Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Alexander Armstrong on The Real Full Monty

Alexander Armstrong presents The Real Full Monty on ITV1, on Thursday 15th June at 8.30pm. The programme marks the 20th anniversary of the film The Full Monty, and aims to raise awareness of men's cancers. Along with Xander and choreographer / co-presenter Ashley Banjo, the cast consists of McFly drummer Harry Judd, star of TOWIE Elliot Wright, ballet dancer Wayne Sleep, Matthew Wolfenden from Emmerdale, TV presenter Dom Littlewood, and Danny John Jules from Red Dwarf and Death in Paradise.

How did the concept of The Real Full Monty come about and why did you decide to get involved?
It appealed to me on lots of different levels. I’m a huge fan of the film. I remember when it came out Sheffield was suddenly the epicenter of everything, everybody adored Sheffield. I was filming the second series of Armstrong and Miller in Sheffield and we were there for three weeks and I’ve never fallen in love with a place as quickly as I did with Sheffield. It was magical and The Full Monty was a massive part of that. When this opportunity to revisit and celebrate The Full Monty came up, on that level alone I was completely won over. I adored the film and I adore Sheffield.

The reasons behind the documentary make it even more important. This is a crucial opportunity for us to bang the drum for awareness for male cancers. What kills people in the case of testicular cancer and prostate cancer is that blokes just don’t talk about it and never go and get checked. If you catch either of these cancers early you survive, if you don’t you die and 48,000 men a year die because they haven’t bothered checking. That’s 48,000 families, that’s a lot of people affected.

Were you worried early on that it was going to be difficult to convince people to take part?
Inevitably it was. I was thinking it would be a doddle, lots of people would come flocking and I honestly thought we’d have to start turning people down. I asked Eamonn Holmes when myself and Ashley were on This Morning, and thought he’ll sign up, he’d love to do something like that. Did he hell! He was very nice about it, deeply supportive. All the people we initially started asking said, ‘Brilliant idea but not sure I would take my kit off’. It’s important that we make a massive statement with this. It’s got to be something that a lot of people notice, it’s a great way of getting people to sit up and think, just by just taking our kit off!

As host for the documentary, did you feel added pressure to lead by example when it came to having the confidence to do the strip?
Yes I think I probably did, but equally that was a line we were going to have to cross at some stage and I think it was very important that we kind of all did it together. There were a few different points throughout filming that tested us all. One of them was getting us to take our tops off and that was actually far more scary for the boys than taking all our bottoms off. Men are just as body conscious as women.

The other thing that was really uncomfortable was just getting us to dance. Ashley made us dance on our own with no music at all, in front of each other. As soon as we’d passed that particular hurdle it was amazing how we all bonded instantly.

What has the rehearsal process been like - which element has been the most challenging for you personally?
It was all broken down into very manageable bits. Learning anything, when you first look at it you think, ‘Oh god, I’m never going to learn that’. The way Ashley did it, he broke it down, we got each little section done and then by the time you smoothed it all together you think, ‘Oh, this is okay’. It is only three and a half minutes long!

The first time we saw the choreography all the Diversity guys did it for us and we were thinking, ‘We’ll never do that’. They do it with such polish and finesse that I suspect you’ll never get from us. But amongst our number we’ve got some really good dancers. Harry’s a fabulous dancer, as is Matthew, Danny John Jules and Wayne Sleep. Actually you know what Mark Foster, Elliott Wright and Dom Littlewood they’re all pretty useful actually, they can all do it. You want to have every section of society represented by our troupe and I’d like to think I’m carrying the flag for the non-dancers!

How nervous are you feeling about getting on stage at the Palladium?
I’m feeling quite nervous, it’s like a combination of all my worst nightmares, being on stage and not knowing what you’re meant to be doing and being naked in front of a crowd. I’ve got such a fabulous bunch of guys around me that makes a world of difference. If I was doing it on my own I wouldn’t have slept for the last fortnight. We’re all in it together. It’s going to be great. I’m so deeply proud of what this show has become.

There’s a lovely spirit to the programme, there are so many individual stories, Danny’s story, Wayne’s story, Elliott’s dad’s story. Even Ashley’s got a story, there’s something so winning about this. I love it.

What do you hope the outcome of the documentary will be?
What we want to achieve is awareness. If we can get people talking about it the next day and saying they will go and get their prostate checked, which is just a simple blood test, there’s no rubber gloves that go on these days. It’s a very simple process, we could save thousands of lives. If we can get 10,000 people to go and check themselves out, or maybe we can get 50,000, maybe even 100,000, or maybe best of all we can make it something that men talk about.

No comments:

Post a Comment