Former EastEnders actress Laurie Brett on why she'll bravely be baring all for cancer awareness and how the disease has touched her life...
All of us, at some point, will be touched by cancer. Following the success of last year’s The Real Full Monty Ladies’ Night, which saw a group of famous females strutting their stuff and daring to ‘bare all’ to raise awareness of breast and cervical cancers, next week, a new group of celebrity ladies will take to the stage on Tuesday in the Ladies’ Night episode of this week’s The All New Monty two-part special.
Ex-EastEnders star Laurie Brett, Tennis champ Martina Navratilova, Love Island’s Megan Barton-Hanson, So Solid Crew’s Lisa Maffia, TOWIE’s Danielle Armstrong and Benidorm’s Crissy Rock, plus Loose Women’s Coleen Nolan and broadcaster Victoria Derbyshire, who took part in last year’s show, will all lay their bodies and emotions bare, to highlight the importance of being checked for women’s cancers.
TV Times caught up with former EastEnders actress Laurie, 50, to find out how they’re feeling ahead of the big performance…
Laurie, what were your reasons for wanting to taking part?
Laurie Brett: “My mother’s had breast cancer twice and I lost a friend to ovarian cancer in her early 40s. Another friend was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer in one breast, Stage 3 in the other breast – two totally different cancers – under the age of 50. So it’s an issue that’s just so close to my heart.”
Did you have any reservations about doing it?
LB: “I did deliberate about whether to do this show or not. But I spoke to my best friend, who’s just had major reconstructive breast surgery, and she cried and said: ‘You’ve got to help put the message out there, that cancer affects all ages. Please, please do it for me.'”
Now the reality has set in, how are you feeling about ‘baring all’?
LB: “I actually quite like my boobs! It’s the rest of my body I’m not so keen on. The middle-aged spread and expanding waistline is more my problem.”
You can decide during the performance whether you want to do the big ‘reveal’ or not…
LB: “I don’t think anyone will have any problem with it on the night. There’s real solidarity between us ladies. If I didn’t do it and everyone else did I’d feel like a real idiot and that I’d let the other girls down.”
Your former on-screen brother in EastEnders, John Partridge, took part in the show last year. Has he given you any advice?
LB: “Not really. He just said: ‘Just get on and do it girl!’ Johnny’s story was very poignant as well because nobody knew he’d had cancer. It was something he’d kept quiet because he didn’t want people thinking he was an ‘ill person’ in this fickle business we are in, so he kept it quiet for all those years. So I’m so proud of him for taking part, especially as I think men are so bad at going and getting stuff checked ‘down there’…”
Would you say that’s true of the men in your family?
LB: “Definitely! I had to bully my husband to go and get checked because he told me he’d never been checked before. Afterwards, he came out of the doctor’s surgery a bit jittery but I was like: ‘So, you know you’re alright now?’ I then said to him: ‘Now when I go for my smears or my mammograms you’ll be going to do the same thing’. He kinda huffed and puffed about it but I’ve assured him that’s what’s happening!'”
What’s the message you want to get out there to viewers?
LB: “The fact that all us ladies here are all different shapes, sizes and ages, we’re showing people that it’s nothing to be ashamed of. If we can perform and take our clothes off on stage, then you can go to your doctor, get your kit off and get yourself examined. The time it takes us to perform our routine, is the same time it will take you to get checked. And it could save your life.”
The All New Monty: Who Bares Wins starts on Bank Holiday Monday, May 6, as a group of famous fellas strip to raise awareness of male cancers. Laurie and the ladies will perform in The All New Monty Ladies’ Night on Tuesday May 7 at 9pm on ITV.