ITV’s Real Full Monty show raises breast cancer awareness

The Real Full Monty: Ladies' Night. Pictured: (L-R, backrow) Victoria Derbyshire, Sally Dexter, Ruth Madoc, Sarah-Jane Crawford and Megan McKenna. (L-R, front row) Coleen Nolan, Michelle Heaton and Helen Lederer
The Real Full Monty: Ladies' Night. Pictured: (L-R, backrow) Victoria Derbyshire, Sally Dexter, Ruth Madoc, Sarah-Jane Crawford and Megan McKenna. (L-R, front row) Coleen Nolan, Michelle Heaton and Helen Lederer
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Determined to raise awareness of breast cancer, Ladies’ Night, the 90-minute live special – led by Coleen Nolan and choreographed by Diversity’s Ashley Banjo – will feature broadcaster Victoria Derbyshire, Emmerdale actress Sally Dexter, reality TV star Megan McKenna, former Liberty X singer Michelle Heaton, actress Helen Lederer, TV legend Ruth Madoc and presenter Sarah-Jane Crawford.

“The boys were so amazing last year and I loved watching the show from home, so I can’t quite believe I’ll be taking part myself this time with a group of fabulous ladies,” says Nolan, 53.

Her inspiration for signing up? “Well obviously five years ago this year I lost my sister Bernie to breast cancer.

“My elder sister Anne had breast cancer in 2001 and Linda had breast cancer in 2006 and has just been re-diagnosed with secondary breast cancer, so it’s become a massive part of our family,” she says.

“It (was) horrendous when we lost Bernie and now we’ve got the worry of Linda.”

By the same token, she’s received much support from her Loose Women co-stars; the all-important go-ahead from her three children (two sons and one daughter with ex-husband Shane Richie and soon-to-be-ex-husband Ray Fensome, respectively); and importantly, Linda.

“When she came to see us on one of the filming days, she got really emotional.

“She said it means a lot to her, and she’s been through it, so we’re hoping it will affect other people – people who have been through it like Victoria and Michelle and have the scars of cancer.

“But so what? They’re survivors of it. Wear the [scars] with pride.”

For Nolan, it’s set to be a case of overcoming the nerves on the night. But how?

“I don’t know!” she quips. “I am loving the routine; I am really enjoying every minute of it, but I still get those moments – even in the middle of the night – when I think, ‘Oh God, I just don’t know if I can move those feathers’.

“I am having nightmares about feathers!” she adds, laughing.

“I think on the night, the adrenaline rush and the reaction from the crowd will hopefully spur [me] on. And to just constantly remember why we’re doing it.”

What about her fellow seven recruits – why are they taking to the stage?

Victoria Derbyshire, 49

“I had breast cancer. I do loads of work with different breast cancer charities and this is an opportunity to access millions more women in order to get the message across about how to check yourself; and if you notice something different, what to do about it immediately.”

Sally Dexter, 57

“I’m one of those women who didn’t think I fitted the breast cancer profile and had ignored requests to go and have a mammogram. Nobody in my family has ever had any kind of cancer, until recently. We’re trying to do something practical to instigate change.”

Helen Lederer, 63

“My aunt died in her 40s from breast cancer – and when we were asked to talk about it, I was surprised how emotional I became. [This] isn’t a straightforward experience by any means. The reminder of what we could be achieving, either as a by-product or as a direct consequence, makes up for the fear and the shame of not having, in my case, a perfect body.”

Michelle Heaton, 38

“I’ve had a double mastectomy and hysterectomy because of the BRCA2 cancer gene that I carry. I struggle with all the scars and when I got asked to do this, my initial reaction was ‘Probably no’. Then I discussed it with my husband who said, ‘Imagine there are ladies or men who are going through similar things... If they’re going to see a bunch of women do this, then maybe you can change one person’s life and give them more confidence’.”

Ruth Madoc, 74

“I’ve had cancer, but mine is one that is not very easily detected – cancer of the bladder. Breast cancer is one that you can almost feel or see or touch, and for me the most important thing about this programme is the fact that if there’s the slightest thing wrong you go straight to your GP.”

Sarah-Jane Crawford, 34

“I discovered a breast lump in 2014 and had it removed. It was a papilloma lump, and so it wasn’t cancerous, but it did need removing. I got involved because I thought this would be a really good way to make noise on a subject in a different way.”

Megan McKenna, 25

“I haven’t personally been touched by breast cancer [but] I’ve lost someone very close to me with prostate cancer. It’s raising awareness for the right thing; my following is quite young and I know that I will probably bring them to watch this show and make them realise what they need to be doing.”

The Real Full Monty: Ladies’ Night is on ITV on Thursday, 9pm