This is it – this is what you’ve all been waiting for. Here is FWi’s exclusive video footage of the Farming Full Monty which took place on Saturday (16 June) night.
Scroll further down to see another clip of one of the rehearsals.
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Tim Relf explains the background…
I joined Farmers Weekly because I love farming and am endlessly fascinated by the countryside. They never mentioned at the interview that I might have to watch men take their clothes off.
Let me explain. I’m in Cumbria with six rural lads who are rehearsing to do just that in front of a village hall full of spectators. Two hundred-plus people, they’re expecting. It’ll be The Full Monty, farming-style – and all in a good cause because they are raising money for charity. They are a generous bunch. Brave, too. Mad, some might say.
It is going to be quite a night on 16 June in the tiny village of Roadhead in the north of Cumbria. It’s then that this lot do their star turn: Their re-enactment of a scene from the film The Full Monty marking the highlight of an evening’s entertainment in the village hall.
Never before has the venue played host to anything like this. It’s the sort of building you see in small communities across the country; faded floors, musty curtains, a few pictures on the wall, a commemorative plaque declaring that the building was opened in October 1908.
It seems sedate now. The sort of place in which you would expect to stumble upon a whist drive, a golden wedding celebration, cream teas. Come the 16th, it’ll be very different. There’ll be a marquee, a band, food. There will even be extra staging. And all because six game lads in their mid-30s – Steve Pattinson, Colin Dodd, Ian Bell, Nigel Little, Paul Stobart and Chris Hogg – have decided to perform this heroic act. “The Ball Baring”, they’re calling it. I can’t help but wonder what the vicar would say.
With the countdown now on, they are busy practising their routine, snatching odd moments in their busy schedules. “We all know each other well. We certainly will do after this,” one of them jokes.
Helping them choreograph it is Gemma (Chris’s wife). “The aim,” she says, “is to make the dance look polished and professional.”
The music they’re strutting their stuff to when I arrive is Tom Jones’s You Can Leave Your Hat On. It’s well known as the backing track for one of the iconic scenes in the 1997 hit movie. “Think,” Gemma yells at them. “Remember,” she calls. “Get the moves right then we can work on the timing.”
This won’t be just a dance, though. Oh, no. There’ll be fancy dress. Farmer-style, naturally. There’s talk of wellies, of caps, of dungarees. Someone even mentions thongs, God help us.
The guys chat excitedly about the big night; there’s reference made to turns, spins and leap-frogging. Someone even mentions the possibility of doing a forward flip, at which point one of them glances at another’s stomach: “Imagine flipping that!” he laughs.
So what about the crucial bit? The question on everyone’s lips? Will they go all the way? Will they really do the full monty?
Well, they’re staying tight-lipped about that. The inference, though, is yes. Although it does sounds as if it’s going to be discreet. Or as discreet as six burly country men can be taking their clothes off. “If you’re going to do it, you might as well do it properly,” one of them hints enigmatically.
Meanwhile, excitement is building locally. Word is spreading. “If you go down the mart, it’s all you hear,” Steve says. A few members of the film’s cast have even been in touch offering their support.
I can’t help wondering if, like in the film, the guys find themselves breaking into dance at inopportune moments. In the mart café, perhaps?
Tickets for the Ball Baring have already sold out and there is a waiting list. They sold out, in fact, in 10 minutes. “We’re more popular than Barbara Streisand,” jokes Steve.
“We’ll have the Albert Hall booked at this rate soon,” he adds.
There is a serious aspect to all this, though. They are raising the money for a local hospital. The threat to local services – whether it’s hospitals, post offices or pubs – is an issue about which they all have concerns.
“This is a bit of fun, but it highlights a serious point, and events like this pull people together, especially in a rural area like this, which is still very fragmented after foot-and-mouth.”
They’ve been involved in fantastic charity fund-raising efforts before – bike rides and parachute jumps – but none of them involved taking their clothes off.
They’ll be dead nervous on the night, they’re quick to admit. So a bit of Dutch courage might well be in order before they go on stage.
In fact, it was in a pub, perhaps not surprisingly, where the idea was first mooted. “We all agreed quite quickly,” one of them recalls. “Although there was some beer involved.”
Then they’re back on stage, getting some more practice on. Swaying, gyrating, thrusting. Look at them move. Go on, guys, work it.
“I’m really proud of them,” Gemma says. “They’ve got rhythm.”
And you know what? She’s right. They’re actually rather good.
Driving through the village at one point – following the six guys – I see an elderly lady walking her dog. “Sorry,” I say, “about those six semi-naked men in bow ties on an ATV. It’s for charity.”
“Don’t worry,” she replies, “I didn’t think anything of it!”
As for whether it really will be The Full Monty, ultimately only those lucky enough (or should that be unlucky enough?) to be in Roadhead village hall on the night will get to find out.
* More pictures appeared in the Farmlife section of Farmers Weekly on June 8.
What is the full Monty?
The expression means “complete” or “the whole thing” and derives from a tailoring expression coined by Sir Montague Burton, who used it referring to a thr ee-piece suit. It became more widely associated with stripping after the film of the same name about a group of ex-steel workers who form a male striptease act. The conundrum they faced was whether to take everything off. Shall we, they mused, do The Full Monty?
How you can help
The guys are raising cash for Brampton Cottage Hospital, so if you or your company want to make a contribution to their fundraising efforts, email firstname.lastname@example.org