The All New Monty

#MONTYARMY

The Multi Award Winning Spun Gold TV, since launching in 2004, have already weaved a small screen magical spell.

From making a diverse range of outstanding television programmes, like When Ant & Dec Met the Prince to the long running series Love Your Garden.

Their portfolio is edged with diamonds, from BBC1, BBC2, ITV1, ITV2 and Channel4 to household nuggets like The Discovery Channel and Sky Living. 

The All New Monty 2019 comes on the back of two outstandingly successful ITV shows, one of which, has been nominated (at the time of writing) in the category Best Reality & Constructed Factual for The Real Full Monty: Ladies’ Night. It really is all systems go for this London based production company.

Earlier this year, 2019, Spun Gold foraged for poignant, hard hitting cancer stories from men who were either, currently undergoing treatment for either Prostate or Testicular Cancer, or had experienced and conquered the same debilitating illnesses that destroy families and cause untold pain and heartache.

Their empathetic approach and warm listening ears narrowed us down in numbers.
So this is where we are. There are 16 men, hailing from the four corners of the U.K. Ranging in age from a mere 24, yes, that young, to the thick end of 60. It’s The Monty Army. Humour, Character and Determination.

Each and every individual story is infused with pain, all sixteen of these cancer journeys are unique, all sixteen tinged with heartbreak, yet, without exception, all sixteen represent examples of Steely British Spirit at it’s very best.

It wouldn’t be appropriate here to delve too deep into singular stories, nor would it be accurate to suggest that some of the journeys have reached a destination, where at the point of alighting, celebratory balloons vacillated on the breeze and cork popping revelry was given a green light!

On the contrary!

Cancer is the one journey that nobody gets invited to.

It’s an everlasting one if you’re  one of the people, man or woman, or boy or girl who gets it.

It becomes a part of you.

It used to be an elephant in the room. But not any more.

The Monty Army room at the Alexandra Palace, in London, where it was filmed after the seasonal festivities had given way to 2019 resolutions coming apart like warm bread, may have been full of costumes, myriad regional dialects and man humour, but violins were not welcome in here.

This was a room full of warriors, wanting to make a difference.

These men, together with the fabulous celebrities (who also bared more than their soul) are on a mission.

The mission is awareness. 

Awareness stops cancer being a killer, as early detection means the difference between life and death, not to mention a lifetime of pain for families and loved ones left behind.

The Monty Army is made up predominantly of Testicular Cancer patients and Prostate Cancer patients, although critically, one of the men has a foot in both camps and has shown courage beyond belief. His strength knows no bounds. Scottish Gallantry par excellence.

Cancer Facts & Figures 

The facts are undeniable. Prostate Cancer will affect 1 in every 8 men in their lifetime, that’s a mere 7/1 chance if you’ve ever dabbled on The Grand National.

They don’t overcome hurdles in The Grand National, they overcome big obstacles, much like the treatment that’s put in front of you if you get it.

How apt that the current sponsor of The Grand National is Randox Health, a superb advocate for lifestyle choice and better health. Hence the analogy, an important one wouldn’t you agree? It’s much more hard hitting reading 7/1 as apposed to one in eight. 

A 7/1 chance. Does that sound like a chance worth taking? If you hold back on booking a PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) test? A test that takes less time to undergo than it does to boil an egg.

Every 45 minutes in the UK, one man dies from Prostate Cancer. It affects men over 50 generally, but, if the disease is in your family history, then it is much less. If you’re 45, you’re advised to get checked in this instance. One phone call is all it takes!

Crucially, for Black Men the figure is 1 in 4. That’s an astoundingly low 3/1 chance.

In Northern Ireland (the home of Randox Health incidentally) over 1,000 men are diagnosed with Prostate Cancer every year, in Scotland it’s 3,000, Wales: 2,500 and in England, it’s over 40,000.

Astonishing statistics. But statistics that can be shaved, like the hair on the back your chemotherapy cannula hand, with greater awareness.

Let’s look at Testicular Cancer. A totally different ball game, and as one of the Monty Army, I’ll get away with saying that, but only just.
In the UK, 1 in 215 males will be diagnosed with testicular cancer in their lifetime. The effects can be devastating both physically and emotionally. Having seen this at first hand with some of the men, two as young as 24 (and that’s in remission).

A person’s risk of developing cancer depends on many factors, including age, genetics, and exposure to risk factors (including some potentially avoidable lifestyle factors).

Testicular cancer is not clearly linked to any preventable risk factors. No modifiable factors have been conclusively linked with testicular cancer risk, though many factors have been studied.

As for the show itself, indeed. The All New Monty, what an honour to be asked.

To watch in admiration as all of these men, celebrities included, busted some impressive shapes all in the name of awareness.

But that’s not all, the Ladies took centre stage before us, all before an audience in Alexandra Palace, the ‘Ally Pally’ in north London –  packed to the rafters with family, journalists, the general public and officials from Cancer Charities. 

The choice of venue was hauntingly beguiling. With the history, especially being the very place where the very first World Television Broadcast came from.
This vast, mystifying building, the twists and turns, the sweeping endless corridors and the ‘dressing rooms’. Such an amazingly euphoric sensation.
How marvellous that the long time friend I asked to produce the video, Colin James, lives just a stone’s throw from it, it all seems so right. So very right.

Taking one’s clothes off for millions of viewers on the telly and a couple of thousand in the audience, until you have none left on, is pretty scary stuff. 

YET, it was worth it, and if we save just one life through early detection, then it’s job done.

It’s never about one person on stage, or two on a chat show, it’s about saving lives through awareness.

This is Cancer, this illness can kill you, only if you let it. The Elephant has left the building.

John Hanley

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