Real Full Monty stars detail inspiring reasons they signed up to strip off for cancer

The brave stars who are appearing in this year’s Full Monty spectacle have revealed the moving reasons behind their decision to bare all.

The ITV show, choreographed and hosted by Diversity’s Ashley Banjo, 33, has a ballroom theme for the first time.

The new recruits will be stripping off in Blackpool to raise awareness of life-saving cancer checks in intimate areas. Ashley said he had pushed the celebrities harder this year than ever before.

“It will be our biggest extravaganza yet and we are determined to get the message out there – don’t forget to check your bits and baubles this Christmas.”

Strictly the Real Full Monty is on ITV on December 13 and 14 at 9pm.

James Jordan

Ex-Strictly star James lost father Allan to a brain tumour in March.

He admitted he still cries about it, saying: “It affected me quite badly.”

Taking part in rehearsals for the Full Monty, and sharing experiences, has helped him.

“The grief side of it, it’s been like therapy listening to their stories, because people have been through what I’m going through now,” the 43-year-old says.

Wife Ola, who gave birth to their daughter Ella last year, was drafted in to dance with James at the last minute. He says he’s not worried about the performance but getting naked is daunting.

“I’ve been running a lot. I’ve lost nearly two stone now. I was quite conscious about my body and people going ‘wasn’t that the guy who used to be on Strictly?’ I Googled ‘how to make willy look bigger’ and top of the list was lose weight. So I did.”

Laila Morse

The EastEnders star, 76, survived breast cancer 21 years ago and only got a lump checked because her co-star insisted.

She explained: “I found this lump and I thought, ‘Ah, it can’t be much.’ So I went into work and I told Wendy Richard and she said, ‘Go to the doctor, I don’t like the sound of that. I’m going on holiday, so when I come back the first thing I’m going to do is ring you up.’

“Anyway, I didn’t go. When she came back, she rang me and said, ‘Have you been to the doctor’s?’ and I went, ‘Erm, yeah, he didn’t say much.’ That’s all I said and I thought, ‘I ought to go,’ so I did. Within two weeks I’d had a mammogram, and I had breast cancer.”

Laila, who plays Big Mo Slater, had lymph nodes removed from her left breast. “My sister got it and my friend, and then Wendy died from the second lot of cancer she had. If it had not been for her, I don’t think I’d be here today.”

Martin Roberts

The Homes Under the Hammer star lost his best friend of 35 years, Dave, to bowel cancer four years ago.

“Dave was diagnosed at 52 and two years later he died,” he says. “He left a wife and two teenage daughters.

“He was a typical bloke, he procrastinated when he had blood in his poo – his wife is convinced if a doctor had seen him, he’d be alive to see his daughters get married, to be with his wife for the rest of their lives.

“So if we just get one person to go to the doctor at the first signs of anything, that’s our job done.”

Martin, 58, is not feeling confident about the strip. “I said when I came on this, ‘As long as I’m not with the Chippendales…’

“And I’m with an Olympian (Colin), a Love Island superhunk (Teddy Soares), an Adonis from a boyband (Duncan) and a professional dancer (James) and then there’s me… my God.”

Brenda Edwards

The Loose Women star, 52, has come through it herself and lived to tell the tale.

“I was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer in 2015, had a mastectomy, and lost all my hair.

“This is me celebrating five years of being cancer free, I’m here and smiling!”

A dresser on stage show Hairspray told her a friend had been diagnosed with cancer and urged her to check herself.

Brenda says: “If I’d never had that conversation, I wouldn’t have found that lump and probably wouldn’t be here.”

Having been brought up in the Pentecostal church she was worried about offending her family, but she says they gave their blessing.

“I’ve never shown my scars. Showing that vulnerability is really a scary thing,” she adds.

Christine McGuinness

Her mother was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer during the pandemic and Christine wasn’t able to be with her.

“I couldn’t give my mum a cuddle when she was going through chemotherapy. It tore us apart, broke our hearts,” she says.

“Mum is the only grandparent to my three children, we’ve got a really, really special bond.”

Former Miss Liverpool Christine, 33, says being an ex-model doesn’t stop her from being “terrified” of stripping off in front of an audience.

She’s hoping her mum will be well enough to see her do it.

“All the way through life, we had nothing, but we had Mum. And we had laughter and laughter’s free. This is a little thank you to her.”

Coleen Nolan

Mirror columnist Coleen, 56, is a regular on Full Monty because her family has been “blighted” by cancer.

“We lost Bernie obviously then Anne and Linda both got cancer again at the beginning of lockdown,” she explains.

“Touch wood Anne’s is in remission and there’s no sign of it but Linda’s is incurable so every three months she goes for tests and scans to see how it is.

“Last time it had spread a little bit more and it was the first time I heard her say, ‘I’m terrified of dying’.

“When you hear your sister say that, when she normally puts on this brave face, it absolutely broke me.”

Demi Jones

The Love Island star was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in March after finding a lump on her neck with she knew “didn’t feel right”.

She’s had two surgeries and radio iodine therapy treatment over the past six months.

“When I was diagnosed, I was sat in a room with old people and thinking, ‘I’m 23, I’ve had this amazing experience on Love Island, why me?’. But I am hoping I can raise awareness among young people to check their lumps.”

She had to push to get her cancer diagnosed, but is glad that she did.

“Unfortunately, there is such a strain on the NHS, on the fourth appointment I said, ‘Please do more testing’. Within two weeks they were saying, ‘You need to have this removed as soon as possible’. Go to the doctors.”

Duncan James

Pop star Duncan, 43, says many close friends and family members have gone through a cancer diagnosis.

“Brenda has been a close friend for 15 years since we did Chicago together, and I’m close friends with the singer Anastacia, who has had breast cancer twice.

“I was friends with Sarah Harding, who sadly lost her battle, one of my best friend’s sister died from a brain tumour and my uncle had testicular cancer.

“I think everybody can relate, or knows somebody who has suffered cancer or lost somebody. Sadly the statistic is now one in two, which is just so shocking.”

He’s a bit worried his mum is coming to watch the live performance in Blackpool. “My mum ain’t seen my willy since I was five years old! I’m like, ‘Mum, please close your eyes.’ She’s bringing her mates too.”

Colin Jackson

Welsh athlete Colin is keen to get men talking about body changes that might signal problems.

Two of his uncles suffered prostate cancer, and Colin said: “One unfortunately died and one survived, luckily. The one that actually passed away was the silent one. He never did anything about it, never spoke about any symptoms, he was thinking, ‘This will be absolutely fine, I’ll get through it.’

“My uncle who survived, survived because he spoke about it. He questioned, he asked, he noticed things about his body that had changed, and went to seek help. The message is, ‘Get yourself tested guys because it could save your life’.

“We have far too many good men who die too soon because they have too much pride.”

Colin was going to diet and work out like mad but decided to keep it real. “I’ve got to look at myself and go, ‘You’re 54 years old’.”

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