This summer marks 26 years since The Full Monty hit cinemas, which saw the world root for an unlikely band of Sheffield men forced out of the workplace – and eventually out of their clothes – in a desperate bid for money. This week, the beloved characters returned for a whole new set of adventures. Yorkshire Bylines spoke to the cast about the film’s lasting legacy and their excitement about its follow up show.
The Full Monty: from Sheffield to the world
Released in 1997, the Academy Award nominated film spread across every corner of the globe. For Yorkshireman Mark Addy, who is as warm as the big-hearted Dave he portrays on screen, the success of the film came as a big shock. “I wasn’t sure the film would play out of Yorkshire because of its deeply northern sense of humour. For it to make such an impact worldwide just shows that people face similar issues wherever they happen to live,” he explains.
Steve Huison, who stars as Lomper, tells the story of being on a small market in Taiwan not long after The Full Monty’s release. With a fond smile, he recalls turning around in a state of confusion after hearing a man shout from behind him “I’ve seen your bum”. Huison commented on the new Disney+ series, saying:
“We have a sensitive gift here given to us that we have to pick up. There’s an audience expectation that we have to fulfil that is not giving them a remake of the film but something new with the characters they cherished as well.”
Return of familiar faces and familiar societal issues
With the return of familiar faces, or as leading man Robert Carlyle jokes “the 125 year olds”, comes the return of societal issues at the heart of their story. When asked about the politics before the premier of the new series last week, Carlyle sits back in his chair and pauses briefly before speaking.
“You can’t escape politics in The Full Monty. It is political with a small p,” he says, ‘it’s there but it doesn’t smash you over the head with it”.
He points to Labour’s general election win in 1997, the year of the film’s release, as a resounding positive after almost two decades of ‘dire’ conservative rule.
With a general election looming in the next couple of years, and with the public’s faith in a Conservative government seemingly at a low ebb following a string of controversies, the established actor drew similarities between 1997 and the present state of the country.
He tells Yorkshire Bylines: “It’s time for a change. People have been beaten down through the last years of Conservatism. People have been chipped away, the infrastructure of the county has been chipped away.”
The character of Sheffield
Yet, Lesley Sharp, who returns as Dave’s wife and now school headteacher Jean, says writer Simon Beaufoy’s script does not reflect a bleak outlook and importantly does not dim the shine of the northern working-classes.
She says: “There is a lot of messaging about the state of the UK and the working class as dark and sombre. What is brilliant about The Full Monty is it shows just because people live in communities that are financially and emotionally under supported, it does not mean they don’t go about their lives with humour, warmth, and intelligence.”
The new show includes similar wide shots of Sheffield seen in the film, with wild green spaces closing in around its industrial centre. The setting reflects a sense of overlooked beauty and becomes, in a way, its own character.
Sheffield-born Wim Snape, who was 12 years old when he made his big screen debut as Carlyle’s son Nathan, speaks lovingly about his home city and those who reside there.
“The people of Sheffield have just got this heart and this humour. Yes, life is difficult at the moment, but we’ll find a way and if we stick together and look after each other we will be able to overcome it.”
The Full Monty, both the original film and its follow-up, are available to stream now on Disney+.