The Real Full Monty: Jingle Balls review – naked celebrities is a new Christmas tradition
Since 2017, the yearly event known as The Real Full Monty, hosted by Loose Women’s Coleen Nolan and Diversity’s Ashley Banjo, is a quintessential display of British culture. A group of famous individuals come together to do one of the most taboo acts in British society – taking off their clothes in front of an audience – all for a charitable cause. The purpose of this event is to raise awareness for cancer prevention, specifically through regular check-ups. Each celebrity or a family member has a personal connection to the disease. The Real Full Monty is a lively, heartfelt, and often comical performance that has now become a holiday tradition.
This year has been exceptionally turbulent. Several participants have become ill or had prior obligations, some even receiving treatment for cancer. As a result, the entire group will only have one chance to perform their routine without clothing on the night of the show. However, clever camera editing will piece together enough footage for the viewers at home, and the supportive atmosphere in the theater will help them succeed.
I find it intriguing how differently we view male and female nudity. The men, such as Pete Wicks (known for his role on Towie), rugby player Ben Cohen, drag artist Nick Collier (also known as Ella Vaday), and former butler Paul Burrell (who mentions Princess Diana in every conversation despite his treatment for prostate cancer), are shown with their buttocks exposed in the opening credits. On the other hand, the women, including TV presenter Julia Bradbury, Coronation Street actress Victoria Ekanoye, and beloved figure Sherrie Hewson, are mostly hidden from view. This is because male nudity is seen as humorous, while female nudity is seen as scandalous. Perhaps we can discuss this further over some mince pies and mulled wine in the future, but not at this moment.
Similar to the group, we must continue with our current task, which is to create the choreography while performing various loosely related tricks. They practice swimming in freshwater to get accustomed to pushing through uncomfortable situations. The women have molds of their breasts made, to prepare them for exposing their chests. Things of that nature.
When it comes to collaborating with them as dancers, Banjo, the choreographer, exudes bravery. He possesses rhythm, grace, and charm, regardless of the fact that his team is largely unskilled. The connection between him and Nolan is delightful. She gifts him a plaster cast of her breasts for Christmas and suggests he could use it as a fruit bowl. He expresses that it surpasses the PlayStation he received at age 12. I have great admiration for them – Banjo and Nolan, that is, not specifically her breasts, although the cast does look impressive.
The program always carries a sense of sadness, as it aims to inspire and empower individuals to be vigilant, feel less isolated, and prioritize getting themselves and their loved ones checked. It focuses on individuals affected by cancer. However, this year, the level of sadness is so overwhelming that it could potentially undermine the entire purpose of the program.
Nolan’s sister, Linda, received a final diagnosis in March (their other sister, Bernie, passed away from the same disease in 2013). Ekanoye is still struggling with the shock of discovering a lump while breastfeeding her first child two years ago. This led to treatment, including a double mastectomy. Former footballer Ashley Cain also experienced heartbreak this year when his eight-month-old daughter, Azaylia, passed away after being diagnosed with a severe form of leukemia at just eight weeks old. Since her passing, he has not shaved because she used to play with his beard while he cared for her in the hospital. Her touch is sacred to him and he still cannot believe she is gone. He also admits to feeling intense anger, saying, “We watched her take her last breaths.” This is not yet a tender memory and he struggled to find a reason to continue living on this Earth.
It is evident why he desired to participate in the program. However, whether it was permissible or not – whether we are witnessing the consequences of a producer’s poor judgement, observing someone who should be spending time with loved ones, or attempting to cope with insurmountable sorrow – is a recurring question each time he appears on screen.
For now, let’s follow the advice of good people and be mindful of any symptoms of sickness. We should also support others to do the same. Let’s stay close to our loved ones and hope for fewer excruciating days ahead for Cain and Safiyya Vorajee, Azaylia’s mother.