What made you agree to take part in The Real Full Monty?
My father has prostate cancer, he was diagnosed three years ago, but he didn’t catch it quick enough and it had spread. Fundamentally, when prostate cancer has spread there’s no cure for it. My dad continues to battle with different drugs to try and contain it, but unfortunately last month it wasn’t working and they told him he has to do radiotherapy. So this is very personal to me, and a very raw thing for me to do.
Since this has happened to my dad, I’ve had a look into it a lot more, and when you talk to other people, it’s such a shame that men still think you need to have a finger up the bum to get your prostate checked, which is crazy as that ended a long time ago. It’s a simple blood test to test your PSA that takes five minutes and that can save your life. When I agreed to do the show, if we can get that across to everyone watching, that it’s just a blood test. We are about to take our clothes off to make a point to other men to say that if you find a lump in the shower, don’t say, ‘Oh, it’ll be gone next week’, go and get it checked out. It’s not just your life that it destroys, it destroys the people around you. I watch my mum, the stress levels that she goes through, it’s terrible, she’s deeply upset, as I am. Cancer is ruthless, it takes no prisoners, and the worse thing about men is that we are stubborn as a breed. And so, the point for us, is to get naked and go out there and say that if you find a lump, don’t be selfish, go and get it checked.
What has the process been like building up to the performance?
It’s been one of the nicest things I’ve ever done, purely because when you look at the group, it’s so diverse, we’re from all different backgrounds and walks of life and because we’ve got one common cause and goal and we’ve also got one raw issue, which is we don’t really want to get naked, because most men don’t, and we’re going to do that on a stage in front of 2000 people (at the London Palladium). So when you put all the factors together, there’s going to come a point where you either break or bond, and we bonded, and that point came in Sheffield, where we had to do this show in front of 250 people, and I remember sitting outside and everyone was going, ‘No, we’re not doing it, we’re not doing it,’ and I sat there and thought to myself, ‘I know why I’m here,’ and I stood up and said, ‘Look boys, I agreed to do the Full Monty for the one reason that the cause is greater than the embarrassment,’ and I said that, ‘At the end of the day I’ve come here and I’d be proud to get up there with every one of you and do this, and I’m doing it for my dad. And if we can save one life by getting naked on this stage today, as a group, and have a laugh whilst doing it, what else can we do for the rest of our lives that’s going to compare to this?’ And that’s why I love this group and I’m very proud to stand up in the London Palladium and I respect every one of them. Because it’s not easy what we’re doing. We’ve all laughed together, we’ve all smiled together, we’ve all cried together, we’ve all joked together and we’re doing something that I believe is an amazing thing.
What has been the highlight or funniest moment from filming for you?
Just before the Sheffield gig I couldn’t get my thong to stay on, every time I clipped it, it pinged off, and we were about to go on stage, and the only other person there was Wayne, and I said, ‘Wayne, quick, my thong won’t go on,’ and I remember him clipping it on and I looked around and the cameras were on, and I went, ‘Wayne, hurry up,’ and I remember he was in his element. It was hilarious, it was a funny moment.
What do you hope the outcome of the documentary will be? (in terms of raising awareness etc.)
Awareness, and the acceptance that women can talk about these things, why can’t men. For me, before I got involved in the show, obviously I’ve got the situation with my dad, but if a guy came up to me now and said, ‘Look, I’ve found a lump,’ I’d say, you’ve got nothing to lose to go and talk about it, to go and get it checked out. Because it’s not just you, it’s who you’d leave behind that it effects.
Are you a fan of the original film?
I watched the film 20-years-ago, and I was 16, I’m 36 now, and I think for anybody that watched the film 20-years-ago, and are my age, you look at it completely differently to what you did 20-years-ago. In those 20 years, I’ve been married, I’m divorced, I’ve been a single dad, so for me, what was really paramount in that film the second time round was that I felt the pain of him fundamentally searching for money to be able to afford to see his son, and when you’ve got kids, to have the opportunity to see them, you would do anything. And that was key for me, that he was willing to go naked so that he had the opportunity to see his son. I found it funny at 16 and it made me emotionally upset for him the second time round. By the end of the film, everyone wanted them to do well, and I said to the guys that when you look at what we’re about to do, there’s not going to be a person that doesn’t say, ‘Do you know what, good luck boys,’ because we’re doing a good thing.
NOTES TO EDITORS
Prostate Cancer UK
For further information, please contact www.prostatecanceruk.org
Orchid Male Health
Visit www.orchid-cancer.org.uk or call the National Male Cancer Helpline 0808 802 0010
For further information, please contact www.uk.movember.com
About the prostate
What is the prostate?
Only men have a prostate gland.
It is about the size of a walnut and may get larger as men get older.
Its main function is to help make semen.
The prostate is underneath the bladder and surrounds the urethra (the tube that men pass urine through).
Key Headline Statistics (UK)
More than 11,000 men die from prostate cancer in the UK each year – that's one man every hour.
It’s the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men, with over 330,000 living with and after the disease
Prostate cancer is set to become the most commonly diagnosed cancer of all in the UK by 2030
Only men can get prostate cancer and the risk factors associated with it are:
• Age: Men over the age of 50 are at higher risk of developing prostate cancer
• Family: you are 2.5 times more likely to develop prostate cancer if your father or brother has had it.
• Ethnicity: Black men are more likely to get prostate cancer than men of other ethnic backgrounds. In the UK, about 1 in 4 Black men will get prostate cancer at some point in their lives. The reasons for this are not yet clear but might be linked to genetics.
• Body weight: Research shows that being overweight or obese increases your risk of getting cancer that’s more likely to spread (called aggressive) or advanced prostate cancer (cancer that has spread outside the prostate
Anyone with concerns about their risk of prostate cancer should discuss them with their GP.
Some men with prostate cancer have no symptoms at all. When symptoms do occur, they can be similar to non-cancerous prostate problems such as an enlarged prostate (also called benign prostatic hyperplasia or enlargement).
Symptoms to look out for include:
Needing to urinate more often, especially at night – for example if you often need to go again after two hours
Difficulty starting to pass urine
Straining or taking a long time to finish urinating
A weak flow of urine
A feeling that your bladder has not emptied properly
Needing to rush to the toilet – you may occasionally leak urine before you get there
Less common symptoms of a prostate problem include:
Pain when passing urine
Pain when ejaculating
Problems getting or keeping an erection – this is not a common symptom of a prostate problem
and is more often caused by other health conditions
Blood in the urine or semen
If you have any of the symptoms above you should think about visiting your GP.
Anyone with concerns about prostate cancer may contact Prostate Cancer UK's Specialist Nurses in confidence on 0800 074 8383 or online via the Live Chat instant messaging service: prostatecanceruk.org.