‘Strictly The Real Full Monty' will be our biggest dance extravaganza yet! says Ashley Banjo

Strictly The Real Full Monty cast
Ashley Banjo with the celebrities in 'Strictly The Real Full Monty'. (Image credit: ITV)

Now in its fifth year, Ashley Banjo’s annual ITV event The Real Full Monty returns this week with another bunch of celebrities prepared to bare all to raise awareness about cancer. 

Inspired by the hit 1997 film The Full Monty, the two-part programme Strictly The Real Full Monty is hosted by Diversity star Ashley Banjo who will also choreograph the performance. 

After last year’s show saw the celebs dancing on ice, this year’s routine has a Strictly Come Dancing twist, so expect glitter and sparkle when the new recruits take to the floor of the Empress Ballroom at Blackpool’s Winter Garden. 

James and Ola Jordan in Strictly The Real Full Monty

Former Strictly pro Ola and James Jordan are among this year's celebs. (Image credit: ITV)

The all-new line-up of brave celebrities who will be baring all are ex-Strictly pros James and Ola Jordan, former EastEnders star Laila Morse, Blue singer and Hollyoaks star Duncan James, Olympic athlete Colin Jackson and Loose Women’s Brenda Edwards.

Laila Morse and Martin Roberts in Strictly The Real Full Monty

Laila Morse and Martin Roberts share their cancer stories. (Image credit: ITV)

Completing the class of 2021 are model Christine McGuinness, Homes Under the Hammer presenter Martin Roberts plus Love Island favourites Teddy Soares and Demi Jones.

Christine McGuiness and Colin Jackson in Strictly The Real Full Monty

Christine McGuinness and Colin Jackson are among the stars hoping to raise cancer awareness. (Image credit: ITV)

The ‘supersized strip’ will also see the return of series regular Coleen Nolan.

Coleen Nolan in Strictly The Real Full Monty

Coleen Nolan returns for another 'Full Monty'. (Image credit: ITV)

"It’s going to be our biggest musical dance extravaganza yet, and we are determined to get the message out there that early cancer checks in intimate areas save lives," says Ashley. 

The routine may be different, but the aim of the show remains the same, which is to raise awareness of the importance of life-saving cancer checks. The two-parter follows the celebs as they prepare for the big reveal and share their experiences of cancer.

Ashley’s dance group Diversity will also join the celebs in the performance which he’s choreographed to include the celebrities’ stories.

Diversity perform with Ashley Banjo in Strictly The Real Full Monty

Ashley Banjo's Diversity pals will also perform on 'Strictly The Real Full Monty'. (Image credit: ITV)

Here, Ashley, 33, and Coleen, 56, tell us more...

What can we expect from this year’s routine? 

ASHLEY: I feel like I’ve set the bar high and tried to push the envelope further than ever before. The routine is laced with personal stories and emotion. The rest of Diversity are getting involved too, so to be on the stage with them and the celebrities will be a real moment. 

COLEEN: Because of the pandemic, the audience were all on screens virtually last year, so you didn’t get the reaction. It was brilliant that we could still do it, but it wasn’t the same. This year, there will hopefully be 3,000 people in the audience – what a buzz that’s going to be! 

How have rehearsals been going?

COLEEN: I don’t want to give Ashley a big head, but he’s the calmest and most laid-back choreographer I’ve ever had. Most of us aren’t trained dancers, but he just keeps it all together.

ASHLEY: The celebs have worked so hard. I’m just trying to get the best out of everyone. It’s amazing to work with people who are brave enough to step up and do this. We’re all here for the same reason, so there’s no need for me to be anything other than supportive and encouraging.

Demi Jones and Teddy Soares in Strictly The Real Full Monty

'Love Island' favourites Demi Jones and Teddy Soares. (Image credit: ITV)

As always, the celebrities all have stories about how cancer has touched the lives of themselves or their loved ones. How important is it that they share their experiences with viewers? 

COLEEN: It’s very important because if we make people aware of getting themselves checked early, we could save lives.

ASHLEY: We’ve all had a tough time in the pandemic and COVID-19 is so high in people’s minds that sometimes people can forget about cancer. Statistically, the number of people cancer affects and continues to affect is huge. So I wanted to make a noise and create something spectacular so we have as much chance as possible of people talking about it at work the next day.

As it’s for such a good cause, how much pressure do you feel to create a wow-factor routine, Ashley?  

ASHLEY: This is a special, and unique, project. I don’t do anything else like it on TV. From the word ‘go’, I’m really excited about it. I’m nervous, too, but it’s about making something that people at home will want to watch. It’s been the longest and most difficult project but also one of the most special routines I’ve ever done.

Brenda Edwards and Duncan James in Strictly The Full Monty

Brenda Edwards and Duncan James are also doing a 'Full Monty'. (Image credit: ITV)

Finally, Coleen, just how relieved are you that the performance isn’t on ice again?

COLEEN: [Laughing] Don’t talk to me about the ice – I’m still traumatised! That was the most ridiculous idea that Ashley has ever had! But, to be fair, it did look great on the night.

Strictly The Real Full Monty is on Monday, Dec. 13, and Tuesday, Dec. 14 at 9pm.