Look who’s do­ing a comic strip

Alexan­der Arm­strong and co on their ner­vous­ness about bar­ing all to raise aware­ness of male can­cers

TV Times - - News - Caren Clark & re­becca Ma­honey

The Real Full Monty THURS­DAY / ITV / 8.30Pm

TV Times is sit­ting in the stalls at the London Pal­la­dium, as the fa­mil­iar open­ing bars of You Can Leave Your Hat On blast out and eight fa­mous faces emerge from clouds of dry ice and get into po­si­tion.

We’re here to watch the ever so slightly ner­vous octet – Alexan­der Arm­strong, Danny John-jules, El­liott Wright, Wayne Sleep, Matthew Wolfenden, Mark Foster, Dom Lit­tle­wood and Harry Judd – as they per­fect their gy­ra­tions and re­hearse a spe­cial rou­tine chore­ographed by Di­ver­sity’s Ash­ley Banjo.

Their big per­for­mance, to raise aware­ness of prostate and tes­tic­u­lar cancer, sees the stars strip off in front of a live au­di­ence at the West End theatre for a ‘re­veal­ing’ one-off ITV doc­u­men­tary The Real Full Monty, mark­ing the 20th an­niver­sary of the Sh­effield-set film, in which six un­em­ployed men, four of them for­mer steel work­ers, form a male strip­tease act.

‘It is the Full Monty so, par­don the pun, it takes balls to do it and I have mas­sive re­spect for them,’ says Ash­ley, 28, who co-hosts the doc­u­men­tary with Alexan­der.

Af­ter re­hearsals, TV Times sits down with the now fully-clothed

boys to find out more… Why did you want to take part, it’s very brave?

Alexan­der: It is very brave. I’m tak­ing my kit off in front of more peo­ple than I’ve ever been naked in front of in my whole life. I’m a mas­sive fan of the film, but my main mo­ti­va­tion was that I’m the fa­ther of four boys and I’d love them to grow up in a world where men talk about th­ese can­cers be­cause we tend to be use­less at do­ing that. Danny: Yeah, it is daunt­ing to do this, but I’d just done a cam­paign for Prostate Cancer UK about the fact that Afro-caribbean men are twice as likely to con­tract it than Cau­casian men, so I couldn’t have said ‘No’ to be­ing in­volved. Matthew: It was a no-brainer for me, too, be­cause af­ter my sto­ry­line in Emmerdale [Matthew’s char­ac­ter David Met­calfe had tes­tic­u­lar cancer last year], rais­ing aware­ness has be­come a big thing in my life. If we can get naked in front of 2,500 peo­ple, then you can go to your doc­tor and get your bits checked. Dom: With just an em­bar­rass­ing but fun five min­utes for us on stage, we’ll save lives. I was gob­s­macked when I got prostate cancer at 46, but I saved one of my best mates be­cause I told him to get checked, too. It’s just a blood test.

Have you all bonded as a group? Danny: Def­i­nitely. You couldn’t have gath­ered to­gether a more di­verse bunch of peo­ple, but there was a great mo­ment when we were on the moors, look­ing down onto Sh­effield, talk­ing about why we were there. el­liott: It has been fan­tas­tic how we have bonded. My fa­ther was di­ag­nosed with prostate cancer three years ago, so even though I have never danced, I’m so proud to stand next to th­ese other guys from dif­fer­ent walks of life and take my clothes off for the cause.

Mark: It has just made me feel part of a team again, but there have been a few hissy fits along the way.

oh, who is the big­gest diva? Matthew: Wayne.

Wayne: How very dare you.

I am the old­est, so I can shout the loud­est. I didn’t want to do this at all be­cause I felt I was over­weight, but I had prostate cancer last year so it’s bril­liant to raise aware­ness. Have you all been get­ting spray tans and go­ing to the gym to tone up, then?

Alexan­der: We’re all hav­ing spray tans, but I haven’t gone near a gym be­cause I’m there to rep­re­sent the ‘dad bod’. We had no prob­lems chuck­ing our hats away at the end of the strip­tease, but we were all mor­ti­fied about tak­ing our tops off in case we were ‘mooby’!

Harry: Meet­ing the cast of the Cal­en­dar Girls mu­si­cal The Girls for the doc­u­men­tary was in­cred­i­bly helpful, though. Like us, they were all dif­fer­ent shapes and sizes and ages. And the fact that they get naked in front of a live au­di­ence ev­ery night for a good cause gave us con­fi­dence.

How have you found the dance rou­tine it­self?

Alexan­der: Ex­cru­ci­at­ing. On the first day, Ash­ley got each of us to dance in front of the oth­ers with­out any mu­sic so af­ter that, there’s not much else to be scared of. Harry: You’re great with your dad­danc­ing. I won Strictly, but that first day was the most un­com­fort­able sit­u­a­tion I’ve ever been in.

Wayne: I stood on my trousers dur­ing re­hearsals this morn­ing, so I couldn’t get them off and then I couldn’t get my G-string un­done and I had to dis­en­tan­gle it and they were all laugh­ing at me. It has been an emo­tional roller­coaster, one mo­ment we’re weep­ing and the next we are hys­ter­i­cal.

What was it like do­ing a prac­tice run at the shire­green work­ing men’s club in sh­effield, where the cli­max of the film was shot? Matthew: It was the first time we went com­pletely naked and Paul Bar­ber, who played Horse in the film, met us and made sure we had a drink first. You feel ex­posed, but the per­for­mance was so lib­er­at­ing and our fi­nal show will be even more spec­tac­u­lar. It doesn’t mat­ter if we go wrong as long as we have a laugh. Mark: I used to stand in front of thou­sands of peo­ple in my swim­ming trunks, but I’ve never been as ner­vous in my life as I was in Sh­effield. But as soon as we stepped on stage, we couldn’t back out, it’s like do­ing a bungee jump. Alexan­der: It was an ex­pe­ri­ence like no other. I’m ex­cited and not ter­ri­bly con­fi­dent about the fi­nal per­for­mance, but I know the au­di­ence will be deeply sup­port­ive. el­liott: I’ll have my fu­ture moth­erin-law in the front row with binoc­u­lars ready to look. Now that’s em­bar­rass­ing!

Step­ping out: Danny Handy­men: Dom, Harry and Matthew

We’re all hav­ing spray

tans Alexan­der Arm­strong

dom lit­tle­wood

52, con­sumer jour­nal­ist and pre­sen­ter

harry Judd

31, Mcfly drum­mer and 2011 Strictly win­ner

danny John-jules

56, Death in Par­adise and Red Dwarf ac­tor

mark foster

47, for­mer Olympic swim­mer

wayne sleep

68, for­mer Royal Bal­let dancer matthew wolfenden

37, Emmerdale ac­tor Alexan­der Arm­strong

47, Point­less pre­sen­ter el­liott wright

36, for­mer TOWIE star Men of steel: The orig­i­nal film turns 20 this year

Flash dance: Learn­ing their moves at the Shire­green Club in Sh­effield

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