BBC RuPaul’s Drag Race UK: Scarlett Harlett’s life from growing up on an East London council estate to how EastEnders is her inspiration

Joining RuPaul’s Drag Race UK tonight as it launches for a third season, contestant Scarlett Harlett is over the moon to have made it to national TV – but she is still fiercely proud of her humble East London roots.

The 26-year-old ‘mouthy cockney’ grew up on a council estate on the Isle of Dogs in Tower Hamlets, and proudly describes herself as “working class” and “EastEnders personified”.

In fact, the East London soap opera cast seem to have been a pretty big inspiration for Scarlett, who said her act is “like Danny Dyer in drag”.

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Scarlett said powerful women including Catherine Tate inspired her ‘cheeky cockney’ drag act

Earlier this year the ‘Queen of the East End’ revealed her rags to riches story, and how she hopes inspire future generations from her Isle of Dogs home.

Scarlett, who has previously said people would “rob you for a packet of crisps” in the area she grew up, described how: “I have come from nothing.

“I grew up on a council estate and I feel so proud to have landed myself in one of the biggest shows in the UK right now.

“I want people to know you can make a banquet out of scraps.

“I am doing this for the Isle of Dogs.”

Scarlett, who has ‘always liked dressing up as princesses’, said it was watching Drag Race as a 17-year-old which inspired her to start doing drag eight years ago.

She said: “I was just 17 at the time and I was gay and I was struggling with my feelings and it was one of the first kinds of LGBTQ+ programs on TV that I saw that celebrated the people that we were.”

Scarlett was “mesmerised” when she watched Drag Race: “[The show] inspired me to want to do it and I just worked really hard at it and clawed my way to this point.”

She added: “I’m the best thing to come out of the Isle of Dogs since Henry VIII!”

‘Like Danny Dyer in drag’

Speaking about how her East London upbringing has heavily influenced her act, Scarlett said: “She’s a glamorous diva and when she talks she’s a proper mouthy, cheeky cockney.

“She’s like Danny Dyer in drag. I’m proud of my roots and I embrace my working class and cockney heritage in my drag.

“I was born and raised in east London – I am EastEnders personified.”

Scarlett has described how she is influenced by “funny, powerful women”.

She said: “I know I’m only 26, but inside, I’m an old codger. I love the old divas – Joan Rivers, Barbara Streisand and Shirley Bassey.

“I have a huge love for British comedy – Catherine Tate especially.

“I absolutely loved her as a kid and I try and capture her East End humour in my drag.”

‘I’m very East London, down to earth and like to have a laugh’

Scarlett may look glamorous, but she admitted she is “no fashion queen,” and “making people laugh and being silly” is what she loves about drag.

She said: “Because I look really girly, people think I’m a look queen but I’m the total opposite of that.

“I’m more like a cabaret queen. I sing live, I like to tell jokes. I think a lot of people wouldn’t know that about me.

“They see me and they’re like, ‘Oh fierce mama slay, death drop,’ but that’s just not me.

“I’m very East London, very down to earth and I like to have a laugh.”

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On her strengths and weaknesses heading into the show, Scarlett said she can’t dance without looking ‘like Bambi on ice’, so is relying on her acting skills, which she has a lot of faith in.

She said: “I’ve been an extra in films like Rocketman and Absolutely Fabulous.

“I can’t dance and I’ve got absolutely no style, but I’ll kill an acting challenge!”

The 11 other contestants competing on the third season of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK are Anubis, Charity Kase, Choriza May, Elektra Fence, Ella Vaday, Kitty Scott-Claus, Krystal Versace, River Medway, Vanity Milan, Veronica Green and Victoria Scone.

The ‘sexy and sophisticated’ Vanity Milan, 29, is from South London and promises to be “serving unapologetic blackness,” while West End performer Ella Vaday, 32, is originally from Essex and describes herself as “a desperate housewife of Dagenham.”

You can watch RuPaul’s Drag Race UK at 10.35pm every Monday on BBC 1.

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