved that entire top four, I could not have been more Team Danny if I tried. Warm, funny, emotional – bursting with star quality and a Scouse sense of northern humour that is all I look for in my drag queens. In fact, it’s what I love for anyone I choose to have in my life – and Danny going all the way was the icing on the cake of a spectacular season of drag talent and drama.
After a whirlwind 24 hours, Danny Beard found time to jump on a Zoom call with me and get into how it really feels to be the winner of Drag Race UK season four.
‘It was like someone had kicked me in the willy’
Iya love, are you feeling rough?
Do you know what, I’ve had three hours sleep, I did Heaven last night, straight from the crowning to work. I saw lots of tickle tackle and bush, I drank a lot of bin juice, had three hours sleep and then started a whole day of press.
At this point, I’m delirious. But I’m enjoying it. It’s surreal.
Oh babe, CONGRATULATIONS! I’m so thrilled for you. What was it like for you watching the finale back which was filmed ages ago and finding out you won?
Well, it’s been nearly a whole year from the beginning of the whole process to now, so I’ve gone between every scenario you could think of. Double crowning this, double crowning that. In my heart of hearts, it felt right – not to sound cocky. But using my head I thought it’s got to be Cheddar.
I’m such a fan of Cheddar that it was hard to put me in it. What you saw was what happened, it was like someone kicked me in the willy.
Yeah, last night when I was speaking to you you said you had no clue how it was going to go. When you watched it back did you finally start to think it was you?
In the lip sync, I thought, I’m smashing this and it could be me. I was still undecided right until the last minute, i feel like they did a really good neck and neck edit right until the last minute.
It was so nice being there when you won because the roof literally blew off
I’ve been sent videos from all over the world and it is NUTS.
Everyone’s been calling the season a two horse race between you and Cheddar, did you see yourself together in the final?
I definitely saw Cheddar in the top two. I think it took Cheddar a bit of time to warm up. No shade, she’s my sister and I love her – once she got going there was no stopping her. She’s my sister for life now.
I’ve always known Cheddar, but I’ve never known Cheddar like I know her. The whole show has been like the Big Brother experience, it’s so intense. That’s why you saw Jonbers reaction like that, it’s like we’ve known each other 10 years.
‘If you’re confident enough in what you do, you don’t need to bring other people down’
You really felt like a kind queen this season who bigged everyone up and made everyone feel appreciated.
I’ve always been like that as a drag performer. What’s been great about Drag Race is people got to see the person behind the makeup. Not in a cocky way, I know I’m great at my job. If you’re confident enough in what you do, you don’t need to be shady and bring people down.
You should want to big people up and drag is about that. We’re a community of people. You want everyone around you to be their best because if they’re at their best, you’re at your best.
I’m a Manc who then moved to Liverpool, and half of Drag Race UK now, the top two have been a Manchester queen and a Liverpool queen. What does the northern drag scene mean to you, and why do you think queens from our hometowns do so well?
I think there’s something about northern people. If you can’t take the piss out of yourself, how are you gonna take the piss out of anyone else? That’s how we are up north, especially Manchester and Liverpool. I’ve never understood why the two cities don’t get on. We’re so similar, we should be best friends.
All of my drag was brought up in Manchester, and I was brought up in Liverpool.
When you watched the final, did you remember anything that didn’t make the final cut?
There were some nice moments I had with Ru during critiques. It was just really affirming to me. She basically said you’re a star, and I got emotional and she said why do you get emotional every time we give you praise and I’m just like, because you’re RuPaul.
I believed I was a star in my head, but other people have told me I’m too gobby, I’m too shady and not got me. But I think because you can see the other side to a drag queen on Drag Race that people fall in love with the full package. Hearing RuPaul saying all the things I believed, well, you’re gonna listen to RuPaul.
It’s different to Pam the dinner lady telling you you’re gonna be a star when you’re Danny Zuko in year six. Do you know what I mean?
‘Work on the things that you know are your weakest skill set’
What advice would you give to the next cast that want to follow in your footsteps?
Work hard, but work on the things that you know are your weakest skill set. If you’ve got a call for season five and you can’t sew, learn. I couldn’t sew. Me and my friend Barb in Manchester, we made that dress that I made on the show 10 times. Whatever the sewing challenge was, that was the dress that was going to be made.
Work on your weaknesses, and don’t waste your time working on stuff you know you’re good at. And start saving up some money because drag is expensive.
You’re unlike any other winner and said you never thought you’d be a Ru Girl – what do you think your reign is going to consist of?
I love that this is my job. Drag saved me. I don’t think I would be here if I didn’t do drag. What I hope is that I can move into television, and I don’t mean just reality. I’d love to be a television presenter.
My own personal work aside, what I really love as the first ever bearded winner across the whole franchise I hope it’s opening doors for different kinds of drag. I’d love to see drag kings on the show. I’d love to see more trans girls and guys on the show, more non-binary, more queens of colour.
I know a queen in Newcastle in a wheelchair and she’s amazing. It would be nice to see more variation on the show. I hope I’ve proved we don’t all have to be carbon copies of each other.
So, Danny Beard is the winner of Drag Race UK – what’s next for you the couple of months following now that it’s all over?
Honey, I’m chocka. I’ll never moan to be busy, I love it. I’ve got gigs in London, then fly straight to Glasgow and start a UK Christmas tour with Lawrence Chaney. I’ve got a weekly podcast that I host with my best friend called Gossip Gays, and we’ve just been signed to Audio Always. Two episodes a week!
And I’ve just dropped a cover of Gypsy Woman on Spotify and Apple Music. I’ve got loads going on.
Thank you so much for an amazing season!!!
Remind yourself of Danny Beard winning RuPaul’s Drag Race UK Series 4 on BBC Three and BBC iPlayer.
Special thanks to Jasmine Aloma at the BBC.