Robert Carlyle and more talk the return of The Full Monty

the full monty
(Image credit: Disney+)

It's been 25 years since we saw a group of unemployed men perform an unlikely strip show in beloved British movie The Full Monty. A quarter of a century later and the gang are back on our screens with a sequel TV series of the same name, available to stream now on Disney Plus. Whilst there have been plenty of advancements in technology and more over those years, fundamentally the world hasn't changed and nor have these men. Having formed a strong community, they support each other as they navigate everyday life, facing similar issues to the ones they did 25 years ago.

It's a reminder that really nothing has changed although it should have, which is why now was the right time for The Full Monty to return. As Lesley Sharpe, who returns as Jean, tells GamesRadar+: "That's more or less what Simon [Beaufoy] felt when writing this series. He really wanted to take eight hours to look at a whole community and say 'oh my goodness'. What's brilliant is that he's not on the nose as a writer, he just tells his story and whilst watching it you realise the point that he's making. 25 years on there's still unemployment, a healthcare crisis, the education system isn't working - the same issues."

Actor Steve Huison, who is back as Monty member Lomper, adds that he thinks everything is actually "worse" than it was in 1997 - the rich have only gotten richer whilst the poor have got poorer. Wim Snape, returning as Nathan, agrees: "Back then stepping out of Thatcher's Britain we thought, 'It can't get any worse than this' but here we are now in 2023 and everything is falling apart. For me, personally, we are in a worse position. But this story focuses on these characters, where they are, how they are navigating all of that. It's a testament to the writers how they can balance these tragic stories with humour."

Joy meets tragedy

the full monty

(Image credit: Disney+)

As Snape states, whilst The Full Monty doesn't shy away from harsh truths, which makes the series rather bleak at times, there is also plenty of joy to be found too. Sharpe concurs describing the show as a celebration of human nature, looking at how we are there for each other through thick and thin: "It is a political piece but it's also something that a lot of people will recognise in their communities, all written with wit, warmth, humour, and kindness. It's at pains to show that people who don't have very much will give the last thing that they have in order to help someone, which is actually very uplifting. I think at the moment it's great to have something on TV which is saying that yes, things are hard but people are essentially good."

It shows that people who don't have very much will give the last thing that they have to help someone

We particularly see that in the bond that forms between Mark Addy's returning Monty member Dave and struggling kid Twiglet. 

Working as a caretaker at Twiglet's school, Dave first meets the boy when he is stealing food from the canteen, chasing him down the hall. The two eventually become friendly as Dave discovers that the young boy is dealing with a lot more problems than just hunger, taking Twiglet under his wing. 

The development of their friendship is one of the show's most moving stories, especially after it's revealed that Dave and his wife Jean lost their son at a young age. For actor Addy, it was a rewarding storyline that allowed him to uncover more layers of Dave: "It's an opportunity to see Dave's attempt at being a dad and he recognises himself in Twiglet - he was also bullied at school. You can see the beauty in Twiglet's life being squashed by circumstances beyond his control and Dave wants to do his best to support him, but it becomes a problem for the school and Jean [who is headmistress there] which is frustrating. Dave wants to be a good person and mentor this young lad but it gets thwarted. It shows a different side to Dave though and is really lovely."

Fracturing relationships

the full monty

(Image credit: Disney+)

What happens to Twiglet creates a further divide between Dave and Jean whose marriage was already crumbling following the death of their son. The choice she makes regarding what to do with Twiglet is indeed questionable, as are many of Jean's decisions throughout the series. For Sharpe though it was important to play her character with empathy despite the contentious nature of Jean's actions: "What's happened to her is as bad as it can be really and arguably you can never recover from it. The way that she's processed it and tried to make the best of her life is admirable, but she's not actually dealing with the root cause. She's developed a hard carapace and it's time for that to be broken out of. I think we meet her at a point where she doesn't know how to move forward - her and Dave have lost on another. She's at a point in her life where she doesn't know who she is or what to do, so she's making some missteps."

He's got his home, work, and pigeons - what else does he need?

And their marriage isn't the only one on the rocks, as we see Lomper and Dennis struggling too. Wanting to impress his husband who he believes is sick of him, Lomper risks everything that he has on a chaotic scheme that involves breeding pigeons, dangerous loan sharks, and a Korean billionaire. 

It's a pretty wild storyline, but one actor Huison believes allows us to see how Lomper has changed since the original movie: "In 1997 he was slightly removed - everybody tolerated each other but he was always a couple steps behind the rest of the gang. It just clicked with me when I got this script that although Asperger's wasn't in our vocabulary back then, that's where some of his problems might have stemmed from in the past. I looked more into that and realised it's not a negative thing, Lomper has built on those strengths. He's now part of an established community and is a full person, in a steady but sometimes rocky relationship. He's got his home, work, and pigeons - what else does he need? If you took him out of that he might be wobbly but in that structure he's confident with himself. It's nice to play out that journey as when we first met him he's about to kill himself but now he's a well-formed adult."

