Coleen Nolan on how The Real Full Monty team are taking to the ice to raise awareness of cancer...
Coleen Nolan has seen her family blighted by cancer. Having already lost sister Bernie to breast cancer in 2013, in April this year her sister Anne was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer, while sister Linda learned she was terminally ill with liver cancer.
With fewer health checks taking place during lockdown for crucial early diagnosis, when Coleen and the cast of ITV’s The Real Full Monty perform this year, raising awareness will be more important than ever.
And, for 2020, they’re upping the ante, as Diversity’s Ashley Banjo has got them all doing The Full Monty on ICE – without a thermal in sight!
Stepping up to reveal all in two 90-minute programmes this time round are Woman’s Hour legend Dame Jenni Murray, actress Linda Lusardi, Love Island’s Shaughna Phillips, actress Hayley Tamaddon and This Morning’s Dr Zoe. Meanwhile, baring all for the boys will be rugby star Gareth Thomas, actor Jamie Lomas, singer Jake Quickenden, jockey Bob Champion, Love Island’s Chris Hughes and Ashley’s Diversity colleague Perri Kiely.
All those taking part have stories to tell about how cancer has touched the lives of themselves or those closest to them and, with the help of Ashley and Dancing on Ice’s very own Dan Whiston, they’ll all be hoping to create a winter wonderland spectacular to raise awareness!
And Coleen Nolan, 55, is hoping she can hold her nerve to give the performance of her life…
Why did you want to take part in this show for a third time?
“I just love this show, it’s become like my baby. Cancer has attacked my family in so many ways, so I know how important it is raise awareness and get across the message about getting yourself checked. People are so worried about not catching Covid-19, they’re forgetting to check themselves for cancer, so I think this year the show is more important than ever. And just when I thought it couldn’t get any more difficult, Ashley Banjo decides to put it on ice!”
You reached the semi-final of Dancing on Ice in 2009, so you have a bit of experience…
“Yes, the worst experience of my life! Ha, ha. When I finished Dancing on Ice, I said: ‘I swear, I’m never getting on ice again’. Yet, 11 years later, here I am! And I can confirm it’s NOT like riding a bike; I feel like a beginner again. Fortunately, we do have some fantastic celebrity skaters on board like Hayley Tamaddon, who won Dancing on Ice in 2010 – she’s outstanding. Doing this year’s show on ice makes it very beautiful and Christmassy. Plus, we have the Dancing on Ice pro-skaters and Diversity with us, so it will be spectacular… If we can pull it off!”
So what have you found most challenging this time round?
“Well, I’m nervous enough every year doing this show, learning a new routine and knowing I’m stripping off at the end but, this year, there’s the added pressure of remembering to stay upright; the ice is very slippy and dangerous and it really hurts when you fall. I’ve never been totally at ease with the big ‘reveal’ at the end – except now I’m having nightmares that I will end up falling on my backside, with my boobs stuck to the ice!”
What’s the dynamic between all the women this year? Do things get emotional?
“We always bond because it’s a real experience to go through together; we’re vulnerable because of what’s involved in the routine and vulnerable because we open up to each other. Everyone has been touched by cancer one way or another, so when you hear people’s stories, it’s so emotional. My sisters love this show, it makes them cry every year. When you’re having those moments of insecurity, thinking: ‘I’m not sure I can do this’, we all say to each other, just remember why we’re here.”
Why is it more important to raise awareness of cancer than ever?
“Last year, someone got in touch who, while watching the show, checked themselves and found a lump, who would never have done that had the show not have been on as a reminder. All everyone’s been talking about is Covid-19 and, because people are looking out for symptoms of that, they’re not checking themselves for anything else. If just one person checks themselves after watching this show and it saves their life then, for me, it’s worth doing. Hopefully this show puts cancer back in the spotlight!”
The Real Full Monty on Ice, featuring Coleen Nolan, starts on Monday December 14 at 9pm and continues Tuesday 15th December at 9pm on ITV (see our TV Guide for more shows to enjoy).