It’s a while ago I finished watching the sequel television series to the hit film The Full Monty - usually if I don’t get around to writing about something relatively quickly, then I don’t bother. But this has been living with me, at the back of my brain, thoughts that I have to get down on digital paper.
Firstly, there’s the obvious question with all these reboots and nostalgia trips - why? I was dubious at first, The Full Monty being a classic favourite film in my house, why not leave well alone? But actually, the reasons for making it, from original writer Simon Beaufoy resonate hard:
After the success of the film there was a lot of chatter about a follow-up, but I could never find a story that would better the original, my only criteria to write a sequel. For 20 years, nothing. Then, in the last few years, it became increasingly clear that we were in the same place again. This time, it was less visible than a wrecking ball, more insidious. The political destruction wreaked by successive governments wasn’t about destroying industry; it was the infrastructure of the country they’d come to asset-strip, slowly and incredibly successfully. Schools, hospitals, dental care, social care, mental health care, transport, the courts, water: all of the structures that allow people in need to function were now on the edge of collapse. So, the idea took shape of going back to Sheffield.
So then I was ready and willing to give it a go. Eight episodes following the gang from the films with some new friends and a new generation all trying to make the best of their lives in Sheffield. It took a little while to find its feet, I think. I enjoyed but wasn’t blown away by the first episode, and there was a lot of setting up to be done, to catch up with these friends after such a long time.
But once I did settle into it, as each episode went by, I was more and more invested, so that by the end, I was in floods of tears - happy, sad and everything in between. Gaz was still being Gaz, ducking and diving, Dave and Jean were still trying to make their marriage work despite internal and external threats, Lomper still finding his own odd way in the world, and Horse, the heart of this series, really, finding it really difficult to get any help from the state.
Of course there’s one character missing from that list, Guy, played by Hugo Speer, who was written out after four episodes due to alleged misconduct. That made the first half of the series a bit wonky, as it felt like they were setting up some stories that never really went anywhere, but considering the circumstances, the writers did the best they could!
Ultimately, I’m not sure if the series had quite the same impact as the film because whilst it certainly highlighted a lot of the problems that Beaufoy wanted to shine a light on, it also felt a bit like there was nothing that could be done. At least in the film, the characters found their own way of fighting back, even though it had to be done naked. Despite that, and the uneven nature of the story arcs, I still really loved the show and enjoyed spending time with these roguish characters again.