Older but none the wiser

the full monty

(Image credit: Disney+)

But some people never change. Robert Carlyle's Gaz, for example, is still full of irresponsible schemes that he hopes will turn his life around. As Carlyle told GamesRadar+: "He's older but none the wiser! His character is pretty much the same as he was 25 years ago, he's just as excitable and exuberant, a man with a plan, and these plans never work out. But he's still got that big heart and sense of justice inside of him, the desire to do the right thing. I think he's like Peter Pan, the boy who never grows up. In episode three he says 'I'm like a five year old, I break everything I touch' which is such a massive line that speaks so much to that character."

I'm like a five year old, I break everything I touch

Gaz certainly feels that way about his kids Nathan and Destiny (Talitha Wing), having complex relationships with both. Destiny is certainly a chip off the old block, running away from school and her dreams of pursuing a career in music to instead partake in crazy antics such as kidnapping a prized dog. For Wing, she believes this all stems from Destiny's fear of failure: "She doesn't want to be seen going for something which then goes wrong as she's very prideful. She has an interesting relationship with her teacher Hetty who really encourages her to pursue music, is that driving force, but Destiny doesn't have a lot of faith in the adults of her world. They have been in and out, so chaotic, so it's better to just not go for this than go for it and it not work out. She doesn't want to fail at the one thing she loves."

Both Destiny's and Gaz's shenanigans cause problems for Nathan, a local police officer who struggles with balancing wanting to protect his family with doing his job. Snape explains: "Nathan's drive is his family. He's got a son in a wheelchair and wants the best life for him. With the police not getting paid what they should do, like lots of people in other sectors, he's struggling to provide for him. But he's definitely had more than one experience of being on the other side of the line with Destiny and Gaz, and having to balance all of that has been incredibly difficult for him.

Going The Full Monty

the full monty

(Image credit: Disney+)

One of Gaz's many wild capers Nathan finds himself having to attend to in his role as a police officer is a haywire robbery at the job centre in episode six. Gaz and some fellow members of the Monty crew are trying to stop unpredictable soldier Miller's erratic armed siege, deciding to use their old stripping routine as a distraction. Yes, it does take six episodes for the infamous strip show to even get a mention but when it finally does the hilarious scene doesn't disappoint as the men stumble their way through it, seeing it as their only way of getting out of this insane situation. The actors chuckle as I ask them about it, with Carlyle revealing that they turned down the production crew's offer of working with a choreographer, for good reason: "It's really well done because of course people are waiting for this, but how it actually arrives is totally unexpected and every one of the characters are horrified when it's put to them that they should do this. Which is how it was in the day back in 1997 actually! Here they had a choreographer to put us through it, polish it off, but I said no as there's no way Gaz would remember all that. We all struggled through it as the 60 year old men we are and I think it's quite authentic."

They clearly enjoyed filming this scene though as Addy tells us it's the first time he has ever seen Carlyle corpse on set. Huison meanwhile adds that the filmmakers also sprung it on the group as a kind of surprise: "We didn't get those scripts until about two weeks before we started shooting, and it was in the second block so we were halfway through the first already, wondering if we were going to get round to giving a nod to the stripping as it's hardly mentioned at all at first. But when it does come it's really by accident and a pathetic attempt."

A family affair

the full monty

(Image credit: Disney+)

Despite the half-arsed strip scene, serious themes, and the fact it's a sequel to a film released 25 years ago, The Full Monty show really does offer something for every generation, it's not just about nostalgia. As Wing states, it's a family affair through and through: "It's unique as families can watch this together, opening up conversations about how generations do relate to each other. There's a funny bit where they are talking about Destiny's rap and Gaz says it sounds like shouting. That's a conversation we are having all the time - 'oh you listen to that, it wasn't like that in my day'. This shows how we can create a language we can all use between generations."

Carlyle nods in agreement, adding that the issues The Full Monty explores are faced by every generation. He concludes: "I think it would have been insane to try to remake The Full Monty film, and here there was no notion for that, it's certainly not what was intended. It definitely speaks through generations - you have younger Montys, middle-aged Montys, and older Montys, it goes all the way through. The problems these characters have definitely speak to prospective generations."

The Full Monty is streaming now on Disney Plus. If you are looking for something else to watch afterwards, check out our recommendations for the best shows on that platform.

Emily Murray
Entertainment Editor

As Entertainment Editor at GamesRadar, I oversee all the online content for Total Film and SFX magazine. Previously I've worked for the BBC, Zavvi, UNILAD, Yahoo, Digital Spy and more.