Look who’s doing a comic strip
Alexander Armstrong and co on their nervousness about baring all to raise awareness of male cancers
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
52, consumer journalist and presenter
31, Mcfly drummer and 2011 Strictly winner
56, Death in Paradise and Red Dwarf actor
47, former Olympic swimmer
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