Preston drag queen John to star in new series of hit Channel 5 show

A Preston drag Queen with show business in his blood is the star of a new series on TV tonight.

Dragtastic. L-R: Barry Pugh and John Sharples
Dragtastic. L-R: Barry Pugh and John Sharples

A Preston drag Queen with show business in his blood is the star of a new series on TV tonight.

John Sharples, who grew up in Walton-le-Dale, is one half of double-act Dragtastic, who were filmed over three months last summer as part of Channel 5’s Bargain Loving Brits in the Sun.

John, 57, said: “We were featured in a little clip at the end of the last series and the producers wanted us to take part, but we said no because filming can take over your life. They ask you to do things two or three times.

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    “But then we finished our job on a Royal Carribean cruise from Venice to the Greek Islands and we said ‘sod it’.”

    The show, which airs tonight at 8pm, will show John and performing partner Barry Pugh as they play gigs in bars in their adopted home town of Costa Mijas on the Costa Del Sol.

    It will show them on stage, making their own costumes, as well as day jobs - cheffing for Barry and teaching Spanish to ex-pats for John.

    John, who is the grandson of actor Bernard Bernard Youens, who played Stan Ogden on Coronation Street for 20 years, said: “We love our lives here and we’re extremely busy.

    Barry Pugh and John Sharples

    "People love what we do and things like having Drag Race on the TV helps with the image of drag. We have people coming to our shows of all ages and from all walks of life. We even have kids coming who love it.”

    John describes their act as fast-paced “pantomime style”, with up to 25 costume changes in each 45 minute show.

    The duo work throughout the year, and have not taken a break even after John was diagnosed with cancer at the back of his tongue, and has undergone chemotherapy.

    John's life:

    John Sharples on stage

    John, who grew up in Queens Road, Walton-le-Dale, became a Bluecoat at Pontins in Southport, aged 15 having enjoyed family trips as a child.

    After 19 years in the job, he decided to move to Spain and while living in a holiday camp hotel, ended up on stage after the booked entertainment fell through.

    He has performed with Barry Pugh for 11 years, first as Bitter and Twisted in Tenerife, and now as Dragtastic in the Costa Del Sol.

    He said he “always wanted to be an entertainer” and as part of this, in 1983 broke the world record for Marathon Disco Dancing, dancing for 15 days and 16 hours.